This is it. My baby steps into my PhD journey. I received the approval of my application from UPM SGS Portal dated 30th August 2016. Actually, I already knew the news since the last two weeks as the correspondent of the Postgraduate affairs e-mailed me to inform that there would be a briefing session on 29th August 2016 for Master’s Degree and PhD candidates although there were no letter of offer attached at the portal! But of course, I can’t say anything as there were no black and white proofs just yet, no?
A research degree in Human Communication? Insya ALLAH. From Microbiology degree to Communication research degree. God bless.
Since I had to attend a briefing to invigilate UPSR 2016 (gasp!) on the 29th August 2016, I was forced to waive the PhD briefing. Nevertheless since I already had previous experience with Fakulti Bahasa Moden & Komunikasi when I enrolled into the Master’s Degree programme two years ago (REFER to https://undomiel84.wordpress.com/2014/02/13/master-of-mass-communication-episode-3-the-choice-master-of-corporate-communication-mccomm-universiti-putra-malaysia-a-k-a-upm/), I am already accustomed to the flows and I thought it was OK to consult the Students’ Advisor personally later on. Well this year, Dr. Akmar takes the seat from Dr. Nizam as our students’ advisor.
Everything was in rush and quite helter-skelter! I received the letter of offer on Tuesday (30th August 2016) and expected to produce everything by Friday (2nd September 2016)! Well, not that I can’t settle the week after that; but it was just that Friday would be the last day where the School Of Graduate (SGS) personnel assembled at one place and you could settle the registration and the payment all at once without having to travel to different locations to settle the health screening test, documentations, bursary, etc. That was the reason why I really wanted to take that opportunity by settling everything on that Friday! But, alas!
Apparently the doctor in Poliklinik Serendah used the pictorial indicator and inscribed “normal”. Not her total fault as it was a common practice. But apparently, UPM feels it was not enough and demanded a more detail as per the right picture. Felt as if I underwent a doping test for Olympics! lol!
The next day on Merdeka Day (31st August 2016), I went to Poliklinik Serendah to get my X-Ray and Urine Test done. But I was told that it was not possible as it was public holiday and the attendant who was in charge of the X-Ray was not available and I was told to come back tomorrow. OK, fine. So on 1st September which was on Thursday, I went back to Poliklinik Serendah after school and got my X-Ray and Urine Test done.
X-Ray. A radioactive ray upon my body. Not sure whether it is psychological or what but I did feel a bit lethargic after that! Hopefully, the ray emitted through my body did not exceed the appropriate amount!
On Friday 2nd August; right after school; I pushed to UPM and performed Friday Prayer at Tengku Ampuan Jemaah at Shah Alam. I arrived at Kompleks A UPM circa 3.30 p.m. Unfortunately, the journey was a futile mission because :-
- My Urine Test was too ‘plain’. An inscription of merely “Normal” would not do. UPM insists on having the detailed partition of the urine’s components;
- I did not bring my original transcript of my Degree;
- I did not have my Master’s Degree transcript (as I had yet to pay the RM200 graduation fee).
So you could imagine how frustrated I was. And not to mention driving through KL on Friday – well that added to my throbbing headache! Anyway on Sunday 4th August 2016, I went to Poliklinik Serendah as I was told by the UPM health practitioners that I surely could get the detail information from the machine used to validate my urine. Perhaps it was due to my petite figure that the attendant used quite a stern tone when I demanded to see the doctor. Well, usually she was OK. But I am someone who retaliate when I feel I am being persecuted. A fire to a fire, no? I also used a stern and harsher tone demanding that I wanted to see the doctor. The attendant quickly quipped :-
“Ahhh..OKlah, tapi Doktor punya consultation ni kita charge arr” (Alright, but we are going to charge this consultation session)
I was astounded by THAT and quickly snapped back :-
“WHAT???? No! No! No! Saya takkan bayar. Saya datang untuk bincang masalah yang Urine Test bukan nak ambil consultation baru, ya?!” (WHAT??? No! No! No! I won’t pay. I came to rectify things on regards of my Urine Test, not to take a new consultation!)
Abruptly with sour face, she led me in. Needless to say, I had heated conversation with the doctor. Well, I didn’t blame her because that was the usual inscription done by any doctors BUT since UPM demanded the detail, what can I do :
“Next time, you should tell us what exactly you want. We don’t have the machine. We have to send it to the lab. Based on the observation, I used this pictorial indicator. Aiyo, I have been doing this for 20 years. We doctors are not donkeys, you know.”
