My Ph.D. Journey Begins!

It’s quite incredible to be able to share this news that I’ve dreamed about and prepared for over a year now. At the same time, I’ve been utterly scared that it would never become a reality, but here we are! I will be starting my doctoral studies this coming January!

In October 2021 I shared on the blog that I had decided to apply for a doctoral program and in March 2022 I shared how I actually applied. What I didn’t share is that I was denied once last Spring when I applied for the first time. It was devastating news to hear, but at the same time, I got advice and encouragement to continue to work on my research proposal and apply again. That second chance came this Autumn and just last week of November I got the results that I had been accepted to the program.

When I received the email about my acceptance I was of course over the moon and jumping up and down with happiness. But about five minutes later the horror set, oh my god, I actually have to pull this off now! I actually have to do real research, to grow in a way I have never done before.

Imposter syndrome is not new monster for me, it’s a common thought that passes my mind. How could I be good enough to be a Chinese teacher? How could I be good enough to tell others how to learn a language? I’m nowhere close to perfect! And I’m quite sure I’m not the only one, but now at a doorway to a doctoral program, I just can’t believe how on earth I got here!

I’ve been googling information on what it’s actually like to do a Ph.D. in Finland, as I understand it’s very different from country to country, but there really isn’t a lot of information out there, especially from a personal point of view. Me on the other hand, I have years of experience writing about my studies, no matter successful or not. Back in 2008-2009, I had a rather well-known blog in Finnish about applying to university (Pääsykoeblog), and since then I have always written about my studies. From my Finnish blog (Xue opiskelee) to this current blog you are reading right now (started in 2010). If you want to read about my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in China, check out my posts about Sun Yat-Sen University.

I’ve always been a student at heart. Studying history in Finland (2008-2009), Chinese language (2010-2014), and teaching Chinese (2014-2016) in China. My number one character strength is definitely love of learning. Now being able to fully dive deep into a topic so dear to myself, I can’t even begin to describe how excited I am!

My research is about studying the motivation of adult second language learners of Mandarin Chinese. I’m interested in what factors affect motivation and how it changes during the course of one semester. Many of us are familiar with being extremely motivated right at the beginning, but then feeling the motivation fade over time. At the same time, there are students who never give up no matter what happens, what is their secret for keeping up the motivation? These are some of the questions I hope to answer in the next four years or so.

I will be starting my studies remotely as my life is very much here in Guangzhou and my research participants are my own students. Most of my degree is doing my own research, but there is a certain amount of Ph.D. courses needed to be completed as well. Luckily I have found out many of those can be joined remotely. As a matter of fact, I will be registering for the coming courses in a week’s time! Doctoral studies in my program include courses like Ethical questions in education research, reading circle on education research, discussing quality in education research, and research funding.

At the moment there are way more questions than answers about everything related to my studies and research, but I’m excited to be able to share the journey with all of you!