Love during PhD
Inspired by the Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s book “Love during Cholera”, the title suggests that love during PhD exists 🙂 Without further drama, I would like to share with you some Valentine’s Day confessions that were cordially sent by friends and colleagues, who during their PhD happen to find their love on the way and the stories go like that…
…”Love is a brain process smartly built by evolution to assure the good continuation of our specie, including the security and development of newborns through their dependent years. Love is also a pain in the stomach that drives you crazy when you are apart from your soul mate, the person you desire and dream passionately about. February 11, going to Ikea again. It’s -20 Celsius outside and I don’t have those North-Face jackets yet that everyone else seems to have (in the US). I hate Ikea, despise their business model and I’m not particularly fond of the style neither. It’s just for six months, who cares, just get the basics, again, and plus, it might give some European flair to your room. If I could choose again, I would have stayed. When this decision comes in the moment you enter the plane, the moment you arrive to your new temporary home and kicks you in the stomach the moment you have to buy the living essentials from Ikea again, you know it was a wrong decision. But the opportunity, and the experience, and the network they say. Academia is a virus that sucks your brain and tries to change your biochemistry for love. The PhD becomes your newborn child that requires all your attention and devotion. A good night’s sleep is rare when the PhD cries at night, and holidays seem to demand high-speed internet 24-7. More bad news, when the PhD finishes, infant years are gone and it can start talking to you, making demands for projects, ideas and collaborations. It is a post-doc now. As infected brains during a PhD and post-doc contracts, respectively, we live slightly absorbed by the mind-set of academic success. It can conquer our brains, for a while, but it will never conquer our stomach – the one and only correlate of love I found to have always known. Life plans together, visits and holidays abroad will keep us filled with the desire to be together and to smell each other’s dreams in long lasting hugs and kisses. February 13, going to Ikea again, forgot a couple of things. I hate Ikea.
“Did you know that Bernie Sanders has won also New Hampshire? I asked during our peaceful breakfast. ‘No, I didn’t” he replied. “We must keep our fingers crossed”. This is me endorsing a social democrat across the ocean and the only interest I still keep from my old life: international politics. All the rest, including sympathizing and discussing distant ideologies is brand new for me. For him, a solid temperament, nothing changed, yet the world seems smaller since she brought in a different culture and her bold attitude. Little did we know five years ago how research, passion, curiosity, empathy and ‘courage’ would have shaped our lives and everything it carries with. Together – we discovered anew the love for animals and small Carolina (our puppy, not baby); exchanged our passion for movies, books, travelling, trust and the power of arguing. Doing research together changed our mindset. We are more aware about our limits, thus we try to forgive more. Yet it would be hard to unravel how much ‘research’ or ‘relationship’ has finally influenced us. Our best time together? Jogging at three in the morning.”
Natali & Vincenzo
“In the first year of my PhD, I saw a vacancy in my department and I sent the ad to my contacts for distribution. UM (Maastricht University) is very reputable and provides excellent opportunities for PhD candidates and since we don’t hear such offers often in Turkey, I wanted to help. My mail reached a guy, young and curious, who one day turned up at my faculty, that’s how we met 🙂 (and we ended up getting married). A partner who spends weeks in the library with you, helps solving your problems with Latex or gives you a hug when you are desperate, that’s true love.” Ayse & Kutai
“I remember spending evenings together with my partner (whom I have met during the 2nd year of my PhD, while he was about to finish his PhD) at home correcting exams and student papers or sharing a particularly funny, although wrong exam answer. Once, we had a long discussion during an evening out at a restaurant, where together we crystallized the ideas about online friendship (my current research project). I got to know that the sound of a city in a film is a carefully made construction and not a necessarily a realistic depiction of the city’s actual sound (my partner’s research). We both understood the writer’s block, we stayed up late for deadlines, read endless books and articles, met with supervisors, edited and re-edited writing rounds… I shared my partner’s frustration when he had to wait for two months before his thesis was finally approved, along with feeling the joy when I saw my name in the acknowledgements page of his PhD thesis. I felt excited, yet nervous during my partner’s PhD defense, as if I was the one defending. I was beaming with pride when he finally was awarded his PhD title – now a Dr.! Ah, so many precious memories, with our PhD trajectories as a common factor. This was quite the journey. I am so glad we traveled the PhD road together.” Sofia & Jasper
“In the day when I had to send my thesis for print, the stars aligned in such a way that your sister was getting married. It could not be any other day than that. Understanding and patient, you were drinking your infinite cup of espresso, while reading on Greek politics and trying to mute shortly from the importance of the day. In the day when I decided to go wild and get creative with my projects, you were there listening and contemplating along, while quietly inhaling the fresh air of Leipzig forest, as if absorbing all the necessary quantity that would give you a little bit more patience and wisdom to understand me. You were there, even if I was not into neuroscience. You were there when I was down and up and down and up. Thank you.” IrinaforAlex
I really wanted to share with you some thoughts about love for the research we do, but I leave that for another time.. considering the delicacy of the day, I hope these stories will warm up your heart (at least a little bit).
Happy Valentine’s Day! however you celebrate it ❤
With love for Research,