A focaccia escapade

This year I decided to embark on a mission to improve on my baking skills because I really do want to improve the odds of having a bakery after this ( a really good one at that!). I do not know where I will be after this PhD but I am deciding to keep all my options open and do as much exploration into what I like, what I am passionate about and what I believe I am good at.

Baking and using an oven is just therapeutic for me as well so whenever I have the opportunity (and time!!!) to do it, I will take it.

The aim is to bake once a month until the end of my PhD and in June, a lovely friend of mine and I got together to make focaccia. I fell in love with this Italian recipe after watching several shows on the Food Channel, one of them being from Jamie Oliver. I have always been intimidated by bread and so baking it is something I told myself I would never easily manage but it is interesting how life can through you into the deep end sometimes. I thought I would take the opportunity to give it a try, seeing as I have found myself already doing soo many things I never thought I would (good things) . I want to make sure that when I do open up this bakery (eventually), I am fully aware of everything I want to make and can bake.

This bake happened in June but because of the busyness of this life, this has been the only time a human being has been in position to write this process down and share it with you. My friend and I adopted a recipe from this website with a few alterations here and there: https://www.gimmesomeoven.com/rosemary-focaccia-bread/ .

HEADS-UP! My process seems quite detailed, and I think it comes from working in a lab setting and having to write SOPs (standard operating procedures) for a couple of experiments. If the layout resembles anything close to that, bear with me emoji


  • Self-raising flour (3 cups)
  • Yeast (1 pack)
  • Rosemary (can be dried or fresh)
  • Thyme (can be dried or fresh)
  • Dried tomatoes
  • Salt (2 teaspoons)
  • Warm water (1 cup)
  • Olive oil

PS: If you follow https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/focaccia/ on Instagram, you will see soo many variations of ingredients to try out. I think that one of the most important things for focaccia though is to have it rise well and not be dense otherwise you would have missed the point entirely, in my opinion. I would therefore be cautious about overloading the dough with toppings, but to each their own baking journey. Pleas proceed as you wish 🙂 .


  1. Measure 3 cups of self-raising flour
  2. Add about 1 and a half to 2 teaspoons of salt to the flour
  3. To one cup of warm water, add in one pack of yeast.  To know that the yeast is working, you should see bubbles form in the cup after stirring in the yeast. We decided to use cups to measure out the flour and water so it was 1 cup of warm water to 3 cups of self-raising flour.                         
  4. Add your flour into a bowl and make a big-enough hole in the middle.
  5. Add in one tablespoon of olive oil for every cup of flour
  6. Add in the water to the flour in phases. Use a mix things together. Try to incorporate flour from the sides of the bowl as this goes on.
  7. Begin to knead the dough afterwards, which would be better done on a flat surface like a kitchen tabletop, but you can still knead the dough while it is in the bowl. NB: Add in water or flour as needed depending on how sticky the dough is. What you want to see at the end of the kneading process is dough that is soft and smooth but is not sticking to your hands. The dough should also be able to all come together and hold shape in the form of a ball or dome. You can form a small cut in the middle of the dough to check for the presence of bubbles forming. This is how you know that the kneading process worked and that you have been in position to “activate” the yeast.                                                                                                                                                                  
  8. Let the dough rise for about 35 -60 minutes. This can be aided by covering the dough with a damp cloth or placing it in a warm part of your kitchen (but not the oven emoji). NB: What you want to see at the end of the day is that your dough has been able to double in size.
  9. You can take the dough out the bowl and place in an oven pan with some olive oil spread over the pan for the rest of the proving process (e.g. half way the time) so that the dough can prove and rise while taking on the shape of the oven pan you will be using.
  10. After this time period you can then begin to do the really cool part (It is the coolest part for me at least) and begin to use your fingers to form depressions in the dough (try to make the holes a bit deep so that they can be visible and hold once you place the dough in the oven). You can then put on your toppings of choice. You can sprinkle on some salt and drizzle some olive oil on the top, especially in the depressions.                                                                                        
  11. Your oven should ideally be pre-heated and I think we used a temperature between 180 – 200°c
  12. You can then proceed to bake for about 20 -35 minutes depending on the type of oven you are using and whether you are using top or bottom heat settings. We used 30 minutes and switched to bake using top heat half-way the baking time.                 PS: If you plan on adding in dried tomatoes instead of fresh ones, I would suggest this as the best time to add them on top so that they do not get scorched.
  13. Drizzle some olive oil on it afterwards because that is what makes focaccia thrive. It needs to be light and soft; literally almost spongy and olive oil helps so much with that.
the baking ninja

You live and you learn

What a year! I do not even know how to properly start this article, but I felt I needed to write it. Writing is one of the ways I heal and make sense of things so here we are, making sense and taking stock of all that transpired throughout 2020, especially all the revelations and lessons that came along.

