2021, another year of lockdown and the continuation of “unprecedented times”. Despite being a full-time registered PhD student, I have not set foot into my University, Wits, since March of 2020, but the show must go on. Anyone that has completed their PhD will tell you how much it consumed their life. And so, I was surprised to find out that there is a community of students called “studytubers” across the world that are filming their student life from home, and posting their videos on YouTube with a massive following.
In light of this, the SAYAS blogging team was encouraged to create our own studytuber video, sharing a day in our PhD lives during lockdown. This is not my first time on camera, I was an extra in a cricket-themed Indian cell phone commercial produced at the Sandton Convention Centre. The commercial was shot in 2017 with famous players from the Indian national cricket team. It never aired on South African TV, but it is on YouTube, click here and see if you can spot me within the first 10 seconds. In my high school days, I was the amateur cameraman for a friend that enjoyed filming pranks, where I featured in a few videos.
My intention before the production was that my video should accurately reflect a day in my student life from home, with the thoughts “it must be authentic” ringing in my head. However, it is difficult to film a truly authentic day when I do not ever film myself in the first place, and so I felt that capturing exactly what happens on a normal day is impossible, as so much of this ‘day in the life’ would be spent setting up camera angles, and deciding on time lapse speeds. I decided to film on a Thursday, a day that is usually quieter compared to the others, as I was worried that I would struggle to both film and succeed in my duties if I chose a busier day. To my surprise, I managed to get a lot of work done even whilst filming. I have big expectations for my PhD during 2021, and so it is clear that these slower days will be few and far between.
Working from home, or as someone more appropriately put it “living at work”, has become a new way of life for everyone. We can all admit that lockdown workdays are extremely varied, with the only constant being at home. You have breakthrough days, and you have nightmare days, especially when undertaking research. Although sometimes out of my control, my nightmare days are as a result of a lack of planning, laziness and becoming distracted with the comforts of home. To counter this, I try to be as organised as possible and plan each day, and so avoid taking too many unnecessary breaks . The rollercoaster that is a PhD is something that takes time getting used to.
Whilst watching the video back I realised that I am truly fortunate to have a stable home environment from which to work. I can only imagine how difficult other home situations may be. As far as the video making goes, it was enjoyable, and I thought I would be more nervous about it. On reflection, I was not as self-conscious as I have been in my past, perhaps due to the “it is what it is mentality” adopted by many these days. Hopefully you have enjoyed an example of a more relaxed day in my PhD life, complete with snack guides – including cake, some personal literature review advice, and a home workout routine.