Already, my PhD seems like it happened a long time ago. A year ago, I was writing up, and unlike what I hear from quite a few of my colleagues, I did not struggle (much). It definitely helped that I had two published papers and one finished manuscript to work with! I therefore ‚only‘ had to find a common storyline (that was the hard part) and then write an introduction and discussion. Piece of cake! 😉 Well, it still needed work, and thinking, and revising, but I quite enjoyed it! Putting my findings into context allowed me to take a step back from the nitty-gritty details of experimental work and ponder the meaning and implications of my work. I found that hugely rewarding!
So in June 2017, I handed in, and pushing my reviewers to finish their assessment during semester time, was able to defend in September. Again, the viva did not appear daunting, but rather I took it as an opportunity to talk about what I had achieved in the previous four years. In 45min, it necessarily had to be a rather superficial treatment, but that allowed me to place everything in context and focus on the main findings and their implications. After the viva, which was public, I spent another hour discussing my work with the four professors who were judging me, but as this was more of a discussion than an examination, it turned out quite pleasant as well.
So – done! Crazy that the PhD chapter of my life is now over! And while I am happy to be done, there are many things and especilly people that I will miss. Looking back over the last four years, I can say that I learnt great deal, enjoyed the variety of tasks involved in a PhD, and enjoyed the freedom of academia to pursue questions I find interesting and work the way I like it. I also learnt that I prefer some tasks (playing with, analysing and visualising data, writing, presenting) to others (making experiments work). I am grateful for and will miss a number of people who played a role in my life in the last four years – my fabulous flatmates, my super international friends I made through the graduate school, my labmates, who commiserated many times, my dance partners, who helped take my focus away from work, and many more. Thank you for making my last four years so much better!