PhD, Year 1

April 22nd, 2007 by Potato

Well, I’m fast approaching the end of my first year in PhD studies. So far, it seems to be going a lot better than my Master’s ever did. I never got a scholarship for my MSc (aside from tuition support), and there was even some disagreement about whether or not I was eligible for one. The applications take a long time to write (think days), especially if it’s your first one and you don’t have anything writen to work off of, no choice quotes to incorporate. So I checked and asked to make sure I had the minimum 80% average (despite how well I did in some of my classes, my overall average was just scraping 80). I checked to see if my 2nd year organic chem or 3rd year biochemistry (taken in my 3rd and 4th years of undergraduate respectively, the years that count for calculating scholarship averages) would count against me, and if my 1st year anthropology would count for me. I was told the 1st and 2nd year classes wouldn’t count (which was good: orgo hurt me far more than anthro helped), and was especially bouyed by the 90% I had in my graduate level stats class. Needless to say, I was shocked to receive a letter after submitting my applications that I had basically wasted my time and wasn’t even eligible for a scholarship — apparently it wasn’t the average of my 3rd and 4th year classes like they said, but rather the courses I took in my 3rd and 4th years (so 2nd year orgo did count), and what’s much crazier, is that the MSc course I completed didn’t count, because they don’t start counting graduate courses until your second year (due to a preculiarity of starting in January, I was pretty much the only first-year MSc student with a graduate class).

So, in case you haven’t already heard, I’ve been offered 3 Ontario Graduate Scholarship awards already for my PhD (only one of which I was able to accept — it’s a neat trick of chronology and starting in May that let me apply twice for my first year :) and was just recently awarded an even more prestigious NSERC scholarship. Not only is it worth a fair bit more than the OGS, but it’s also a 3-year scholarship that’ll take me right to the end of my PhD. No more wasting a week in the fall just writing the application essays!

The first year of my MSc was neat, I learned a lot and got some neat prototypes built for another project… but had made no progress on my own research (just wasted some time trying one technique that didn’t work). In fact, a lot of the PhD comics cut a little too close to the bone for my MSc. By contrast, now I’m using clinical equipment (harder to schedule time, but it also has a much more comprehensive support plan — we can’t afford to have it go off-line) and there’s a lot more expertise within the group so I have resources to draw on. Already we’re running subjects and collecting data, which is really exciting! (Beyond the fact that I’m actually running subjects though, I can’t tell you what the data is, because that would be premature disclosure). In fact, one of the biggest obstacles I’m facing now is just getting people to come in late in the evenings or on the weekend as volunteers. It’s tough now that some of the first year students are minors, so we can’t just force them to volunteer to get marks in first year psych :(

I’ve even got some teaching experience now (as painful as that was at times)

Oh, and I now issue a public shaming for Joce & Steve. They were going to come to London and be our first visitors. We cleaned the house, got the guest bed set up, and even ordered in some nice weather… but they inexplicably cancelled on Thursday. For further background, Joce lives outside of Toronto, and Steve outside of Windsor. London is of course halfway between the two, so it wasn’t even hugely out of their way. The reason I got was “Also, by the time Sunday rolls around I just want to drive straight home and sleep in my own bed.” That’s pretty weak Joce, and for that: shame. I mean, here we’ve got this really cute house closer to Toronto than most of cottage country, halfway to Windsor and Detroit, and no one’s seen it. I just want to show it off (especially before summer sets in and we might have to face the prospect of bugs) and see my friends :( I mean, am I being unreasonable here? We’ve got friends who moved across the country to Vancouver, Ft. McMurray, Halifax and Thunder Bay, and they’ve all had more visitors than we’ve had in London. Would it help if I said that London has an airport, so you can fly if you’d rather not drive?

All kidding aside though, I can’t really blame you for not coming in, Joce. I mean, my own parents haven’t come in to see the place yet, and I’m the only one of my siblings who’s moved out so far. In the 4 years I lived in the apartment, I had 3 visits from each of my parents, and one of those was the move in! So if my parents, who regularly drive the same distance to the cottage (often going there and back the same day) haven’t come to visit, I can’t very well hold anyone else to task for not visiting. Like we say around here “London’s a great place to live, but I’d hate to visit there.”

One Response to “PhD, Year 1”

  1. Wayfare Says:

    “Welcome to London – you’re halfway there!”