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.

By Myka Mae Duran

Myka Mae Duran is ESR5. Myka is based in DTU and her individual research project title is “Digital Production of Hearing Aid Ear mould/Dome”.