I strongly believe in the power of reflection and having self-audits. I could decide to sweep all that happened this year under the rug but realizing how things can come back and bite in you in the face when you do not take time to acknowledge the thought processes that went through all that, I did need to step back and look back at the whole of 2020. I also want to take stock of the growth and transitions I have been through because this is the year that I started my PhD. I want to make sure that I move from glory to glory as far as it is concerned.

I also really need to forgive myself because there are so many times that I feel I did not respond to what I was going through or certain situations in the best way. Sure, the pandemic happened but I feel like that cannot be an excuse for the way that I reacted to each and everything. I cannot change what I said or did but I sure as hell can learn from my reactions and responses so that I can do better moving forward.

Tell your friends things

If there is anything I have learnt is to not just tell my friends things but to seek wisdom. Talk to people who you trust, people you know can be impartial and objective, people who will not just take your side but give you honest advice. Also, tell your friends things so that they know how to be there for you, support you and pray for you.

Do not allow yourself to go through this alone. Isolation gives the devil and mad people in this world so much room to swing you both ways.

Never take criticism from someone you would never take advice from and never take advice from someone that you do not trust and share values with. PERIOD! When you do not lean on your friends, you can end drifting towards opportunists and people that are just not good for you and that can happen if there is a void of some sort. When you are an international student adjusting to a new environment and quite locked up from the outside world to a certain level, sometimes you do not have a lot of choice over who you are around and end up doing life with but you 100% have power over the information you share with them and how you build relationships with them. Remember that. Above all else, practice wisdom as you disclose and open up to people. Do not be naïve.

It is okay to tell people that you are uncomfortable

I do not know if it is cultural thing or it is just me but I am not the best at speaking up for myself or letting people know straight out that something just not sit well with me and so when other people do it, I feel like they are being rude when it actual sense they are simply stating what is on their heart and I need to do that as well. God has not called any of us to be nice but to be holy. From the world’s standards, being nice can come with soo many harmful things like allowing people walk over you, taking abuse, compromising your values, etc and the God we serve is no way close to that. Jesus was so blunt with folk.

Being the yes person is not good for anyone and I must absolve myself of the need to come across as sweet, nice, not cause offense, etc. Being good and holy are entirely different things and I think being holy can lead you to piss a number of people off. This is no way means that we should go on and want to deliberately cause offense, not at all. Just make sure that how you react to things is not a result of you being more concerned about how people view you as opposed to how God will view you. At the end of the day, it is God that you are accountable to.

Speak your truth

I was about to make this a separate blog post but I think it fits on just well here, with the point above and the point below. Be true to who you are and the values you stand for. No-one is worth you compromising your values and no-one should ever shame you or make you feel different about who you are. They do not need to agree but they sure as hell need to respect it. One thing I fear I have done in this period is put my guard down now and again to sort of fit in with people around me and not come across as this very judgmental and uptight Christian (NB: some people will feel judged even when you have done absolutely nothing and it has everything to do with the fact that they have already cast judgement on themselves) but I realized that not making that abundantly clear was putting me under harm. People began to believe that certain things were okay with me and yet there were not AT ALL. A certain level of damage occurred as a result of this, things I am not proud of at all but this is where it becomes important for me to speak my truth and release myself from the shame. I cannot and do not want the devil to keep me in any form of bondage as a result of what I did or did not do and that takes me to point 1 of telling your friends things. We overcome by the power of our testimony and sometimes those testimonies must be said in faith even before they happen.

Also, another aspect of this is making peace and coming to terms with the decisions, mistakes, mishaps, shortcomings and unpretty aspects of your life. A song that helps me out with this is ‘Seasons Change’ by Antoine Bradford ft. Shua – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVwaQBfOYxI


In line with what I have just put above, do not just talk but engage. Have two-way conversations. SPEAK AND LISTEN. I remember that the supervisor for my MSc project said that I needed to do more of that going forward when I asked him for feedback. I also realized that I had to do so in order to have as much clarity as possible when it came to my PhD project. At the end of the day, I need to give presentations on this work and present it at conferences so I really do need to fully understand and grasp all aspects of it, especially those that came into play before I stepped in to do it.

Seek clarity as much as possible and clear the air, not just at work but in every other relationship you have with people and that goes along with being honest. I have seen that make several situations better.

