Nov. 4, 2019Print | PDF
This past July, the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies was pleased to send five Laurier doctoral candidates to a dissertation writing retreat hosted at Queen’s University’s Biology Research Station on Lake Opinicon. The retreat, dubbed “The Lake Shift”, gave these select students the opportunity for structured writing periods partnered with relaxation and camaraderie time spent with 37 other PhD students from across the province.
Each day on Lake Opinicon was strategically organized with three writing hours in the morning, three in the afternoon, and several evening workshops. “This was indeed a productive and fulfilling experience,” said Shiva Mohan, a 5th year Laurier PhD candidate in Geography. “I say that not only in terms of how much progress I made on actual dissertation writing but because of the balance that the writing retreat presented. This kind of balance can only be achieved with the meeting of the minds of 41 other determined dissertation writers and an abundance of flora, fauna, and quiet.”
There were several writing locations for attendees to choose from, and it didn’t take long for everyone to find their ideal spot. Study locations included a geothermally cooled library, cabins, docks and picnic tables among other outdoor options.
Throughout their week, students were encouraged to discuss their work amongst their peers as often as possible. This created great connections between researchers from varying schools and fields of study. “During the six days as a “Lake Shifter”, I learned many personal stories about setbacks, but I also see the power of persistence and resilience.” said Judy Peng, a 4th-year Laurier PhD student in Finance. “I finally concluded that: the path to a doctoral degree is difficult, but we are not alone, and we shall survive.”
The week was supported by collaborative and structured accommodations. Meals were buffet style and everyone had one session of clean-up duty for the week. Three square meals a day, while not having to think about tidying up, allowed attendees to focus on their writing and connecting with their fellow researchers. “As a food systems researcher, I also felt that connecting with people over meals to share our successes and our struggles was a valuable experience,” said Jennifer Marshman, a 4th year Laurier PhD candidate in Geography. “Sincere thanks to coordinator extraordinaire Colette Steer, the folks in the kitchen who took such good care of us, and all the other doctoral students who shared this fantastic experience!”