Friday, February 15, 2008

I failed

Or to put it differently, I did not pass. I've been given the option to re-take the exam again in 2-3 months. At this point I'm not in the right frame of mind to make a decision on that, but I think I'd rather not.

The whole experience was horrible. It went wrong right from the start, I lost my confidence in a big hurry, and it all went downhill from there on. I had imagined that the questions would be an extension of my written exams, and had read over those before the orals. However, my committee members hardly touched on that. They asked me a lot of questions that I should have known the answers to, but I didn't or I stumbled too much. My confidence level had gotten so low, that even if I did know the answer, I didn't say it quickly enough.

At some point one of my committee members asked me something and it could be one of two answers. I told him I didn't know the answer, he asked me to guess, and of course, I guessed wrong. He then told me I had just missed the 1-million dollar question. A few minutes later, I was not answering quickly enough, he started singing the Jeopardy theme song, played during "Final Jeopardy." It was a disaster.

Moreover, my previously expressed concerns about the direction of my project, and the disparate opinions in my committee, were definitely justified. Nothing has changed there. I suppose I did a really shitty job of "selling" myself. I was never a good salesperson. If I had been, I would have gone into sales. As a result, I was unable to effectively convey what I have accomplished so far, and why it's a good thing. There are widely varied opinions on what I need to do next, and I run out of funding in December, and my immigration status runs out in August. I can possibly get another immigration status extension until December, but I don't think it will be extended any further. If I work really, really hard, I might be able to satisfy one of the committee members' demands, but there is no way I can satisfy all of them. And the work I did the last 9 months seems of no interest to most of them, a total waste of time.

So, since I now know what they want to ask me, I can probably study up on those topics in a few days and re-take the oral if I was so inclined. However, I don't think I would want to sit in front of that same group of people again, and be that humiliated. And even if I did, that still would not shed light on the much more important question: is there anyway that I can fulfill the requirements for a PhD program? I don't honestly know the answer to that.

I also feel a little betrayed by my adviser, who really is the nicest guy, but who should have stopped the unprofessional behavior of the singing committee member, which only made me more nervous. Truth be told, they asked fair questions, and I didn't know the answers, so I did not deserve to pass. I do not think it has to do with a lack of intelligence on my part. I think it has more to do with not meeting their expectations. For some reason they all had really high expectations of me, and I disappointed them, and that includes my adviser.

I love doing science more than anything, and I would really suck at being a stay-at-home mom. I guess I have the option of sticking around here as my husband's dependent, but I would not be allowed to work, and that is simply not an option for me. We'll have to seriously consider our options, and right now, leaving the country seems like a good one to me.

My adviser wants to have lunch with me today, and I'll probably go even though I got about 2 hours of sleep last night, and my eyes are read and puffy of all the crying (yeah I know, I'm an emotional wreck, disgusting!). I don't know what to tell him. Otherwise, I'm not really in the mood for anything.


CAE said...

Sending hugs your way... your singing committee member sounds like a jackass.

ScienceWoman said...

Oh Makita. I'm so sorry. Give it some time before you make any decisions. People fail their orals and still get their PhDs.

EcoGeoFemme said...

I'm so sorry. I can't believe that such unprofessional behavior was tolerated by the rest of your committee! I'm outraged for you.

I agree with sciencewoman that you should give yourself a little distance from the situation before you make a decision. Besides being sure about what you do, you might discover an option you haven't thought of yet.

Still, you sound remarkably level headed. Hang in there. Good luck with your advisor.

ScienceGirl said...

Ouch, I am so sorry to hear all this... Hang in there, don't rush into a decision, and good luck!!!