Tag Archives: thesis

Rejoice

The deadline for the PhD application was on April 16, which resulted in me working over Easter desperately trying to finish it. It ended up pretty good, if I may say so myself. The only problem now is out of my hands, and I can only hope that my application stands out enough to call for an interview among the 40 other applicants. Other than being nervous, I also managed to finish my thesis.

I sent it in twice for revision and now the final version is in my hands. I only need to check for some minor errors and find typos. After than I’m ready to write a presentation manuscript and defend it. It’ll be fun, I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time. Knowing that I have so many people that support me is very comforting. I’m not gonna lie, I am nervous but being a little nervous is good. It feels amazing and very unrealistic at the same time. Once my defence is over and I pass, I will have made my childhood dream come true and I’ll finally be a marine biologist.

I remember when I first started this blog and it was all about being a bartender before I realised I need to head back to uni and finish what I started. I also remember the picture shown to me when I was 8 and I decided then and there that I wasn’t going to be an archeologist and head for the deep blue instead. For the longest time as a child, I thought the words marine biologist was just a made up thing. I had just put together two words that made sense to me: marine because of the ocean and biologist because of all the life around us. Countless of times was I met with the question Is that even a thing? Of course it is! Look at me now. I’m very happy, although the thought of not knowing what I’ll do the coming years is frightening.

Most of all, I’m proud of myself. I’ve managed an education with 0 in debt. Zero. Nil. Nada. My degree is the manifestation of hard work in its purest form. Yes, I have put many things aside to achieve this but it is worth it. I’m also very proud of the fact that I managed to do something that I’d never thought I’d be able to pull off. My thesis is strictly theoretical and it’s packed with statistics. I’m still afraid of statistics but I now have a fundamental understanding to it and I know why it’s important. It scared the living being out of me when I took it but I am really glad I did it. It put me through so much agony, pain and frustration but it paid me back in knowledge and resilience. I’m really impressed with myself, not only to the fact that I managed to pull this thesis off, but also because I took the courage and challenged myself and walked out of it alive. So whatever the future has coming my way, I am not afraid.

//c_Cae; challenge accepted and achievement unlocked: marine biologist one month from now! 

Recap

It feels like a million things have happened since I last posted. While not literally a million things have happened, but many have. I’ll try not to be too long about it, but I still want to keep you readers in the loop despite not being able to update here as much as I’d like to.

Being one of the most difficult decisions in my life, we ultimately decided to let Serah go. Zoe kept locking herself in her room, crying whenever Serah as much as looked at her when we ate, and repeatedly telling us how scared she was of Serah. Serah, being the pup she is, just looked curiously at Zoe, wondering why this little human was acting the way she does. I can understand Zoe. It is scary to have a dog that’s almost double your own size and is still growing. It pained (and still does) me a lot to see Serah go, but I’m also a mother that want my child to feel safe at home. I still miss Serah every day. I get a striking pain in my chest whenever I think of her. Of course, my frustration is back because there’s nothing to fill in for Serah. We’ll get a dog, a smaller one for sure, but we don’t know when. Until then I have to cope. Besides, Zoe is back to her old self, only she keeps naming anything dog-related Haylee.

My thesis is taking up a lot of time, as usual. I had another round of corrupted data and so I had to do it all over from what I could salvage from October last year. It took me a week, but it’s all back and even improved. I’ve been writing like my life literally depended on it. I came to realise that I still love doing this even though the curveballs have been abundant and lately, they’ve been harder to handle too. In the meantime of writing my thesis, I have also come to terms with a few things. I started applying for jobs outside my field because no PhD opportunities were coming up and everyone I talked to seemed to be more keen on getting new post-docs instead. It had me thinking, that if nothing shows up (it really didn’t feel like it), I might as well look for a 9-5 job outside my expertise and do the marine bio stuff on my spare time. If I can’t do what I love, find something that pays enough for me to do it, I kept telling myself. It is better to secure each month’s pay check than to worry about it. At some point, I thought I had convinced myself that a life outside academia is what was better, at least for the time being.

