We have been sharing impressive and inspiring stories of achievements and good practices from the members of our network for some time. Today we have another interesting story to share from Tan Nguyen, an AUN/SEED-net scholar who has just earned a PhD in Civil Engineering from Kyoto University. He kindly shared with us three important life hacks for PhD students which can help them through their study lives come rain or shine.

“After three years of hard work with countless moments of stress, disappointment and happiness, finally I have finished my PhD. And to the future AUN/SEED-net scholars, I would like to share these three things.

Firstly, to start off on the right foot, it is all about choosing a proper research topic. For me, there are two criteria to decide: significance and achievability. On the one hand, your research must be significant, i.e., it should be important to the development of both the society and your research field.  On the other hand, the research should be achievable within your time budget for the PhD program. Conducting literature review and preliminary research before choosing topics is primarily a responsibility of PhD students, but the suggestions and advice of an experienced and supportive supervisor are also critical. A well-chosen topic will result in a dissertation that readers could perceive the importance, innovation and interestingness thereof.

Secondly, DO YOUR RESEARCH WITH LOVE and PASSION. Soon after you start your research work, there will be times of extreme stress and disappointment; there will even be times when you just want to give up. In such times, it would be torturous to continue without a love for your work. Love is a choice and I chose it while conducting my research. Indeed, once you do research with love, you are energized to complete an enormous amount of work and fulfill your duty without much effort. You just find your work interesting; you just want to do it, again and again. Hence, you keep increasing your level of satisfaction as well as your performance; it is like a positive circle, and you put yourself in “the flow”.

Finally, although depressions and disappointments are inevitable when you conduct your PhD research, you could always overcome them with an attitude of gratitude. To me, I always feel indebted to JICA for providing me a PhD scholarship through AUN/SEED-net project; to my supervisor for his academic supervision, support, and belief in my ability; to my family for their endless love and encouragement. Such thoughts of gratitude have kept me going through my hardest times, making me who I am today.”