The PhD…or to walk a marathon – by Diana Erandi Barrera Moreno


I am constantly looking for metaphors. I have always liked to see life as a poem. Maybe there is no real connection, but to me the universe is a never ending fractal. In my head all these links exist and make sense. I sometimes wonder if others ever see them too. I am curious, have been for as long as I can remember. Sometimes my inquisitive mind gets me in troubles I would not have to deal with otherwise. Still, here I am on the run to get a PhD. Run is an interesting word here, I like running, do it every other day, just for fun. What is the connection then? Where is the metaphor?

image.jpegOne sunny Sunday I put on my old boots, the same pair I was wearing when I started the early phase of this trip: I was going to start a Master’s degree. As I walked my way up and down Bristol’s hills they have been properly worn out. I did not want to just bin them; I wanted to see them off in style.

By the time I was musing these thoughts, the deadline for my PhD progression submission was looming. I was somewhat perplexed because I had nearly finished and yet I needed to write more and do it better.

That was when it hit me: I was going to do the Bristol-Bath walk as a metaphor, but I wanted the nice view, so I took the long and winding road (cycle path or psychopath if you are too tired to see the difference). I had briefly seen the map of the motorway and the one I was going to take. However, I was not paying attention to the big detour my chosen route makes, or had rather misjudged the distance. I made the numbers in my mind.I felt ready.

A couple of people whom I asked for directions must have thought “either she is too silly to know how far that is or she is insanely crazy”. I admit to both, I suppose. Anyhow, once on the road I was trying to mend my progression, worrying at times, but mostly convincing myself of the metaphor: I am on this road, I have chosen to walk this way; if I can make this trip I can do the PhD

I had decided to walk not run because I intended to enjoy the views and have a memorable day trip on foot. Because the walk was taking longer than I had anticipated I started to feel anxiety, but time and time again I said to myself that I was closer to my goal than I was to going back. I finally arrived.

To be honest it was rather anticlimactic. I started humming, then whistling the Triumphal March from Aida. I had made it! And yet, the appointment I had was three miles away… Do not get me wrong, I was elated most of the time. Nevertheless, I had expected the end of my trip to be always something else. I am so glad that I walked and not run because I now realise that more than going to Bath what I set out to do was to enjoy the process.

Editor’s Note: Diana Erandi Barrera Moreno is a Doctoral Candidate (Education) in the Centre for Globalisation, Education & Social Futures, Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol. She has working experience in software development and in 2014 she completed an MSc programme in Education, Technology and Society at the University of Bristol. Diana’s current project is aimed at reconnecting and strengthening the links among different generations in Bristol by using technology and exploring personal narratives. Email: