Hard retreat, retreat hard.

Last week I went to Eastwood Hall a little way out of Nottingham for a few days at the Horizon CDT retreat.

Retreat:

The act or process of moving back or away, especially from something hazardous, formidable, or unpleasant. (thefreedictionary.com)

Now, I do have to chuckle at the thought that doing a PhD is hazardous, formidable or unpleasant; but doing a PhD can get quite lonely and difficult. Spending time with other PhDs to talk about our research and how we are feeling about it is needed from time to time. The first day was just for us newbies to deliver a presentation on our research focus. I must say, it’s so great to see how everyone has a much more mature and critical position when talking about their work.

The second day provided us with the opportunity to listen to the second year’s progress; pitch our PhDs to the other cohorts and listen to the third year pitches; and, we participated in a self organised workshop that focused on what tips we would give to the next cohort starting in September. Unsurprisingly there was an emphasis on managing supervisors, managing time/writing, and, managing our well-being (which includes lots of food).

During our stay I also went to the gym, sharing some training advice; baked in the sauna and steamed in the steam room; participated in an enthusiastic extended game of Fußball, with a broken table (there was a player missing and the arm would fall out – imagine the chaos); joined in a friendly game of Exploding Kittens and What Am I?; and, I dressed up for the fancy dress cocktail party.

What I am trying to say in a roundabout way is that we should never underestimate the power of socialising and relaxing (which is not something I am very good at).

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