Summer Months for a Grad Student

So, it’s been a while since my last post, and there are reasons for this.

First, I don’t know where April went.¬†Really. Someone please tell me where it went, because I don’t remember it. I think the world owes me a month of time before telling me that May is just around the corner. Why am I freaked out about May?¬†One of my supervisors reminded me of this during our usual biweekly meeting.

“Are you still planning to graduate by the end of August?” he said. It was to be a gentle reminder, but I freaked out.

I mean… do you know what May really means?

To master’s students, like myself, who plan to graduate by the end of the summer, the month of May announces the start of the last summer as a master’s student. The last four sunny months of your stay here (unless you are going on to do your PhD at UBC as well).

Unfortunately, I cannot guarantee that the last summer months of your stay at UBC would be as beautiful and gorgeous as what Vancouver summer makes things sound. It could actually be quite a painful sunny months for some because… if you are like me, you have a thesis to write.

For those who are still working on their projects, still have experiments to run, equipments to purchase, things to put together etc., the four sunny months will not be so sunny on your skin. You will most likely be indoors in your labs working away on your thesis project.

For those of you who are done with the technical work, and just need to write out what you’ve done for the past 1 year and 8 months, good for you. Really. I totally applaud you, because…

I wish I were you.

I wish that I could join you at a sunshine filled coffee shop that overlooks to the waters, or a beautiful park/garden, and type away my thesis with you….

But I can’t. At least, not yet.

I should have known better last summer.

Last summer, about this time, I was happily gearing up my project, keeping busy, and voluntarily staying at the lab for extended periods of time thinking: “Now that the courses are done and over with, I can finally focus on my thesis project!”

I was excited. There was a deadline for a paper to be submitted by the end of August, and I was happy to be working toward it. Now that I think about it, I was working on three different projects that summer, and worked on three different papers… why… why…?!!

Bad decision on my part.

Planning ahead, and expecting that this year’s summer would be filled with thesis wrap-ups and writing process, I should have spent the last summer out there, enjoying the sun, the weather, the forests and the trees and … everything the summer in Vancouver freely offers you, in addition to the abundance of Vitamin D everywhere outdoors.

Now, I don’t have much of an option. I started outlining my thesis (yes, I threw out the first few bits of the thesis I wrote last Winter and starting fresh), and am giving myself two weeks to finish writing/editing/beautifying it in August.

This was last summer. I worked on the same robot for the past year... wow.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t do work, only to enjoy the beautiful and absolutely attractive summer in Vancouver. I am saying that a healthier balance (a bit more of play than work) is recommended for those who need to charge up their Vitamin D batteries on your skin in order to healthily work through the rainy winter weather at your labs. I am also saying that it’s a perfect time to get to know your labmates or lab neighbours a bit better by easily enjoying outdoor activities together.

Second, I finally launched an online survey to collect data for my human-robot interaction thesis work. Man, did it take long. Because my study is so interdisciplinary (go figure, I am launching an online survey to do engineering research), I have been needing to read lots of literature outside of engineering, and to ask for people’s help/expertise in every which way.

Collecting data, and analysing it will conclude 2/3 of my entire thesis project. That’s right. I have another 1/3 to go… but that’s ok… I think… I… I think I can get it done. It took me a bit more than half a year to finish the first 1/3, then a bit more than half a year again to finish the second 1/3, which makes me think that it would take at least half a year for me to finish my last 1/3. But that would push me over the August 31st thesis submission deadline.

I am just going to keep telling myself that I can do it. Hopefully, or eventually, I will get it done and surprise myself.

Anyway, if anyone has <20 minutes and feels at least a bit of sympathy for a graduate student who just finished planning out a super work-filled summery months in Vancouver, please watch a few embedded robot moving videos and let me know what you think by filling out the following survey.

http://bit.ly/RobotSurvey

Did you click it?

Did you complete the survey?

You ROCK!

Big hugs to you, oh you, my beloved participant! I hope you have an epic summer!

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