I retaliated :-
“Yeah, and I am not a ball. I didn’t know what to expect and I trusted solely on y’all health practitioners. I don’t know. UPM wants it.”
She fired back :-
“I am not interested in all these hanky-panky stuffs. You all should tell us what EXACTLY you want.”
Well, I am in no position to be dwarved to that :-
“I am also NOT interested. I don’t want to refuse my time doing this when I can do a lot more beneficial things. I just wanna get this done. Period.”
In the end, the heated conversation receded as I played the endless conversation well. The doctor said they could do the Urine Test but it would take them three days as they had to give that to the external lab. She gave me a urine tube to be filled early in the morning. I could just drop by the Poliklinik and left the urune tube. Nevertheless after the session, I was thinking that I could not waste time anymore waiting for that!! Three days were precious! So, finally I opted to do the Urine Test at KPJ Rawang! Easy and simple, everything was done. I got the details of my Urine Test. My, my! Haha!
UPM School Of Graduate (SGS).
So on Monday 5th September 2016 right after the UPSR invigilation at SK Bukit Sentosa, I drove to UPM to “kill two birds with one stone”. First, I had to settle my Master’s Degree fee (RM200) to obtain my Master’s Degree transcript. I already paid via online and able to download the Graduation Form (I saved time on that! Thanks Kak Bed for the tips!) and hurried to the Library to get the verification. After that, I drove to the Bursary for the verification as well. THE MOST ANNOYING thing was to queue the line. I was the 50th in line! So I thought that while waiting for my turn, I could dash to Pusat Kesihatan UPM to hand-in my Urine Test. Alhamdulillah, everything went smoothly. When I went back to the Bursary, I resumed my turn (it was taking AGES!) and finally managed to get the verification. After that, I went to the Bahagian Akademik to collect my Master’s Degree certificate! My Master’s Degree affair was finally settled!
NOW, for my PhD. Since I already have my Master’s Degree transcript in my hand, I could proceed with the PhD registration. BUT, I have to make photostated copy of my Master’s Degree transcript. So, I drove to the photocopy shop near Bismillah Restaurant (my coursemates and I loved going there during our Master’s Degree!) and then drove back to School Of Graduate. Of course, I have to line up to the queue, again! By that time, it was already 4.45 p.m. I finally managed to get all the documentation verified BUT I could not make it back to the Bursary to make my PhD payment (as the last step of the whole registration process) because Bursary closes at 4.30 p.m.
On Tuesday 6th September 2016 from SK Bukit Sentosa, I drove to the UPM’s Bursary to pay my PhD’s 1st semester fee and arrived around 2.40 p.m. Finally got it done at 3.15 p.m. (I was the 20th in line!) and at 3.30 p.m., I had an appointment with Dr. Akmar, the Student Advisor (as she already slots Tuesday as the day for postgraduate students to have session with her). It was really quite nerve-wrecking, intimidating but horizon-opening session with her. I was briefed upon the whole PhD time-frame and what is expected from me as a PhD candidate. I have no qualm on admitting that I was quite intimidated BUT this is the road I choose to take and I am willing to go for it. On whole it was a nice session. That is why it is crucial for you to meet the Students’ Advisor!
After the session, I went back to SGS to get my final registration process done (health test, documentation, payment) and FINALLY, got the matric number and a legit PhD candidate! Gosh, what a lengthy and tiresome journey, no? Haha! I guess those who are reading this will be DIZZY as well as there are so many episodes to be entailed! Haha! This is more for my own personal solace and memoir. As long as I could understand what I write, it is OK. Hehe (,”)
My main goal is to achieve doctorate by the year 2020; by the age of 36 years old (Gosh, I am getting old!). That was my plan when I first initiated this 6 years strategic plan in 2014. I took Master’s Degree NOT for the sake of killing time, or just for Master’s Degree – I did Master’s Degree with the vision to continue proceeding into PhD and hopefully I could secure a profession as a lecturer in Communication. It was when I was ready to emancipate my way out from the school cocoon that I eventually opted to do Master’s Degree. I didn’t want to do Master’s Degree just for the sake of doing it or because “other people are doing it”. I did it for myself. I am not in the league to compete with other people.
