For the past few months, I have thought that my second doctoral exam (aka IBR 2) would be held on Wednesday, 5 June. On the basis of this, we booked a flight on 6 June which would be the first stage in a two week holiday, which would culminate in the degree awarding ceremony in Edinburgh on 19 June.
Last night, I received an email from the university with an official invitation to the exam (these are sent two weeks before every exam). I was unable to open the PDF attachment at home because the document used some kind of extension which my alternate PDF reader (ie not Adobe Acrobat) could not read. So much for the P in PDF, which stands for 'portable'. So I sent the letter to my work email and read it this morning with Acrobat.
I have royally screwed up: it turns out that the exam will be held on 6 June at which time I will be in an airplane making its way to Barcelona! I quickly checked with our travel agent to see whether it would be possible to fly later on the same day or on the following day, but luck was not on my side. I also notified the university; I asked whether it would be possible to be examined personally whilst in Edinburgh, but again, no luck.
This means that I will only be able to take IBR 2 in December - at the same time (but hopefully not the same date) when I will be taking the IBR 3 exam. I hope that taking IBR 3 is not contingent upon passing IBR 2. So my doctoral studies are on hold for six months!
After performing part of the literature survey in April, I decided to put that activity on hold and turn my attention to passing the exam. Now that the opportunity to take the exam has been delayed, I may as well return my attention to preparing material for the doctorate itself. I think that I will spend the next few months preparing the research proposal: after all, I know how to write the proposal (IBR 1) and I have most of the necessary information. Using the downtime now will allow me to save time later on.