Looking back over this past academic year as a part-time student has been challenging but I have survived and am looking forward to the next one. It is useful now to reassess everything and hopefully move forward more efficiently and effectively!
I went along to everything that was initially on offer for new PhD students, which was really useful especially as it enabled me to meet other students and to try to establish a peer network. However, before too long everyone seemed to bury themselves away to work, but I guess that is the nature of the PhD. I thought it would be useful to say, meet up once a month if they could escape to exchange ideas, moans etc. and if nothing else to provide mutual support. So it has ended up just catching up at any meetings so far.
I also signed up for more than the recommended five RDP (research Development Programme) sessions as I felt that there were sessions covering subjects I knew little about. However, in hindsight perhaps this was not such a good idea as apart from it taking up time when I could have been working on other things, some of the sessions were more valuable than others . Next year at least I can repeat any that may be particularly useful and just attend any others I missed this year.
One thing that has shone through everything, is the fact that I feel so fortunate to have got so far and not been written off as seems to be the case in some other universities. To have my supervisor Karen, has been a light shining through initial teething problems and enabled me to keep on track. To also be able to discuss anything even if I felt it was at a basic level has been a great help. A couple of days ago there was a TV report about a lady of 86 who had just received her doctorate at the University of Bristol, so it is good to hear that I will not be the oldest by the time I finish!