Of course I didn’t have any ambition to go abroad. But when Kakak got her offer to study abroad in Leeds (REFER to https://undomiel84.wordpress.com/2014/10/03/mara-mesta-earadith-the-niiew-life-of-masters-degree-experience-university-of-leeds-yorkshire/) and I had the opportunity to see how Malaysian diaspora and students led their lives at Leeds TWICE, I became infatuated with the idea of studying abroad. I also received a few tips from Malaysians at Leeds in regards of comparing the styles of furthering studies back in Malaysia and also abroad. By deliberating and weighing all those comments, I felt that I also had the glaring ability to study out there. Why not? AND to receive positive replies from a few abroad educators when I e-mailed them about my so-called proposal skeletons, etc (REFER to https://undomiel84.wordpress.com/2015/11/02/road-to-phdddd-a-precursor-experiment-on-my-own-academic-marketability/), it solidified my hunch that I do have a global marketability.
BUT, there is one major problem. The FINANCIAL problem! Malaysia’s economy is not doing as well as it used to be. Everyone is forced to be thrifty. Funds allocation for education was cut to fit the nation’s budget and that echoed the financial management of universities in Malaysia. Universities are not sponsoring any PhD candidates anymore. Studying abroad is definitely a No-No especially in United Kingdom due to the forex!
They said when “life gives you lemon, make lemonade”. Although Malaysia economy hinders my vision to study abroad and although I feel I have the potential but have to abort it; I can still crystallize my doctorate vision via local university. Insya ALLAH.
It is quite disheartening when Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) which seemed like a great place for me to cement this PhD-bond-scholarship had to abort further discussion even though they asked me to provide a proposal skeleton – an insider told me that it was all due to meager funds allocation. Other university such as UNISZA has already terminated that type of scholarship and will only consider those with doctorate. My application for UPM’s Tenaga Akademik Muda (TAM) has not even seen any daylight (no response whatsoever although I have sent a pile of file to The Registrar!). USM is not taking anyone anymore under RLKA or Rancangan Latihan Kakitangan Akademik. USIM’s fellowship offers meager scholarship and I do not think I could sustain my bank commitment and life with that kind of amount.
Mayim Bialik from “Blossom”! She has PhD in Neuroscience!
As a government civilian, I am also bound with the acts and rules. I can’t simply ditch my teaching post. Securing a position in government scheme was a hassle. We had to undergo few courses and processes. Apart from that, pension is secured and if there were to be anything unfortunate happen (not that I pray but, who knows?) – let say, I lost my eyesight or my ability to walk or inflicted with acute diseases, the government would not automatically terminate me. There would be humane processes involved in comparison to the ones in privatized sectors. Now, if I were to get a scholarship abroad, will I ditch these?
In the end I think by doing PhD while still working as a teacher is the best option and a “win-win” situation. I can still assuage my bank commitment and at the same time secure a career before making any big drastic leap. I think it is exciting to make changes in life and as a spontaneous person, I do things on impulse. As risky as they are, I usually opt for “calculated risk.”
Haha! PhD comic strips!
I am doing this not to compete with anyone. My main competitor is myself. If anyone out there thought I am furthering my study just to impress others; well that is wrong. And I don’t give a damn about the hatred or badmouthing. Because I am doing this for myself. The journey is still a long way. There would be great challenges as well as tear-jerking and crying moments awaiting. There would also be naysayers and those who simply annoy “and always-want-to-be-the-best-so-will-find-any-excuses-to-crush-your-morale-or-boast-with-whatever-glory-they-have”.
I know there are people around me who feel like they need to impose superiority or trying to outdo me in certain ways. Maybe because they are naturally insecure and have no one to boast so they obviously wouldn’t want to keep their mouths shut and even if seemed as if like they were not well-versed in certain things, they still want to show themselves as “know-it-all”. My 2 cents – “just relax. Don’t have to compete with others. Do it for YOURSELF”.
Stand high, Shahrill. You know how to handle these people (,”).
If “Lebih Indah” by Siti Nurhaliza is my Master’s Degree song, “Wings” by Delta Goodrem is my PhD song. The lyrics talk about second chance and wanting to leave old place and seek new opportunity and believe in your own wings to fly! Every time I listen to this, I am pumped. The spirit for PhD is in my lungs. It is my obsession.
A beating drum
It’s in my lungs
I breathe it in, it takes my breath away
I don’t look back
It’s just a trap
We are all one but we’re not the same
Everybody’s looking for a new horizon
Everybody wants to leave the world behind them
Everybody’s looking for a new horizon
Everybody’s looking for a second chance
Everybody’s wishing they could take a stand
Everybody’s looking for a second chance
What if I lose my self control
What if I choose to let it go
I want to let you and me collide
Baby these wings were made
These wings were made to fly, la la la…
The deepest veins
The darkest truth
A secret place I only want to share with you
Look in my eyes
Undress my soul