ESR Blog

The Ph.D. game

When I was a kid, one of my favorite games was Harvest Moon (the picture below). In this game, you inherit a farm and have three years (in-game time) to expand it, or the village’s mayor will take your farm back. In the game, you must collaborate with funny characters living in the town to build tools, buy animals, sell your harvest, etc. I have always liked it because most of the days, you don’t really do anything differently; you wake up, water your plants, collect the eggs, sheepshearing, milk the cows… – rinse and repeat. Always working on the larger goal of expanding the farm as time passes. Well, my current Ph.D. life weirdly parallels this game, and it’s actually kind of amusing.

This is how my days now echo the in-game routine: I rise with the sun, but instead of tending to crops, I dive headfirst into my calculations from where I left off. Carefully adding more terms in my Taylor expansions so that my equations grow slowly but steadily. Instead of collecting eggs, I am collecting data with my simulations with skyrmions. I am “codeshearing” every day. I have to “trim” my codes so they don’t grow wild and ugly. Instead of extracting milk from virtual cows, I am working patiently to extract valuable insights and solutions from all these data. As the cows in the game would moo-ve my farm toward prosperity, I hope these insights will moo-ve my research toward a published paper. And most importantly, just like I have three years to build up the farm, I also have three years to build up all this learning into a Ph.D. thesis.

The Ph.D. sure ain’t a walk in the park. It takes a lot of patience and incremental work. But just like I have so much fun doing the same thing in a game toward a larger goal, I am having fun with my Ph.D. I’m curious if my background in Brazil’s countryside is why I like this game so much! So here’s to more days of ‘farming’ data and mathematical equations while making the most of this unique Ph.D. journey!

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