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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

More Details

Okay, now that I have food (and drink) in my belly, and had a good sleep, I'll expand a bit on my last post.

My talk was supposed to begin at 9:30am - at that time, only two of my examiners had shown up. The third (the university examiner) came in shortly after 9:30, and the fourth (my external) came in about 10 minutes late. He told me the reason after the talk, and it was reasonable - so I couldn't be too mad!

My supervisor introduced me - saying lots of great things, and it sounded like he even did a little research about my masters project! He specifically talked about my two outreach programs, which was nice since I don't really get a lot of recognition for those.

I started my talk, and then it ended. I can barely remember giving it! It went well though, apparently, and I felt calm during it (once I finished the first slide). I had 3 questions from the audience (which was one of the largest anyone has seen at a PhD talk!) - I answered those pretty well.

We had 30 minutes between the talk and the defense, so the committee went and grabbed some coffee and snacks while I chatted with various people. Then I made my way over to the defense room.

The room was incredibly small - the table just barely fit in the room, and there was just enough chairs for me, my supervisor, the four examiners, and the chair. There was absolutely no air flow, but we couldn't keep the door open because it was along a busy hallway, and right across from some bathrooms :P

We did the intros, I stepped out of the room so they could decide who asked questions when, and then it began.

My external examiner asked questions first, and they were pretty reasonable. That continued around the table - everyone was being reasonable, I couldn't believe it! There were two rounds of questions, it lasted for 1.5 hours, and there were only two questions where I said "I don't know" (although a couple others I didn't know either, but at least I had the right idea).

Overall I thought it went pretty well. I went out of the room and sat there for 30 minutes while they deliberated - that was the worst. Apparently, they weren't discussing if I should pass or fail, it was what corrections I needed to do (I guess they all had different opinions).

They called me back in, started shaking my hand, but didn't say anything - so I asked "Does this mean I passed?" and they said "yes"! It was a very odd feeling! All of that stress and nervousness did not just go away - I was not relieved or anything! I guess when you live with those feelings for so long, they almost become a way of life :P

My supervisor told me that every one of the examiners said it was the best written thesis any of them have ever read - so that's a good feeling (and a boo-yeah to the reviewer who said I needed to get a native English speaker to proofread my paper!).

I called DH, who was with my parents. They met me at my office and we went over to the grad club to celebrate (and a bunch of people were there already). My parents gave me a beautiful bracelet (that my mom actually made!), and DH gave me four books! The four of us went out for dinner that night to a great little bistro that DH and I will be sure to go back too.

I'm soo sooo sooooooo glad it's over and would not do it over for millions of dollars. It was the scariest day of my life, hands down.

Today I spend with my parents (they go home tomorrow). Tomorrow I start on the corrections and will hopefully be able to hand in my thesis before we leave for South America on the 1st!