11th Mar, 2010

Goodbye graduate school

A lot can happen in nine months. I apologize to those few who have cruised past this blog from time to time to see if anything was new. It must be a bit like driving past that restaurant that used to be pretty good but has been under renovation for several months, despite the sign saying “reopening soon under new management”.

Well, the management here is the same, and while I have been thinking of renovating the site, it won’t be boarded up while I work on it. No, the reason we’ve been closed for business for the past year or so is simple: I’ve been busy finishing my thesis. And guess what—I have finished it.

Yes, I’m happy to report—not just happy, but jubilant, and not a little relieved—that I have submitted my doctoral thesis and will be defending it in two weeks’ time, on March 26. All indications are that I will pass the defense, which means that very soon I will have my PhD, and will finally, finally, finally be done with graduate school. Then all that remains is to have a career! I might start with a job. I’ve heard those can be nice.

Annelie and I have been living in Stockholm, which I love, for the past nine months. We have a nice little apartment on the island of Södermalm, which is a fascinating part of town. Although Annelie’s job at Stockholm University takes her to the north edge of the city every day, I tend to hang around the cafes of Söder day in and day out, until recently doing almost nothing other than working on my thesis.

I will post something soon about what I’ve learned about schedules and workdays, to follow up on my post a while ago. I may also write about some of the other things I’ve learned over the past two years. Yes, in case you’re wondering, it only took me two years to do my thesis project—my generally retarded progress through graduate school was actually due to factors other than having a stalled project. The past two years have been unusual, but I’ve been anything but stalled. Indeed, I’ve been quite busy.

And of course, when you are really busy, you need to prioritize. In doing so, I let blogging fall to the very bottom of the list, along with alphabetizing my CD collection (I would rather say my LP collection, but in truth, I had to leave it behind in the US). Because, let’s face it: blogging, like a great deal of the whole social networking thing, can be a massive time-waster.

I say “can be” because there are some people who actually make money from blogging, so for them it’s a business. Others put a lot of time into creating highly useful content that enriches the world in small ways and generates gratitude, if not cash. But for the vast majority of people, including me, blogging is simply a creative outlet, or a way of trying to convince yourself that people out there actually care what you did yesterday.

I have yet to join Facebook, though I have had several requests to do so. One friend even offered to pay me cash to join! (And this is not someone with too few friends.) In theory, I think social networking is a great idea. It’s just that I’m afraid that Facebook and Twitter (especially Twitter, ye gods!) have the potential to turn into a colossal time-sink. If the Internet in general has led to a high level of time-wasting and concentration-breaking activity in the workplace (I’ve heard that it has, though I’ve not read the studies done), then these social media sites probably cause an unimaginable loss of productivity. I don’t want to fall into that abyss, though I do want to stay in touch with my friends. What do you others have to say?

So, in sum: Stockholm is great; completing a doctoral thesis is possible; the future is uncertain, though we hope to stay here as long as we can; and I am slowly emerging from beneath the cyber-rock I’ve been under. Oh, and graduate school is so over. Goodbye!


Would it be presumptuous of me to say, “Dr. Garretson, I presume?” Or just premature?

In either case, congratulations!

Hey Alex! A bit premature, and slightly presumptuous, but not too much so, presumably. Thanks very much.

Hello from Japan, and HUGE CONGRATULATIONS!!! I wish I could come to your defense. But I won’t.

I, too, have avoided Facebook and Twitter. Since I don’t have a job in an office somewhere, there’s NO WAY I have enough time to keep up with all of that. I would love it if someone would offer me money for my blogs, however.

Much love to you and Annelie from Ian and me.

Thank you Calin! Great to hear from you. You always have come to my defense in the past, so that will surely do.

I assume that “hello from Japan” means not “hello from all of Japan”, but hello from you in Japan?

As far as I know, I am not yet big in Japan.

If I had any money, I might offer you some for your blogs. Keep it up!

By the way, you’ve missed nothing whatsoever by giving Facebook a miss.


Hi Jean, and, erm, thanks? I’ll imagine you’re saying goodbye to graduate school for me. That’s a better interpretation than the alternative.

This is great news, Gregory. Best wishes for a successful defense.

Haven’t checked the blog for a while and did so just now because I bought a new mini laptop today and was wondering whether it was worth adding the blog site to my Favorites on it. Looks like it might be after all. Nice to see your other fans have remained faithful.

Hi John! Nice to hear from you. How’s life down under and over? I’m glad I made it back just in time. Serendipity in the antipodes, you might say. Or you might not.

Hope you’re doing well. Thanks for the good wishes. I’ll let you know how the defense goes.

Hi, Gregory. I saw the good news on Facebook this evening, so I thought I would pop on over to your blog and leave a comment. So congratulations! You must feel an incredible sense of relief. I have the impression your revisions will be considerably less numerous than mine, so you really are almost there. I hope your defense went well, and that you are now out enjoying yourself with Christine and others.

Congrats again!


Congratulations, dear Gregory, on your doctorhood! I also learned about it on Facebook, which you should join. Sure wish I could be there for the fete today in Boston. Hooray, hooray for finishing a degree, even if it takes a decade!

=) Elizabeth

Thank you, Aimee and Elizabeth! I wish you two could have been there for the party. Both of you set an example for me, which I now have followed. It’s nice to be on the other side, finally.

I see that the votes for Facebook are piling up! I may have to give it a try after all (makes nervous cringing face)…

Hugs all round!

It is really an honor to finish a degree, though hard on the process, but the result is so overwhelming. – Jeffrey Nimer

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