“What did you do today Nathan?” I tried to show the complexity of the algorithm that I’ve been developing for the last three months. “…Bolognese for tea, OK?”

“How’s it going Nathan? What you been up to, finished that thing yet?” My PhD? Got another nine months, I think I’m on track but it all depends on proving the next result and then getting it all written up. “…Seen anyone else from school?”

My family and friends were very supportive when I was doing my PhD, but they didn’t really get it. Why should they, it had taken me a long time to get it. It wasn’t that they didn’t care, of course they did, but they didn’t understand what I did for the most part.

On the run up to the viva though, it might be useful if your friends and family can get a little understanding of what you’re about to do. Tell them what the viva is all about: it’s the exam at the end of the PhD. Tell them about your examiners and what they’ll be doing. Tell them what you’ll need to do to prepare – and what you might need from them.

It could be a bit of space to yourself, quiet in the evening to read. It could be time, so they’ll need to do the dishes while you mark up your thesis. It could even be telling your boss that you’ll need to arrange a little time off so that you can go to the viva.

Your friends and family are proud of you. Even if they don’t quite understand what you’ve been doing for all this time, they understand that it’s important to you. Help them to understand the end of the PhD and they’ll help you get there.