Two Years of PhD and…Counting

Ana Paulina López (ESR2)



Two years and three months have passed since I started my PhD.

I often forget about this because it feels like everything started not so long ago for me. I recently watched a video about time perception and its alteration and it helped me understand that impression1.

Generally, every time we are busy or enjoying an activity, we feel that time passes fast. The contrary is when we are bored or do something not enjoyable. However, we may also perceive something long-lasting daily, but it seems to pass fast when thinking on the long term. When we repeat the same routine during the week and weekend, and there is no difference between day and night, we are not generating new memories. The time seems to pass slowly.

New or different activities promote new memories, and our time perception is balanced. For instance, when we go on holidays and do several activities different from our daily routine, the time perception changes and fastens. Most probable, when you do a PhD, and you are very busy, and without new extra activities, this can lead to the simultaneous slow and fast time perception.

Every time I look back and feel that I do not have the progress that I wished for two years and three months, I recapitulate. It is already challenging to finish a PhD in 3 years, and the pandemic and several unexpected issues increase the difficulty. This can push any PhD student to give 200% of effort and to have an altered time perception.

The time of the doctorate that passed had taught me how much I could go beyond my limits and how much I could achieve even when I did not feel completely ready to continue. I imagine that many doctorates have ambitious goals and high expectations at the beginning of their doctoral studies. Still, we should cherish all the small achievements, even if they are not the expected results. In the end, step by step, we approach our goals.

After two years and three months, I finally started my secondment at the University of Santiago de Compostela. I believe I am one of the last of NOWELTIES ESR who starts this awaited moment that requires time and effort before the actual secondment. I admire all my fellows for succeeding with all that represents to move to another country while still working on the project: the administrative paperwork, packing, finding a new accommodation remotely, in my case, trying to find a subtenant, and finally moving. And this is something that awaits us once more to return to our host university.

In Santiago, I will be again in touch with my mother tongue (Spanish), and I will learn new molecular techniques that will complement the experiments from Aachen. Everything is going well, the food is fine, and the people are friendly. Sometimes I feel a bit nostalgic: the last time that I was here, I met my fellows during the Training School of NOWELTIES, but it is exciting that I will meet them here again in June during the Micropol Conference.

As Francis said, times flies, so let’s keep our head up and going forward. Every day and new experience counts to reach the finish line of our PhD!


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