Rachel Tan - “‘Switch off’ the PhD Life: Summer in Dunedin”


Rachel Tan

Rachel is a PhD candidate at the Higher Education Development Centre, University of Otago. She likes to meet people and is a big fan of nature and photography.

Summer is the season to be jolly and a time of merriment in Dunedin! December in New Zealand is certainly something that I look forward to. The campus would be exceptionally quiet as many would be away for the festive season and long breaks.  It's a time that reminds many of us PhD candidates to take a few days off (after many long hours of research work) for the year.

Yet, a number of my friends and I find it difficult to unplug from our work. Consciously allocating time for work and non-work activities apply to many aspects of our life as a working adult. It is not uncommon to hear the pressure of deadlines looming (i.e. article, essay or grant applications) that most of us felt restricted to do non-work related activities. A tight timeline made it really hard to 'switch off' even when we have worked for more than 10 hours every day of the week. 

Still, I try to practice a balanced social lifestyle instead of one just for work. I find these activities are food for my soul especially when being alone and abroad without family on festive seasons! Some of my past happy summer fun is as follows: 

Winter Solstice

As a Malaysian of Chinese heritage, I grew up with the tradition of making 'tang yuan', a dessert consisting of glutinous rice balls, to celebrate the Winter Solstice in December. My cousins and I would sit next to grandma to make the little balls. Because it is a celebration in the Northern hemisphere, the seasonal name does not go along in the Southern Hemisphere.

Winter Solstice

It's akin to the 'confusion' of having wintery Christmas when one is in the South.