Starting a PhD involves a lot of life changes. Starting mine meant moving to Cumbria. On the day I moved up here, 20th January 2013, I drove up with my then girlfriend. The mountains and trees on either side of the road were caked with thick snow. We were listening to Arcade Fire. I still remember the exact feelings of excitement, and doubt.
I spent the evenings of that first winter keeping warm next to a wood burning fireplace. I woke up to the sounds of next door’s cockerel instead of traffic and sirens. That was a nice change. The air here is fresh and the fells of the Lake District are close by; perfect if you like walking, running, cycling and climbing.
For my PhD I’m based at the Dalton Cumbrian Facility, which is a University of Manchester building for PhD students, post-docs and academic staff. I’m one of about 20 researchers currently based here full time. The research done here mostly relates to nuclear decommissioning and waste management. In terms of getting work done, I think the lack of distractions can be both a blessing and a curse.
I managed to get through my undergraduate degree without a car, but public transport here isn’t what its like in cities. My colleagues are scattered between small towns around the facilities, which can mean driving almost 15 miles for a visit or a night out.
Its possible you’ve never heard of the DCF. But I’ve been here 2 years, and have another 2 to go. It definitely isn’t Manchester, but that doesn’t mean the experience has to be any less rich.
Do you work in a part of the University we might never have heard of? Let us know about it in the comments or even write us an article!