I did it. I finally did it. Four years 8 months and 14 days after starting this journey, I finally submitted my PhD thesis.
The lead up to finishing was horrible; there were lots of last minute revisions requested and red tape. Everything that possibly could go wrong did go wrong with printing it. The whole thing was one giant comedy of errors. Right up to walking in to find the office for submitting PhDs had been inexplicably shut for the day.
This is the day that was, for the sake of posterity…
The day before I handed up, I did the final read through, proofing and formatting. I also ran off one copy to duplicate at the uni the next day. This last job was a nightmare. My printer would not print landscape pages. Saving the file to a .pdf did not work either. So, I had to manually adjust the settings on the printer for each landscape page and then manually realign the page numbers. Doing so stuffed up all the page numbers on my automatically generated contents page. Every time I shifted between landscape and portrait and back again I gained or lost multiple pages. In the end, I had to manually create my contents page. All in all I was up until about 1:30am printing my thesis. All 264 pages of it.
I woke up at 5:30 am and was at university by 8:30am. I spent the morning photocopying. My university requires three hard copies and a digital copy of each thesis. The fourth is an insurance policy in case anything goes wrong. Which it did. The photocopier jammed and chewed up one of my pages! I finally finished making the copies by 10 o’clock. Due to my aforementioned .pdf debacle I then had to scan the hard copy of my thesis to create the pdf which was also required for submission.
I then wandered down to the library where the binding service was located. The wandering was somewhat difficult as the theses weighed more than my laptop did, and I was already weighed down with that too. It took about 40 minutes for the three copies to be bound. This period was a bit amusing. The silence in the library was broken by the repetitive noise of someone shearing through my thesis to carve out the holes for the comb binding. Everyone was looking around as if to say, what on earth are they doing in there?! During this time I compiled all the .pdf files I had made earlier into one document. The adrenaline had kicked in by that point and my hands were shaking. As you can imagine, that made the task rather difficult! Things became even more laughable when I tried to send the .pdf file to the head of faculty as requested. The file was .6 of a MB larger than that which can be sent via email. Undaunted, I compressed the file but that destroyed the quality of the image. It made reading my thesis look like it would without wearing my contact lenses! VERY BLURRY. I ended up uploading the file to Google drive and sending a link to the file via email.
returned staggered back to my office with three bound copies of The Beast. I could not believe how thick my thesis turned out to be! I’d assumed it only looked so bulky because the papers weren’t aligned properly. But no, it is actually an epic. It clocked in at about 50K words, minus the references and appendices. I’d thought it would be about 30K. Then I printed out the last bit of paperwork I needed to submit that I’d received that morning and took a few selfies. It was weird. There was no one in my office. In fact, apart from the lovely admin people I’d chatted to briefly while binding, there was not a soul on campus that I knew.
The sun was splitting the trees as I walked across the courtyard with its garden gnome water feature, yes, really. I climbed up the stairs to the place where I submitted my first university assignments to submit my very last one. How poetic eh?
*Cue scratched record noise.* Instead of being greeted with the usual hive of activity up at the office, there was a sign informing me that it was shut, all day, with the suggestion I use the phone to ring someone else. Eventually locating the phone I first rang the person I had previously told I was submitting that day. No answer. Then I managed to get through to a lovely lady who I actually knew. Turned out most of the office was sick but she was able to help me. It was very anti-climactic. She ducked back inside the office with my thesis, signed a form, gave me a copy and it was done.
We chatted for bit and then I wandered down to a secluded spot of the uni with the piece of paper heralding my new found freedom. I took a lot of selfies. I’m not much of a selfie person but you only submit your PhD once. So I improvised a tripod using my handbag and made good use of the phone timer. Being a dancer, there were quite a few leaping for joy shots among them.
That done, I ducked back to my office, submitted the paperwork for the uni to sign me off to apply for my psych registration and finally bumped into a fellow student I knew. I had a quick bite to eat trying to process everything that had just happened and made way down to the seaside to catch up with a friend. She had a present for me from a group of my friends which was lovely. It started sinking in by degrees that I was done. I celebrated with my family that night over dinner.
The whole experience of finishing has been overwhelming. It doesn’t feel real. 22 years of studying done. It’s been exciting, terrifying and at times quite sad. I’d lost a lot of people very important to me over the last couple of years and it just wasn’t quite the same not being able to share my news with them today. All in all though, I was euphoric to be done.
I’ll probably keep this blog going in some shape or form re: the job hunt, settling into work etc. but for now…
Honourable Mentions over and out.