The first day of my PhD involved a horrible cold. Just the worst. I’d booked the day off work and travelled to Norwich for the day and was excited, but sniffly. I’d finally found a place to live and my first stop was the letting agents to sign my lease! I then headed to uni to meet my supervisors. When I received the information about my registration day it came with a suggestion that I have my first supervision session on the same day. This is where the independent study begins: you’re the one setting the meetings.
I was kind of unsure as to how prepared I should be. Should I come with a full schedule of work? Chapter ideas? Should I have started reading yet? If you’ve written your PhD proposal, chances are you’ll have already done a fair bit of preparation, thinking, and mind-changing. The initial meeting with your supervisor(s) is a great time to talk through all of your ideas with someone who’s done it all before and who has expert knowledge of your subject area. You know, the really intimidating seems to have a whole library in their head kind of knowledge. Together you can decide whether you should start with some exploratory reading, or get stuck in to data collection, or whether there’s a clear avenue you want to explore right away. And then that’s it, you’re off on your own. Time to get your library card.
At this point my terrible cold and I headed off to find some comfort food before joining the queue for registration. My advice would be to actually read the pack of material you get, mine was super useful. I found helpful information on what to expect from the different stages of the PhD, contact details, and all of the personal and professional development modules that are available to enrol on alongside your research project. I then sniffed my way through some welcome talks by faculty and students while trying not to breathe on anyone, before finally heading back to London feeling a mix of excited and extremely sorry for myself.