Student experiences of retreats

 Pollie Barden, PhD Media Arts Technology 3rd year 

"I’ve been described by one of the tutors as a junkie, since I’ve been to reading retreats, writing retreats, and also the combo reading and writing day! For me, what’s really beneficial is that you get given a dedicated space that, even though it’s not that far from campus, is still separate from university life. I like the fact that the retreats are facilitated and the fact that I get to meet people from other departments. So, for example, at the writing retreat I attended recently, I was struggling with crafting my research questions, and a PhD student from Medicine gave me advice about how she’d managed adjust hers. Particularly when you do a PhD, you get so wrapped up in thinking that you’re all alone and that no one else understands, so when you get exposed to other people, regardless of their discipline or degree, you are able to share tips and advice. So it’s the combination of the facilitator and the variety of people that you meet that makes these retreats so valuable."

Emily Yarrow, 2nd Year PhD, School of Business and Management

Thesis: ‘What is the impact of national research evaluation on women’s and men’s academic careers in the UK? A case study of the Research Excellence Framework.’

I have attended three or four writing retreats since starting my PhD last year, as I find it is a good way to really get into the ‘writing zone’ as well as meeting other PhD students from different faculties. I particularly find the no phone and/or internet rule very helpful for minimising distractions, as well as the positive peer pressure which really encourages one to write effectively and get a considerable amount of writing done. Whilst the writing retreats are very helpful for me, the reading retreats are less useful as I prefer to read alone and combine it with writing, but I know that others do find them of benefit. Ultimately, the writing retreats enable me to get large chunks of writing done in a relatively short amount of time, in an environment which I find conducive to work.