Reflecting on my First Few Months as an International PhD Student

          It’s been almost 4 months now since I embarked on my journey as a PhD student in Denmark. Before receiving the good news that I will be joining DTU as PhD student under the ITN Marie Curie scholarship, I have always been keen about Denmark especially, to experience living in a country that is ranked among the happiest countries in the world. I would say the most striking thing for me when I arrived here was the high cost of living. The price of rent and transportation are very high; however, the high salary seems to even things. Cycling in Denmark is very common, and it is a good means to cut down transportation cost and adopt a heathy daily exercise. Even though I enjoyed biking to school in my first month, I could not continue for long due to strong winds and rain that is accompanied by winter, so I then resorted to travelling by public transport. I guess I will be back cycling after winter. 😉

          Being admitted as PhD student in a foreign country means adjusting to the country, and to the school. DTU has a good reputation for quality education. Students strive for high academic excellence, and this pushes me to work harder every day to keep up. When I started my PhD project, I was excited to learn new things. My project is about 3D printing of micro/nanostructures for hearing aid application. This is a field completely new to me and I was anxious of my zero knowledge on this to begin with. I knew I would have a hard time grasping things at the start. But then, I reminded myself, this is the reason why I am in school, to gain new knowledge and develop new skills.

          For a project that is multidisciplinary like mine, there is a need to reach out to experts in specific fields at some point in your studies and not just try to solve all problems on your own because it takes a lot of time looking through literatures. But as an introvert, my first few weeks as a PhD student was not a smooth ride. I was shy to approach people, and only do it when it is really a must, or I am approached first. But then I realized I should go out of this attitude and seek help; else PhD life would really be a hell ride. Gladly, I met people who are friendly and willing to help. It was this time that my burden lessened.

          Learning new things on your own is really a difficult task, much more pushing the boundaries of this knowledge. For sure I did encounter challenges in my first few months as a PhD student, but I am overcoming it step by step. I am still positive I would reach my goal and contribute significant results to the research community while enjoying this PhD life.