This month I was finally able to submit my research proposal to the research school where I wanted to do my PhD. Now that my proposal has been accepted, I am officially a PhD-candidate.

I was a bit scared of starting a self-funded PhD in the middle of a pandemic, because it seemed like a recipe for loneliness. No classmates, no workplace, not even being able to go to the library, as I’m doing my PhD at the Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis, and I myself live in Leiden. That’s a 40-minute train ride to a hot spot, which is not a good plan considering how bad the Netherlands is doing in keeping the infection rates down. So it would mean a lot of working from home, occasionally video calling with my supervisors.

Luckily, I received the warmest welcome I could imagine from the University of Amsterdam. Upon acceptance, I got loads of information on all the facilities for PhD-candidates, even the self-funded ones. The newsletter introduced me so my fellow PhD-candidates and since then I’ve received daily e-mails on interesting projects to read into or to participate in. There are online staff meetings and students are also taking social initiatives: like the group of students who come together on Zoom every Tuesday morning to work on their dissertations. They seem like small things, but it immediately gave me the feeling I became part of this community, instead of just reading and writing from home.

I hope I can hold on to this feeling. For now, I felt really motivated, and I’ve had some good days of work.

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