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What it’s like to start over.

Some of you well know the feeling…Day one of thesis prep:  Give a brief synopsis of what you are thinking for your thesis.  The reaction:  Tell you what I’m doing for my thesis?  Are you crazy?  What does thesis even mean?

As the shock and frustration gave way to more frustration and then to the natural highs and lows of any studio, gradually over the course of last spring quarter, we all figured it out, at least to some degree.   I learned what it meant to define a thesis topic, to develop a critical perspective and to postulate where architecture might interject.  I also learned that my thesis could not, in fact, save the world, so it was best to focus on a few ideas rather than entertaining every single thing that I found interesting.

After completing thesis prep in the Spring, I was presented with the chance to come to Japan for a year, an impossible opportunity to pass up.  I had to decide between staying in Seattle and continuing my proposal or taking the chance to develop something new in Japan.  So, here I am, suddenly in Japan, ready and willing to start over.  Upon my arrival, I had the same thoughts as day one of thesis prep:  What am I doing here?  Why am I starting over?

It has been a struggle to realize that I am not actually starting over, but refining the process of going about a thesis.  I realize what was lacking from my original proposal was a sort of process that allowed me, in my own unique way, to translate an idea into a meaningful study.  I saw thesis as only a project with a strict timeline.  So, what is it like to start over?  It’s freeing and much less intimidating.  I am right now trying not to focus on the end product of the thesis (the project) but instead, paying close attention to the process as something meaningful, personal, and non-formulaic.  While I still can’t say what my thesis is, exactly, I am hopeful that thesis ‘prep’ will be easier the second time around!  And to my fellow classmates, soon to be M. Arch graduates, good luck in these final weeks!  You’re almost there!

Written by Heather Ruszczyk, MArch Candidate 2012. Heather is in Kobe for the 2011-2012 academic year.


View of Kobe City from the university

Tadao Ando’s Hyogo Prefectural Art Museum in Kobe

Kobe waterfront

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