27 and a PhD

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The kindness of total strangers

Welcome to my blog!

Hello there, awesome reader. My name is Dr. 27. I'm older than that now, but I'm staying faithful to the origins of the blog.

This blog started 2 months before completing my PhD in a pretty southern university back in 2009. It was a way to practice my writing and take a break from all things thesis. My PhD is in a branch of structural biology where I studied some rather impressive stuff.

After completing the degree, I packed my life of 6 years in 3 days and moved to Canada to do a postdoc in a completely different field. Two years later, and after attending a lot of seminars, workshops and doing some much-needed soul-searching, I ended up getting out and looking for an alternative path to academia and industry.

The blog chronicles my mishaps, ideas, musings and tips on entering, staying and finishing grad school. It also talks about some (or a lot) of personal stuff. For a while, the blog became a place to talk about the frustrations of not knowing what to do after PhD. I wanted to explore alternatives to the traditional paths of research (academia, industry and goverment) whilst going back to my field of training (if at all possible). Eventually a job materialized. Follow my quest as I navigate the waters of being a staff scientist at a core facility.

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Strangers have shaped my view of new job city ... a bit of a guiding light

It’s been a week since I moved to new job city. I can hardly believe it. Two Saturdays ago I was still in Canada, still with honey, planning to go to a small fringe festival. I still had his sweet smell, smile, touch, next to me, at my fingertips. I had kitty, a real big bed, cable and our recliner. I was still pinching myself every time I thought of moving to new job city. But I was/am scared of the enormity of the city, and how I would cope with that.

Since then I’ve moved, started work, lived in 2 places in 10 days. It hasn’t been easy. I don’t think I’ve fully processed things yet. During the week I go to work, talk to my labmates, run experiments, do some administrative/managerial/technical things, at the end of the day I feel tired, but accomplished. During the weekends I go to look at apartments, or stay in and watch TV. I know, boring. Those of you who know new job city know that this sucks on my part. I’m a wee scared of the city, of venturing out alone, of accidentally bumping on nasty EX-family member or something. I have an unlimited transit pass, and unlimited resources food and entertainment-wise. But instead I stay in.

One thing that has made the move a LOT easier … well, two things … scratch that, 3 are Google Maps, Skype and the random acts of kindness of total strangers. Oh, and a fourth one, YOU my tweeps. I’ve been lucky enough to have internet access in the 2 places I’ve stayed. I get to talk to honey from his vacation spot every day, even if it’s for a few short minutes. That is one of my lifelines. I’d love for him to text me at all sorts of hours of the day, like before … but I’ll take Skype for now, that is sufficient to keep my heart content.

Google Maps, and the street view feature have been a lifesaver. They’ve helped me orient in this new place. Every time I go somewhere new (which is everywhere, except for work) I check it out. I’ve made it to all the spots I’ve needed to, on my own … which is kind of a miracle, seeing as honey is really gifted in figuring out maps and routes and his sense of direction is better than mine. I also see reviews of the places I go to, check  the surroundings, and of course, the public transport options, routes and ways to access them. It’s been a God-send.

The third: random acts of kindness. Well they’ve been amazing, and have made the whole moving thing a lot easier …. or at least less stressful. The very first day I got to new job city I had people opening the door, helping me out with my massive luggage, showing a nice side of this city that I’d never experienced. The people at the front desk/reception of where I stayed the first few days greeted me with a smile. The breakfast guys near my first temporary place always knew what I wanted and prepared it with gusto. When I got to my place of work, people warmed up to me quickly. My taxi driver yesterday, even though he was clueless of where he was going (I was just as clueless but somehow we teamed up and managed to get me to my second temp place), was gracious, attentive and extremely helpful. People at the deli where I get lunch, the public transport ticket place(s) … amazing and helpful. I’d always found them rude when I came as a tourist … but something’s happened … or maybe it’s the universe giving me a break and making my life a little easier during this whole period. It was the guy holding the door for me yesterday, a total stranger, asking me if I needed help with my bags yet again, the guy who makes space for me on the bus to sit and take a break on my way home. The guy who gives me a free cookie, just because I smiled, said thank you and devoured the food he’d just prepared.

Finally, but no less meaningful, my tweeps. Ever since I started getting in touch with people working/studying at new job city, asking them tips and bits, I’ve never gotten a rude response, or a you’ll figure it out kinda answer. I’ve gotten email after email, forwarding me info on places to stay, places to avoid, places to eat, etc. Aside from my true family (hon included), my Twitter friends and acquaintances have been instrumental in this whole thing. Our convos by DM, or gchat, making lunch, dinner or drink dates arrangements. I cannot believe it. When some “family” members failed, you guys were/are there to pick up the pieces and help me stay on track.

Thank you, thank you all. I’m very humbled by your kindness. I hope I can somehow repay you, or at the very least, pay it forward. You’ve made the move and adapting to a new environment less stressful. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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4 Comments

  1. PB says:

    I almost hate to recommend them because of some reported Buisness practices. But if you are somewhere new, Yelp Is probably in valuable.

  2. funkdoctorx says:

    If you’ve never lived in a city before, you are in for a big treat. I lived in a large city for my graduate work. This was my first time living in such a place and I was amazed at how much of a community you can find in a city, much more so than any suburbia and even many small towns. This is something I never expected because city living undeservedly gets such a bad rap in the community department. Now that I’m in a new place (and country for that matter) I find myself pining for walking down my block and chatting with neighbors about the local sports team or whatever other local news there is. It is such a wonderful feeling knowing your neighbors, your neighborhood and your block. I hope it all goes well, and maybe you’ll have a chance to get involved in the community directly!

    • Dr. 27 says:

      Thanks FunkDoctorX. I do believe that big cities have a bad rap, which sometimes it’s not deserved. So far I’ve experienced a lot of warmth, and help .. with the ocassional outlier that has/is having a bad day. We all do. Thanks for your input. It’s great to know your perspective. I do hope to get involved with my community someone, once the dust has settled.

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