roasting marshmellows in phd hell

Reason #8630 why doing a phd is like being in a shitty relationship

with 10 comments

For me, the experience of writing up a phd dissertation is not unlike that of

Exotic spices, oppression, and the finest in phd advisement!

Exotic spices, oppression, and the finest in phd advisement!

being in a long distance relationship in 1836.

You are lodging in the servants quarters in the home of your father, the innkeeper, while your beloved set sail for Jamaica with the East India Company.  Each day you hope for a letter scented with the exotic aroma of sugar cane, and as the sun sets you pray that Mister Aloysius Fetherington III has not been scalped by natives or crushed under one of those newfangled tractor machines.

But the letters are few and far between, and on those rare halcyon days when an envelope with 8 stamps on it does arrive, the missives are rather breezy and never as reassuring as you hope they would be.

“Dearest UniversityofLies, I pray you and your family are keeping well.  Jamaica is glorious this time of year and the crop is exceptionally fine.  There is a wonderful Englishwoman here, whose father makes 5000 a year, who has been introducing me into ‘society’.  I am sure you would not want your Aloysius to be lonely in the hot sultry sweaty colonies!  Anyhow, must dash—meeting Portia for a game of croquet!”

And of course, since it is 1836, there are no good ways for you to check up on Aloysius and Portia and her father who has 5000 a year.  No airplanes, no phones, no skype, no facetime, no dice.

What the fuck does this have to do with a phd, you scratch your head and wonder?  Well I hope you don’t have lice, for one thing.

It is amazing how advisers can pretend they are on the distant and exotic island of Jamaica when they have not read your stuff and are hiding from you.  Now I realize that they are busy people, but come the fuck on.  After several months in ye olde inboxe, a phd student deserves some fucking feedback, a meeting, or at least a courtesy email or phone call, just so you know they are still shuffling on this mortal coil.  something quick but informative so you don’t have to despair, like,  ‘hey wasaap homeslice, in the middle of an indigenous uprising but we should meet up for a starbucks soon and discuss your fascinating chapter on the socioeconomic patterns of victorian shoplifters!’

And then I wouldn’t feel like I was being ignored, and this shit was just being dragged out for another fucking 3 years because nobody really gives a shit about you finishing your phd except for YOU.


Written by universityoflies

January 29, 2013 at 14:19

10 Responses

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  1. …I see that you know my adviser!


    January 29, 2013 at 17:10

  2. HA! Maybe they are twinsies?

    It’s funny because I have such paranoia about being ‘discovered’ on my anonymous blog (that would also mean somebody cared), and its so easy to forget that there are/were so many of us in the same position, the world over.

    When I look at my google stats, I see people find my blog searching things like ‘academia ruined my life’ and ‘i hate my adviser.’ I know you’ve written about similar stats, and your blog is much bigger than my tiny slice o the internet. So I could be one of thousands. Maybe I am just some weird internet amalgamation of a hundred angry phd-less sheldons. Or I guess I’d be Howard, cause he only has a masters.

    I don’t know whether this ‘solidarity’ makes me feel better or worse.


    January 29, 2013 at 20:25

  3. This reminds me SO much of why I left.

    recent Ph.D.

    January 29, 2013 at 21:21

  4. Right?! Wouldn’t it be awesome to just get an email like, “Dear UniversityofLies, I got your chapter and the next ice age will arrive before I actually read it, but that’s on me and your very important message didn’t get bounced by my server or whatever”?


    January 31, 2013 at 19:59

  5. Love this post….soo true when dealing with many academics…but there are a few who aren’t like this. I speak from experience since my PhD supervisor and all my committee members were really good at replying and supervising my work but I had colleagues who didn’t have the same experience (luck?) as I. I think that there’s a small group of academics who are really good but those who are badly behaved as JC and you’ve written about damage the reputation of the rest.


    February 2, 2013 at 20:19

    • I’m glad to hear you didn’t have a similar experience.. yes I’ve heard about these mythical people who are conscientious and stuff, that is great. I know a few people at my institution who are having good experiences, and I am happy for them but also a bit jealous.


      February 4, 2013 at 13:39

  6. […] know I’ve already written several entries comparing my relationship with my adviser to that of a 18th/19th century woman with no legal rights […]

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