My Life,  Studying Chinese,  Sun Yat-Sen University

Thesis defence in Chinese and on the doorstep of graduation

It’s been a hectic week here in Guangzhou, can’t believe it’s Monday again! Those days last week before Friday all let to my thesis defence on the 29th. It was one of the most nervous days of my life, making me almost faint at the classroom!

I arrived early to the campus as printed out two pages of my thesis that had a terrible error on them. I wanted to show the teachers, that I had noticed the mistake my self which is better than wait for them to point it out. Of course I have noticed several small typos as well, wondering how tired my eyes were when I checked my thesis before printing it out.

We had our presentations in small groups, with me I had a Korean girl, Indonesian girl and an Italian guy, last two being ethnic Chinese. We were seated at one of the sides in the classroom, we would be speaking in front of the room and the teachers were seated at the back. There was also chairs for classmates to come in and listen to our presentations.

While I waited my turn, I was third, I started getting more and more nervous. Would I be able to finish my presentation in the 7 minutes allowed or would it be too short? Could I answer all the questions asked my teacher? Heck, could I even stand on my two feet?

Finally it was my time to take the spotlight. I had prepared a nice Power Point slide show about my thesis, but probably it didn’t really matter much. After I was done, I sat on the chair in front of the teachers. I had a desk in front of me and I placed my thesis on the desk. I had read it over a few times, making careful notes on mistakes and questions the teachers might ask.

I have no idea how long they asked me questions, and can’t remember all of them, but somehow I lost my nervousness and was able to be calm. I answered everything the best I could, but wasn’t given enough time to defend my thesis as much as I would have liked to.

Three of us received a grade good, one received average. It was a relief that I was able to get a good grade, but I would be lying if I said I was happy with it. Not being able to get the highest grade, excellent, was bitter.

There won’t be a change to do it all over again, but if everything goes well, I will be writing my master’s thesis in two years. What I have learned during these months is that it’s crucial to choose the best teacher to help you and start as soon as possible. Don’t leave anything at the last-minute and check your work numerous times before printing.

Writing a thesis in Chinese was nerve-wracking at times, but I learned a lot too. I’m happy to get it finally of my hands very soon and head for new challenges.


  • Kaiser


    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    谢谢Kaiser! 我自己觉得没那么了不起,还有很多知识要去学。得到一个目标后,新的目标就会出现。

    Kaiser Reply:

    你太谦虚了!顺便说一下, 圣诞节快乐! 现在我,我儿子和我老婆都在楼下在看一部孩子圣诞节电影! 圣诞节就是一个我非常喜欢的西方传统。

    Sara Jaaksola Reply:


    Kelvin Lai Reply:


    Sara Jaaksola Reply:


  • ordinary malaysian

    Congrats! And don’t be too disheartened. It is how much you have learned and can make meaningful use of in life that really matters. Exams results don’t really count much, so long as you have done reasonably well in the circumstances of the case. Remember, the really smart people (the geniuses) are often those who did not do excellently in their school of university results. Just think Einstein and a host of the real luminaries of the world. The rest, including the summa cum laude achievers fall away once their academic achievements are in the bag. Real life achievements are different form academic life achievements and speak more of their real capabilities. So, smile and have and go pamper yourself!

    ordinary malaysian Reply:

    Oops! Should read: “Real life achievements are different from academic achievements and speak more of one’s real capabilities. So, smile and go have a nice time and do pamper yourself!”

    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    Thank you for the inspiring words!