Early yesterday morning (on the first day of my fourth year as a PhD student), I drove my friend Christina and her rabbit named Basil to the airport and they moved home to Ontario. Christina was one of my first friends in this department; she started her MA at the same time as I started my PhD. Now that she's gone, the only ones left of my cohort are the handful of us PhD candidates that haven't quit or gone on leave. And most of them are away researching right now.
Academically speaking, I'm going through so much transition right now. I remember how hard it was, three years ago, when I had to start back into coursework. I hated it, because I was used to the solitary life of thesis-writing. Coursework forced me to focus away from my own research! I had to meet new people! I had to talk all day!
And now it's hard transitioning back. My dissertation has stood off in the distance for so long that it's intimidating to approach it at last. And this intimidation has made it hard for me to put my thoughts into words (which is a big reason for the significant blog silence over the summer).
But now I'm finding ways to get to work. It helps that Ky's here: she and I worked together through our undergrad degrees, and she acted as a sounding board when I wrote my MA thesis (and I did the same for her). I'm on my way over to work with her for a while today; she's going through that same back-to-coursework transition that I went through three years ago and so maybe I can help her through that transition a bit. It's nice having some familiarity around. I even have some other familiar faces from my undergrad years kicking around the city now, and somehow that helps me feel more grounded.
Fourth-year PhD candidate. That sounds daunting to me.