February 7, 2014

The Future? What Future?

Since I neglect to update this blog on any type of regular interval, I'm going to try to summarize:

I graduated!  Yes!

I have a post doctoral position lined up!  Yes!

It's in a different country!  Yes?

Let's start with the first thing:  defending my thesis and graduating.  Everyone had told me that it was a "formality" and "easy" to defend the thesis and go through the committee meeting afterward.  At my institution, we have four faculty members on a committee, who are joined by a fifth from another institution.  They read through the thesis, make comments, and ask questions of you for a few hours after you have presented on your research to the department.  The after-presentation meeting is where things were not so much fun, namely my committee asked questions that I have absolutely no idea how to answer.  I'm not sure if that's how it was supposed to be, but it was very painful.  First question out of the gate was about a protein that I remember marginally, so I had to really think on my feet and try to come up with something.  Eventually the conversation drifted toward metabolism, which I abhor and have not thought about for four years.  Needless to say, I was exhausted afterward.

Something that surprised me was how little satisfaction I received from finishing my defense.  At the end, everyone politely says congratulations and then life moves one.  Meanwhile, I was thinking in my head, "HOLY CRAP I'M DONE."  In reality, it doesn't mean much.  Sure, my parents were excited, but to everyone in the lab and the department, it was more "meh."  Just another PhD, I guess.  That's rather depressing.

My thesis edits aren't terrible, and I was quite surprised at how my committee really had few corrections.  As I was going through all of the pages (so much paper wasted!), I realized that I didn't have that much to do.  I went into this process knowing that I would have to make changes, so I expected some things, such as expanding the discussion and clarifying a few issues.  Nonetheless, I expected that they would tear the document apart.  Not the case, thankfully!

Which brings me to the topic of my next post...  how to write a thesis without going crazy.  I'll save it for next week, assuming that I remember to actually update this blog.