Here I am again! I can’t believe that I am already at the end of my first semester. It seems like it just started, but at the same time I feel like I have known the other students, and I can say my new friends, for a long time. Everywhere in the pubs and in the shops there are already Christmas decorations and many students have already planned their journey home.

I just came back from campus and I am at my desk. After the first month I decided to move my desk near the window, so I can look outside while working. There are many trees and it is nice to see how quickly the weather changes outside.

For this blog post I want to let you know some things about my program. As you already know I am doing a PhD in Biology. This semester I am taking a very useful statistics class, called “Quantitative Methods in Biology”. My supervisor told me very good things about this course and it is even better than my expectations. It is different from the classes I did before, during which, a list of several statistics were presented. It explaines how to write a model, execute and validate it. I like how concepts are explained. It is an intense course with lots of work, but I like it very much.

As well, I am attending a graduate seminar. A very interesting series of topics are discussed during these classes, like for example, integrity in research, intellectual property, grants, possibilities for future careers, and many others. For this graduate seminar I have to write my research project proposal and present it to the other students. At the moment three students are reviewing my proposal and I am reviewing theirs, and next week I will make my presentation. These seminars are a good opportunity to get to know the other graduate students, to exchange ideas, and to learn other points of view.

Another great opportunity to open your mind are the seminar series and the discussion groups. I participated in two discussion groups: the Behavioural Ecology Journal Club and the EcoEvo Discussion Group. In the first one different people meet every 2 weeks. Each time a different person decides the next paper to read and discuss. I also usually attend the Biology Seminar Series, in which every week a different speaker gives a talk on a topic in Biology.

Apart from classes, this semester I wrote an application for a scholarship. If you plan on doing the same, I suggest that you look into the Enhanced Development of the Graduate Experience (EDGE) program. I participated in two of their workshops and I found them really useful. I used their informative materials to review my curriculum and I booked an appointment to go through my cover letter and CV. They are very kind and helpful, I really suggest them.

I’m actually only now realizing that I participated in many activities this semester, and also did two teaching assistantships. It is very difficult to manage my time. Aside from school commitments, I also have a social life and I have to cook, clean, and take care of myself. Sometimes I still struggle to organize it all, but I am getting better at it.