Guest Post: Living the dream

When I sent out a call to my fellow PhD colleagues to ask who might like to guest post, I got a great response! One of the many things I love about my continued involvement in the PhD community is how wonderful the current and former PhD students all are. And how supportive.

So here is another guest post, by a PhD student from Hungary, Pal Négyesi. Hopefully it will give you a different perspective from another country and from another background. As you know, we’re all different. But I also hope it’s inspiring as well.


Five years ago I was a very happy small entrepreneur living in Hungary with a wife and one small kid (the 2nd one was under construction back then :)). I had various hobbies, including motoring history research. This topic led me to a lecturing job at a Hungarian University. And lecturing gave me such a rush, that I felt I found my second calling. I wanted to do this full-time. But I needed a PhD. Fast forward three years and in September, 2013 I started my PhD journey. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

After writing around 200 articles both in Hungarian and English and actually having a book published in English a couple years ago I was confident in my language abilities. I was slightly worried about the museology aspect, but I thought, hey, I can learn – how bad can it be? As it turns out, real bad.

I was so very enthusiastic in 2013. When my topic was accepted by the School of Museum Studies I even applied to become a student blogger. You can read some of the stuff I am about tell you over there as well, but not everything 🙂

A couple months into the PhD and I realised I really, really have no clue about modern museology methods. I am interested in museums, especially motoring museums, but the theoretical background escaped me – until now. Though my supervisors are super friendly and supportive and I spent the first year of my studies just reading, I still felt like an imbecile. There were moments, weeks, when I said to myself: this is not going to work. What on Earth are you doing here? My so-called working environment was not really helpful either. I spent most of my days holed up in a small room on the 1st floor of the Kindergarten, which my children attended. It was very surreal reading about national identity theories, while small children played outside. And I had no one to talk to. Supervisions were like goalposts – even though I felt inadequate my supervisor was always positive and helpful.

And then three things happened during Summer, 2015:
– I passed my probation review
– Kindergarten ended so I could move back to my study in our house. At least this is a more familiar environment.
– and the inevitable: I had an epiphany and all the small puzzle pieces fell into place.

I am now a lot more confident. I know where my PhD is heading. I am doing my field studies – which proves to be tremendously exciting. I manage to balance my life as a father, as an organizer of a private tutorial group, as an enterpreneur, as a historian and as a PhD student.

I was 40-year-old when I started my PhD. My message to everybody out there: it is never too late to chase your dreams. It sounds very cliché, but it is true: believe in yourself and then you can do it!


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