I am done grading finals... done writing papers… and done with Spring Term. Yay!! Summer vacation here I come!!
Except… although I will have time to do cool stuff like camping, hiking, fishing… and running… I will also be studying. I know! What kind of nightmarish summer vacation requires studying? Last summer was spent studying for the research project I had for the master’s paper. This summer I will study for the comprehensive exam. For those who do not know, the comprehensive exam is an exam to prove that I have “comprehensive” knowledge over one sub-field in sociology. If I pass, I can then continue onto my PhD work. If I fail, I can try to get a job with my Masters degree.
I am looking forward to being done with graduate school. I certainly do not have a “failure to launch” syndrome when it comes to graduate school. I do not want to spend 15 years as a graduate student doing research. I want to be done as soon as possible so that I can be teaching at a college and/or working at a nonprofit. Helping people is what matters to me… and the comprehensive exam is a stepping stone to that goal.
Anyway… the topic for my comprehensive exam is about the environment… specifically, understanding how political and economic decisions impact the environment, and how those environmental impacts create health problems for humans. Doesn’t that sound like an exciting summer vacation? Yeah, well… exciting for an academic and exciting for a college freshman are two different things 😉
Last Thursday, at approximately 11:36 a.m. Pacific Time, I received the news that my master’s paper passed. Many of you know that it has been a long, hard road to get to this point. Many revisions of the paper, many sleepless nights. At one point I actually got stress hives.
But now I can relax this summer. You know, as relaxing as one can have while studying for a comprehensive exam (a nasty exam for PhD students). But I will not be teaching or researching over the summer, which means I can fish, study for the exam, and travel to the coast. How cool do I feel after finishing the masters? As cool as Ferris Bueller in Chicago: that’s how cool!!
But I am taking a short break from writing my master’s thesis to blog because blogging relieves stress and unleashes some creative awesomeness. As part of today’s thesis writing marathon, I decided to change locations from where I normally write/study. I chose a coffee shop instead of my desk at home, and instead of my campus office.
According to a post by the Thesis Whisperer, there has been ample research to suggest that taking a thesis writing retreat will benefit the writing process. The change of location can be invigorating. So here I am at a coffee shop for a mini-retreat. However, for my dissertation… I might take a month somewhere. I have already floated the idea to my wife and she seems interested. For her the “no” factor is always money… which makes sense. But the “yes” factor for her is travel because travel is fun.
I am thinking Seattle, Portland, New York City or Chicago could all be great places for a month long retreat. Almost anywhere in Colorado could work.
Have you ever taken a retreat (or mini-retreat) to finish a major project? How did it work out for you?
This post is by Julio Peironcely, founder and editor of the Next Scientist blog. Julio is a PhD student in Metabolomics and Metabolite Identification at Leiden University, The Netherlands and has been blogging and using social media for several years, both for fun and for professional purposes.
This post developed out of a conversation on Twitter about the difficulties of socialising at academic conferences, particularly at the dinner. I was thrilled when Julio sent me this post which is a comprehensive set of advice which anyone, scientist or not, can benefit from. Take it away Julio!
You didn’t meet anybody new at the last scientific conference.
You paid high registration fees, travelled to the other side of the world, listened to boring talks, nobody came to your poster.
At least you met interesting people at the conference dinner, didn’t you?