There are days when I am scared and embarrassed, but more time ends up getting lost when you decide to struggle on your own as opposed to asking for help so suck up that pride and ask for help, ask for more clarity and information.


This should literally be number one (a million crying emojis). Trust and follow your instincts, not just that but each and every inkling of the holy spirit because they are there for a reason. There are moments when I headed to what came into my heart and other times when I shoved things to the side or to the back of mind and that has not really ended in the best way but as I said in the beginning, we live and we learn! I have the opportunity to do better in 2021, for the rest of this PhD and for my life in general.

I am allowed to make decisions that are best for me

I was conflicted for over two weeks about whether to get on a plane home or not. I was in tears scared about whether Uganda would open up for international travel, if things would change in South Africa making it hard for me to go or come back in and then wondering what the effects would be on my PhD progress. I felt like I could not take being in Cape Town anymore because I really only had one place to be in and felt that I just needed to be home to recalibrate and get my head straight. I was so fed up of my room and wanted to have another space to be in where I could safely reflect (and have people cook for me, lol).  

I had some bombshells drop just before I left which made me realize that being in Cape Town would have easily been the end of me and that I made the right decision to go home. Being here has made it easier to address certain matters and receive some much-needed closure on 2020. I have very many other reasons as to why I did not stay there for the holidays but I really should not have to even justify it to myself or anyone else why I am going on leave and for how long. Time off is okay and I need to have a healthy state of mind in order to get through the 12 months of 2021. My PhD project needs me together and I need me together as well.

You cannot do everything so choose your priorities and focus!

People talk a lot about multi-tasking, having side-hustles, getting so much done in your 20s and then some. That seems all good and dandy but take it from someone who had FOMO take over her leading to me trying to juggle a full-time PhD with 10 other little things. That led to more than one phase of fatigue during the lockdown and I had to make a tough but necessary decision to systematically drop a number of things. I did not have much time for myself anymore or for others so I had to get back to what my priorities were for the year and for my life in general. I wanted to build on my social circle and get back to having some sort of relationship with God so I had to put a very big part of my ambitiousness aside and let my PhD continue as well because that is, after all, what brought me to Cape Town.

Focus is so important because it allows to do good quality work. When you have your hand in every cookie jar, it is hard for you to devote enough time to doing excellent work and brilliant work is what I want as part of my brand.

If you have a busy body syndrome like me (listen to the podcast episode on this by Jesus& Jollof :  https://jesusandjollof.simplecast.com/episodes/busy-bodi-the-unlearning ), I urge you to get back to the drawing board and have an audit on what your priorities are really supposed to be.  

This was the painting I made during a retreat we had at my place of residence. The rainbow represents hope. The sunflower represents what I want to be; a ray of sunshine and as optimistic as sunflowers themselves. The book represents what I am; a researcher but also a writer. The smile, heart and sun are aspects that are in line with my sunflower theme; to be a light to all the people that I care about. I always want them to know that they are indeed loved by me.


Whether you are moving to a new town, state, district or country because of work, school, or family there is always adjusting that needs to be done. Apart from becoming familiar with your new environment, one needs to take time to find people to hang out with and associate it so that it doesn’t seem like your social life is on hold. It also helps you get over the feeling of being alone especially when you may be away from a lot of family and close friends.

This PhD started and I was ready to try and have some sort of life. I am a bit of a workaholic, not really because I love working (I do want to do deliver good and quality work though so that might have something to do with it) as such but because I prefer to use work as an excuse for not having to deal with people. I just find work easier to deal with. Sounds a bit harsh (especially when I’m not a perfect person myself) when I state things that way but as an introvert that believed she could do life all by herself a while back, I do struggle now and again to be around others or at least make time for socializing.

It hurts and it is has been a very serious wake-up call having to be an international student because the experience HUMBLES you. You realize that you cannot do life alone and that really did piss me off in the beginning and make me quite scared as well because I know now for a fact that I do need people in my life. In spite of this, it does still take time to unlearn all the solitary habits, behaviours and mindsets that I have had for a while.

My Master’s degree taught me things. I think I have become way better at trying to make friends or just being a bit more open and friendly to people that have not known me my entire life. Sometimes it feels draining and so tasking and some days I have to fight ti choose people over work. At the end of the day, the work that I am using to distract me from all other life matters (particularly social matters) will not be there to hug me at night, celebrate my birthday, bail me out of a terrible situation, hold my hand or pick me up from the airport. So basically what I am saying is that people are important.

