Maxine Go wrote a graphic memoir! In it she outlines the changes she underwent leaving home and coming to the United States and Wesleyan. Keep reading to learn some sage advice, unrecommended sleep schedules, and how to get your own copy of Maxine’s memoir.
So where are you right now?
I was still on campus. I’m an international student. So I got a pass to be here for the rest of the semester. It would have actually fine if I flew back to the Philippines, but my housemates are all also international students so I wanted to stay with them for the rest of the semester. We were all here working on our theses.
That’s some pretty good support then.
Yeah, I thought it would be much crazier, since towards the end you tend to go into high stress mode, but everyone is really nice and we help each other out.
On to more academic topics. What’s your major?
I’m an English and CEAS (College of East Asian Studies). Major. My thesis is only in CEAS.
Title of your thesis?
“Everywhere a Garden”. It’s a graphic memoir about myself.
Apart from yourself, what topics does the graphic memoir address?
Okay. So, in the simplest terms, I drew a comic about my life. Coming to America, or to Wesleyan, as an international student is something that changed my life (for lack of a less cliche way of saying it). So the memoir is about changes that happened to me as a result of going on this huge adventure.
It’s under the CEAS major because it talks about lots of dysphoric topics. For example, the act of moving from one place to another changes your sense of identity and your sense of belonging as well. The thesis is about this very transnational trans-cultural kind of struggle that I think people who have been in one place for their entire lives don’t go through.
And using the format of a graphic novel must have taken quite some time.
Yeah. My advisor initially told me that I had to do 70 pages of a comic and then accompany it with 30 pages of a write up to show that I had put some intellectual thought into it (Because people don’t think “academic” when they hear comic). But I ended up doing 150-ish pages of comic and then my write up got shortened significantly.
What was your favorite part of doing the thesis? Highlights/lowlights?
Oh, yeah. I think that the nature of my thesis as a graphic memoir made me put myself into a weekly existential crisis. I was thinking ‘what does it mean for me to be here’? And what do all of these experiences add up to? This could easily be both a high and a low point, because you’re thinking about the significance of an experience. I think this thesis is a result of the fact that I struggled so much in adjusting, especially in my first two years, but it has paid off really well and I’ve come to feel really comfortable here.
Seeing it all come together was really nice. I actually hadn’t started working on the thesis itself until this semester. First semester I did nothing but worry about if it was a story worth telling, and if it made sense. And then wondering about how should I put everything together? And only in late February I was like, Okay, I really have to start. This thing is not gonna get done.
On that note, what advice would you give future thesis writers?
Start early, definitely. But also, I think it’s fine if you don’t. I got it done eventually, despite having worried for so long. I think it’s fine if you come into it, not knowing exactly what you want to do. I mean, of course, you should have a plan and you should have an idea of what the end goal is, but the fact is that this is a year long process. It factors in that you will probably be figuring things out for a significant chunk of time.
On a different note, what is your favorite form of procrastination? Has it changed since the Coronavirus?
My favorite thing is looking for songs to listen to while working on the book. Music is such a huge source of inspiration, so if I found the right song It would be really easy to start getting into the mood to write. When I didn’t have one though I was always looking for the next perfect song that could like help kick away the writer’s block
That was more pre-coronavirus. After I ended up getting Animal Crossing. I’m pretty sure this is a common occurrence … I read one of the other Thesiscrazy articles and someone also mentioned that they had too.
So your thesis is all turned in, how did you celebrate?
Because I had procrastinated so I would be working on like 20 pages per day towards the very end, which was horrible. I don’t recommend that to anyone. And so yesterday I had been up for a whole 24 hours when I submitted my thesis, and then I attended my one class of the semester because attendance is mandatory and sat there kind of dully. So I sat there for that noon class, submitted my thesis and then took a nap. And when I got up my housemates, and I ordered KFC and drank wine. It was a really chill celebration, I loved it.
If you were to describe your thesis as a TV show/song/movie what would it be?
There’s a song called “My Heart is Split” by Kerrigan-Lowdermilk. it’s, it’s not part of a real musical, as far as I know, but I think the story based on the song is about a girl who moves from one place to another place for college and like She is torn, well split, like in the title, between like these two worlds and has to reconcile them in some way. I think it’s super fitting.
Do you have any concluding comments?
Yeah, I also opened up orders for the book because I wanted to have it printed and to have copies to give to my friends and family and my advisor. A lot of people have really supported it, which is really great. But if it’s allowed I can give you a link for people to order a copy if they’re interested.