Three and a half years of work; three official countries of residence; four hundred pages of text; blood, sweat, tears, a wedding, and a baby— and I have my PhD.
Admittedly, it’s anti-climactic. Belgium is rather pragmatic with its diploma delivery: I got mine unceremoniously in a clear plastic sleeve, on a completely normal Wednesday morning, with the baby in a pram parked inside the room as I signed the requisite release documents. There was no fancy frame, no lavish academic hat and robes, certainly no sword given to me, something I hear Finnish doctors get— you know, basically nothing of symbolic weight that is equivalent to all the work put in to the dissertation— and yet it felt right.
There is a beauty in quiet accomplishment, in talking about babies and tendonitis and other everyday matters, and tucking in your diploma into a diaper bag as you leave.