borax38: from <user name=iconzicons> (Elinor)
[personal profile] borax38
Finally, FINALLY the stress is over!

I just finished my first semester exams. I'd like to think this is the last of cardiology, pneumology, ENT, radiology I'll see, but I haven't quite chosen the right career path for that. Besides, the next exam is in barely a month.

In the meantime, the pressure is gone! I'm hoping I can write more than I have in the last few weeks, because schoolwork completely takes away all my creativity.

I also hope the lack of pressure will result in me enjoying my internship in thoracic surgery a little bit better, because right now I hate it. I don't like surgery to begin with, and half of the other med students working with me are useless. Anyway, less than three weeks left before the end!

on 2010-01-13 09:45 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
yay! Congrats on being done with exams!! I'm sure you did awesome!

on 2010-01-13 10:07 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Thanks! I won't attempt to guess my scores, because I usually end up being completely wrong. :)

on 2010-01-13 10:38 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Hooray for the end of exams! I know how wonderful that feels, the big exhalation, even when there are more on the horizon is always a pleasant feeling. I look forward to that next October when my comprehensives are over.

on 2010-01-14 03:48 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]

With exams that come back ever so regularly, and a huge at the end of next week, I try not to look that far ahead these days. What are "comprehensives" and what do you have to study for them, by the way?

on 2010-01-14 05:02 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
I know the feeling of not wanting to look too far ahead, but studying for my comprehensives and some dissertation research are the only things I have to do until I take the exams in October so it feels a bit like I am holding my breath til then.
Comprehensives are our content exams that are required before we are allowed to enter doctoral candidacy and began substantial work on our dissertations in my American history PhD program. Basically, they work like this you spend roughly three years taking coursework in some variation of 4 fields depending on your research interests, in my case I have the General U.S. History field covering everything from colonization to the mid-1980s which all American history students have to sit, a thematic field in 19th Century U.S., and two secondary fields at least one of which must be non-U.S. mine are Early Modern Europe 1500-1789 and Historic Preservation. On top of the coursework for each field there is a reading list the General has about 200 books and the others have 50-100 books each which cover the various interpretations of the various topics with each time frame.
When you feel that you are adequately prepared (I don't know how many of us ever feel that way in reality) then you sit the exams. There is one 6 hour exam per field given on alternating days. Each exam consists of four parts and each part containing four essay questions, you pick one question from each part and write a 4-6 page essay answering each question.
The exams are then sent to faculty committees to be graded and in approximately 6 weeks you will meet with your advisory committee for orals in which they go over your exams and if you did not pass a section you are allowed to present an oral defense of your answer, if you successfully defend the work then the mark is changed to a pass and you do not have to resit the exam. You have two opportunities to pass the exams or you are denied doctoral candidacy and have basically wasted 3 years of graduate school. So that is the nightmare inducing beast that is comps. Logically, I know I should be fine, but when I look at all of the material I am responsible for recalling at their whim because the exams are rewritten every year by the faculty and questions chosen at random it seems overwhelming.

on 2010-01-14 06:09 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Wow! As hard as it sounds, I think it's great you can go "defend" your answer in case you failed. For my exams, I just have to fit the right "keywords" in, which, though it gives you good reflexes, is sometimes incredibly frustrating.

And you study history? That's so cool! What are you planning to do once you're finished?

on 2010-01-14 09:15 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Yeah, the defense is awesome, has saved a few people I know from an unpleasant academic fate. My plan right now, once I get past the exams and the 400 page dissertation is to work as a civilian research historian for one of the branches of the federal government. The pay is really good as are the government benefits and there are offices all over the country so if I want to move I can apply for a transfer to a different field office. Most of my cohort is going into teaching, but I am really not cut out for it. My best friend who is in the program with me loves to teach and isn't all that fond of research while I am the opposite, we like to joke that between the two of we make a complete historian.

on 2010-01-14 09:35 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
That sounds interesting. It's true that people usually think of teaching as the typical career choice. But, wow, research!

(On a side note, that is THE thing that discouraged me from ever writing historical fiction–the amount of research that was necessary).

on 2010-01-14 09:38 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
I wish it would discourage more people or that the people who endeavor to write historical fiction would bother to do the research. I read a few things from time to time that cause me to develop a twitch.

on 2010-01-14 09:45 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
I'm not really competent enough to judge about accuracy, but it seems like SOO much work. You have to get the language right, the technology right, the culture, the morals … everything right.

One problem I have with some historical fiction is how "modern" the hero/heroine is, and we're supposed to take for granted the fact that he/she gets away with it.

December 2011


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