As you begin your thesis year in architecture, you may be asking yourself, “What did I just spend the last year doing?” For those of you studying abroad, the answer may be some combination of traveling, heavy drinking, one-night stands, and arrests. Let’s give you the benefit of the doubt and say these were vital stages of “finding yourself.”
Fifth year will change you. You’ll change your opinion of architecture as a discourse and a profession. Ladies, you’ll gain weight. Guys, you’ll lose weight. In the end you’ll have tested the limits of your mind and body, and should you survive, you’ll be ready to face the world as an overworked, underpaid intern architect.
Now that you’ve relaxed for an entire year, it’s time to buckle down and own this beast called thesis. Here’s a list of suggestions to help you survive fifth year:
1. Keep in touch, especially with all the students (and professors) you met during your time abroad. You’ll need them to criticize your dumb ideas and engage in the collective suffering. It’s nice to know someone’s sharing your struggles hundreds of miles away.
2. Learn bribery. Remember to say yes when your classmates ask for favors—come crunch time, you can use it against them to borrow that last Exacto blade. “Remember that time I let you….?”
3. Don’t ever get sick. Wear a ventilator wherever you go. Don’t share drinks (alcohol does not kill germs), and maintain a steady Airborne/Emergen-C regimen. Try not to shake hands with people—simply say, “I can’t afford your germs.”
4. Remember to eat. There’s nothing worse than realizing at 3 AM that you haven’t eaten all day and everywhere’s closed. Stash food in the studio, making sure to stock a little bit of everything: salty, sweet, carbs, protein, fruit. Chocolate will help you practice suggestion 2.
5. Keep it together. Don’t break down in studio. This is a sign of weakness and your classmates won’t pity you; they’ll worry about slipping on your tears while carrying their models. Vent to your non-architecture friends—they won’t understand, but they have time to bake you things.
6. Take a break. Can’t focus? Spinning your wheels? Full of dumb ideas? Take a break to reset and do something enjoyable. Try activities that won’t give you hangovers or injuries: read a book, watch a movie, get laid, go to yoga, or hang out with friends outside of studio.
7. Realize your thesis. You can take it wherever you want, and you shouldn’t do it to please anyone but yourself. You may have read so much theory that you can correlate everything in the world to your thesis; now it’s your job to edit and pinpoint what you really want.
8. Fear thesis. Fear is the best motivator, so understand that you’ll be thinking about your thesis for the next decade. Take your thesis to the extreme; don’t kick yourself later saying you could’ve tried harder. And don’t worry about any nightmares you might have months before graduation about not finishing. It happens to us all.
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BuildingSatire is a blog consisting of architectural satire, cynicism, and humor to alleviate the tension and pretension in professional architecture.