The process of having to immerse yourself into other peoples’ worlds is also a task in itself. As someone who feels like she holds the crown for being SUPER awkward around people especially new people in public spaces plus gatherings especially, things like small talk kill me and 85% of the time I just want to say no when people invite me for things. I do not know if some of you reading this may be in a similar situation. If you are, I just really want to caution you to fight that feeling and just show up anyway.

During the first semester of my Master’s program, I had to fight against so much awkwardness in order to finally find people I could hang with but also give people the chance to know me and be there for me. God kept on telling me to persevere and things did get better eventually. I stopped feeling like the newbie that had to constantly introduce herself as the Ugandan girl. Soon I was just Vanessa and that was it.

Since this is not my first rodeo in regards to making a move by myself, I think I have become a bit better at finding ways to find my tribe AKA like-minded people to be around. I am going to elaborate on some things that can help.



The first step would obviously be to look for people or groups that are involved in activities that you like for example your hobbies. I like to sing, take photos, bake and write. These four things are not just hobbies but things that I find really therapeutic. I am working on finding people to sing with or spaces where I can do that freely. I auditioned to be part of the worship team at my Church a while back. Waiting to see what they say post-lockdown.

When it comes to writing, I have a set of virtual communities that I follow and contribute to when I can that is; the Uganda Blogging Community  as well as Afrobloggers . I am looking forward to being actively involved in what the Bloggers in East Africa do as well.

I am part of a WhatsApp group for a number of postgraduate Ugandan students in Cape Town. I found someone that bakes a lot at home. After the lockdown, we will be meeting up so that I can have lessons on making really bomb cookies (I have to perfect the art of making chocolate chip cookies!!!). I am hoping to find more enthusiastic and gifted bakers as time goes on.

During the time where many of us are in lockdown indoors, some of you may not be at home or in a place that you may find very conducive which can still bring up the feeling of being by yourself. That is where all these online meetings platforms and your virtual online communities come in handy.


Before I even made it to Cape Town I looked through all their societies, groups, etc. I do not think this is standard practice for most graduate students or even PhD students in particular but this was my attempt to try and fight to have some sort of social life ( a whole separate post about that will be coming soon).

I had a friend of high school that did her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Cape Town (UCT). She used to post a lot about the East African Society on Instagram and I knew that I had to look out for them when I made it here. These societies are bound to have mostly undergrads so I might feel terribly old and out of place but the most important thing is to find what you can contribute to while you are there and of course learn survival skills from people that have been in Cape Town longer than you. I like organizing events so I thought it would be good for me to join the team that is in charge of that and make use of my expertise in that area 🙂 . Mentorship is really close to my heart and so I was really excited to hear that the society has a mentorship program. I decided to volunteer to be a mentor. Going through the training process was really amazing.

I follow the Postgraduate Health Sciences Students Council at UCT. I could not believe how many PhD students are actually part of it. It was SUPER encouraging and really challenged me. I would never have heard about it if I did not show up for an orientation event they had at the beginning of the semester for postgrads. When people make an effort to see postgrads get through life in an awesome way, I am all for it. It was great to be there for the event but also meet and chill with some people afterwards (by the way we have a really cool hang out place on the medical campus. I think every university needs to invest in spaces like those).


Go and attend as many as you can and whatever you can find. Whether it is work-related, school-related, church-related or just organized by some people that live in the same area code as you.

My first instinct is to say no when people invite to stuff. It is like my default setting but I as I said, I fight hard against that feeling and make an effort to try and show up and actually engage in conversations (did I mention that small talk kills me. I seriously want to enrol in a professional course on how to strike up banter because yoh……. It is a mission for me on so many fronts).

You just never know who you will meet when you are there. You never know who your next friend will be or what significant role that person could play in your life later on. So just JUMP ON (hoping to actively exercise all of this after the lockdown so that I do not come off as a hypocrite).


Even if someone has not invited you for an event but you have found out about one, tell others about it and see who they can bring along. I actively seek out events. It is so interesting but I do that a lot on Instagram and Facebook. Following certain people, groups and organizations really helps me find out certain information. It is because events may not always knock on your day so you do have to put in some effort to find them and remind other people to invite you for some really cool things that they might participate in.

Right now I stay in a flat complex and it has been LOVELY to be in a space with other people and just meet up in the backyard to eat together and play some games. I am meeting new people, getting to know more about the people that stay around me but also spend some time in the lockdown having fun. We will DEFINITELY be hanging out more after the lockdown!!

Cheers to finding your tribe!!! PS: Finding your people takes TIME so be patient and remain adventurous throughout the process. Never be afraid to start your own community from scratch. That can help so many other people like you.


