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mock viva

I had a mock viva with my sup and found it really useful as others have said, to get me thinking about my thesis/argument etc. My sup also advised talking about my research as much as possible in the time between submission and viva to practise articulating my ideas out loud (rather than on paper as we have already spent years doing!).

As I live far from my uni and don't have many PhD peers that I felt I could ask to mock viva me I actually asked my hubby and dad to mock viva me in the days beforehand! Although neither are academics, I just printed out a list of common viva questions and gave it to them to ask me in 'viva conditions' (i.e. no laughing!). It may sound a little strange to do that but I found it really helped me learn how to speak about my research in the best way. Good luck :-)

Feeling inadequate and taking a long time to finish

Hi Sparkles,

I feel exactly the same! I'm 3 years 7 months in, intending to submit in September - not necesarily because I think that's when I'll be finished but because that's the deadline at my uni and I just want this process to end. I have versions of all the main chapters but I'm working on a proper first draft for July. I have friends who have finished even before the 3 years and have the attitude of "well, just get on with it" which doesn't help and that's what I think I'm doing already!

My advice is just keep going. It will end eventually and maybe then we'll feel like we're as good as everyone else...? (And if not at least we can earn some money for holidays!). I've always found that (as scary as they are) presenting my work at conferences has helped make me feel that I have something interesting to say as the audience is invariably nice and seem genuinely interested in my work. Another thing I try to remember is that my supervisor is honest and so I think she would tell me if me or my work wasn't good enough.

Re: comparing to other students, people are good at different things. You might find that while the process seems to come easily to some people, actually you have a far better writing style or structure or even people skills that your colleagues don't have. And although other people may seem confident and academically advanced, they might be feeling the same as you - or they may be thinking that you're the confident, clever one!

This crazy process that we've got ourselves involved with is entirely personal and therefore people do it and experience it differently. I'm just trying forget about how many journal articles or conference prizes or job offers other people have got, and I am instead concentrating on getting my words on the paper and making my thesis it as good as I can (before September) and then it's getting submitted regardless. I think that's all we can do.

A last word of hope - another friend submitted at the deadline of her 4th yr, felt the same as us during the process and was conviced she would fail. In reality she had a great viva, the examiners really liked it (told her she should publish) and she got minimal corrections. Their main comment was that she should be more confident in her own voice in the thesis!

So in the words of Dory from Finding Nemo: "just keep swimming, just keep swimming..."! All the best x

is it really worth it?

Hi Sheyna,

I don't often comment on this forum but thought that my experience may be useful to you. My mum was diagnosed with stage 3/4 bowel cancer in my first year of my PhD. Although I don't think I really 'cared' for her (she's a very independent lady!), I attended all of the hospital appointments, scans, radiotherapy and chemo sessions etc with her. I was at the time working part-time, doing the PhD and trying to plan a wedding so I know what you mean about the rollercoaster! My supervisor was really supportive but it was hard going at the time and the PhD did take a back seat to everything else. In the end I decided to quit my job which allowed me the extra mental space and time which I needed to deal with everything.

Fast forward to today - I'm currently in my fourth year of the PhD, intending to submit in September. I'm pleased to say that my mum is now clear of cancer after about a year of treatment and unfortunately a bowel removal operation (which took place the day after my wedding!). I won't assume to understand what you are going through but for me the process was made easier but my mum who is totally awesome and always positive despite some scary doctor predictions. I think we both just adopted a 'just get on with it' attitude which helped but I'm not sure what would have happened if the treatment hadn't been successful. My heart really is with you as you're waiting for news from the docs and I hope it's positive.

So I'm not sure whether it's appropriate to try and give advice but from my experience I'm glad that I continued with the PhD and I'm not sure whether I would ever have come back to it if I had taken an official break (as opposed to just not really getting anything done for about 9 months). I'm one of those students who has ummed and ahhhed about quitting throughout but I now have 6/7 chapters and starting to see the finish point. I found getting back into the PhD difficult but talking to other students and going to conferences helped me remember why I started it in the first place.

Reading this forum shows that people have had a break and come back to it and for some a time away from the PhD has been the best thing. I wouldn't worry about the topic if you do have a break, there's always something new and interesting to find.

Sorry for the long ramble, I hope that things work out for you and at least you have a new baby to look forward to in a few months. Good luck with everything.

How has your PhD changed you?

I feel where you're coming from. I'm definitely tons (and tons) fatter, I want to sleep a lot more (escaping from work I think), I feel stupider than ever before - even more so than when I worked in a nursing home when I was 16 and was treated like a idiot - and I feel as if I barely have any friends left, I never get to see them. Starting to feel the slope into a depression and trying to get a handle on it. :-(

In my final year and it's been up and down since the start. It hasn't always been this bad (although the feeling stupid thing kicked in from day 1) so hoping that this is just a dip. It's amazing how the end seems in sight one day and then totally disappears the next!

Thanks to everyone else on here for sharing, obviously I really hope it gets better for everyone (sending out what good thoughts I can currently muster) but it makes me feel better that it's not just me! :-)

Mortgages take 2

Just another quick thought, some of the banks have taken my part-time teaching wages into account so I don't know if either of you have any sort of part-time work that might add up to a 30K mortgage? Our broker advised that everything adds up, and has never at any point said that we definitley won't be able to get a mortgage using my stipend, just that we're much more limited.

Mortgages take 2

First time poster but thought my experiences may be useful...

I'm on a PhD stipend but my husband has a 'real' job and we are currently trying to buy a house so are using a mortgage broker to get a mortgage, but the only lender which will acknowledge my stipend seems to be C&G who advised that they will take 75% of my stipend into account. Very frustrating! The most frustrating thing about it is that the banks who will not acknowledge the stipend assume that my husband is supporting the both of us which again limits the amount of money we are able to borrow.

If we manage to work something else out then I will keep you posted, as I have personally found these discussion boards to be very useful and informative in my quest as to sort out a mortgage!