In this post, PhD student Catherine Clarissa, from the School of Health in Social Science, shares her experience of being part of a recent initiative involving, coffee, cake and chat with students and staff…
Last year in April, I got the chance to be part of the Coffee and Cake Conversations initiative run by Dr Cathy Bovill in the IAD. The idea of the initiative was to pair up one staff member and a group of students from our school (School of Health in Social Science), arrange a meeting and have meaningful conversations over free coffee and cake! I was lucky to be invited. One of my PhD friends would be going back to her home country for her fieldwork at that time. She asked me if I was interested in taking her place, and I said yes!
On the day, three PhD students (Anny Chen from Taiwan, Hye Ri Choi from South Korea and me from Indonesia) and Dr Elaine Haycock-Stuart (a senior lecturer from Nursing Studies) went to the National Museum of Scotland café. We started our discussion by sharing our motivations to do a PhD. Coincidentally, the three of us did the MSc programme at the university. We all agreed that we enjoyed the programme and how the lecturing staff have inspired us to pursue a PhD. Additionally, we received some insights from Elaine about how important students’ feedback is to improve teaching. I remember when we talked about how we enjoyed the Global Health Nursing course by Dr Fiona Cuthill and I nominated it as the ‘Best Course’ in the EUSA teaching awards. She told us that the School and course organiser found it valuable to be recognised by the students in this nomination.
We continued our conversations by sharing our PhD experiences so far, our supervisors and our PhD life in general. Anny and I talked about our experience of being involved in teaching as tutors, and how the opportunities enabled us to develop our skills and confidence as well as reflecting on our knowledge. We successfully sparked Hye Ri’s interest. She is thinking to apply for a tutoring post in the next academic year.
When we talked about our supervisors, we realised that our supervision experiences were unique as we have different supervisors. However, we all found our supervisors supportive which was very significant in developing our research skills in our topic area. We also loved the peer support from the postgraduate nursing students in particular as well as other doctoral students in the whole school.
I personally think that the coffee and cake initiative was an excellent way to create a relaxed and friendly atmosphere to have conversations with a staff member. As a student myself, I tend to talk more to other students. I feel that I don’t know much about the staff’s work nor research in my school beyond my own supervisors. Having a conversation with Elaine has helped me to understand more about her role as an academic staff member in our school.