Passed – week 57

PhD Life

That’s how it goes, you spend three months worrying about something, and then about five minutes enjoying the completion of that thing. That is how it is for me at least.

The above sentiment is the reason why I no longer get too excited or depressed about anything. Let me explain.

I have spoken about this idea before; It originated during my undergraduate life. I worked very hard at my studies, with the notion in my head that ‘I will be happy when I graduate’. You could replace this with anything. The idea that you will be happy when x is complete/over, in my experience, is always a red-herring. Happy ever after does not exist. Your experience may vary.

This is one of those perennial ideas that has certainly kept me on my toes, I still haven’t quite figured out what I am going to do about this. Although, I believe that I have started to settle on a nice average, where I don’t get too depressed when things do not go my way, neither am I ecstatic when I am winning.

So, what was the viva like?

Well, I had handed in a poorly written report, as is my signature, but the science was all watertight. And where it wasn’t so solid, I had answers as to why. My two examiners where both well-established scientists, and friendly people, which helps. They both made notes on my document and gave advice on how I should improve.

I sat in one of their offices on the other side of the table, very much like a job interview, and did my best to answer the questions they had. To be honest, I was expecting it to be much harder, and I had done my preparation on the scientific principles behind my work and didn’t put any effort into trying to explain the deficiencies in my writing.

This exam was comparable to a job interview where the outcome was based on me convincing my two examiners if I made the grade or not. The reality of this is that it may come down to the examiners you have as to whether or not you progress. This is not perfect, but it is one of the least bad systems we have, just like job interviews.

I was in the ‘exam’ for an hour and a half, where I was then asked to leave the room and wait outside until they called me in. They called me in two minutes later and said I had passed. That was it.

I realise I have been talking about this event for the last three months, so this must be an anticlimax. But this isn’t Hollywood.

So, now I have let you in on a secret. For the last year I have been lying to you, I was never a PhD student, I was a PhD candidate. I am now a fully fledged PhD student, and the only thing stopping me getting my PhD is my work ethic and my tolerance for anxiety. Both of these will be pushed, hopefully to and not exceeding, the limit.

On to the next one!

Published by Louis

Spend less than you earn, Invest the surplus, avoid debt. Eat food, not too much, mostly plants

18 thoughts on “Passed – week 57

  1. Your post brought to mind Rudyard Kipling’s IF… especially
    If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congrats on passing and reaching offical PhD candidacy!

    I know how you feel. You are a few years off but your defense will probably feel much the same. You work and you work, agonizing over every little thing (for years!) and then defense day comes. You give your talk, your panel ask a few questions and then you have a PhD. Not trying to diminish the day, but really the important stuff, learning how to thinking, testing your ideas, etc happens between now and then. The defense is almost a formality and a good advisor won’t let you get there unless you are ready. At least this is how it goes in the US, European colleagues tell me the defense process there is more grueling.

    It can be a tough slog, but try to enjoy the intellectual and emotional journey. You’ll be changing in ways you probably won’t realize until much later.


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