Went to a Ph.D. completion party last night, for Frank, who is the awesome and very sweet boyfriend of the awesome and very sweet Erin, who is doing her Ph.D. on the animal side. Frank's Ph.D. was in Comp Sci and it sounds like he kicked some thesis defense butt. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.
We went to dinner (that's three times in two weeks, yikes - but there keeps being things to celebrate!) and over to someone's house for drinks. And this is where I wish the dept was less segregated to so I could actually talk to other Ph.D. students more often. It really helps to have some idea of how other people work things and what their experiences have been.
First of all, I found out that some people who I thought would be kicking butt financially (due to having got one of those big scholarships that I have no hope for) are actually living on credit and begging for TAships to at least pay tuition. It seems that being insanely cheap and putting up with a not-great living situation because it's the least expensive option is actually working out pretty well for me, relatively speaking. At least I haven't taken on any new debt since starting the Ph.D. (not saying anyone else has, but I think that is still a win).
That said, I'm seriously considering giving my notice at the house on Nov 1 (they want two months notice of moving out??!!!) and finding something else for next semester... since it seems to be pretty clear that sticking around even after the writing up is done and collecting more data is probably a wise career move. Going straight to Oxford would be awesome but leave me with a pretty large CV and productivity gap. Sigh.
[The house isn't so bad, but it isn't great either. The undergrad housemate (UH) told me he was going to "have a few people over Thursday night" a couple of weeks ago. Come home Thursday night to find a raging kegger and screaming undergrads puking on my lawn. Awesome. Our neighbours hate this sort of thing, understandably, and I for one had to get up Friday morning and work. So, Mark and I tried to corral them into the house and convince them to stop screaming. Sort of worked: now they were screaming outside the door to my room. Apparently one of them puked in the sink and another broke Mark's expensive vase and another spilled a pitcher of beer all over the downstairs couch. The UH, when confronted, said, "oh yeah, I didn't think there would be that many people" and wandered off to class to leave Mark to clean up.
This was also the night I heard about poor Matt, so needless to say I was not in the mood to deal with screaming morons... kind of a bad night, all in all.
Anyway, that isn't typical, but the lack of cleaning (mostly by UH) and the boyfriend slumped on the couch seven days a week using our electricity but not paying rent ARE. Not the end of the world and the non-UH housemates are pretty respectful, but I'm about ready to get gone.]
Anyway, next semester will necessarily be more expensive, so saving like crazy now... we'll see how it goes.
(Speaking of finishing up soonish, I forgot to send my proof of student status to the student loan people this semester, resulting in a repayment notice - reversed, of course, but yikes, gotta be saving hard for that too in case I don't have a postdoc to jump into right away!)
Apart from that, seems like most people are taking at least four years (plus) to finish, despite Guelph's weird assertion that three years of guaranteed funding should be PLENTY to get a Ph.D. done. This leads to a lot of financial stress at the end. I'm still (knock wood knock wood) more or less on track to hand in at the end of my third year, plus a semester for the committee to read it and a defense committee to be formed and all that rigmarole. So that's only a semester over the three year funding guarantee, and they will probably throw me a TAship for it.
That said, getting through quick necessarily leads to fewer pubs (one girl is graduating with NINE of them) which might hurt me. Not more than sticking around Guelph for an extra year for that reason would, though. Am still hoping to get at least one from my practicum, and have started a number of collaborations that might be productive enough to get a few things out the door. Fingers severely crossed.
Did I mention, though, that we have two in press?? Both online now, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance and Acta Psychologica, woo hoo!
So yeah, could be doing better, could be doing worse... but nice to know what the rest of my cohort is up to rather than totally having to guess.
(plus - they are good to talk to and throw fun parties!)