My first year PhD odyssey

The first year of my PhD study has ended satisfactorily. I’m now writing this from home in Thailand! In this first year at the School of Education, The University of Manchester, I have learned and developed from three main sources; MSc modules, conferences and supervision meetings.

First of all, I took six MSc modules as a requirement for my PhD which I was happy to do so because I always want to learn (and I love being a student!) The first semester’s units were mainly about research methods (quantitative and qualitative research) including how to plan a research and critical writing. Though my friends and I were anxious about the results, we learned a great deal not only about research, but about our friends. We made it through to the second semester when we learned how to analyze our qualitative and quantitative data. There were only two units we took in semester two but when it came to the assignments writing, for me it seemed to be four as we had to learn how to use SPSS and NVivo programs!  You can read about my assignment writing experience from my previous reflections. Overall, the modules were interesting and helpful for me as a newbie in research. If I’m going to conduct a research project now, I know what I need to take into account, what I have to do and the resources I can use.

I also had opportunities to participate in conferences, at the PGR Conference (SEED 2013) where I presented my poster and at the BAAL conference (British Association for Applied Linguistics Special Interest Group in Intercultural Communication) where I participated as an audience. Again, I already wrote about the two events in my previous reflections. Personally, the greatest benefit of joining the conferences is that I could see myself as an academic, and I realized that contributing in research communities is not a scary thing. What I need more are experience and confidence.

Last but not least, I have learned a lot from my supervisors at our supervision meetings (at the socials, and badminton games too of course!) At each supervision meeting I had to prepare agenda items for our discussion. Most of the time, I sought advice from Richard and Susan about my assignments which was great because I felt that I was not alone and I could be sure that I was on the right track. My supervisors are good at interrogating; they always ask the right questions which put me on the spot, and I have to think very hard to find “sound” answers for them (and for myself too). If I cannot give them an instant answer, they will give me examples (mostly Richard’ s metaphors) or I will say that I need more time to think about it on my own. Anyway, I appreciate that we can meet once every two weeks which is great as I still need to be pushed. I know that I need to be more self-motivated if I want to be great like my supervisors. 🙂

To conclude, I am happy with my first year of my PhD journey because from my learning experiences, I have gained the basic knowledge for my PhD research and I feel that I have grown up with as a researcher’s mind set. After this I think I need to be studying hard on my research topic of intercultural competence. And as Richard suggested, I need to express my thoughts better. Even when I’m confused, I need to express my confusion well too!


  • 🙂 Thanks, Fitri. We should record Richard’ s metaphors, and we might be able to have them published in the next three years 🙂

  • I can see myself in your shoes Khwan (are we of the same shoes size 😀 )
    I love being a student too. I also learn a lot from my supervisors and always look forward to the metaphors. Really insightful metaphors indeed Richard 🙂

  • Richard Fay

    Lovely insightful reflections as you take stock, thank you Khwan.