Or at least that’s what it was like until I dropped in at the unit on Wednesday. That’s when I heard about the new PhD postings. One of them, I am very interested in. I have no idea how successful I will be if I applied, but I am applying. It’ll always be a missed shot if I don’t take it and let’s face it, no one likes 100% failure. There are so many things I’m insecure about. I have no doubt my work ethics or my workaholic tendencies are top notch. What I doubt about is that my thesis has been incredibly dragged out. I still don’t feel much smarter about statistics, nor am I anywhere near confident of what I have produced so far. I’ve tried to explain to my supervisor why I feel like this, but there seem to be little to zero room for listening. It’s all about achievements. I hate that I let my emotional state from my private life affect my professional life. I try my best to keep the two separated, but each time the word cancer pops up I just feel petrified (I’m okay, it’s a family member, though). Some friends tell me I’m a very private person, yet I blog and I live stream when playing games. I still doubt about my own abilities. I sometimes even feel that there is so much doubt, I’m hindering myself from growth. It doesn’t help that several colleagues encourage me and tells me, in these words Not every master’s student is like you, you know? PhD material. I don’t know. If I was that kind of material, why have my thesis taken so long?

I can’t blame it on my eye condition, and I can’t blame it on working so much last year. Just those two, took away at least 12 months of time. Each time I have my eye examined, I’m thrown off work for at least three days if nothing goes wrong. I can’t blame it on these two things. Work I chose to keep because I needed the money and I needed to get away from the computer every now and then. My eye condition is genetic. They’re just explanations.

This has never resonated with me the way it does right now.

//c_Cae; full of doubts :(

Holidays

Christmas is coming closer, and all I feel is stress. I don’t want to visit people, I don’t want to do all the Christmas dinners and I really don’t want to travel anywhere further than 30min from home. I just want to hide until this is all over. Unfortunately, I have obligations.

This year, I had my mind set on just being at home and cozy it up with our own Christmas tree and our own Christmas dinner, just the three of us. Plans quickly change, though, and now it seems we’re all booked for at least 3 events. That’s 2 too much. I’m very stressed and frankly, I’m mentally exhausted.

Why? Well, I had just barely recovered from the immense show that was Zoe’s birthday. Many guests in a confined area is not my expertise. I simply feel mentally drained whenever such things happen. Normally, I phrase it “I love people, but I hate crowds”, and that’s exactly what that was. Don’t get me wrong, I had a good time, it was just so exhausting, I took a week to recover (does this make me an introvert of some sort?).

Then, when I had recovered somewhat, I thought my thesis would finally wrap up and I could, you know, get this thing over-with. Again, I love my thesis, because it’s challenging and novel (to me), but the speedbumps that involve my data messing around with me is agonising. I struggled a bit to draw any conclusions about my data and actually discuss them, but then I stumbled upon a problem that shouldn’t exist, but does. I decided to talk to my supervisor and he said that result is impossible and that it might be something wrong with my data. Again. I spent last weekend and yesterday trying to find said problem so I could solve it and finally get back to writing, but to absolutely no avail. My option now is to go all the way back and try to track down whatever possible thing that could’ve gone wrong from the last time I looked at it and thought it was fine. That time, it took me about 3 months to clear things up, and that was because some comma decided to jump a few numbers disrupting my 8Mb datasheet. It wasn’t pleasant, but it had to be done. Now, it feels like I’m there again.

I felt like I could finally wrap this up and then Murphy’s law thought it’d pay me (another!) visit. I’m so tired, no amount of sleep is helping me. I don’t even want to eat. Not even pho feels appetising right now, and this is how I know something bad. I feel so stressed, that I am thinking about stepping away for a bit and just take a breather. On the other hand, I really want to finish. My report is brilliantly written (for a first draft) and all that’s missing is writing the discussion and the defence. It’s so close, but I keep tripping at the finish line. I shouldn’t push myself harder, I know that, but I also know I shouldn’t prolong this any more. I want to finish so I can find a job (which is another agonising matter, money but we won’t talk about it).

