Ten reasons to love the thesis: 1) I can work where I want. 

Much like writing a thesis, writing down ten reasons to love writing a thesis is not as easy as I initially thought. The big problem is that a lot of the things that make PhD student life so attractive have Australia-sized downsides. Things in the thesis aren’t simply black and white but many shades of that color in-between.

We spend a lot of time fretting about the detriments of doing portable work; the fact that no matter the place or time, we always feel like we could – and therefore should – be working. I sometimes envy the people who leave the office or the lab and are free to do whatever they want without feeling guilty. All I need to do thesis work is my laptop. And it’s always with me. Sometimes I catch myself planning the work I’ll do when I get home on the way back from the library. Like grad students everywhere, I cheered when the Dowager countess asked the question that had been troubling me since I began this: “Weekend? What is a weekend?” A couple of weeks ago a friend explained the concept of the thesis workation to me: “It’s basically a vacation where you work on your thesis.” To which I replied: “So it’s basically a vacation.” So yeah, being able to work everywhere means you’re never really off duty.

But let me just take this chance to remind myself not to be a total plimhole. The reality is that I can work wherever I want, whenever I want, wearing whatever I want. Mostly I want to wear PJs, and whether I work at home or in an Oxford library, people are very openminded to my work attire. So, today I am working in my garden looking at woods and sheep, cows and lamas (while wearing a PJ). A week from now, I’ll be working in the gorgeous quad of Somerville College, Oxford. In a couple of months I’ll be working at a lake in Northern Italy. This sure beats being stuck in a basement lab 8 hours a day, 45 weeks a year. I might not have a designated work space – or designated non-work spaces – but I get to work in some of the coolest spaces on the planet (or off the planet).

This is me working in my garden near Heidelberg, where I spend half the year because I am free to leave Oxford whenever I want, not working in a lab and all...

This is me working in my garden near Heidelberg, where I spend half the year because I am free to leave Oxford whenever I want, not working in a lab and all…

The good thing about being able to work wherever I want is that I know the moon landing was not a hoax because, contrary to all the people who are tied to an office, I had the time to be there.

The good thing about being able to work where I want is that I know the moon landing was not a fake because, unlike the people who are tied to an office, I was actually there.

When the cat tries to keep me from working by sleeping on my arm, I turn the tables around, by working on the cat.

When the cat tries to keep me from working by sleeping on my arm, I turn the tables around, by working on the cat.

All images are my own, apart from the one of my mate Buzz and me, which belongs to NASA but they kindly allowed me to use it (public domain).

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About Oxford DPhile

I'm a doctoral candidate in English at Somerville College, Oxford. My thesis, tentatively titled “Just Literature: Evil, Victorian Narrative, and the Problem of Theodicy”, explores the interplay between literature and theodicy – the justification of a good God in light of the existence of evil – in the works of A.H. Clough, J.A. Froude and George Eliot. I teach English Literature at the University of Würzburg, coach academic writing in English at Oxford, blog about the tricks and pitfalls of thesis writing, and love to collaborate. My novel "Das Unglück anderer Leute" was published by Galiani Berlin in August 2016.
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5 Responses to Ten reasons to love the thesis: 1) I can work where I want. 

  1. Daedalus Lex says:

    You’d better work hard in that lovely garden in Heidelberg. I heard about the Studenten Karzer last time I was there.

    Like

  2. Pingback: Five ways to love the PhD thesis MORE | Oxford Dphile

  3. teraspawn says:

    I see that your new Photoshop skills have not gone to waste.

    Like

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