So I finally got to meet with my replacement qualifying exam committee member today. Let me just say that these meetings must be designed as preliminary tests to see if they're going to be nice or mean during the actual exam. Because just getting into the same room with these people is in itself a challenge.
First, there was the committee member who wasn't there. Nope. Door closed. No note. Nothing. What else could I do besides stand around waiting (like an idiot) assuming that she was just running late? So that I did. For 20 minutes before I decided to wander around looking for someone I had never before seen in my life. As expected, that turned out to be a rather fruitless search. Though I did pass a lady in the hallway otherwise occupied with talking to other people twice in my search. Lo and behold, when I walk back to the committee member's office, it was her. I swear it was a test to see if I would wait it out or leave. I can understand being caught up in conversation for five minutes, but not 20 and not such that you don't notice a confused grad student wandering by multiple times during your conversation.
Then there was the committee member who ultimately backed out. Her test must have simply been whether or not I was able to find her office. Because damn was it hard to find. I felt like a rat in a maze after awhile, what with all the dead ends and rooms not being where I expected based on the progression of room numbers. But I did find it eventually.
Then there was Evil Committee Member. Who showed up a whole half an hour late to our appointment only to eat me alive with her disdain for my project. I assume she was just testing to see if she could break me before the exam. Obviously, if you can break a grad student before the exam, that just means it'll be even more fun to break her during the exam.
And finally there was Replacement Committee Member today. I thought it would be easy enough what with him making first contact through email and all (no one else had done this). But no, I got to his office at the appointed time to find the door closed. Why do people keep their doors closed when they're expecting to meet with someone anyway? I walked down the hall and found another door with the same room number. Wow, what a big office, I thought. I chose to stand and wait outside that door since I was a bit early assuming that he was running late. And I waited. And waited. The worst part was I didn't have a watch or cell phone with me, so I had no idea how long I'd been waiting. But it had to have been awhile when I decided to knock on the door that I was standing in front of. Nothing. Hmm. I wandered around the corner and found a third door to his office! I tried the knob on that door and it was locked. So I went back to door #2 and waited some more. After probably forever, I knocked again on door #2. Then I got pretty exasperated (especially since I'd parked at a parking meter and was on limited time) and walked back over to door #3 and knocked. And was greeted with a "come in" when the door was locked. So he had been in that corner the whole time and never wondered where I was even though I was probably a good 20 minutes late by then?!
And to make things even more wonderful, he chose NOT to cover any of the material I had been studying for Replaced Committee Member, thereby making my last two weeks of studying pointless. At least I learned some neat things about hibernation, I guess. Did you know that hamsters hibernate? Well, I didn't. I sure hope that my hamster wasn't hibernating when I thought it was dead. Oh, and at least I didn't get a parking ticket even though my meter had expired for a good hour by the time I finally got back out there. And now back to square one.
- how to freak a grad student out (tip #251): random qualifying exam committee shuffleAdmit it. You're always on the lookout for cruel new and unusual ways to freak your grad student out. It's obviously not enough for you that s/he is already always in full-on freak-out mode for one reason or another anyway. You just have to make it worse, right? Well, time to rejoice because I'm now compiling tips on how to freak grad students out from my experiences on the receiving end of such torture. So let's preface by saying that I'm already super freaked out since I'm supposed to be studying for quals and I haven't been for oh, the last two weeks. And I keep promising myself that today will be the day that I'll get back into super hardcore studying mode everyday. So I'm freaked out.So today, I tried really hard to study. But I was distracted by a number of things, only a few of which actually pertained to grad school. Just when I was getting ready to hunker down for a long day of studying, an email pops up in my inbox that fills my heart with fear. Why? Because its subject was: Qualifying Exam Assignment - mylifemypace. Oh crap. They figured out that I should have taken my quals last quarter. Masochist in me clicked on the email anyway and it took forever to load while my major professor blabbed away about the Mercedes SL500 (seriously, can't you see I'm in the middle of something?). When it finally loaded, it wasn't what I thought it...
- how to freak a grad student out (tip #323): ask her to take her qualifying exam earlierHere's another way to freak a grad student out. And it's almost as cruel as randomly changing one of her qualifying exam committee members. It's rather simple, really. Ask her to change the time of her qualifying exam from afternoon to morning so that she can't possibly spend the morning either sleeping because she stayed up really late the night before preparing or doing last minute studying/freaking out. Not only that, but make sure that you're having her change the time for a completely non-life-threatening reason such as simply because you felt like it. Even better yet, also make sure to request this change as close to the actual date of the exam as possible so that it'll really catch her by surprise.Yep, that's exactly what the chair of my committee wanted. And that's what she got. I was counting on Evil Committee Member to shoot the request down, but she didn't. So now, I get to fail my quals that much earlier on January 24th. My husband thinks it's a good thing because I'll be fresh and will get it over with. But I just think it's going to make things worse than they already are. I'm so screwed ...
- the qualifying exam: arguably the scariest experience (so far) in my lifeAfter a sleepless night (try as I may, I just could not sleep), my husband (who consistently drags his ass out of bed a full 20 minutes after me) jumped out of bed before me. I couldn't believe it was already time to wake up and prepare for this dreaded day. In fact, I stayed in bed for another good 20 minutes thinking self-defeating thoughts before finally dragging myself out. We then went to get some bagels and coffee to feed my committee. My husband kept insisting that I eat a bit, but it's just not my style to eat before exams and besides, I didn't want to end up so nervous that I perhaps would throw up on my committee. It really was surreal. I've never felt so nervous before in my entire life and that includes a whole lot of med school interviews, presentations, and the USMLE Step 1 (which is one of the most important things not to screw up if you want your pick of specialty). I don't know why it seemed like such a monstrous, unsurmountable mountain to me, but it did. Honestly, I've never walked into anything before in my life thinking that I would fail. Sure, I've been scared, but I've never fully believed that there was the possibility of failure. Here, failure seemed to be inevitable.So off I went to my doom. I left nice and early in order to have some time to gather myself beforehand but was foiled by the...
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