I suppose it's the combination of PhD, Twitter, and 750words.com that I never seem to post here any more. Also, few people read this, so it's mainly for my own sanity (or so it seems). I recently got a comment on an old entry about my upgrade, and it made me smile that my trauma could help someone. I reckon it was useful at any rate. So I suppose I'll talk a bit more about PhD Hell.
Well I didn't realise that I could (and should) have applied to interrupt my studies when I was going through a rather rough patch, shall we euphemistically say. So when I realised about the interruption malarky, I thought hang on, why was I not told about this? why did I not know about this option, and why was I not advised to interrupt, to allow me to gather myself and regroup? Ha. Well I can come up with several reasons why not, but none of them are appropriate to publicly post.
So I was advised to apply to retroactively interrupt my studies, which my university does not normally approve, but I was told that I have a pretty good case for approval. Well that was back at the end of October, and I applied as soon as I could. Submitted my application to my department on 30 October 2010. it was approved by the head of my particular school, and then forwarded over to the Research Degrees Office (RDO) for the head of the college to approve (or not approve). That was in the first week of November. I'd not heard anything for six weeks, and didn't follow up on it for three reasons: 1) I had better things to do, like work on my thesis; 2) I assumed that I'd get an email from the department admin regarding a decision; and 3) why should I have to be nanny to adults who should, in theory, be capable of doing their jobs without me checking up on them. I should not have to do this.
Well I got an email from the fees department just before Christmas break informing me that I owed £10,500 for the year, and could I please pay as soon as possible? Cue me stressing and freaking that shit will hit the proverbial fan, and so on and so forth, but cue also me attempting to quell that freak-out and telling myself that I'll sort it out in the new year.
The new year arrives. I go to RDO to find out what the eff is going on. Dude who can help me is not back from Christmas break yet, okay that's fair enough, I was taking a chance that anyone would be in the office given that I went there the day after the bank holiday (note: I went on an actual working day, but you know how it is, nobody can bear returning to work after Christmas break apparently). There was someone in the RDO who looked in my physical file, but doesn't see any application for an interruption of studies. Um, okay? she says her advice is to reapply. uh... sure. okay. I'll get right on that.
I go to my department's postgraduate admin office, seeking at least someone to hold my hand and tell me everything will be alright. Nobody's there because everyone is out of the office until the term begins the following week. Well terrific. Finally someone turns up, the only one in for the day, and we sit and have a long old chin-wag about "things". She promises to get on it, and if she can't get answers, then she'll get someone on the case who can get answers. She's true to her word, and I get an email the following week addressed to the dude in RDO who originally advised me to retroactively apply for interruption, with me CC'd in on it, asking in a slightly terse yet diplomatic way, what the eff is happening with this application?
That was two weeks ago. STILL have not heard anything from RDO. So I finally go to head of graduate studies of my department, who happens to be my second supervisor, and with whom I have recently reconciled after a falling-out which lasted over two years. He promises to get on it, and true to his word too (thank God there are efficient people at my university!), he emails me yesterday to tell me that indeed the RDO has NO RECORD of my interruption application, despite my department's admin delivering it to them the first week of November 2010. My department's admin has redelivered ANOTHER copy of the application (thankfully they keep copies of all interruption applications) to the RDO, this time I believe it's been hand delivered. And it will take a month to process.
There is, mind you, no guarantee that it will be approved. I'm stressed. Do not do a PhD unless you are prepared for many years of stress.