Thursday, April 30, 2009

Goodbye Vancouver!

The past 4 months have been a whirlwind. On April 16th I successfully defended my PhD thesis, after some minor revisions submitted it on April 18th, and left the country on April 29th. I wouldn't recommend such a tight time line especially if you happen to have a 5 month old baby as well!

My thesis will eventually be accessible (open-access of course) through SFU's library, but for those who are just dying to read it now, can access it here (+ appendix).

I feel obligated to give some type of advice to future PhD students. Unfortunately, I don't have any huge insight, but I would recommend not worrying too much during your graduate studies. Many times, I thought the whole thing would unravel and I would never finish, especially during years 2-3, but all of a sudden things started to fall in place. Every grad student I have ever talked to has always agreed that productivity increases greatly in the last year or two and so you can't worry about how long it took to do X in time Y. I hope I am not giving the impression that doing a PhD is easy, because it is not. It is hard, and different from all other schooling. If you think of an undergrad degree as sprinting, then a PhD is more like a marathon. I was great at sprinting, but learning to be a good marathon runner was a completely new set of skills.

In between all of the moving steps (I don't want to see another cardboard box for quite awhile), I had lots of time to reflect on my past 4.5 years in Vancouver, BC. Although there were some challenging times, I will greatly miss Vancouver and the people that I met during my time there. The first years of my marriage, living far away from family, the completion of my PhD, and becoming a Dad all happened in Vancouver and I will cherish the multitude of memories that accompany each of these milestones.

To end this post, I think I will list a few flashes of memories that are ingrained in my head from the past several years (in no particular order):
  • Driving across Canada and seeing the Rockies from a distance for the first time.

  • Looking out my first downtown apartment window for the first time.

  • Standing on top of the "Chief".

  • Snorkeling in the ocean with my wife along the "sunshine coast".

  • Houseboating on a quiet lake in Vancouver Island surrounded by the most beautiful scenery.

  • White water rafting near Squamish.

  • Walking the sea wall countless times, and every time still being impressed by it

  • The various camping adventures including a jump into a cold lake to escape a never ending swarm of flies.
  • Standing at the peak of Whistler for the first time.
  • The various conferences that included travel to destinations such as Maui, Vienna, Cambridge, UK, and California.
  • The birth of my son, Gavin.
  • The happiness of reading a short letter stating that I had completed all requirements for my PhD.

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