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June 29, 2011

Homeward bound – by Izzy

Last weekend I went ‘home’ for a reunion with my four best friends from school. We graduated high school six years ago and while they seem to have got closer than ever I feel very different. I think a lot this is down to doing the PhD , which is a very different experience than the 9 – 5 jobs they each have now.

They were all massively jealous of all the nights out I could go on, the hours of Hollyoaks I could watch in my pjs and the long summer holidays. No matter how much I tried to tell them that PhD students have no holidays and the closest I have been to the students union is the bus stop they refused to believe me. (To be fair I do occasionally watch Hollyoaks) On the whole it was a fairly frustrating experience for all involved…

They had so many experiences that overlapped from an incompetent boss to always getting the tea and coffee. I am my own incompetent boss at times and I always get the tea and coffee for myself, but it isn't really the same. Hardest to join in with was how negative they are about what they do; I feel it is almost impossible to be negative in the same way about doing the PhD. Of course everyone had bad (understatement) days, days when perhaps they wish they were not doing a PhD, but I am not sure I have ever felt hate day in day out that they felt about their jobs. In fact I must have been fairly annoying to sit with because I was excited about pretty much everything, from writing an article to going to talks and organising conferences.

One of them even asked, ‘what’s the point?’ Although I am under no illusions and fully aware that my PhD is not going to change the world, sociology or my subject area, I was still surprised that the very value of doing a PhD was not acknowledged. After all these were three girls who had been to university and in very different ways had benefited from that experience.

Does anyone else feel the same distance with people they grew up with? Perhaps it is an issue with doing a PhD looking at girl culture, tween celebrity and fandom…

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