The Diary of Anne Ku
18 August 2000 Friday rain, rain go away!
Last night I had dinner with a friend who is finishing her PhD. Before she started the programme, I had told her some horror stories of what I went through. She reminded me that I had fretted over whether or not to spend 30p on a bus ride or to walk 30 minutes. Whenever I was to see friends for dinner, I'd rather cook a meal than spend money going out. I was penny pinching to the max. In my final year, I deliberately declined all teaching, research, and consulting work so that I could concentrate on finishing. Thus I did not receive an income for more than a year.
What I didn't tell her was how I felt at the beginning of my PhD. As my friends compared notes on how much money they were raking in and discussed the trials and tribulations of climbing the career ladder, I wondered to myself whether I had made a mistake. I had quit my job which paid for my Max Mara designer suits and dinner outings. During the one week of overlap between my last job and starting the PhD, I moved from a high tech office in the City to a basement office with no telephone or computer. I moved from a fast paced dealing room to a slow paced campus. I didn't want to hear about my friends' promotions as I wasn't even sure if I had the mental capacity to get a PhD. All I could see and feel was UNCERTAINTY. Can I do it? Will I make it? Is it worth it?
My friend empathised. She too had to cut out friends who did not empathise, who were too self-absorbed to bother. One of my friends even said to me."A PhD? They are a dime a dozen." Well, let me see you give up your job and do it! It takes getting a PhD to know what a PhD is!
London School of Economics