"I'm not able to come to the meeting today, I really need to spend my time writing on my thesis!", the first student texted into the Thesis Support Group. "I won't be able to come either - I'm really in a writing flow at the moment and don't want to interrupt it", responded a second student. "I also can't make it", it was my turn to cancel: "I am currently sipping a Sangria in Granada with view on the Alhambra and I didn't take my laptop with me on my mini-holiday!"
To be fair, I didn't actually write that, instead cancelling with a vague reason. Whether out of guilt or kindness I cannot say, I think it's a bit of both. After all, I did hop on a 5h bus ride, spent 3 nights in Granada, visiting the Alhambra, a Flamenco show, countless churches and monasteries, and danced through the historic city. The only writing I did was in my journal - pen on paper - instead of typing my Thesis on my laptop.
So, how did I end up in Granada? Everything started five days ago - it was 11 days until my thesis deadline. I had gone to yet another cafe to write on it because concentrating at home simply isn't possible anymore - food and Netflix have become increasingly distracting. Yet, strangely enough, also the 'magic of cafe's' about which I wrote my previous blog seemed to wear off. And so, I was left staring at the cursor blinking on my screen, a painful reminder that words still needed to be written and rewritten, but that I didn't know which or how.
I looked at my planner. What did I have left to do? Edit one section, but I would only get feedback for that section in 5 days from my advisor. Also, rewrite another section - that should take me a day to do, tops. Adding references, footnotes, and annexes - tasks that don't fill my heart with the most joy but simply need to be done. Editing. Peer reviewing. Lay-outing. Truly stuff for the last few days. But, the last few 10 days? Also, I couldn't even properly start until after my thesis meeting. As I stared at the blinking cursor, I saw the next few days in front of me: procrastination, guilt, demotivation. It didn't look bright.
And so, I made a snap decision to escape, and I booked my bus ticket for the next day. I was going to sleep in a hostel, sharing a room with 5 strangers. I would leave all electronics and emails and deadlines and responsibilities behind for a few days. I would emerge in culture, food, language, history. I would forget all the drama for a few days - the dirtiness of the kitchen, the housemate who might get kicked out of uni, the Instagram friends who keep posting about new places in Madrid, and Spain, and Europe.
I got back yesterday and had my thesis meeting this morning. My current state: very stressed and overwhelmed - a stark contrast to the past days. Do I regret having gone? Not having spent my time reading yet another paper? Not in the slightest. I have 6 days until my deadline, and I will make them worth it. Because now, I can concentrate with a head filled with beautiful impressions.
Jesler van Houdt