10 Feb 2008


Last month I finally submitted my PhD thesis. I will not bore you with my (lack of) Christmas, New Year’s and the weeks leading up to submission. Suffice to say that now, more than two weeks after submitting, I seem to have my life back, a little.

Job done? Not quite. What else is there still to worry about? Lots.

First: My thesis is currently being reviewed by three highly learned professors, who will decide on its PhD-worthiness. A formality, I thought, but now I get to hear the horror stories, of very able and smart PhD students who had to rewrite half their thesis and resubmit. There’s no return. All I can do is wait.

Second: I need to come up with eleven statements. Originally, the public PhD defence was all about these statements, derived from your thesis or other insights gained during your PhD research. The thesis itself was less important, having already been read and peer-reviewed extensively. Nowadays, the statements are an important remnant of this tradition with a completely different status: that of showing off your extreme wit, deep insight and ultimate cleverness. I’m at a loss: where am I going to find eleven one-liners that show that I’m not just a boring PhD researcher, but in fact a very smart and funny person?

Third: The public defence. It’s scheduled for the 25th of June, and I’m already worried sick. This defence takes 60 minutes, exact, during which you are grilled about your work by ten professors in the presence of your colleagues, friends and family. People who have done this before say it really is fun, but I just don’t believe them. I think they’re not telling the truth, because otherwise nobody else will ever go through with it. I place them in the category of women that say childbirth isn’t that painful: big fat lies to ensure the continuation of our species.

Fourth: The party. This should be the fun part, I love parties. But there’s going to be too much room for embarrassment. One, nobody might show up at my beautiful party location for 100+ guests. Two, there seems to be no inhibition at these events with regards to the speeches/photos/songs that may be given/shown/performed. Oh god, I really should’ve considered this when getting slightly too drunk at those conferences…