I think the PhD honeymoon is over.
A month ago, as I settled in here in my nook in HK, I was still giddy and excited with everything: new environment, new colleagues, new resources, new university. I was able to go out with old and new friends, met new (and younger) people, and I had a graciously wonderful time with them. I joined an aquatic sport and frequented to the gym to keep me healthy. I resumed my weekend painting spree, with further plans of joining art classes to improve my craft.
A month has passed and I think I am becoming listless.
I noticed the shift in my body clock. At first, I tried to devote myself to wake up at 7:30 am, then proceed to have a proper breakfast while enjoying the cemetery view of our dorm. My work day would normally commence at 9:00 am and ideally end at 5:00 pm, in order to maintain the work-study-life balance mode.
These days, I wake up at 10 am, have brunch, and proceed with my afternoon classes while I spend my working hours until 7 or 8 in the evening. I am lucky if I return to the dorm by 9 pm, but it usually does not mean that my reading stops there. I still have to read articles and books, listen to lectures, self-study on a subject that is totally foreign to me. Sometimes, I still have to do papers in between (short ones, thank God). My day ends at 2 am.
At the start, I resolved to myself not to bring to the dorm any work. But it is absolutely unavoidable. Either I stay in the office (that sometimes reaches a frigid temperature) or in the dorm (with the bed as a constant temptation). So, yes, my own inconsistency is not helping either.
The real work also sets in. I have to contend with classes, meetings, and seminars. Wednesday is my toughest day as my classes begin at 2 pm and end at past 8 pm with almost no breathing room in between, and classrooms from one end to another (at this point, I really thank my undergraduate education days for training me how to walk rapidly from Bellarmine Hall 3rd floor to CTC 3rd floor).
And if you think it is all about school matters, there are the dorm commitments. Floor meetings, compulsory activities, and the dorm varsity team…all for the sake of getting readmitted the next year.
This week aggravated my listlessness: the became cooler (not colder) gave me the frequent shivers that I had to drink loads of vitamin C. HK has quite a paranoia as far as typhoons as concerned (sometimes bordering to overreaction over seemingly strong gusts) which ruined my plans for a fruitful, more productive weekend.
I felt like a college student again. This time, with more independence and triple the workload. And it is draining the hell out of me.
But then again, I cope.
I go out and make time for friends. Friends give you that extra nudge to keep on fighting, and they are the support that you will ever need. I am so fortunate that the Pinoy scholars community here is particularly big and supportive. Even with Pinoys in HKU, I am really glad that we get to see each other at least once a month.
I still attend Church here. It is actually not hard to find churches in HK (I follow this rule: see where the Filipinos congregate, and you will find a church). And although the masses here have an Anglican air, I am afforded to reflect on my own spirituality as well.
I push to have time just for myself. Even for an hour or two. During weekends, I cook Pinoy meals, or paint, or sleep, depending on my mood. I catch up on TV series or watch movies online. I go to the gym regularly and pick up the habit of maintaining not only my brain but my body as well. I make the long walk from the university to the dorm which gives me time to reflect, think, or sing mindlessly at night.
I guess there are days and those days when you no longer understand what is going on. But there are days that you look forward to especially if you are with the people you want to be.
This PhD journey is just beginning. The course will be tough and rough, but it need not be done alone.