Around August 2019, I had my phone stolen. The thing I was worried about the most were the thieves getting a hold of my personal information and using it in all sorts of illegal ways. The next thing I thought about were the things I lost, especially the music I had been collecting all the way from high school and has stored on my SD card.

The upside to having siblings is that you share literally everything with them. Every holiday, my siblings and I would share the new music we came across. In December 2019, I decided to sit down and transfer as many songs as I could from my siblings’ phones to my laptop. It took me a while but I did it and I am so happy. There were songs that brought back so many memories. I also got my hands on some really new and wonderful tunes. Listening to all these songs and just knowing that I had them made me feel so much better. For the first time since I had my phone stolen, I felt better, emotionally better. I felt like I kicked those thieves in the butt 🙂 .

The other reason why I decided to sit down and get as many songs as I could was because I was preparing myself for the fact that I would be away from home for a while since I am doing my PhD somewhere else. During my Master’s degree, I remember the huge role that having some music from home and listening to music that reminded me of certain moments in my life, as well as the people that were around me, helped me remain sane during some really tough academic times.

In the last week of last December, I found out that I did not get a side-hustle gig that I really thought would look lovely on my CV. Listening to some comforting tunes helped me sleep better and get up early the next day to move forward with my to-do list. One set of songs came from a mix (#TweetaMix 154) made by a really cool DJ (Find him here on Soundcloud) that used to work at my favourite radio station in Uganda.

Screenshot (571)

When I look at the song list on my laptop, I can literally map out different moments in my life especially during 2018 and 2019 simply based on particular songs that I listen to.

Music heals so invest in it. Let music be your friend. Let it comfort you, wake you up in the morning, give you the boost you need, bring you closer to the people around you and bring back beautiful memories that neither time nor distance can take away.



2019 was a mad year with so much that went on. One key thing that happened was the loss of hope that I had in ever having a career as a research scientist. It felt like I could not find a place that could challenge me intellectually but also people that would support me, whole-heartedly along my journey.

One event that made me want to try a bit harder and seriously rejuvenated my fight to succeed was attending a two-week Immunology workshop organized by the lovely graduate students and faculty members under Center for Emerging and Neglected Diseases (CEND) at UC Berkeley. I got back to the reason why I wanted to do research work and it came just in time for me to organize myself for a PhD application. I was way more prepared this career option a chance again.

Several other factors brought me back to what was really important and it was the lovely people that got back to me when I asked for career guidance, help and direction. I do not like asking for help because of pride obviously (highlighted in another blog post here)  but also because really getting help from people requires being honest and vulnerable so that these people you are reaching out to are in the best position to help you.

In 2019 I sent more emails that I think I will EVER send in this lifetime. I reached out to research scientists, postdocs, PIs, you name it, anyone that I felt had conquered an issue I had faced and was able to progress with their careers. I loved the fact that they were honest enough to talk about PhD programs in their entirety. They highlighted the fact that taking on a PhD can be rewarding, in the long run, but can also also be a very big undertaking especially with all that one is expected to achieve during that 3-6 year period.

I found people that I was able to share my fears, aspirations, plans and goals with. Most importantly, I was able to share my shortcomings and how inadequate I felt when it comes to my CV or thinking about doing a PhD. These people helped me keep myself together and remain hopeful about the career I want to have. I talked to them about strategies to succeed during one’s PhD and how one can prepare themselves for life afterwards and to easily transition when one goes back to their home country. These are the people I share my milestones with and my progress. All this helps me feel like I am not struggling in a corner all by myself.


I want to emphasize the need for people to reach out. I thought that it was going to be me, myself and I hustling to move forward with my career but I came across people that have been more than willing to help me and stand by me so I urge every single person that is curious about how to progress with their scientific careers not to hesitate to reach out to whoever they believe can help. There are people that have been in your shoes and are more than able to help you navigate graduate school so go out, be bold and ask for help.

Sometimes people are REALLY busy so if you think they missed the first email, then send another. If some people still do not get back to you then it is okay. What matters is you did your part to reach out. Move forward with the people that will be able, to be honest, and make time for you. One person that I really trust and respect told me that the most important thing about mentorship is finding someone that is both willing and available to help and set aside time for you. It is because of this that sometimes the people you least expect may be the people that show up to consistently help you.

For people that are international students, I cannot stress this enough. On top of all that, there is to navigate with graduate school, there will be issues of adjusting to a new country, making new friends as well as becoming comfortable with not having family and friends around you. Make use of all the help and support that comes from the international students’ office and from the people within your faculty and research group. Sometimes the immediate response is to crawl under a shell and hide or isolate yourself because some things just seem so difficult and you may feel like you are always one step behind. From one international student to another, the sooner you open up and let other people in, the easier it becomes to adapt and adjust. 

