Thursday, January 10, 2013

Defense and later

It's done. I have a PhD now. Feels strange but not that different. Knowing that this will be the last time I'll ever be a student and that this is a degree that says you are the expert puts whole load of different pressure. The few days leading up to the day of the thesis defense were some the most nerve wracking in a long  time.

But on the day itself, I calmed down. I'd spent the previous day mucking around, reading articles, watching tv - generally destressing. And in the final mock presentation (late night, in pyjamas) I made fewer errors, and finished in time. So the defense went well. I was suited up. The jury showed up, we chatted amiably, I was given 40 minutes to present and I managed to have everything said in 39 minutes.

The questions lasted about an hour - my friends watching felt that I was given a hard time. But these were questions I'd expected, and I was strangely confident answering them. In fact, I remember actually smiling a couple of times when I was asked a few questions. I honestly felt I was given a gentle treatment.

So it's done. I have the degree now. And now I'm officially a शिक्षित बेकार. I'm looking for work now... the experience of research tired me out and I feel it's time to work in a company and let go any ideas of academic life. My visa gives me 6 months to look for a job. EU magic means I can travel through EU without much hassle, while post-holiday travel deals means I can do it cheaply.

The plan is to start off with a backpack to Paris and then Spain... and head to Brussels. That's about 15 days of the trip. After that I'll slow down and try to travel by train, bus or car-sharing and head north. I'll be traveling alone, but visiting friends, or bunking in hostels or with couchsurfers. It's something I've wanted to do (noted here), and my experience in Mexico tells me that I will get tired of it. But I want to see how long I can go (mentally and financially) and try to get a little bit of randomness back.

I'll probably blog it. Or probably not. I don't know what I'll "learn" or "discover". I do know that I will most likely end up in the growing population of people who hate Ryan Air. And I don't know if I'll be hit by culture shock multiple times.  Though now, I have English and French to help me communicate when I'm lost.

The laptop will stay home. I've rigged it up so I can ssh in from my phone or tablet. At least I can update my resume "on the go" (I'm also looking for a job, remember?)  and/or back up pictures to there. Let's see how it goes...


  1. Great, congratulations Mandar !! :) I am very happy for you. All the best for the future.

  2. Any plan to visit Sweden or Norway?

    1. It's on the cards tentatively. I have friends to visit in Sweden and possible chance of the Northern lights in Norway. Money, time and motivation (traveling alone can get dreary at times) will decide that.

  3. I do hope you blog your stories, will look forward to reading them :). Have fun! You deserve it.

    - Gireeja