Friday, 9 May 2014

The Anti-Climax of Submission for Examination

(image from CakeWrecks)
I'm currently in the awkward stage of "PhD submitted, awaiting viva." Obviously I'm thrilled to finally be done writing up, but it's also too early to actually celebrate--I still have to pass the viva, make any further corrections and submit the final, hardbound copies. It's frustrating to be this close to being finished, but not quite there, like being at mile 25 of the marathon. It's a huge accomplishment, of course, but you're not done yet!

As Tom Petty says, the waiting is the hardest part. I'm keeping myself busy over the next few weeks. Next Friday I've got the symposium in Canterbury, I'm doing exam invigilation 19 May-6 June, then I have the conference in Toulouse 12-13 June, and the viva is 18 June.

I went to a "Preparing for your Viva" workshop this week and it definitely boosted my confidence. We did mock vivas in groups and I actually just enjoyed talking about my work. Even though I have my off days when I don't feel good enough, for the most part I'm enthusiastic about my research and confident about fielding questions. It also felt good to be in the company of other people who are finishing up, and a few who are in the "submitted, awaiting" no-man's-land with me. We talked about the job search, how filling out applications can feel like a full-time job and how disheartening the whole process is. The job search might be why I'm feeling this sense of anti-climax--it's frustrating to see friends who completed a year or more ago still struggling to find work.

On a somewhat unrelated note--I had another reminder today why I can't wait to get out of here. A friend complimented me on my dress and said that I looked like I had lost weight. I thanked her for the compliment, and said that I'm working on it. She kindly said I didn't need to lose any weight, and I explained that technically, BMI-wise, I do--I'm on the border between overweight and obese. She was surprised to hear this, but a colleague sitting nearby chose this moment to chime in and agree, to talk about the health risks associated with a high BMI and tell me about every extreme diet that her nutritionist friends in her home country supposedly recommend. I hate this place. I'm seething inside, but I'm always outwardly polite and just smile and nod. I always give people the benefit of the doubt. Maybe in her culture it's acceptable to call each other fat. Maybe she means well. At any rate, I didn't ask for this conversation to take place, I know I'm overweight, I always have been overweight, and I'm trying to quietly do something about it. I don't need to hear from the ill-informed peanut gallery. More importantly, who cares about my weight--I just submitted my PhD! Let's celebrate that, instead of critiquing my appearance. <End rant>