Hello everyone! It’s me, Juliana again!

I hope you are having a wonderful 2018 and a lovely winter (or summer, depending where you are) semester. As for me, I am appreciating all the snow, although it was very scary in the beginning. After we had our first storm of the season and I went outside, I kind of stared at the street and the sky for a couple of minutes trying to decide whether I should come back, cry or scream. But now I have gotten used to it and even enjoy going to classes feeling like a wild discoverer, jumping snow obstacles and holding posts trying to avoid falling or flying with the wind. Besides all the snow, cold, wind and adventures, today I am going to write about something that helped (and it is helping) me a lot as a graduate student.

In my first day here at MUN, my friends and I had a Graduate Student Orientation Session and besides delicious orange juice (my favorite), cookies and chips, we received a bag before our event. I took a quick look to see what it had and was really happy to see I had a lot of pens, notebooks, keychains and water bottles to start the semester. However, when I got home and took a deep look at it, something caught my eye. Written on big and orange water bottle, just like a movie, I could see the phrase “Always Ask”. The next day, I was contemplating doing something I was not sure about, when my husband said to me: ALWAYS ASK. Simple as that. Those became the two words that summarize my graduate studies so far and I will explain why.

I do not know if you share the same feeling, but when I was in Brazil I felt somehow reluctant to ask for help or ask anything to anyone. This may sound weird or even silly to some of you, but I had three reasons for that. First, I thought I would bother people by asking something to them and I did not want to annoy anyone. Second, I was afraid of sounding stupid and last but not least, I was afraid of receiving some rude answer by asking something I should have known. Since I was in the country I was born, speaking my native language and very used to the places I went, if I did not know something, it was not hard for me to figure it out.

It did not take a long time for me to see that this is not how things work as a PhD student here at MUN. In our life as graduate students, I think we all agree there is just too much going on (classes, assignments, tests, research, results, meetings, presentations, labs, marks and more, enough to make us forget our names after the semester) and even if you are well organized, problems and questions of many types will appear.

One of the main things I’ve learned in this journey so far is that there is no better way of keeping your head and mind in the right place and doing the correct thing besides asking. Please, do not misunderstand that and send your supervisor two thousand e-mails a day, but if you’ve got to a point where even Google or Siri cannot help you anymore (that’s bad!), if you did your job and still have issues with something, do not be afraid of enquiring. It is way better to do that, solve your problems and move to another task than getting stuck, having this question mark in your head during the whole day (or even week). You also get more knowledge (which is never too much) and get ready for the next time this problem may appear, being able to further help another people in the same situation you were.

This new “Always Ask” way of life has been incredibly helpful to me. When I think “Should I do that?” and the information I have it is not enough, I just look for the person that has the “Should I do that?” answer and ask: “Should I do that?”. Done! By doing that, I avoid some potential problems and make sure I am doing the right thing, eliminating confusion. Anyway, I hope this assists some of you that might have the same feeling I had and helps you to achieve your goals as graduate students.

If you are curious and want to know more, the following link also has some interesting information about asking questions and why they are so important. I hope you enjoy it! http://www.innovationmanagement.se/imtool-articles/ask-questions-the-single-most-important-habit-for-innovative-thinkers/

Thank you very much for reading and see you!