It has never been an easy decision to be a Phd student for me. I feel that the “cons” somehow outweight the “pros” in some circumstances. When I take decision to be a Phd student, I feel it more like a challenge rather than a “normal” decision. However, I have taken the decision, I didn’t regret it and will make the best of it.
Most common cons: Being a Phd student means having low ratio of money over time, that is caused both by low stipend and long working hours. In my case, I still feel blessed that I got a Project Officer position which implies to higher pay, although the job security and salary increment is highly dependent on availability of grant. However being able to serve bond as well as obtaining degree has been an attracting point for me. So, no issue on this!
Born in an Indonesian-Chinese trader environment, whose culture is highly against everything that doesn’t yield good financial reward, is also another factor that discourages me to pursue Phd. When I went back home, some will say that I am selfish since I don’t want to help in family business and do my own stuff. Some will say that I am too naive of pursuing higher degree. They will tell the story of their neighbour A, who went to pursue master in America and now open a shop next to their shop. Or this girl of neighbour B, who study abroad, get a doctorate degree and went back to Indonesia after getting married. Finding no job suitable for her, she is finally being a housewife and helping out at her husband store.
They will tell me, “See??”
At some point of my Phd, I was quite affected by this kind of comment to the extend I feel unmotivated doing Phd. I feel that I am doing something useless. The impact is getting worst if the comments come from my core family members. I wasn’t only getting annoyed by being in different opinion with them but also because what they said is quite true. If I go back to Indonesia, chances are the future will be rather bleak, not much research centre is established there.
However, I choose to be more optimistic about that. Being a Phd, means you choose to be different compared to most of people, in your skill, in your way of thinking, etc. and I believe that we can generate greatest impact, in the place where we are most differ (and hopefully in good impact J). I haven’t got any idea about what kind of impact I can contribute on the Indonesian’s research society by pursuing Phd in Singapore, but I promise to learn the technical skill as best as I can and not to waste the opportunity given to me for learning (I am going to open my own research centre!! Next to your shop!! Just wait and see 😛 😛 ) . I have seen by my own eyes, how a good researcher can give great impact to people around him and influence them not only in technical matters but also on lots of other principals.
Up to now, I don’t regret my decision to take Phd, although yes, it’s not easy. I’ve got lots of ups and downs caused by many things, ranging from advisors, results, money, and family. However, friendship, privilege to learn many things, and freedom to study what I want is worth the cost. I still enjoy them, although when times were tough, I would seriously consider running a backpacker hostel instead. Haha…