I passed my comprehensive exam this afternoon! It’s the multi-part exam that every grad student must pass in order to be eligible to continue working towards a PhD. Today was the 2nd and final step- an oral defense/exam based on my proposed research project.
It was tough. There was a lot I had prepared for that I wasn’t asked about, and a handful of questions that I really was not prepared to answer. But I made it through, and passed, despite any criticism that may come via a written critique my committee will sumbit later.
And it was anticlimactic. The two hour exam period flew by such that I was surprised when my committee chair said that it was time to wrap up questioning.
So I passed. And then what?
The sense of relief didn’t set in until much later. First I did some aimless driving around Pittsburgh, trying to think of something with which to reward myself. I really wanted to go home and read, but wasn’t quite ready to hole back up in my apartment seeing as that’s where I’ve spent the majority of the last two months, studying.
I’m glad I had previously made contingency plans for the evening whether I passed or failed. Why? Because it wasn’t until I was partway through my “reward” dinner that I finally thought, I deserve this. Not that I deserved to pass, or deserved to pass both the written and oral components on my first try- that takes commitment and effort- but, I deserved to treat myself nicely after a grueling 2+ months of prepararion and studying and still balancing lab work and other commitments. It’s a powerful thought, and one I don’t grant myself very often. But on occasion it’s the right thing to ease up on myself for a bit and take a break, even if only for a couple of hours. Tonight, I deserve that.