A break just cannot be caught right now.

//c_Cae; when not even food is fun anymore, I’m in trouble

November?!

Wait, what? I am not ready for winter :(

TA went great. On our last excursions, my students even told me they love me as a TA. That is the best reward that I could ever get. For the ecosystem engineering, I TA’d two groups of five students. These groups were to write a report of the excursions that we made and I had to correct them. It surprised me a great deal, when they sent the reports in and they differed so much. One was truly well written and the other was close to disaster. Honestly, I expected a certain level since these are students straight out of high school. They’re not used to the academic writing yet, and so I had lowered my standards significantly.

The first group’s report was brilliant (for their level), and I had little to correct. The “worst” thing they did was exceed the strict 3 page limit by putting a cover page over their already 3 pages long report. That was the worst thing. The rest were technicalities and they had actually gotten all the theoretical parts right. This, of course, got my expectations up and when I received the second report, I was kind of let down. I don’t want to seem like I am bashing on someone here so I’ll just stop there. Overall, they were great students. A bit reluctant to go out on a lake or sit by a muddy river bank, but then again, they had never done this before and probably never will ever again.

TA fun is now officially over and I’m just here wrapping the thesis. I had a meeting yesterday with my supervisor after all my confusion had cleared up. Everything is done now with the analyses and I just have to assemble this story so it makes sense. It bothers me, though, that my supervisor was all “Oh, I don’t need a first draft from you. Just send me the final version and I’ll correct it before having it examined so you can defend it.” Hold on, what did you just say? Skip the first draft? Wait, what?

I told both the Dutchman and Frank about this. They both said my supervisor was praising me for my hard work. My supervisor also said “well done” and “great job putting this together” but my thick, Asian skull just can’t take it in. I still can’t take it in, 30h later. The Dutchman is right, it’s remnants of what my parents used to say when I was younger that makes it nearly impossible to take in any praise. All I hear is “Oh god, why didn’t you get a higher score?” whenever I ace a test. I did not know you could score more than 100% of every test. This is something I will never do to Zoe. It’s so harmful. I can’t take compliments, let alone praise. Frank said something good, too, though. “It’s a skill to be able to take on praise”. I completely agree, although it is still difficult and it’s a skill that I am still working very hard on to hone.

Anyway, I put a deadline on myself since my supervisor won’t do it even though I’ve asked several times. I think I’m gonna work harder so that I can surprise him with sending it in a week earlier than promised. Think I can make it?

//c_Cae; challenges are what make us grow

Getting back to normal

The following week after Frank had been here, was kind of weird. With him being in Europe, we were in the same time zone and it was easier to talk, but also weirder in a sense. Zoe kept asking where he was, and because he forgot his water bottle here, Zoe got a bit defensive of it.

Going back to uni was a breeze. I was filled with inspiration even though there was stil la lot of frustration regarding the statistics of my thesis. So I scheduled a meeting with my supervisor and he gave me some pointers that I followed. Surprise! Getting some new insight of it all actually cleared a few clouds off my sky. The problem is still not fully resolved but at least I am now out of the frustration and can move just a little bit forward.

Aside from working hard at finishing the very prolonged thesis, I also prepared myself for the week of TA-ing. Exciting times were ahead of me.

//c_Cae; yay for updates! 

-insert title here-

For the past 2 weeks, I have done nothing but procrastinate my thesis. To be honest, I rage quit the graph drawing process because none of the programs wanted to work with me. All my programs kept on crashing and nothing I did made it work. I really did try everything, but nothing seemed to work. I took it as the universe (or something) wanted to tell me to take a break after having worked 60-70 hours a week for a month. It takes tolls, as I realise my temper has not been its best and all I want to do is to comfort eat. Luckily, I caught on to that pattern pretty fast and managed to step away from the stressful factors. At least for a little while. I’m pretty sure I can resume thesis work next week, but a part of me don’t want to. That part of me also tells me it’s such a scary thing to finish the thesis and start a new chapter of my life. The other part, however, wants to finish the thesis ASAP. I want to grow, and I can’t do that if I don’t finish things.

