Thursday, 6 October 2011

Early days

It's now week two of the academic year and I am slowly settling into postgraduate life.

I have an office (how exciting!) which will hopefully soon have my name on the door. And yes, you will be subjected to photographic proof. I've met people and shook hands and attended talks including one by Keith Rayner (psycholinguistics celeb) who also came to our Lab pub lunch on Friday. I've been to classes, I've learned how to use a mobile eye tracker and I've slowly started adding to my stationery and book collections in my office.

Up until now, it's been a bit of a whirlwind, but there are some very vivid moments of panic interspersed amongst them. If I'm honest, those mostly consist of thoughts like "They all know loads! You have to understand things to ask questions... I'm so far behind!" and "I really hope they don't find out how little I know about [insert whatever the current subject is] or they won't want me as a PhD student anymore!" and, of course, "Where the hell do I start?!" I've been assured by my supervisor and many others that these are feelings that everyone experiences at some time or other. Know it, but doesn't stop it.

The question of where I start is the most pertinent to me just now. I've begun by familiarising myself with a bit about eye tracking in real world scenarios as this was something I didn't know much about and made sense to have that background to help me shape my reading. Now, I'm trying to put together some rough ideas for a first experiment, which is a lot harder than I could have imagined. I take each day at a time, and am slowly building up a picture of where I need to start investigating and what I need to start reading about. It has given me a real appreciation of what previous PhD students I've known meant when they told me I'd need to be very blinkered. As soon as you start looking at what X, Y and Z are doing, you're making unfair comparisons because we've all come to this with different knowledge, experience and research topics.

So, blinkers on, I wonder what I'll get up to this week. Pub night tonight, for a start. I have my priorities straight. :)

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