I graduated from my undergraduate degree 10 years ago and then worked for eight years. My job was just about earning money to live, and it wasnt something that I really enjoyed, so I quit to do a Masters in Film Studies. I loved studying for that so much that I thought yes, I can do a PhD.
My main motivation for doing a PhD was to stay in academia; I just love the research side of it. I really enjoyed the independent study for my Masters and a PhD takes that a step further; you get to direct your interest where you want it to go. My research is about film audiences, specifically looking at how audiences understand the films produced by the Walt Disney studio.
I try to treat my research like a nine to five job because you have to be quite self-disciplined. I dont want to end up working all hours. During busy periods I do sometimes end up working evenings and the odd weekend but I dont have a problem balancing work and play. Sometimes having a two-hour lunch with a fellow researcher is just as valuable as spending two hours reading, as well talk about any problems were having with our work and bounce ideas off each other.
The city is brilliant, especially the cultural side. There are loads of theatres and I regularly go and see plays at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and at the Leeds Grand Theatre they put on some really good stuff. Then there are all the music events which are fantastic; Ive been to gigs at various locations, including the new First Direct Arena. The International Film Festival is amazing as well. There are some great bars and also loads of restaurants it seems like a new restaurant opens up each week so youre spoilt for choice.
Ive found that there are lots of ways to meet other people; you dont need to worry that youll feel isolated whilst studying for your PhD. Youve got your fellow researchers there were 10 of us that started at once in my School, and then there are those in their second and third years and Ive also met people at training events and through conferences; there are lots of opportunities to network.
Being part of the Postgraduate Society is also a good way to meet other people. Every week there is a postgraduate coffee hour which is a great opportunity to just chill out and take a break from work. We go to a pub quiz once a month and then there are other social events throughout the year. Last weekend we went on a steam train to Haworths Brontë Country and weve got a barbeque planned in a few weeks time. I think sometimes there is a tendency to get blinkered and think its all about the work but there is so much more to a PhD.