So, I handed in my thesis… what did I do next?
Well, here is a list of things I am beyond over people asking me:
- Are you looking for a job?
- Is it over?
- What do you mean an exam?
- What are you going to do now?
- What is it you even do?
For those not in the know, once you’ve submitted your thesis, you have a couple of weeks or months before the final stage of assessment – the viva (more on this in a future post). This is essentially an aural examination of your knowledge and to make sure it was you who wrote your thesis. My viva was set for June 13th, and on the advice of my supervisor I chilled out and enjoyed my freedom until the start of June. Hence feeling as though I were in limbo, because I was free but with impending doom on the horizon.
It was a strange feeling, because had I spent so much time training myself into having a good work ethic; not to be distracted by things and not really taking much time off at weekends. To be suddenly faced with nothing to do is quite daunting. The first few days were inevitably spent, with me in my dressing gown, on the sofa watching RuPaul’s drag race (amazing), doing jigsaws and eating. After a few days of slothing and indulging in all of the things I had forbidden myself from doing whilst writing up, I was pretty much over it.
I currently have no income, so leaving the house to do anything is basically a bad idea because you can’t really get anywhere without spending a few pounds. Everyone I know works 9-5 Monday-Friday, so there actually isn’t anyone to spend time with during the week. However, staying indoors 24/7 isn’t great for ones mental health.
Things I have found to occupy my time include:
- Baking – people who know me know I LOVE baking, it’s so good to have the time to make monstrosities (like the baked Alaska below) for my friends and family.
- Spending time with family – much neglected over the last few months it’s been really nice to catch up and spend quality time, especially with my sisters.
- More baking
- Gardening – this is not something I have ever really been into, but my husband is attempting to transform our home into something sellable one day. I had run out of excuses, so we spent a day tidying up the garden and doing a bit of planting. I have since done a lot of painting and added a splash of colour to the doors and planters (much to his dismay). It’s nice to be outside and there is something quite fulfilling about seeing things you have planted flourish.
- Fieldwork – back to my old stomping grounds in Sedbergh. Somehow, without me the dipper project has survived another year but there are still bits of work to help out with. I went out in November for a day, but except for that I haven’t really done any proper fieldwork since June last year. It felt great to be out again, and even better to be attempting to catch birds and to record data with no internal stress because its not my project! Don’t get me wrong, the work is hard and the days are long, but if you’re only participating once a week it seems like a lovely getaway into the dales for a spot of bird watching. Very good for the soul.
- Babysitting – my older sister has a daughter and because the prices of childcare are extortionate and my mother who usually takes the Monday shift is perma-on holiday, I was asked if I could step up and look after my niece for the day every-so-often. I had zero prior experience with small children, but she’s trained me up to be able to manage for a few hours. I was terrified at first, but so long as she doesn’t look like she’s choking on something its very enjoyable!
- Crafting! In particular painting and knitting this adorable cardigan for aforementioned niece.
- More fieldwork – they can’t keep me away! Except this week I have come away completely mauled by midges. So… might have to wait till the itching subsides.
- More baking – now featuring the food dye I got for my birthday for psychedelic creations.
- Spending quality time with my husband. Having neglected him (he did not notice, he plays golf now) for the duration of March and most of April, it feels good to set aside some time for us both. We had a great day sampling the delights at the food festival, and he has also managed to convince me to come to the driving range, which was not as terrible as I thought it would be after I started managing to actually hit balls in a reasonable direction.
- Cleaning – it is safe to say that my house hasn’t has a proper clean in months, again the joys of writing up… I’ve given it a bit more love recently and the difference is astounding.
- Visiting friends – so good to see my Liverpool uni gals (love you guys) before Claire gave up her life to baby Angus, and get in a spot of crafting at the same time!
- Spreading the word! I gave a seminar on my work at the BTO HQ in Norfolk and also managed to fit in a visit to Cranwich to see my fellow PhD student Chris and his study species: Reed warblers
- Appearing on Springwatch (well… my research). The episode was shown on June 5th, a very exciting Monday night watching my supervisor on a 5 minute segment with Michaela talk about what we’ve spent the last few years working hard on. Pretty cool.
What these activities have in common, are they occupy time, are cheap and are good my mental health. It is important to stay optimistic about looking for a postdoc, but at the same time it could take a while (or may never happen). So for now I am following the advice my younger (and obviously much wiser) sister and taking each day as it comes.
This blog post is dedicated to my main gal, Pepper pig, for all her assistance in babysitting duties (oink).