博士生的日常 | A normal day of a PhD student

This post is written in both Chinese and English.

Xin Yang and His Desk

我和我凌乱的书桌 | My messy desk and me


“博士生每天的生活是什么样的?”这可能是我被问的最多的问题。在此我和乐意与大家分享我的日常(没有 deadline 要赶的时候)

  • 7:00 – 起床(我起的比其他学生稍早一点),洗澡然后准备早餐。吃饭的时候上网看看视频或新闻。
  • 9:00 – 离开家门去学校。我住得比较近,每天走路上学。
  • 9:20 – 抵达 5GIC(我的实验室)。冲杯咖啡或泡杯茶、架设实验器材(把笔记本连上显示器)、查看邮箱(和网页)。
  • 10:00 – 开始工作。看看最近世界上的研究进展,想想有什么我可以改进的(通常想不到)。
  • 12:00 – 和国内的家人通个电话或视频。然后和朋友们一起吃午餐,聊聊天。
  • 13:30 – 回来继续工作。每周我都会和导师开会讨论一下最近进展和接下来的计划。
  • 17:30 – 回家。

你可能已经注意到我没提到 “上课” 的事情——因为英国的博士研究生是不需要上课的!当然如果您感兴趣也可以和老师沟通去旁听,平时也经常会有其他学校、科研机构和各个企业的访客来做报告,博士生都可以参与。除此之外,萨里大学还为博士研究生提供全面的科研帮助,项目叫做 “Research Development Programme”。详细信息可在这里查到:http://www.surrey.ac.uk/library/research/workshops/full_list_of_pgr_workshops.htm

除了 “学习”,博士学生也有 “教学” 的机会。我曾为两门硕士课程做过助教。用自己的知识与经验去启发他人,这种感觉很好。当学生们顺利完成学业的时候你也会获得满满的成就感。

  • “你周末都做什么?”


  • “你的同事都来自哪里?”


  • “你介绍的是 ‘日常’。不太常规的一天又是什么样的呢?”

“不太常规” 的日子通常是赶论或演讲 deadline 的时候。想象一下你在期末准备考试的场景,基本和那差不多——努力工作吧!


“What does a PhD student’s life look like?” This must be one of the most common questions I have received so far. I am glad to share a normal day of myself with you guys. (By “normal” I mean some weekday when there is no deadline chasing me.)

  • 7:00 – Get out of the bed (yes I get up quite early, comparing to “normal” students). Take a shower and then prepare breakfast. Watch clips on YouTube or read news while having breakfast.
  • 9:00 – Leave home. I live quite near to the campus, so I walk to the uni everyday.
  • 9:20 – Arrive at 5GIC (the place I’m based in). Make a tea or coffee, set up my research infrastructures (i.e. connect my laptop to the external display), check emails (and browse websites).
  • 10:00 – Start to work (finally!). Read recent papers, and think if there is anything I can improve to help my own PhD progress (normally negative).
  • 12:00 – Make a video chat or phone call to my family in China. Then have lunch and chat with my friends.
  • 13:30 – Come back to work. Once a week or so I will also have a meeting with my supervisor to discuss my recent progress and following work plan.
  • 17:30 – Leave for home.

Have you noticed that there is no “class” in my daily routine? Yes, as a PhD student in the UK, there is no compulsory module for you to attend. Instead, there are quite a few lectures and seminars presented by guests from other institutes and industry that you can involve in. In addition, the University of Surrey also provides a comprehensive support to postgraduate research students, called Research Development Programme. The full list of the provided workshops can be found here: http://www.surrey.ac.uk/library/research/workshops/full_list_of_pgr_workshops.htm

Besides “learning”, PhD students could also get the opportunity for “teaching”. I have worked as the demonstrator (teaching assistant) for two MSc level modules. It is really amazing to see how my own experience and knowledge can inspire others. You will also feel a sense of accomplishment when your students finish their work successfully.

  • “What do you do during the weekends?”

There are quite a lot of things I can do during the weekends. For instance, I can take a short trip in nearby area, go shopping in the town centre or London; I can even travel to France or Ireland for weekends since we are so close to Heathrow and Gatwick airports (I did so once!). You can always find something to do, as long as you want to.

  • “Where do your colleagues come from?”

To be a PhD student in the UK usually means you will work in an international environment, especially when you study at Surrey. My colleagues are literally from all over the globe. It is quite interesting to experience how different cultures are mixed in the same place.

  • “What you have described is a “normal” day. What about an abnormal day?”

An “abnormal” day usually means you have a deadline for paper or presentation in the near future. Just imagine what you will do during the revision for final exams, it’s pretty much the same – keep working until finished!