relieved .. a bit ..
for the second time in the past 6 weeks i walked down to the devonshire house, where the faculty thesis office is located in the university of manchester. six weeks ago i handed in the notice of submission. this afternoon, 31 october 2007 at 14.30, i handed in my PhD thesis. the soft binding copies.
i feel relieved. as if a load has been taken off from myself. but it is not the end. in fact, anything can happen during the viva-voce, which is scheduled to be in early december –roughly 5 weeks from now.
when i walked down the devonshire corridor, my thought flew to the moment three years ago. on the 1st july 2004 i and my wife landed in manchester airport. only with a partial scholarship. in october 2004 when i formally started the PhD programme, we had to move to a much smaller flat, far away from the campus, as we did not have enough money to stay in the university’s family accommodation. my wife was pregnant at that time. it was quite a stressful period for us. fortunately, i was accepted as a partime research assistant. so i worked on my PhD only 2.5 days a week and the other 2.5 was for my work. practically it was a PhD part-time. 3 years working and doing PhD at the same time …
it was only in 2005 when we managed to move a slightly bigger flat (and much closer to the university) when we had our first kid. i was thankful that the university was generous enough to provide me a good and well paid job (i was promoted four times in two years, from spine 5 grade 4 to spine 4 grade 5), on which my family’s survival depended on. but most of all, my wife, ira, has been the greatest support. without her all of this is impossible. she takes care of our kids and gives me enough time to concentrate on my PhD. it is certainly very difficult and hard for her, i know that for sure. i would never be able to thank her enough for this.
in december 2006, when i already wrote 4 chapters, i was challenged by a french professor who happened to be the advisor for the PhD students here, to produce a “different kind” of thesis. the anglo-saxon style was considered to be “conventional” in the sense that it contained a standardised intro-litrev-meth-data-finding-discussion-conclusion. i was challenged if i could do a “stand-alone chapters” so that my thesis would be intro-article1-article2-approach-finding1-finding2-findin3-finding4-metadiscussion-analysis. perhaps it was a big mistake that i did not turned down the challenge. if i did, i would have submitted my PhD last april and i could have had my PhD title by last july and thus 2 years 9 months only.
yet, i did not. i chose to take up the challenge despite that my partial scholarship ended in july (then extended into december). so i restructured everything started in january. i worked like crazy. both PhD and research work here. and again, it was (and is) my family who was (and is) sufferring. i know that i have not spent enough time with them. i know that i have not given them enough attention as i kept working until 2.00-3.00am everyday. it was horrible. even, to make possible for me to submit within 3 years, my wife and my kids opted to go back to pontianak last month so that i had enough time to finish my thesis.
those are all the sacrifices that they have done for me. there must be much more that i don’t know, e.g. my wife’s feelings, my kids’ desire for their father’s proper attention, etc. i won’t be able to thank them enough for this. i think, if i knew that the sacrifice would be that much, i might have turned down that challenge.
now, here i am. i managed to submit within 3 years. i may be among the few in this research centre who could finish their research a bit earlier. and now i just want to do my viva. whatever the result will be. to be honest, i don’t really care now about the result. what i want now is to see and join with my family again.
but very likely, i might still be staying here in the UK (and manchester) for another couple of years. yesterday i was just offered a position as a research associate in this university as soon as i am awarded my PhD. a bit unusual because usually someone has to take a postdoc first before being offered as a research associate. i felt honoured (and flattered), but nothing is conclusive by now. there is a long procedure to follow if i want to take up that offer. and there are things to consider as well. i want to do something that really interests me and i need to be sure that the associateship scheme can accommodate this. otherwise, i will just go home. i don’t want to waste my time here in the UK doing something meaningless although very well-paid (e.g. continuing EU projects only without having time for my own research interest). so, i cannot say anything by now, although i am a bit more optimistic than i was before — that i would be able to stay here for another 2-3 years before heading back to my NGO in indonesia.
but this is all a big decision and i don’t want to decide alone. i want my family involved in this decision. because it is not just about working here as i said before. more importantly, it is about my family. i want to repay the time i have lost with them. i now want to make up what i have lost. if i take this offer of being a research associate, i want them to return here and make the most of it.
so, again, wish me luck, guys. for my viva, for my work arrangement, for my family — so that we can reunite again not in a very long time. and, a big THANK YOU for your kind and generous support during my study!
picture: my bookshelf two minutes ago. personal collection