Vancouverites do not know the meaning of rain

Vancouver has spoiled me. Utterly. Thoroughly. I’ve stopped carrying umbrellas on days it doesn’t look like it’ll rain because what’s a drizzle? (Or a mizzle — one of my favourite words for a misty kind of rain.)

Well, I’m never going to make that mistake again. Just got caught out in a tremendous downpour in Hong Kong. We’re talking sheets of what feels like pelting rocks, except it’s all wet. You actually cannot see more than a metre ahead of you and the taxi ride home was a terrifying experience, since my parents decided they would like to live on a hill with a twisty, turny road that doesn’t actually offer pavements for pedestrians on both sides of the road or crosswalks, and the driver openly admitted he couldn’t see a thing.

Now to dry myself off and to wait anxiously for my parents to make their separate trips back. And a note that I’ll be moving a majority of these kinds of posts from now on to my post-UBC blog.

Five years later…

I’m done!

Graduation approved

cue happy dancing

How do you defend a thesis?

This post is a call to the kindness of any UBC folk out there willing to talk about their experiences with a thesis defence (especially if you’re an English Honours kid).

What do you do in your defence?

As far as I’ve gathered from my professor, the defence will be 60 minutes. The first 10-15 minutes is my talk about my project, how I got there, what I learned in the process, and topics beyond the thesis itself. Then there are questions for the rest of the period.

So my questions:

  • Does that above timeframe sound right with your experience of your defence?
  • Were you allowed to bring in any notes or cue cards at all? (I’m given to understand this is no Powerpoint presentation.)
  • How did you prepare for your talk? What went the way you expected and what didn’t?
  • What kind of questions did you find most challenging, e.g. was there a lot of theory involved?
  • How long should your answers to questions be?

I realise that for some of these questions, the answers will really differ depending on the person, and every thesis is unique. Still, I would love to hear other people’s experiences. (The English 499 package wasn’t very informative on the oral part.)

Tell me something sweet to get me by

This PhD Comics strip pretty much sums up my experience at the moment (except, y’know, at the undergraduate level). It’s also my latest reward between revising large chunks of my essay.

My brain feels like the mush we used to feed my rabbit when she was sick and couldn’t digest solid foods.

Someone told me if I stop reading other people’s articles, I’ll feel less stupid and inarticulate about my own. This may be true, but my inner nerd is coming out in full force — publications like Cultivating Canada: Reconciliation through the Lens of Cultural Diversity give me hope for the future. It makes for good bedtime reading.

(Also, one of my advisors told me to read it. Academic Life Tip: Listen to your advisors. Especially if they’re on your thesis defence committee.)

And every now and then, I listen to Sam Hart’s ‘Mario Kart Love Song’. It’s the most irrelevant music I could find to keep me going.


In classic Speakeasy tradition

We wrote gratitude notes to each other at our year-end event on Friday and left them in each other’s wine glasses.

Thank you guys for the notes, the card and the signed weekly planner. It’s been a grand four years and this year has probably been best of all. I’ve loved being part of the service with every bit of my heart and will miss it so much when I’m gone.

But since I’m not gone yet, I’m going to enjoy the last three (non-coughing!) weeks as much as I can. And with that promise comes snacking materials for y’all.

For those of you wondering…

AMS Speakeasy peer support service is operating during exam period (Tuesday, April 10–Wednesday, April 27).

Volunteers are trained to provide a listening ear, confidential one-on-one support and resources for a wide range of issues including, but not limited to: exam and academic stress, relationship concerns, LGBTQQI issues, substance abuse, anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.

If you’re the least bit worried about something or just need someone to talk to, approach one of our volunteers on shift at the information booth. I promise they are some of the kindest, most accepting people you’ll ever meet.

AMS Speakeasy
SUB Main Concourse (north side, facing Brock Hall)
Open Monday–Friday, 9:30 am–4:30 pm during exam period