Rose’s summer 2021 comprehensive journal: chapter 1

When everyone was screaming “yay! Summer 2021!” I was like “Nah, I am staying indoors!”

It was time for my comprehensive examination, popularly known as comps. Comps is that long awaited milestone in the first or second year of the PhD program, where you show your department that you are the real deal. It is different for each department but for mine, I am writing up two research questions which I chose and which got approved of by the committee in a time frame of two months (nine weeks basically).  

So, let me take you through the nine-week gruesome and lonely process that is my comprehensive journal. 

Here are the first two weeks; keep an eye on GradLife McGill for the rest of the story! My raw journal entries can also be found at:

Week 1: The goal is to become a PhD candidate. Schedules planned, meetings had, daily plans all set, mindset all organized…I think! Agenda is all set on how I am planning on conquering all of this. 

Monday- Did not even follow my schedule but I think I did everything I had planned on doing. A lot of reading, some writing. Even though I did not follow the plan of the day, I still got stuff done. 

Tuesday- Yass queen, got up really early and got about this day just as planned…but struggled to sleep last night. Ugh! The day was stressful, but it ended well. 

Wednesday- Writing is going really well, but I am an emotional wreck; sincerely do not know where this came from. The sleep struggle contributed to it, I guess! 

Thursday- Early rise, yay! I am not feeling 100%. Got about writing and journaling for the week and jammed Olivia Rodrigo all day; this album has been on repeat since Wednesday (lol)! 

Friday- TGIF…I think! Writing today was stress free but I still have a lot to do, but hey, there is no hurry. One day at a time. This day was really good though, I must say.

Saturday- Nothing out of the blue, meal prepped and cleaned. Reading books that are not articles is so cool, so lovely.

Sunday- A very chill day, yay! Spent some time at my favourite place; a body of water. So, it was basically legs in water, latest book in my ear, the sun on my skin, accompanied by the soundtrack of the ocean. 

Week 2: One would have thought that because last week was great to an extent, this week would be much better. Going into this week, I tried to put together a daily to-do list. I hear about this from so many of my colleagues who have done their comps. So yes, I put together a daily/weekly goals list, which was supposed to help me be a little more productive. You know, the regular pen to paper; Monday…finish this. Tuesday…begin that. However, my eagerness to start the week was greater than the rest of the week. 

Monday- I actually started the week great, got my Monday to-do list done. I was excited and ready for the next day. 

Tuesday- This day creeped around…and it all went downhill from there. The day started off well; got to my desk, phone off…and four hours later still had nothing ticked off of my to-do list. I began to ask myself what was going on. I got up, went to the gym, you know, to see if a bit of an energy pump would do the trick. But…nope! It did not. Okay, nothing to worry about. I chuck all of Tuesday’s work to Wednesday. As they say, “be forgiving to yourself, there are days like this (lol)!” (Okay, no one says this, it is just me!)

Wednesday- I tried do work, but guess what? I still did not tick anything off of my to-do list. 

Thursday- I am mad at myself, why in the world can I not focus and get stuff done? It should not be this hard! But then I receive an email from a colleague that makes my week. I must say at this point I do let out a sigh of relief, as the reminder came at the right time. The reminder was that getting work done is a step-by-step process. Email from colleague: “hey, best of luck. You’ll do great! Don’t fret, take it a day at a time.”

Friday- I was able to work but not to the full capacity that I had intended on. I was able to tick off the to-do list from Tuesday, Wednesday, and adjusted for the rest of the week.

Saturday- I fell back to the full capacity to do work! The day initially started off like Tuesday. But then I got up, went to the gym, came home and freshened up, and went to bed. Got up later feeling so much better, worked late into the night which was very fulfilling. Then I realized something, I had put too much on my plate for this week. I wanted to get so much done in such little time. My to-do list was not realistic but felt achievable at the time I was making it. I guess I should rather set up weekly goals as opposed to daily goals, to avoid the pressure I was putting on myself. I am hoping to do better next week. I do not know how much of a difference this would make, but we can give it a try…I often forget this. 

Little drops of water, make the mighty ocean. – Julia A. F. Carney

Writer: Rose Elekanachi

Reviser: Anzala Murtaz 

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