The Upgrading (from MPhil to PhD)

My friend Dora is a Distance Learning student in our School at the University of Leicester; writing her PhD on Hellenistic Gymnasia. Today is her upgrading from MPhil to PhD. She will meet the committee around 10, when, hopefully, they will acknowledge her superior knowledge of the Hellenistic period and her innovative ideas on the development of the Institution of Gymnasia. I am confident that she will pass with flying colours. Dora’s self confidence, on the other hand, is non existent. Since m... »

Greek Archaeology in Crisis

For the past few months the Greeks have been the target of many demeaning jokes across the European Union. The near-bankruptcy of Greece caused the indignation of our European ‘Allies’, because of the fear that they will have to pay for my country’s alleged bailout. We have been called many things: disorganized, irresponsible, crooks, swindlers, fraudsters, cheaters. The image they forged for us hurts! My new identity as a fraudster is impossible to swallow or accept without protest. I have been... »

Gifts for PhD students

A friend recently asked me what gift would I give to a PhD student. That was an odd question, I thought. But then I realised the awkwardness of the situation and the dilemma in which my friend was. PhD students are different and effectively they have different needs. So, here is a list of what I think is suitable. • Chocolates. There is nothing better than the pleasure a piece of chocolate can give. In addition, it works also as powerful brain food. • Half a bottle of wine. This is just about ri... »

Relocation, Relocation: The Fate of an Academic Gypsy

Last Sunday I went for tango in Market Harborough. There, I have been introduced to a young dancer with excellent leading skills. Curious about his style, I asked him where he took tango lessons. He mentioned that he started in Paris and then he continued in Canada and the UK. Then it was my turn to reveal the whereabouts of my teachers: Ireland, UK, Italy, Germany and Greece. The next question took me by surprise. He asked me: Are you a Researcher? How could he have guessed? Was it my scholarly... »

Christmas and Loneliness for PhD Students: Curse or Blessing?

Writing a PhD is a lonely process! Most of us dedicated scholars have been through the endless nights in front of the computer screen, we declined offers for a pint in the local pub or a cup of coffee in the corner café, and we missed the wedding of our best friend because we happened to be abroad on a conference. How much more antisocial could we be? Despite the lonely nature of the PhD, valiant departments are determined to create a social environment for the almost forgotten students. They or... »

Academic Prostitution

I admit I was fascinated by the story of Belle de Jour, the high class call girl, who became famous through her blog, book and TV series. I may not have read the book but I was fanatic about, initially, the blog and, then, the series, in which a sassy Billy Piper lives the high life in vibrant London. Throughout this time I thought that Belle was a fictitious character born by the perverse imagination of a male author. You can guess my surprise and subsequent curiosity when I found out not only ... »