Friday, 5 November 2010

The end of an amazing journey

It’s drizzly outside and I have a headache but make no mistake; today is a very good day! Yesterday, for three hours I somehow managed to defend my thesis against the onslaught of questions from my examiners and emerge at the other end. OK so I emerged slightly shaken, mostly from my own nerves, but still alive. It wasn’t so bad, after all.

It would have been nice if there was a clear moment when you’re told “you’ve passed, it’s over”, but the official decision is the University’s, not the examiners, so instead you get the rather long mouthful of “we are convinced that you have fulfilled the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and we will be making a positive recommendation that you take leave to supplicate for the degree.” It’s a big mouthful of words but for most purposes, it means the same thing.

I wasn’t quite prepared for the rush of emotion brought on by those slightly archaic but necessary words. It hadn’t dawned on me that I had moved 17,000 kilometers from home and spent three years working toward that moment. With hindsight I can see why it had that effect, but at the time the sudden feeling that I was going to burst into tears came as a bit of a shock!

The champagne followed, naturally, which is why today I find myself in a slightly headachy state. Despite that and the drizzle, I am really happy to have finally finished. I know many PhD students get to the end and struggle to say they enjoyed it but I really did. I’ve had some amazing opportunities, been to incredible places and met many of the top people in my field.

It’s been an amazing journey and I have so many people to thank for making it the unforgettable three years that it’s been. Here’s hoping that the next three will be just as good.

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