So, clearly I never did a PhD in Italy, but I know several friends who did or are still in the process of.  After being here for 6 weeks one thing is clear: a PhD is totally different from here to there. 
But is it, really?
Or does it just depend on the people you work with, the project, and whether it’s funded (and have a more strict deadline) or not?
What I noticed is that none of my friends and colleagues abroad seem to have a clear timeline and milestones to cover over the years. Yes, it’s an ongoing process, always shifting towards more detailed and specific topics, but what is common to all of them is that the first year you kind of struggle through figuring out what to do and how to do it. Most of the time you might just be reading papers and maybe doing some side project, such as helping some post-doc run an experiment. 
Not me though. British PhD are structured so you have to be examined after a year through a Viva Voce examination (aka Viva) where a committee decides whether you are fit for research, or to say it formally, you get upgraded from MPhil to PhD. Specifically, my department requires an other more informal Viva examination before the official one. The latter will be in approximately 6 months. By then I need to write 2 or 3 chapters of my thesis (the introduction, the literature review and possibly my first study), which means I have to read, write, think of an experiment, recruit participants, collect data, analyze it and wrap all of this with nice paper and a bow by May.

No time to procrastinate, oversleep or daydream. 

 
The timeline I created will hopefully help me stay on track.
 
Schermata 2013-11-23 a 01.55.40

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