They are still so many things that I do have to work through as I fight to have the career I want to have but I thank God that I have far more clarity than I did before. Most importantly, I am not alone because I decided not to struggle on my own anymore.



I did not think social media could ever play any role in my scientific career or contribute to it in any way but times are changing. On social media, people are actively engaging in discussions around science and through this, researchers are able to identify other like-minded scientists both in and out of their fields that they can connect with.


One needs to choose which social media sites they want to be a part of because you cannot be on all of them and that is the truth. All require a certain level of attention and time in order to see a real maximum impact. Our lives can become very busy so it is essential to identify which platforms you believe will boost your career the most. Also, feel free to choose the ones you really like because chances are, you will pay the most attention to those at the end of the day.

These are the platforms I have chosen and these are some of the reasons why.

  1. Twitter

I just find members of the scientific community easier to talk to and learn from on Twitter. People are friendlier, more open and easier to approach compared to LinkedIn. For a long time, I tried to gain traction on LinkedIn but things were not going as expected so I decided to make my Twitter account centred majorly around my career interests and when I began to talk about what I did more and more, engage in discussions, share things that I felt were useful for the rest of the scientific community and most importantly, follow people whose research I was interested in I began to find Twitter so useful.

Another thing I like about Twitter is information and conversations are far more filtered than they are on Facebook. It can be difficult to cut out all the noise, fake news and unnecessary posts that show up on Facebook EVEN from people you are not friends with AT ALL. On Twitter, it easy to track the source of information and simply unfollow someone if you are no longer happy with their posts. I also like the fact that with the use of hashtags and lists, you can easily find Twitter threads that stand out for you.

I try not to get obsessed with the number of followers I have because naturally, due to the kind of brand I am building, there is certain attention I will not really attract on Twitter. If, however, numbers matter to you and would aid the goals you have for your career, know that Twitter analytics are far easier to follow and interpret than the ones available from Facebook.

  1. LinkedIn

I have always found LinkedIn intimidating. I never even wanted to join it but the moment I finished my undergraduate degree, my dad told me that I needed to create a profile and continue adding to it. It was hard for me to start and I honestly thought it was useless but with time things have really paid off and I think the year after I finished my Master’s degree is when I have seen the most growth and usefulness out of LinkedIn. I got better at connecting with people by sending in when I request to connect with someone. I realized that is important because I am also cautious about who I connect with on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn allows you to keep track of jobs all over the globe. By putting in the job titles, organizations, industries and locations that I am interested in, LinkedIn is able to put up available jobs. When these companies are on LinkedIn, it makes things even better because I am able to learn more about the company, find out who works there, connect with them and ask questions about the company.

All the hard work I have been putting in is FINALLY paying off because these days, I get more connection requests from people that are closer to my field other than people that are in no way related to what I do or plan to do in the near future. So keep your profile updated, communicate what you are doing, what you have done, what you are interested in and what you plan on doing in the years to come.

  1. Researchgate

I honestly thought this platform would only make any sense to me after about 100 years. I joined it when I had just started my Master’s program because I was so excited about the university I was going to and the degree I was doing. I thought that without publications, being on this platform would not be as meaningful as I expected it to be but I was wrong. Researchgate allows you to connect with people, follow their publications, different projects and even request for papers in case they are not readily available. The latter part is one of the major up-sides for me.

Researchgate is particularly close to my heart because the decision I made about where to do my PhD and the group to do it with it came from me following the work of two researchers on this platform. By the Grace of God, I was able to talk to both of them in-depth.

Researchgate can really be great for learning more about people that are part of a certain research group or laboratory because that information shows up on some peoples’ profiles. This can really help you find out more about the entire scope of work done by a research team and approach members in a more relaxed way. This came in handy when I had questions about a group that I made my second PhD application to. There were some warning signs and talking to one PhD student made me realize that I most probably dodged a bullet by not getting called for an interview.

Apart from being able to connect with scientists around the globe, having accounts on social media channels allows you to increase your visibility and provides more opportunities to share your work. All that ultimately contributes to you enhancing your career prospects and finding other people to collaborate with.

I would love to find out what other platforms people are using and how they have helped them along their scientific journey. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section or via email.

These walls full of pride

I was so sure that my pride complex came down during my Master’s degree because the sheer humility of not knowing much and having to adjust to a new town was MAJOR. I have not forgotten what happened because it was really a lot. Being away from home can teach you things about yourself that are critical for you to know but may also bother you due to the fact that unlearning certain behaviours is not always easy but it is possible. I find myself in that place again since I am doing my PhD full-time in another country.