Having worked so hard the past 18months, with different part-time jobs and all the other duties that I have, time felt like it wasn’t enough. Now, I feel I have all the time in the world (the optimist in me speaks loudly). But at the same time, it feels strange to only have one thing to focus on. It is a good thing, interpreting data and drawing conclusions isn’t something you can do while having a lot of other things on your mind. I think that’s why it’s so important to take a break now, so that I can interpret my data properly and actually give it my all. There is no half-assing anything in my book.

Enough about work. I want to ask you guys a few things. What apps do you use as calendars on your computer/phones?
Lately, I have been having trouble with a few apps, not only on my computer but also on my phone. My main computer is a MacBook Pro from 2009/2010, and I use the Calendar that comes with it. Lately, it has not been giving me the notifications/reminders that I set and it has been frustrating. Because of that, I missed 3 shiba dates and I almost missed a very important meeting. My phone, a Samsung Galaxy S6 edge, has for the past year been synched with this calendar on my computer, has also failed to remind me of things. It’s annoying because I can’t possibly remember all the things I have planned. I don’t want to go back to paper calendars because, well, it’s a waste of paper. I might get myself one of those small whiteboard calendars. I like to doodle anyway, and a whiteboard would be great.

I also started streaming my gameplay over at Twitch. I didn’t expect it to be that much fun, but it is. I will take it easy on that front until I’ve properly finished my thesis so until then, I’ll probably just sporadically stream.

Oh yeah, we also got a new couch! It’s amazing and I love it a lot. Finally, we can start building a home. Or well, I can, haha. Interior design isn’t the Dutchman’s forte, which means I just look for things that I think are nice and we discuss it. Most of the time, it’s just a matter of whether we want it or not. Sorry about the mess, but the new couch looks like this:

2016-06-21 20.31.22

2016-06-23 20.55.58

This makes me happy. And yes, we do tell her not to stick her face so close to the iPad. Her long-term memory isn’t the best, yet. 

2016-06-11 20.52.10

This also makes me happy. “Dad, do eagle!” Scrubs fans will know :)

//c_Cae; happy midsummer, everyone!~

Good things

come to those who wait, they say. I say good things come to those who work for it. Last Friday, I had a meeting with my supervisor to discuss the results of my thesis. I really want to finish, but I keep on stumbling upon problems. The good thing is that my supervisor has a lot of faith in me. He told me I’ve done a good job so far (in my head, I still haven’t done smack). He also told me to interpret my results, write them down and send them to him.

Instead of blowing his mind, he blew mine. I’m actually pretty stunned he believes in me that much. I remember when I was doing my bachelor’s thesis, my then-supervisor and I actually sat down and looked at the results and discussed what they could mean. Now, it’s like I’m all grown up and ready to fly. I felt like he pushed me off a cliff, yelling You can do it. I’m not so sure I’m ready to fly solo yet. I am however struggling to get those damned prediction intervals to my normal quantile-quantile plots. Not going very well if I may say so myself.

Anyhow, a great thing happened even though it’s small. One of the reasons I wanted to become a marine biologist was because of Jacque-Yves Cousteau. His exploring of the oceans had me falling in love with the ocean like never before. I was 8 at the time. Now, his family continues his legacy and the ones that stand out the most to me are his grandson Phillipe and his youngest son Pierre-Yves. So the other night, I was on Instagram and saw a notification. I thought to myself that it’s probably some random person following me, but it turned out to be Pierre-Yves Cousteau. I nearly fainted and then got so excited I couldn’t sleep.

Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 14.03.43

So uhm, that’s a life goal I didn’t knew I had, haha.
Back to work, write you folks later.

//c_Cae; damn those prediction intervals.