Life lessons from a PH.D. student

“What would you like to be in the future?” is one of the most frequently asked questions since we were young and most of us would answer immediately without even thinking carefully. One of my tips to all undergraduate/graduate students is to keep asking yourself that question and try to answer with your passion and strong determination. Why? I will tell you.


Hello, I am Somhatai Timsard, THM alumna from Class of 518. I graduated from MUIC in 2012 and went on to pursue a Master’s degree at Oxford Brookes University and I’m now currently working on my Ph.D. at the same university. I took a gap year between finishing my Master’s degree and starting my Ph.D. studies in order to find myself. I asked myself the very same question that we all have been asked once or more in our lives: “What would I want to be in a few years?” And the answer was to be a Ph.D. degree holder. Why? Because I always ask questions and I am always curious. It would be more interesting and fun if I myself would be the one to answer my questions and satisfy my curiosity. Doing a Ph.D. allows me to do so.

Deciding to pursue my Ph.D. hasn’t been easy. It is a significant step that requires a strong commitment, passion, and determination. I can assure you that one of the most important elements in order to do well in life is passion. Without passion, it is like caring but without fuel; it doesn’t go anywhere unless you go down and push it. Finding our own passion seems to be troublesome for some students. But for me, I like to make my life a bit easier and I would say being passionate about something is when you could spend much of your time without complaints and unhappiness. And that will get you going.

Another thing I would suggest, from my own experience, is the need to “listen to yourself.” There was a moment before I decided to pursue my Ph.D. that I was in doubt. Some people mentioned that I have been studying for a long time so why would I want another degree? Undoubtedly, as a human being, I hesitated. Until I listened to my own voice telling me that this is what I really want. And I don’t regret making this decision.

Achievements are not accomplished through magic. I believe that if things come to us easily, they can be gone easily too. Passion, curiosity or even self-listening are meaningless without hard work. Everyone in this world has one brain, two hands and two feet but we can work lesser or harder than one another. We can get lazy sometimes but we can’t forget that answer to the question in the beginning—because it is what we are working hard for.

Lastly, if there were a few take-home notes that I could give you, I would say “be passionate, stay curious, listen to yourself, and work hard for it.”

Thank you and if you are in doubt, feel free to reach me at