Yesterday, 4th of July, I successfully defended my thesis (subject to minor corrections) and earned my PhD. The list of corrections is long, but they are all very small changes so I'm hoping to finish these off quite soon. The viva started at around 12:40 and ended at 14:40, so roughly two hours.
There were plenty of technical questions which I struggled to answer. The most difficult non-technical question was asked towards the end of my viva:
What do you hope someone would learn from reading your thesis?
I think I found it difficult because it is hard to look at my own thesis as an outsider. What I think they are really testing with this question is what do I really think the main contribution of this thesis is, and whether I think it's actually a useful contribution to science. Maybe I am wrong though.
The whole viva experience exhausted me and it's hard to really feel happy when you come away feeling like that, even if you passed, especially when you are then given a big list of things to change. After a sleep though I can see these changes are really quite minor, and feel very happy about the hard work I put into earning the PhD!
Looking back on the PhD as a whole, there are only really a couple of things I wish I had done differently. First, take some holiday. I haven't been on holiday for four years and at this point I really need a break! During the PhD I would take a few days off at Christmas, along with some national holidays, but that was all.
The second thing is taking better care of my mental health. After my friend passed away last year, I used the university counselling services and found it very useful. However, I only went for three sessions and really I think I needed more. I also only took around two days off afterwards and probably needed more time to come to terms with what had happened.
Anyway, that's pretty much all I have to say about it.