Prior to starting my research I was working full time as a self-employed professional translator; an occupation which I continue to pursue alongside my studies.
I decided to come back into education to extend the scope of my professional activities, possibly with a view to being able to offer some sort of language and communication consultancy alongside my existing services. I was particularly interested in how people communicate across language barriers and so decided to research this. I’ve returned to education from work once before when I did my undergraduate degree so was not particularly concerned about the transition. In fact, I was very much looking forward to it. However, a PhD is a very different mode of study and self-employment is a very different way of working to my former situation as an employee. Therefore, I did find the transition challenging for most of my first semester.
My research is focused on how people communicate verbally with each other at work when they do not share the same first language. My interest in the area arose from my experience of being in that situation in one of my former jobs. Now, as I work exclusively with language and translation, I continue to be very interested in how people communicate across language barriers. I had thought about doing a Masters degree (since I do not have one). However, this would have been too prescriptive and would not have afforded me the scope required to investigate my question.
I chose to study at Leicester because I was fortunate to find a supervisor in the School of Management who was very interested in my proposal. The fact that it is my home city is an added bonus. The University is a high-quality university with big city facilities but has a small and friendly 'village' feel. The atmosphere is very relaxed and friendly and it’s situated in a nice environment.
The course has actually far exceeded my expectations. I’m very happy with the facilities although, to be fair, I work mainly from home. I don’t need to use equipment much but the PC hub is available to me when I need it. Seminar rooms provide a pleasant group study environment and, although a part-time student, I’m treated very much as an equal by my peers and staff. The staff are all very approachable and extremely knowledgeable. I feel very much at home and I’ve been very well supported – my supervisors are excellent and all other members of staff are very supportive of what I’m doing, even though they are not supervising me.
Leicester is a small and friendly city and the people are very down to earth. Like the University, it offers city living with a small community feel. I enjoy going to the Phoenix cinema (more art-house than mainstream), O2 Academy, De Montfort Hall (both for music), restaurants and pubs in the city and locality where I live.
Managing my finances is harder than when I was a part-time undergraduate with a part-time job because, being self-employed, my income is unpredictable. This can be extremely challenging. Doing a PhD is like 'self-employed study' i.e. you make your own direction. Pursuing this mode of study alongside being self-employed means that I’m the one who has to be the boss of me in all situations at all times, which demands a lot of self-discipline and motivation. Thankfully, I have plenty of both but nevertheless there are times when I find it extremely difficult. Nevertheless, up to now, I feel I have been able to access enough support.
I’m not sure what I’ll do once I have finished my degree. I’m enjoying the PhD far more than I ever expected so I’ve started to become interested in an academic career. However I still have the option of pursuing a business consultancy alongside my current professional activities.
My time so far at the University has been very challenging, stimulating, satisfying, rewarding and happy. I would recommend Leicester to a new student without hesitation and my one piece of advice to anyone starting here would be: just enjoy every minute of your studies as well as your social life.