Department of Education
Goldsmiths, University of London
Pre - Submission – Tuesday 3rd May
In the week leading up to submission, I was as relaxed as one can be, as I had paced my final edits over the last few weeks. Now quite tired of reading the material over and over again (although I did not doubt this was a useful exercise to know my thesis better and to spot an errant spelling error), so I worked on my formatting, with the help of a kind friend, who was able to point out some ways I could make my thesis look pretty on the page.
Family support can make a difference to your stress levels. I was staying at my sister’s home in London for three weeks doing my final edits and formatting (as I am based in Manchester, but my university is in London). I was extremely fortunate to have the support and practical help of my mum (who had come with me to London) and my sister. They made my dinners and did my laundry so I could spend my time formatting, reading, editing, and even relaxing. My eight year old niece was proud that Khala had almost finished, and was intrigued to know more about my research, while my nephew (who had recently turned five) complained to his mum that Khala was doing her poo-poo work again! He would have preferred me to take him to the park!
I am sometimes very organised, and sometimes not so very well organised. Thankfully, in these moments I was quite well organised, and calmly attending to the administrative details of submission. Finding good printers/binders takes some time, and you don’t want to be rushing around like a headless chicken on the day your thesis is due in at the Examinations Office. I developed a good relationship with the Examinations Office staff over email after myself and my supervisors sent some queries to them. This is vital as they have all the accurate and up-to-date information you need to ensure the correct procedures are followed when it comes to submission. You also need access to your supervisors in case you have any last-minute minor queries, but they may be busy with teaching/researching/writing/holidaying/ and whatever else they get up to, for example one of my supervisors was sailing and the other was birthday-ing at the seaside around the time of my submission! So you need to plan a schedule with them so you know when they are available. Careful and phased submissions of chapters up to the lead up of the submission date had resulted in my supervisors’ feeling confident that any last minute queries would only be minor and would be easily dealt with as and when they arose.
Submission – Friday 6th May
Today, I submitted.
I walked from New Cross towards Greenwich, passing through Deptford, high on sunshine, on the smell of tasty Jamaican jerk chicken being cooked on a barbecue on Blackheath Road, and on finally submitting.
My sister and mum came along with me to the university, as I wanted to share this symbolic moment. We took selfies to mark the special occasion and sent them to my husband, my dad and my brother! Anyone who knows me, my mum or my sis, will know we don’t really take selfies! So this was most definitely a significant moment!
The Student Services team who accepted my submission and handed me an official letter of confirmation were friendly, warm and congratulatory, supplying my sister and I with plenty of sweets and smiles, advising me to go eat ice-cream, relax and enjoy the moment!
Post-Submission – Friday 13th May
I definitely did go and enjoy the moment. I enjoyed a week of moments. My husband took me to lunch at an Ethiopian Café in Moss Side in Manchester where he shared his stories with the café owner and me about growing up in this part of the city.
Post-submission, for about a week, I fell into a strange type of slumber, I suddenly felt very tired, and began to take naps in the daytime (I am not a day time napper!).
I didn’t look at my thesis again.
I did print a copy for myself though to work on but didn’t manage to muster up the energy to begin to read it.
I did write a book review for The Sociological Imagination, so I hadn’t become completely academically inert!
Exactly a week after I had submitted this tome on Teaching & Learning Britishness, I suddenly decided I should consider myself to be in the pre-viva phase, and quit my post-submission lethargic lounging around.
Pre-Viva – Sunday 15th May
This week I intend to begin my viva preparations. I must re-read and annotate my thesis. I will search the internet for any useful advice on how to do this effectively and efficiently.
I will search the internet for general advice on viva preparation too.
I will write up some of my thoughts/ideas/findings for The Sociological Imagination as blogging your research helps you consolidate and refine your argument for a different audience and format.
I have shared my research with academic colleagues I admire who have very generously offered useful feedback. I will continue to go through their feedback and see how I could incorporate the suggestions and advice into an updated version of the thesis which will eventually be published as a book.
I will review another couple of books that I have already read and that helped me considerably with the core areas of my research.
I will watch some videos and hear some online lectures that cover the topics of my research.
I have signed up to attend interesting conferences and public lectures that again relate to my research in order to gain more knowledge about different ways of thinking about race, class, nation and identity.
All of this is in preparation for my viva which is approximately five weeks away.
I hope I do get to do some – if not all – of the above, as I want to feel organised, prepared, and confident when the viva date arrives. I also hope I continue to try new and delicious foods and get good sleep!