These days I do have mini-audits to find out if I am truly progressing personality-wise and putting into practice all that I have learnt. Today I saw snippets of my pride come through again and it was not good. I was so embarrassed.

The issue is that when you work with other people, you can’t really decide to behave in whatever way you want to because the way you do things has implications on the work of others. That is why it is really key to evaluate how you relate with other people and how this influences the way you work with them. The issue if battling my pride is even more serious for me now because it is not just on a social level anymore but at a work/career level.

The thing behind the thing is the real thing. With that in mind, I know that my behaviour and particularly the pride that I have been exhibiting in certain encounters and situations may just be a symptom of a much bigger issue that needs to be addressed.

Why do I feel the need to struggle sometimes?

Asking for help is not easy for me. I’d literally rather die first.

I think my need to try and impress people and get street cred for handling my ish all by myself is something that matters to me a lot. I never want people to think that I am not strong enough to handle the things that I am faced with every day. That is why I can’t share my weaknesses with everyone and yet being able to be honest about that and share those things with others is one of the only ways that people can truly help you. But I do fear that people may call me weak or unstable because I couldn’t ably handle matters by myself.

I also know for sure that taking care of my matters all by myself is important to me because I never want to feel crippled or that I need someone in order to progress. I never want to be in a position where not having someone around me causes me to panic because doing a certain task just seems to be so daunting. The desire to not ever need people is something that reminds me of a message one of my pastors from my home Church said about God creating us as social beings that are meant to grow and flourish in their faith by making use of fellow believers in the body of Christ. And not only just fellow believers but the Holy Spirit as well that is there to guide us.

It’s really hitting me now that if I am to grow career-wise, I do need to make use of the people around me. But as usual, easier said than done #God help me# I really want my supposed perception of weakness to change because there is far more strength in accepting your limitations and making that made known to others. There are so many people that don’t get to progress or move to new heights because they could not be honest about where they were. I am fighting hard to make sure that I do not end up in that same place because ideally, after all that I have been through, I should know way better by now.



Again, I don’t want to ever need someone because I’m afraid of what will happen when he/she leaves, but to love is to trust and hope that no matter what happens, you can still come out okay.

Knowing and admitting all of this is super-important. I do want to move to the next step of actually applying what I know now. The follow-up to this article will happen months from now after I put some measures in place and take the necessary steps to address this issue, knowing that it will mean uncovering each and every reason behind this pride.

For now, let this blog post serve as a reminder for not only me but all of you that there are battles you fight more than once in life and it is okay. I need to act fast but also forgive myself a little and just realize that unlearning behaviours I have carried for a while does require Grace, energy & persistence.

As I embark on this journey of breaking walls down once again, I will constantly remind myself of the times when a lot of light and love came in because of that process.


If anyone of you has something to share about how you got over a huge amount of pride and were able to progress with the rest of your life, please feel free to share that. We are all here to learn, especially me 🙂



2019 had a lot of emotional and psychological trauma in it. For a while at the start of this year, I honestly believed I was better but the fact is that trauma leaves scars. Even though the cause may be gone, other factors can result in memories that end up affecting your present. I refer to these as triggers. Whether you are in a position yet where you are in therapy or not, it is very important to recognize and be aware of what triggers you so that you can address these factors accordingly.

Some things may be seasonal, one-offs or things that you will continuously be exposed to. There are things and people that you can block off but it may not always be easy to do that for each and everything. That is when one has to take a lot of thought into how they respond to these triggers.


I had an academic retreat with the research organization that I am attached to. I was so damn nervous especially when it came to the issue of my career plan because that is something that really matters to me and I do want to see myself prosper career-wise. Due to 2019 where I felt like I was in a place of stagnation, having to talk about my career aspirations really meant a lot to me. Due to feeling like I gave a mediocre presentation about my project and my career plans, thoughts in my mind that weekend was just reeling. I really wanted to communicate what I wanted to do but I was scared that I was not eloquent enough. The anxiety behind that stemmed from the fear that my inability to communicate what I wanted to do would lead to me failing to participate in everything that I felt was essential to my career.

This week I got some edits back on a funding application I am working on. Something I ideally should have remembered to fix came up and the anxiety and fear just kept flooding in. I felt like I misinterpreted things and am possibly failing to grasp certain things that I should ideally be very conversant with at this point in time. I know that I have a tendency to overthink things so I will discuss things over with my supervisor just to be sure that I’ve got it off my chest and that I don’t end up thinking about the entire weekend.

