My first day of my PhD was February, 2004. I had a long hard road ahead of me. I spent many days and long nights attempting FACS, PCR, bleeding, hybridising, giving seminars, going to lab meetings, and writing many many words about science. In January, 2007 I submitted my thesis, and left for Seattle. My thesis was then sent out to review by two anonymous reviewers. Four months later, I got their comments and responded to the issues that they had raised, and sent this back to Australia for final approval. It wasn’t until November, 2007 that I got the letter confirming that I had been awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. I deferred graduation for one year, and then in December 2008, I was able to walk across stage and officially claim my diploma.
It was the first time for a while that I heard the national anthem, Advance Australia Fair. What a strange song. These days, our soil seems more brown than golden. As the university is only sixty-two years old, it has to import a lot of its pomp and ceremony from Oxford. The robes we wear, even in the heat of summer, are thick black wool, as worn hundreds of years ago in England.The silver mace, carried during the academic procession, is a twentieth-century replica of the eighteenth-century Oxford mace. The conferring process for PhD graduates is very neat, but I was nervous that I would stuff it up in front of everyone. When my name was called, I walked across the stage and kneeled in front of the Chancellor. I removed my black velvet bonnet, and inclined my head and he placed a blue silk hood over my shoulders. I replaced my bonnet, and stood up. He handed me my testamur, shook my hand, and I walked down the stairs, degree in hand.
Afterwards Fleur and I celebrated with champagne, our many years as molecular biology graduate students officially coming to an end. Adrian and I then had lunch with my parents, where they presented me with a beautiful watch to mark the occasion of my graduation. Now, when we find a home in Belgium, I can now hang a diploma on my wall that proudly proclaims that I have earned a Doctor of Philosophy from the Australian National University.
Posts Tagged “canberra”
Dec 14 2008
At first, Canberra felt very strange. Very Australian – a word that I would never have previously used to describe it – and so dry and sprawling. And yet, only a few days later, it feels like I have never left. Apart from accidentally hopping on the wrong bus or forgetting where the nearest ATM is, I almost feel as if Seattle never really happened. But while Canberra may have stayed stationary, all my friends have whizzed ahead. How dare they graduate, have babies, get married, buy houses, get promotions, buy pets, etc, while I have been overseas to miss out on these milestones. Everyone is so grown up now. Including me, I guess, now married with two years post-doctoral experience, and soon off to Belgium to live.
I am really enjoying my time in Canberra with Adrian by my side. Spending most of my day studying at the ANU, peppered with coffee and lunch with old friends and hearing about their many adventures. Every day warm, sunny, and full of blue sky and a gentle breeze. It is relaxing and satisfying.
Oct 19 2008
Busy week. I got the okay from my supervisor on my thesis, picked up my beautifully burgundy leather-bound copies and submitted them, celebrated with dance and wine for several days, said goodbye to all my friends, and flew to the other side of the world to be picked up by my fiancé in a limousine.
Now I have a couple of weeks to adjust to all things American. The time-zone, the cold, the upside-down light-switches, the power outlets that look like tiny surprised people, the units of measurement, the cars on the wrong side of the road, tipping and sales tax, pennies, and the paper money that is all the same colour.
Still, somehow it feels like home.