March. The countdown to dr. [ade] begins in earnest now, as I will defend my thesis march 6th at 10:30am in a public defence. After that, it is party time – well, we’ll go to the zoo in Kleve and see the camel. I want something low-key. As university customs vary considerably, I’ll try to describe what it’s like in the Netherlands. I’ve attended lots, assisted at two, and now I’ve got my own to be the lead player in.

A thesis is defended in public, by the candidate (promovendus) against a commission of smart people (at least half of whom must be full professors, and the rest must all be Dr.). The candidate is assisted by two paranimfs, who are there to defend the candidate from physical attack by the commission (apparently people got more worked up over these things in days past) and if need be take over the thesis defence if the candidate is rendered unable to continue. The defence itself takes exactly one hour. At the end of the hour, the pedel (officer of promotions) enters, says “hora est” and the defence ends. The commission retires to confer on the status of the defence, and the candidate grins like an idiot. The commission wears their academic gowns; the candidate wears a tuxedo. It’s quite a formal public event.

So yeah, there will be pictures of me looking like a penguin. There is no room for a Beastie pin, helas.