Home Science Communication I’m exhausted – Finishing my PhD

I’m exhausted – Finishing my PhD

by Eva Amsen

Our department makes all graduate students give seminars for the whole department. Masters students give one 30 minute talk, PhD students give two 30-minute talks and a one hour one. After the seminar you get a bunch of questions from faculty, and they fill out a form saying if the talk was okay or good or very good or excellent. Since I’m finishing my PhD, I was due my one-hour talk.

We also have to have regular committee meetings, where you update your supervisor and two other committee members on your progress. That comes with questions and evaluations too.
Wednesday I had my one hour seminar AND a committee meeting right afterwards (so I only had to present once and just got more questions than usual). At my previous committee meeting in December they promised (in writing!) that if I finished x, y, and z before May 21st I’d get permission to write up. I did indeed finish x, y, and z, so I got permission to start writing! (I still want to finish a few things, but don’t have to start anything new in the lab.)

So, obviously I’m tired from preparing the seminar and finishing my lab work before that day, but from January to early April I had also been taking the teaching course I mentioned before, and from February until this week I was writing weekly Facts Behind the Fiction articles about ReGenesis. Oh, and there was SciBarCamp in between, and I had orchestra and Hypothesis all this time, too.

All in all, I’ve been working about 80 hours a week from January until this week (14 hours a day during the week, and another 10 total on a regular weekend. Some weeks were as “low” as 60-70 hours, others were probably more than 90, but I refused to do the math those weeks). I have many things to catch up on, and have a list of ideas and half-finished projects. So let me sleep and clean the apartment a bit and I’ll be back in action very soon.

Everyone is always complaining about the thesis-writing part, but at this point it looks so easy to me: I only have to write a thesis, not do all kinds of other things at the same time! Plus, I like writing, so how bad can it be, really?

(Cue foreshadowing theme music.)

Yeah, ask me again in a few months.

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Anna Kushnir May 24, 2008 - 5:19 AM

Congratulations, Eva! That’s great news. So you will be finished in the next few months?
I am afraid the ominous music is well-warranted. I too enjoy writing. However, I enjoy other things as well, like going outside and thinking about things other than my dissertation. The process in painful in that it is all-consuming. But it’s a giant band-aid that you rip off once and never have to deal with again. It’s just that the ripping takes some time… failing analogy. Sorry. Hope you get some rest from your insane schedule before starting in on the writing! I can’t imagine how you have kept that pace up as long as you have. Craziness.

Eva Amsen May 24, 2008 - 5:40 AM

I could only keep it up because I knew exactly when everything ended. I knew when my classes ended, when my seminar was scheduled, when the last episode of the TV show aired, etc.

Sabine Hossenfelder May 24, 2008 - 1:05 PM

_I like writing, so how bad can it be, really_
wait until you’re cursing whatever word processing software you use 😉
But congratulations on the progress! I’d really wish more people would come to realize that the workload during this period is in almost all instances I know of far too high.
(In my case there were in addition the neighbors who’d make sideremarks about the pleasantries of ‘student-life’ and so on. That’s really funny, esp. if the reason why you’re working at night is that the internet connection works faster if all the non-students have stopped their evening surf.)

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