What I am getting to is that I am aware that things may get to me more than once. It is because of that that I am putting measures in place such as taking a step back to think about how I will react to these things. Talking to my supervisor is ideally one short-term solution but eventually, I need to fully talk over last year especially since it’s March and the rest of the year doesn’t need to suffer because of what 2019 did or did not do to me.

Therapy helps. Therapy in itself could mean different things to different people. One way I get through things is to write. Sometimes it is painful but a very necessary step to getting things out of my system but also partly addressing the matter. I wouldn’t take writing as a substitute for therapy but rather a supplement to it. Talk to someone, talk to people. Have an independent party as well as someone that knows a bit about your background be there to not only keep you accountable but also help you evaluate your progress and sieve out the noise as you deal with these triggers or simply start by identifying what they are.

Finally, in regards to this, DON’T IGNORE IT. If you want to cry, call someone, write, listen to music then please do it. Issues that don’t get resolved tend to build up and leave you unresolved. That is the last thing you want.

Beautiful Distractions

I recently started this PhD thing. Yes, your girl decided to give this scientific career thing another shot #Hoping for the best#

A PhD comes with a very serious need for commitment and it can be mad trying to come to terms with the fact that getting jobs and having options after a PhD sometimes has a lot to do with you not solely being involved in just your project. Employers want to hear more than how you spent hours optimizing your laboratory assays though this could be necessary depending on which job you are applying for.

Because of the pressure and need for people to set themselves apart from everyone else doing a PhD and more so, people doing a PhD in a discipline similar to theirs, people are forced to think of ways to diversify their skill set and get involved in as many other things that could possibly enhance their chances of not getting stuck after grad school.

I am one person that finds myself in that sort of predicament especially, as an international student that wants to go back home in glory. I had a game plan for all that I wanted to achieve and all that I wanted to set into motion starting from year one. The only problem is your first year is also what sort of sets the tone for your project and allows you to set fundamental building blocks that will allow your PhD research project to flourish.

On a Wednesday afternoon was when I realized that I had really let panic set in and that the anxiety I had was going to become completely evident in my emails but also in everything else I do especially in my communication to others.

Thanks be to God that I have a wonderful team of mentors and close friends that know how to deal with all my mini-panic episodes (times like these that really show me that I need to marry someone calm because my children need some balance in their life man!!!)

beautiful distractions

One person told me something so profound and just dead accurate. He said that even good things can be a distraction and that just really caught my heart. All these extra endeavours I have are good but they may or may not count as much if the overall outcomes of my PhD are not met to their full extent. The world has set a standard when it comes to scientific research. I want to supersede those expectations ( and the ones I have for myself) so I can’t afford to put in any half-baked effort. At the end of the day, this is the life I chose, the one of a scientific scientist. I was very well aware of some of the sacrifices I’d have to make in order to get here.

I am not saying that I have cancelled all the other things I want to do during my PhD but rather I am learning more about how to be strategic but also position myself well so that things just happen at the most optimal time that they are supposed to. Timing is everything and I am learning more about setting things into motion at a time that is most favourable.

My beautiful distractions are important when it comes to enhancing myself but for now simply getting through my training courses, my first additional funding application and my research proposal are very serious matters that need to be covered and dealt with TODAY. I am also learning that with the huge weight on my shoulders and what I would like to achieve, I have to be very selective about every application and extra activity that I devote energy to or get involved in. I can’t be involved everything because that’s what leads to burnout. Soon, I will be evaluating the most important things for me to be a part of.

PS: Let no-one else define what is most important for you. What makes you happy, what brings you joy and whatever interests you is soo damn important, PERIOD. Remember, everyone else is doing what they want to do and so should you :).

You might be reading this and might not be a PhD student but I think some principles discussed here still cut across. Ask yourself what beautiful distractions you need to put on hold or just let go of entirely so that you can achieve the main goals for the year 2020. Cheers!



Being Unemployed & Broke

it takes courage for one to share their stories. I want to learn to be this bold and open with others.


Nothing irks me than someone that invites me to things or events that I can’t afford LOL especially when I am not employed. Maybe it’s not a wise move to announce to the stranger behind you in the supermarket that you are unemployed but then again it’s 2019 and I promised total honesty (sometimes!). I can’t help not telling you because I am an over-sharer and also because if someone is in the same boat with me, they need to know that someone understands and probably has a life jacket (an extra one).

It’s been over six months since I dropped my book bag, and signed off higher education for good😏 (Mama I mean for a while), and I haven’t been called to a single interview or gotten the classic ” We have received your application” email.

Being unemployed and broke is a level six traumatic experience and if I am…

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