I remember checking in with my supervisor half an hour before my viva and asking him about a key definition. I don’t remember seeing him at all later that day, but he must have been there. Right?
I shared an office with four other people at the time, but don’t recall any of them being there on my viva day. Isn’t that strange? A Monday in early June and no-one was around. Did that happen? Or do I just not remember?
I started my viva with a presentation. I remember my examiners asking me questions almost immediately, as I was sharing a summary. I remember difficult questions about my explanation for some results. However, I don’t remember any questions at all about the key result of my thesis. Isn’t that strange?
I remember passing but have a hole in my memory until that evening, a celebratory dinner in a restaurant with my family. I don’t know if my examiners gave me a list of corrections after my viva. I don’t know if I saw any friends around the department. I don’t know if I called or texted anyone to let them know I was done.
I’m starting to forget my viva. I remember a story, a fragment of what happened, but not the day.
Maybe it means my viva really wasn’t that big a deal compared to everything else in my PhD. Maybe it means I’ve finally finished thinking about that day – unlikely as that may seem!
Why am I sharing this? To offer a little perspective, for those who have their viva in the future. It matters. Your viva is important. But it won’t be the most important thing you ever do.
The viva is one day on your journey to getting your PhD.
And maybe one day you’ll realise you’ve forgotten all about it.