Anyone wondering about my absence from these parts will be glad to know I have finally handed in my Masters project thesis. And now that I have finally eaten some proper food, had a shower and sleep without nightmares about accidentally handing in the wrong document I can update this blog again!
While I would love to say how amazing it was, gush about how very much I learnt; this was a rather bumpy experience in my (rather brief) exposure to the research world.
Before you get all “OMG she is going to quit astronomy and become a hermit in the Himalayan mountains!!” hear me out.
The main issue was that this project wasn’t the most well organised one. While in primary research you have no idea what your results are going to turn out to be like, it is usually good to have a basic plan for the year. This was the main bee in my bonnet, as I spent the first half of my project developing a programming code I ended up not using at all! The second bee buzzing about was that instead of using data from the satellite instruments I was told I would be using, I ended up changing instruments every 2 weeks or so. In fact I got the data I was to use in my final report was given to me about 2 and a half weeks before my final report was due!!
Ok rant over.
And the final week before I have to hand in my 7500 word report in arrives….
I barely leave my room, my housemates wonder if I am alive, I have no idea what is going on in the outside world, and basically live up to every stereotypical expectation that exists about us physicists.(including the crazy hair) So while I was holed up in my room during the four days of sunshine that England gets (No kidding, I handed report in yesterday, and it is hailing outside today. Just my luck.) I came up with a few survival strategies. So to anyone out there struggling with word counts, references and formatting, here are my tips, along with a lot of sympathy.
1.Before you retreat into your cave, go out (because you WILL forget what the sun looks like) and stock up on groceries. This is the time to pull out the ready to eat meals, snacks and giant bottles of water. Also stock up on tea/coffee or whatever mind stimulant you prefer. Thinking makes you very hungry.
2.Get a notebook, a couple of pens, calculator and whatever else you need. Even if you are using a laptop, it’s hard to keep track of what on earth Fig_33_xte.png is in your head.
3.If you spend more than 20 minutes staring at the screen without writing a single word, you probably need a break. Best way is to read a book you have read before for a while. This way there is no danger of getting so into the plot that you loose track of time.
4.Stretch. While going out for a jog or hitting the gym may theoretically be a good idea, it’s not always practical. But it wakes you up a bit and gives you a break from being hunched over the desk.
5.One hour updates. Team up with a friend/colleague who is also doing some work, and update each other on the progress you make every hour. Actually reporting to someone keeps you motivated to write instead of watching funny videos on youtube. (Been there. Done that.)
6.Drink lots. My dad once told me about roadside tea shops in India where tea is sold to truck drivers where the strength of the tea is indicated by kilometres they can drive on it. Eg. 50 km tea and 100km tea. Over the last week I have been making myself tea indicating the number of words I can write. (the 500 word tea every three hours is my favourite)
And thats it! Remember, keep your cool, and in a few days it will all be over! 1 viva and 3 exams till graduation!!!
Until next time, Love, Me 🙂