The life scientific – The amazing (thesis) race


I must admit that after 4 years of quite literally blood, sweat and tears, the moment of thesis submission was something of an anti-climax.  I feel that the examinations office should definitely invest in some sort of fanfare to welcome in the poor PhD students nearing the end of their journey, or at the very least give out ‘I survived my PhD!’ badges rather than silently taking your 2 freshly printed copies and handing you a receipt.  Ah well, we can but dream I suppose.

Not that my thesis submission exactly went according to plan.  The idea was to head in to pick up my thesis, walk it over to the examinations office and then head back to the lab for a bit of a celebration around 4 o’clock-ish.  I had happily spent the morning making some rather special cinnamon buns for the occasion that were supposed to be a pretty exact replica of the ones you buy at Cinnabon.  I found the recipe on Sweetapolita’s blog, and somehow managed to resist sneaking a taste before dropping them off at the lab.  Everything was going well until I picked up my thesis and had a quick flick through, only to discover that every single colour page had printed out wrong.  This wasn’t just a slight change in colouration either, this was an ‘oh no, you can’t read most of my very important data’ moment.

Luckily, I’m not one to panic, so I got straight on the phone to the binder’s.  Ten minutes later, they had eventually located the file I had sent them, and having realised that the colour was not correct, managed to find a printer that would work.  All would be well they said, and I could have shiny new copies if I could come and pick them up from Upton Park.  So, with an hour and a half until the examinations office closed, I had quite the journey ahead of me.

Route Map

For those not familiar with London, my journey had changed from the 20 minute walk from A to B shown in orange, to the zone 3 trek out to Upton Park and back shown in blue.  Yes, that is a whole lot further than a 20 minute walk, or even a 20 minute tube journey.

The District Line being notoriously dodgy, I spent the journey out feeling grateful every time the train started moving again out of a station.  Upon arrival at Upton Park I had been told to ring the binder’s, and that they would direct me to their shop.  2 unanswered phone calls later, and I was beginning to wonder if I was going to make it.  I had less than an hour to find this place, pick up my thesis, get back across town to Waterloo, and then find the examinations office within the labyrinth of university buildings, assuming that my thesis would even be finished by the time I got there.  Oh, and my phone had run out of battery by this point, so Google maps was out of the question.

Luckily, I remembered that the binder’s had left a flier inside one of the copies of my thesis, so I dug it out and, joy of joys, discovered a map of their location on it.  Even better, when I got there the new correct copies were waiting for me, ready to go.

I don’t think any train has moved as slowly as the one I took back across town did that day.  I couldn’t tell you how often I checked the time.  I somehow managed to run up the escalators from the Jubilee Line at Waterloo, which, as anyone who has ever tried this will tell you, is a feat best left to the professionals, and arrived at the correct building with my legs asking me what they had ever done to make me hate them.  7 floors later (why anyone would want to put an examinations office on the 7th floor is beyond me), I was handing over my thesis with 5 minutes to spare and practically collapsing on the floor.

The amount of adrenaline the afternoon’s excursion had required somewhat took the rush out of submitting, but I figured that I was going on to a decent amount of cake and company, so I didn’t mind too much.  That was until I arrived at the lab to discover that the company had gone back to their experiments, and the cinnamon buns had disappeared so fast that there wasn’t even a crumb left!

BefoPost-submission Drinksre you start thinking this is all a tale of thesis-induced woe, fear not, for the evening was rescued by good company and some genius level cocktail making skills from a different kind of LAB.

The thesis gremlins may have stopped me from getting the tissue samples I needed, spoilt my experiments, crashed my laptop halfway through writing up, ruined the final printed copy, and stolen my celebration cakes, but I still got the thing finished, and it does feel good!

Or it will do once I’ve recovered from the resulting post-submission immune system crash and feel less like death warmed up!


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