Learning from frustration

By March 31, 2017English

Pondering about the mysteries of doing a PhD, I have just found myself writing these lines seated in a train – somewhere between Maastricht and Valkenburg. The train is bringing me to the meeting point, where my friend is picking me up to play some good football. Just for the record, these lines are coming from the frustration of knowing that my publication has been advised for rejection for a second time. Yes. Second time. After two years of work. JA! Deal with it!

As the train moves, the words shyly flow. And the Frustration I had this morning, now it’s being materialised into text. Nothing than this rejection comes to my mind. Not even the nice strategies and tricks I had prepared for the game… Do you believe it?

During these last three years, lot of friends and people have asked me many times what do you in a PhD. What is it about? Is it a job? Is it a course? A project? How come you are still a student?… well, sorry for disappointing you, but…, I don’t have a clear answer yet. What I am sure about, is that sometimes it is painful. Really painful. Like that boyfriend or girlfriend that breaks up with you after three years. Or like this goal missed in front of an empty goal! Really painful!.

The train stops in Meerssen, and staring to a tree I am thinking… – man!… I am an optimistic person, but right now I must admit I am really really down, mad and frustrated -. Like a glass of water that gets full when you put too much water, my buffer to assimilate academically bad news it’s definitely full. It is overflowing the stuff out of it… Luckily it comes out in form of text.

Coming back to my frustration… What to do now? I don’t know. I just started to write. Maybe these lines could be useful for others in the future. BTW! Just one advice. When you write about your frustration, you should filter what you write. Try to be constructive. Constructive to yourself, and to others. Otherwise somebody could blame you about the ratio of PhD dropouts in the region hehe. (And we don’t want that 😉 )

The train is approaching Houthem Sint Gerlach, and I feel better. Seriously, I am starting to look at this with perspective. Look at me, I am learning!!! I think this is how it works. Now I know that doing a PhD 80% of the time sucks! But it sucks because it has to. And it sucks because if it wouldn’t be doing it, it means

you are not learning enough.

Yes, this is the way it is. And there is no one without the other. This is like talking about Spain without mention “Los Toros”, “la paella”, “la fiesta” or “la siesta”. Or like Eurovision without a freak! No way. It doesn’t exist. And if it does…

sorry you could have learnt more.

A new station is about to come together with a new reflection. When I started my PhD, I  was like… “Come on Angel, let’s create something, let’s innovate inquiry based learning, come on!! let’s change education”…… well after few years I understood how stupid I was. Indeed, this is about changing. But it is a development. It is about growing as a human being and as a professional. I am sure (with the fake numbers in my hand) that 20% is about papers, conferences, networking, bla bla bla… but the remaining 80% is about personal development. It teaches you a lot about your capacity to deal with pressure, deadlines, problems… and the most important thing:  How to learn from them.

The train has arrived and I have to wait for my Dutch friend, who is running a bit late. Funny eh! Sometimes I forget who is the Spanish guy here.

The Learning Pit

Credits: http://www.twinkl.co.uk/


Author Angel Suarez

Angel Suarez is a PhD student on Technology Enhanced Learning at Welten Institute (Research Center for Learning, Teaching and Technology) of the Open University of the Netherlands. Since he finished his Master project in 2013, he has been working on the design, development, implementation and testing of innovative tools and strategies to improve the support of Mobile Inquiry-based Learning in secondary education. His research has evolved into the use of Role Theory embedded with technology as a mean to structure and enhance IBL processes. Angel is a fellow of the Dutch research school information and knowledge systems (SIKS). Next to the OUNL research, he is the CTO in Smart Data Protection which deals with online data security.

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