How a forgotten email led me to Berlin

The plane lands, and I am beyond terrified.

Welcome to Berlin. In the arrivals zone stands a tall man kitted in cargo shorts and gripping a crumpled sign announcing ‘CityTravelReview’.

This is not where my adventure begins. Eight months ago, an email landed in my already-overflowing university inbox. For a month, said email sat gathering virtual dust as I scrolled past countless times. On a particularly slow day in Western Bank Library, I decided to open this message as a ‘productive’ break from my own work.

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Beware – the cult of presenteeism!

It’s 7pm and I’m in the office for PhD students, exhausted after a long day of writing reports, experiments over-running and a fresh truckload of email admin. Tomorrow will be more of the same so I decide to call it a day. Gathering my belongings, I slink to the door, avoiding the gaze of the other students still working away. I ask myself “When did it become normal to feel guilty at leaving the office so late?!”

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Finishing a PhD (or trying to)!

It is coming around to the half way mark of the PhD academic year, which means for some final year PhD students, it is only 6 months to go until the end of their degree.

Now this can be a scary thought for some, or a relief for others, but it is seen by many as potentially the most stressful part of the 3 or 4 years of a PhD. You have to complete a thesis (basically writing a book), potentially write a paper or two, all whilst trying to figure out what you want to do once you have finished. And for those who know what job they want, it is just a case of finding someone who will pay you to do said job!

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How to fight your inner Grinch: spending the Christmas season away from home

It’s that time of the year again. Chocolate Santas and gingerbread men have taken over the supermarkets and a never-ending playlist of Christmas songs encourages you to buy some more mince pies than you really need. Christmas has always been my favourite holiday, I’m one of those annoying people who starts singing Christmas songs in mid-summer, but being a university student can affect your Christmas spirit quite a bit. Between essay deadlines and exam revision, Christmas can actually come as a real surprise. Suddenly, the holidays are there, you find yourself sitting beneath a marvellously decorated tree, thinking about your upcoming exams, and being more of a Grinch than one of Santa’s joyful elfs. I’m in my fifth year of university and have spent Christmas time in three different countries during that period. Over the years, I’ve developed my own strategy to make Christmas season away from home a cheerful experience and I thought I’d share some of it with you guys.

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Top 5 tips for international postgraduate students: make the most out of your time at university

I came to Sheffield from Malaysia in 2012 as an international student, studying LLB Law. I completed my undergraduate degree in 2015. I then decided after three years of employment (also here in Sheffield), that Sheffield is the city I would like to do my Masters too (that proves to you how much I love Sheffield!) In comparison to most international postgraduate students who only just started their first year in Sheffield, I’m in a better position as I have already known the city inside-out as well as university life.

A lot of international postgraduate students found it difficult to make the most out of their time at university as postgraduate course could be really intense, and usually by the time they start to get a grip on everything, it’s time for them to say goodbye. So as someone who has been here long enough, here are my top 5 tips to make the most out of your time at university:

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3 tips to have a more enjoyable PhD experience


Doing a PhD has been one of the best experiences of my life, and not only because of my research (Design of Soft Robotic Implants for Tissue Regeneration. Amazing, huh?). It is because the whole experience involves meeting new people, going new places and learning many different things. It took me one year to finally decide to start this new endeavour. What helped me to take the final decision? The support of my family and friends. Now that you have taken the decision of starting this new life project, I want to be that friend for you and let you know my top three tips for when you come to study your PhD at The University of Sheffield.

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My first conference

Towards the end of June I set off to my first ever conference as a PhD student. I am a 2nd year PhD student in Biomedical Sciences and have spent the last (nearly) 2 years researching all about Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), which is also known as Motor Neuron Disease. Therefore when I saw that the European Network to Cure ALS (ENCALS) conference was happening in June I thought I would sign up. Continue reading

A real slog: master the monotony

Two-and-a-half years ago, when I first decided to take on a PhD, there were a number of challenges that I was warned of by both students and supervisors – longevity, isolation and motivation over four years, to name just a few. But, now approaching the end of my third year, with the seemingly endless desert of time stretched out before me in which to actually “write the bloody thing”, I can now assuredly say that none of those things have posed the greatest test. Not even close. Continue reading

The Graduate Science Showcase – what’s it all about?

It seems only yesterday that I was diligently attending my PhD induction lectures. And now here I am in my third year, being prompted to prepare a poster for the Graduate Science Showcase. This is an annual event at the University of Sheffield that brings together PhD Research students from across the whole Faculty of Science.  Even though it is meant to be an informal celebration of our diverse research project, I feel the pressure to perform well. With cash prizes on offer for the best posters, the standard is sure to be red hot!

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