This week was anything but expected, and I’ve just been left tired and questioning my eyesight (not helped by the throbbing headache…I think I need to go for another sight test). It feels like forever since I last posted, though to be honest…this week has felt surreal and unfortunately not in a good sense. So I was supposed to start my life as a PhD student this week (yes, the tone has given it away), but that’s not really happened…yeah, definitely not happened. I had an induction day on Monday (which I think I’ve mentioned) but other than that…zilch. Even trying to recall the rest of the week is bringing back that ‘black cloud’ which loomed over my head. So I arranged to see my DoS (a.k.a A) on Friday, after much difficulty! Thinking I’d be able to ‘kill two birds with one stone’, I checked if I was finally able to enrol…and thankfully I was (the only good thing of the day), so I figured why not head down to the student centre and get my new ID made? So I skipped my usual Friday routine (one that I love), just so that I could get to the student centre earlier and get my ID before my meeting. It was drizzling a little when I set off, I should’ve taken the weather as a sign. I got to the student centre only to find that it was CLOSED. Seriously, students need to enrol and to get their IDs, why on Earth would you not be open? So having failed in that venture, I had to wait a good half an hour before my meeting; I knew that my DoS isn’t the most punctual so I said to myself ‘let me leave at 11am on the dot’. And that was when my ‘drizzle’ became a full on ‘downpour’…oh pathetic fallacy, seems so ironic right now.
So I stood outside his office, thinking he’d show up any minute now, since no one was in the office. 10 minutes later and he still hadn’t arrived. At this point, I was frantically texting S about what I should do…and of course, she was incredibly annoyed too. So as a last resort, I texted him (cringe)…he replied back almost immediately saying he was coming…now I knew that he wasn’t far away, since I caught a glimpse of him smoking just outside the building. Another 10 minutes go by and he’s still not arrived, feeling frustrated and agitated…having already missed out on an opportunity to get my ID done, I began pacing the corridor and was almost on my way to see C, when he finally arrived. He was on the phone, and I wasn’t sure what to say. But I didn’t have to say anything since he shocked me with ‘let’s go for coffee’! Now, I know that this may not seem strange at all to most people; but to me…it’s like, well I can’t even explain it…but it’s incredibly alien.
I had to take a massive break before continuing this post, I’m talking days here. The events of last Friday were very disturbing for me, probably because I was caught completely off guard. It started with walking awkwardly to the Costa on campus, and my DoS asking me what I was having. I didn’t realise that he was going to pay, so I stopped him and told him that I would pay for myself and he looked at me like I was crazy. But there was no way that I was going to let that happen, far too awkward as it was! The barista had put my order as dine in and I had to tell her to put my coffee into a takeaway cup. Again, I got a strange look from my DoS. So we went and sat at a table, I don’t know if it was just pure discomfort or maybe something else, but all of a sudden I felt like the floor had tilted. I honestly felt like I was sitting on a lopsided chair, and then the room began to spin. He began by telling me that I looked nervous…truth be told, I was a little, but I was more pissed off if anything. I told him that it seemed that way since I was trying to remember all the questions I’d had for him, which was true. I began to ask my questions and he answered, though not nearly as thoroughly as I’d have liked. He was behaving as though he’d planned out the rest of my life for me, whilst I’d made no attempt whatsoever. He even began to claim my ideas as his own, and starting to suggest that he was thinking of me doing those things even though I was the one to mention them. His behaviour continued to make me uncomfortable when he said ‘if you have an issue with, come and tell me, don’t tell anyone else as I have a lot of dushman’. Dushman is the hindi/urdu term for enemy/ies. I was already on the back foot and having him speak in his own language made me even more uncomfortable. I’d like to say that, that was the worst of it…but it wasn’t. I sat there the majority of the time in stunned silence, knowing full well that I’d barely touched my coffee and that by the time I’d end up drinking it, it would well and truly cold. He continued to talk as though he was well and truly thinking about my future far more than I was. He said…I want you to publish four papers before completion, I want you to collaborate with people that I have yet to establish contact with, I want you to do lots of extra teaching even if it means you won’t get paid and don’t say no as I’ll get upset, I want you to do some of my work for me for a paper that I having waiting to publish…it’ll mean you can’t do your own work but it’ll only be 6-7 weeks worth and I’ll give you credit for it. The last one had me thinking, I thought ‘hey, I’ll get published, that’s got to be good’; but luckily I’d remembered the wise words from the induction session…DON’T LOSE FOCUS OF YOUR PROJECT. Heck, to be honest it wasn’t even worth considering, especially due to how he’d brought it up. He said ‘I have a proposition for you…no, not Shaadi!’. Shaadi = Marriage! Yes, that’s right…he ‘joked’ about marriage, I mean seriously who would even think that!? Crazy! I looked at him a little stunned and he proceeded telling me what he expected me to do, as if I was never going to turn him down. I told him I’d think about. He then started to tell me that I should be making notes about this meeting and have notes already. Now, had I shown him the notes I’d already started on, it may have shut him up but I was so completely taken aback by the entire thing that I again just sat silently. I hadn’t expected this to me a formally recognised meeting, just the one he’d missed on induction day. And clearly it was anything but formal. He asked why I’d told my friend that he texted me my results, and I said it was an accident since I was talking to her at the time…he then asked if she was happy with her mark and I informed him that she wasn’t. He looked at me as though he’d asked if she was happy with 100% and I’d said no. Of course she wasn’t happy, she was caught up in all the politics of the department and suffered as a result! He then said to me that he would be telling a lot of ‘little things’ like that, and that I shouldn’t go telling them to anyone. Again, I was so completely shocked at his words, and his expressions. It was like he was trying to get me involved in all the political rumblings in the department and importantly trying to get me on his side. I still don’t what gave him that impression, I get on very well with everyone in the department and I in no way, shape or form want to jeopardise that. I think he needs to quickly learn that I’m not like other students that may have once paraded around these narrow corridors, I am here for one and thing and one thing only…and that is this stupid PhD. I am telling you now, 3 years and that’s it. I am out of here. Just as quick as I left that meeting and never turned back.
Now, I’m a tad stronger now than I was out of that meeting. I was in pieces, thinking what on Earth had I got myself into? I still don’t feel warm and fuzzy towards this project, but who knows what the future will hold. I hate being messed around with, and if he thinks that just because he has me now, that he doesn’t have to do his job properly…he couldn’t be much wrong. You know, he’s gone around the entire department acting like he’s won some sort of trophy, telling everyone how I’m his student. From what I’ve heard and felt, he wants to keep me isolated from the other research students, but I won’t let that happen and C won’t either. He wants me working with him just as much, and I definitely want to work with him a damn sight more.
Oh yeah, when I asked my DoS about the supervisory team…he said C would be my 2nd supervisor, and as if sensing that his topic was boring me, he began to talk as though I would get to work with C just as much (though anyone who actually knows my DoS will confirm that he is sadly just all talk)…and shockingly my 3rd supervisor has never been in research and isn’t even in my field or C’s field. When I enquired about K being a supervisor, my DoS dismissed her saying ‘she clearly can’t be relied on judging by her performance during your MSc’…I was really disheartened because I was banking on K being on the team. We get on really well and I know that she is a great help when she’s around. But most importantly, she doesn’t terrify every fibre of my being. Being alone in that lab with my DoS is quite scary, I always feel very uncomfortable around him and can’t speak my mind very clearly. That’s all going to have to change…soon.
PS. Title refers to Warwick’s motto…mind over matter. My new mantra.