Chris Cole

There is life outside the lab!

By Chris Cole

I’m coming to the end of my PhD and looking back the one piece of advice I would give to anyone going down the academic route is this; remember there is life outside the lab! I’m not just talking about writing up or attending talks/conferences (although those are important). Instead I’m talking about having an outlet to get you out of work and blow off some steam even for just a few hours.

Around four years ago I started my MRes/PhD, which remains one of the biggest milestones of my life. However, at roughly the same time I made another decision. To go from being a bookworm with no committed hobbies to training aerial in the circus (e.g. trapeze, acrobatics). Yeah, you read that correctly and to this day it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made.

Because of I’ve met some amazing and incredible individuals, travelled way more than I ever had previously and (more relevantly) it helped me through the most stressful moments of the past four years. And I wasn’t the only scientist who ran off to the circus. There is a trend in the circus community to have a range of people from STEM backgrounds. I’ve met medics, computer scientists, geologists, chemists and physicists who all train it as an outlet.

So, all I can say in reflection to anyone starting academia or feeling run down from the pressures that come with it is get out the lab! Think of something you’ve always wanted to try, google it and go do it! Maybe you’ll find something you’ll love and stick with it for life, or maybe it will be an experience. But regardless it could give you that much needed breather from the world of academia.

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