Before starting my PhD

I’m officially starting my Ph.D. studies in January, but before that and at the beginning of my studies, there is quite a lot of paperwork and administration to be done.

As I have mentioned before, I always enjoy writing about my studies and I wish to document these first steps of my Ph.D. as well. I have also seen blog writing being used in research writing courses as one tool to improve your writing skills, the more you write, the better you can get! And being a non-native English speaker doing my research in English, I definitely hope to improve my language skills as well.

Verification of my diplomas

As I have degrees from a university outside of Finland, more exactly from Guangzhou, China, I have to apply for a verification report of my degree certificate and transcripts of records. Luckily there are a couple of months to do this, as it looks to be taking a while to process that.

Registering for all the online systems

The university I’m attending has several online systems for keeping track of my studies, registering for courses, using the online library, and so on. I have just received my login details and can start to learn how these websites and systems are used. The last time I attended a Finnish university was in 2009 so all these online platforms have since been upgraded.

Registering for courses

Registration for Spring 2023 courses is open and I have already applied to join a few courses, I will later get confirmation of which courses I have been accepted to join. As my master’s degree was very practical, and not research-oriented, I want to step into the research playfield with the right tools. Doing my studies remotely might feel isolating at times, so I hope attending courses online when possible will also help with peer support.


As I’m doing most of my degree remotely, I need to find ways to get to know everyone online and become part of the university community. I try to attend all events or talks for new doctoral researchers that are available via zoom, it not only helps me in navigating my studies and also to make me feel part of the doctoral program.

Feeling like a doctoral researcher

In Finland, Ph.D. students are actually not called students, but doctoral researchers. (See the announcement here) As a non-native Mandarin Chinese teacher, impostor syndrome isn’t new to me. Ten years ago I would have never believed I could teach Chinese and I still sometimes have doubts about not being perfect even though I’m a teacher. I believe and have read these feelings are quite common when starting out with your Ph.D. so I want to be mindful of gradually growing into the role of a junior researcher or a doctoral researcher.

Being excited

I bet there will be many moments when I will feel like giving up or completely incompetent in writing any sort of scientific text, but right now I want to enjoy that feeling of excitement when starting this new exciting chapter!

If you have any questions about applying to a Ph.D. program in Finland, I’m happy to try to answer any questions below you might have.

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