In a postgraduate context, you can choose either to throw yourself into the PGR community, sometimes losing focus on your own work as you consider others progress or you choose to isolate yourself and get on with your own work at the expense of social interaction and expansion of your own knowledge.
I certainly haven’t ‘thrown’ myself into postgrad events and groups, but I do love my office. I love constant contact with people and, through the way that each of those typing away in the same room as me is at a different stage of their PhD, I love the reminder that I am starting something which has an end point.
But more than this, working with and amongst others means that you can feed into other people’s research and invest in them. One of my Chinese colleagues often asks me simply to decipher her supervisor’s handwriting. More than this, with my British heritage, my academic past, and my current stage in life, I can contribute effectively to other researcher’s lives and work. I watched a British film with a fellow researcher in order to point out to her the specifically british elements of its production – place names, swear words etc.
This is huge. If you’re reading this and you’re a researcher, I’d plead with you to not just focus on your own work, but to look at those around you, to attend conferences, and to actively engage with how your personal viewpoint can help someone else see something they might not have seen otherwise.
What a joy, to be invited into the work and research of friends and colleagues.