Tuesday, 23 May 2017

I WROTE A DISSERTATION AND I AM ALIVE


As you may have noticed I have not been exactly very active recently - well I actually have a legit excuse: I have been a tiny bit busy writing my dissertation.

I am still pretty shocked that I ACTUALLY wrote a real dissertation, regardless of what grade I get I managed to write 50 pages about cells, proteins and chemistry. Call me God. I thought I would share with you what this experience has been like because i) I really wanted to write a post ii) I love reading this kind of posts. 

I am doing a chemistry masters so, obviously, my dissertation was chemistry related. Whilst, I don't want to go into the details of my actual research I basically spent about 6 months working in a research group and then spent about a month writing about my findings. 

Starting the report was the hardest part, there were so many things on my mind I had no idea where to start or how to structure them. So I would definitley recommend writing down a list of topics you want to cover (which i did not do but should have, so learn from my mistakes). I did start my write up very very very early on - probably a bit too early even. No one needs 5 months to write a science dissertation, but I guess it's better to start too early than too late.

However, up until the last few days before my deadline, it didn't really feel like it was that big of a deal. Considering it was almost 40% of my year, I thought I would feel more stressed. The pressure only really kicked in about a week before my submission deadline, when I honestly lived for journal papers and Excel. 

I honestly think that if none of my friends had been going through the same experience as me I would have had several mental breakdowns; but I am a bit weird and I usually end up having the most fun during stressful periods. Exam week? I have the time of my life. So this was no different. (Don't get me wrong, I still had a few minor mental breakdowns but nothing out of the norm).

The night before my deadline I was honestly hysterically laughing with my friends, no one would have been able to tell I was stressed as hell inside. Even though this could also be because I was starting to become a tiny bit delirious. 

If I wasn't the perfectionist stubborn person that I am, I would have probably finished my report about three days before my deadline. But I went over my finished dissertation at least 10 times. I proofread the shit out of that document, I could literally write it all again word by word. This was honestly the worst part of the entire process. It made my brain die a little every time I read the same paragraph over and over again making sure there were no typos.

And would it really be a dissertation without a few panic attacks? My heart stopped in a few occasions, like when I literally deleted my ENTIRE dissertation by accident but thank god I wasn't dumb enough to empty my trash so I was able to recover it; or when my Excel decided to make ALL of my spreadsheets 'corrupt' for some strange reason and I thought I had lost all of my data two days before the submission date. But I survived. 

Was it easy? Absolutely not. Was it hard? Definitely not as hard as the Internet makes it seem. Whilst, obviously, a lot of effort went into that report and I worked hard in a lab for six months, spent endless hours analysing data and reading hundreds of papers, I do think dissertations are a bit negatively hyped up in a way. Yes, they are harder than most uni work, but you are also generally given more time and it is definitley doable if you want to do it. And, in my experience, there are significantly easier than exams. So, don't panic. 


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