Saying goodbye to my office and to grad school

I said goodbye to my office yesterday.  Literally: I closed the door for a minute, so no one could see, and gave each remaining item a small farewell.

Goodbye, chair.  You have been a good and comfortable chair.

Goodbye, computer.  Thanks for holding up as long as you did.

Goodbye, desk.  May you last forever.

(Seriously, that desk is a giant industrial metal thing.  It will last forever.)

I moved into that office three years ago, about a week before Little Boy was born, so it seemed fitting that I would be very pregnant again while moving out.  The furniture had come with me from my first office, a larger shared space in the main building.  That office switch had been quite the kerfuffle, the product of some rather poor decisions by our department chair, but it had worked out in the end.

After my little parting ritual, I turned all my keys into the department office, one of the last steps to being done.  I submitted the final version of my dissertation to the appropriate authorities last week.  My campus parking permit expired on Friday; my student health insurance ends at midnight tonight.  It’ll be another week before my transcript says I’ve finished, and then goodness knows how long before they mail out the actual diploma, but at this point, I’m not a PhD student any more.  I have a PhD.

Goodbyes to furniture are melancholic but easy.  Goodbyes to people are much harder, especially when you’re trying to communicate how important someone has been in your life.  I ended as awkward as ever, and spent the next few hours at home trying to recover from the panicky anxiety that ensued.  Watching the new grad students register for classes and the established ones settling in for another year, I also got the feeling that the department was moving on without me—which of course it is, because that’s how universities work.

I won’t miss academia, but I will miss this place, if only because it was a part of my life for so long.  I’ll miss my friends, many of whom have already gone off to various jobs in other states.  I’ll miss, for a short bit anyway, the part of my identity that revolved around being a student.

Goodbye, graduate school.

3 thoughts on “Saying goodbye to my office and to grad school

  1. I said goodbye to my old (graduate student) office a couple weeks ago. Granted, I just moved from the third to the second floor, where I now have a lecturer’s office, but it did feel very sad to go. I had been in that office all 5 years. All the papers I wrote at that desk, all the tears I cried… It’s weird.

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  2. I left on much worse terms than you, and I still took the time to say goodbye to my trusty office (and a gleeful goodbye to all the items I recycled, reminding myself that paper doesn’t have power over me).

    Change is hard no matter which way it goes. You’ll soon have another new and exciting change upon you! And what about moving? Or are you staying put for now?

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    • Yes to the recycling! I found that in some cases, I had printed out the same paper two or three times for (re)reading. By the end, I had switched over to managing all my references electronically. So much better.

      I wasn’t ready to let go of my (organized! color-coded!) class notes, though, so I have been scanning them in at home.

      We’re staying put through the end of the calendar year, maybe a little longer depending how on job searching goes. That move will definitely feel weird, too. At least the furniture comes with us. 🙂


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