What to do after finishing a PhD? Where to hop next?

Finishing a PhD is something I dreamed about for (too) many years. And now that time is here for me. In 18 days I will be up there giving a public lectio based on my doctoral dissertation and then defend it (publicly) for up to 5 hours. Usually all of this takes approximantely two hours. It is great to be here, less than three weeks from the defence (and the party that follows it).

Yet, I experience this sense of a lost direction. Of course I have plans for my future. I have planned to a new ethnographic fieldwork related to degrowth organising and self-employment, for which I have already started to do some preliminary work (more updates at ResearchGate).

Being in a PhD program is (or rather was) not always fun, as anyone who has survived it can tell. But it is familiar. Life after PhD is unfamiliar and that’s scary.

While experiencing this sense of a lost direction, I should be delivering many things, e.g. revising a manuscript, applying for postdoc funds, preparing my public speeches (two for this Wednesday and of course the Big One on 28 October, i.e. The Defence). But it is hard to start, because there’s no certainty where I am going.

In the meantime, I’m happy to learn how you manage uncertainty. How do you handle the fact that after finishing a big project you don’t know where you are heading next? Bad TV is not a good enough answer. I tried that and it doesn’t seem to work.

Where to hop next?

Hard to be light

One of my favorite words in Finish is “ilo” which means “joy”. I love the sound, idea and meaning of it. But it is not easy to be joyful. I think it is not a coincidence that the International Labour Organization is abbreviated as ILO.

Gretchen Rubin, who writes about happiness, has concluded that it is hard to be light. By this she means that it requires work to be happy although it looks easy. But it’s not. It’s not easy to see the positive side of unpleasant things whereas it is much easier to sulk.

I knew once a person who was able to see the positive side of things. Even when that person was dying, I would hear stories about the lovely soft kitten they had or their smart son. This person had all the reason to sulk and feel miserable being in pain and emotional distress – but decided otherwise. Only years after I realise that lightness was harder to obtain than it seemed to others.

I’m terrible at being light. Becoming a parent has forced me into trying to be light. But at times, I’m sulking when I could decide otherwise. However, it seems being light gets easier when I try harder. It’s hard to be light, right?

Our Great Move to Roskilde

Everything has a reason, even running late from a morning bus. Now I can wear my slippers and write a long due blog post concerning our move to Roskilde, Denmark, for six months. Actually, there’s only 5 ½ months left.

Instead of words, here’s some photos of our journey and first days in Roskilde. We took the ferry from Helsinki to Stockholm and drove through Jönköping to Roskilde. In order to get to Denmark, we crossed the Øresundsbron, a bridge betweeb Malmö and Copenhagen.

In Roskilde we first stayed in a hostel before we got our rental place in Roskilde. It is part of a house built in 1920’s and has a lovely garden.

Should we take a blender? The realities of moving abroad for half a year

We are moving to Denmark for six months in two weeks time. I’m visiting Roskilde University, Centre for Social Entrepreneurship due to my PhD studies. Exciting stuff! This is what I have been dreaming about for some years now: visiting a relevant place for my work and gaining everyday experiences while living in a new environment. I like the idea of being annoyed by the morning traffic and finding my favourite place out of many great ones. These are the things you don’t have time to do on a shorter trip.

I just had completely forgot how stressful it is to move abroad for a longer time. I’ve moved abroad once before but maybe that doesn’t count as I was a teenager and an exchange student, i.e. someone else was organising everything and I was concentrating on smiling and looking happy.

It seems doing a grown-up exchange is a lot of work and moreover, a lot of stress. Furthermore, my family is accompanying me, which is extremely comforting but also causes some extra hassle. What are the realities of moving abroad for half a year? (Half a year sounds more than six months. Maybe with this stress level I should talk about six months.)

  1. Accommodation. The number one stress. It seems people are (a) unwilling to rent to foreigners at a distance or (b) willing to take our money via Western Union and leave us with plain air. At the worst-case scenario, Denmark as a welfare state has social service so when we sleep under the bridge (with a toddler), they would come and get us. Maybe we should take a tent with us and try camping (legally).
  2. Renting our own place. This is actually my spouse’s stress so I shouldn’t worry about it. Still, if we don’t rent our own, we lose potential income. If we rent, we would rent it furnished and what happens to my favourite tea mug? Maybe I should take it with me.
  3. What to wear. Major stress. Applies to all trips but this time I should decide six months before hand. Really, I should I know if I feel like red or green stockings? Maybe I should bring both.
  4. Paperless office. On top of everything, I decided that carrying some hundreds of journal articles, book chapters, and several books is not a good idea (as you noticed deciding what to take is hard for me). Thus, I have been setting up an e-office with a tablet (computer), PDF annotation application, synchronising etc. Yet I wonder, how do people find time to learn all this new stuff? Maybe I should bring some hard copies just in case my abilities are not developed enough.
  5. Over-packing. Obviously stressing for my spouse. In addition to a tent, favourite tea mug, red and green stockings, and some piles of paper, I have been thinking about bringing a blender. I admit it sounds odd. Yet, the thing I like the most, when being an adult, is knowing what is good for me and acting accordingly. And I know making smoothies makes me happy. Still my spouse thinks I’m exaggerating.

In order to escape my moving-aboard-for-six-months-in-two-weeks stress, I used my early morning to walk in an autumn forest and after that sit down and type this blog post. As an adult, I know what is best for me and today it was reaching out to you over a bowl of lingonberries & hot porridge and organic green tea.

My destress morning

Why to be or not to be a bitch

Tina Fey‘s comment ‘bitches get stuff done’ caught my eye some time ago and I shared it with some of my friends (yeah, via Facebook). It struck a responsive chord, so to speak, and many said amen.I begun to think why this quote was considered to be to the point. Sure we all recognise the type: a self-centred elbowing person who does anything to achieve her or his goals and considers others only as long as it benefits themselves.Sure, I get stuff done by being a bitch, bit at what cost? Am I happy having gained a goal by not considering others? Of course sometimes I don’t need to consider others because it is a matter of being a bitch to myself and making myself work harder.

The more I have been thinking about it, the more I feel the process should matter too, whether it how I treat others or myself. Unfortunately, for instance in the academia one is evaluated mainly via personal goal achievement, namely publications. Solely personal goals for career development might encourage a person to be a bitch.
Of course, in the academia it is allowed to cooperate and co-author, but how can one build cooperation by being a bitch? To me it seems that this is possible only by provoking fear. Bitches get stuff done because others are willing to cooperate only because they are too afraid to decline. Meanwhile, they create exit strategies. But the minute the chances are there, others will do something else.It all comes back to what is important in my life: getting stuff done or enjoying the process. I have been starting to think why do I need to get stuff done anyways? To gain a living, sure. However, to me it seems it is nicer to gain a living in genuine cooperation with others rather than being a bitch.