Writtle University College and ARU have merged. Writtle’s full range of college, degree, postgraduate and short courses will still be delivered on the Writtle campus. See our guide to finding Writtle information on this site.

Navigating Academia Amidst Uncertainty: A PhD Journey Between Cambridge and Northumberland

Andie Riches

Faculty: Science and Engineering
School: Psychology and Sport Science
Category: Student support services

11 April 2024

Embarking on my PhD journey amidst the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed depths of adaptability and resilience I never knew I possessed.

My PhD journey

As the world grappled with restrictions and uncertainties, I found myself commencing my doctoral studies in an environment where online communication was the norm, and travel across the country was restricted. Yet, amidst these challenges, I discovered a newfound appreciation for the flexibility afforded by modern technology, particularly as a qualitative researcher.

The transition to remote learning and virtual interactions posed initial hurdles, but it also paved the way for innovative approaches to academic pursuits. Despite the physical distance separating Cambridge from my home in Northumberland, technology bridged the gap, enabling me to participate in seminars, workshops, and collaborative endeavours from the comfort of my own space. While the absence of in-person interactions presented its own set of challenges, it also fostered a sense of solidarity within the academic community as we navigated these uncharted waters together.

My academic journey

As a qualitative researcher, the pandemic-induced shift towards online communication brought unexpected advantages. Traditionally reliant on face-to-face interviews and fieldwork, I found myself embracing virtual platforms as a means of conducting data collection. Far from being a compromise, this transition opened new possibilities, allowing for greater flexibility in scheduling interviews and reaching participants based all over the world. Moreover, the technological advancements precipitated by the pandemic have improved access to research opportunities, breaking down geographical barriers and fostering greater inclusivity within academic circles. For individuals like me, who split their time between Cambridge and Northumberland, this shift has been particularly beneficial, offering a seamless integration of academic pursuits with the comforts of my home.

As I reflect on the evolution of my academic journey, I am reminded of the power of adaptability, collaboration, and the determined human spirit. While the challenges posed by the pandemic were unprecedented, they also catalysed innovation, fostering a sense of solidarity and shared purpose within the academic community. As I continue to navigate the dynamic landscape of academia, I am grateful for the lessons learned amidst uncertainty, and the opportunities for growth and resilience that have emerged from adversity.


The views expressed here are those of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of Anglia Ruskin University. If you've got any concerns please contact us.