Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Started My PhD

by - February 10, 2021

Hi assalamualaikum beautiful souls

Its the year 2021! 2020 went so fast its unbelievable ๐Ÿ™‡With everything that happened in 2020...  it definitely feels like a blink. It surely isnt the best year for most of us, but I am thankful for everything. 2020 taught me to be more open to possibilities.. to have a Plan B to my Plan A, and a Plan C to my Plan B. But in the end, Allah has the best plan and we should always have faith.. 

2020 was the year I made some progress in my studies (alhamdulillah ๐Ÿ˜„) and at this point, I am almost done with my studies. Jika difikirkan semula semua perkara yang berlaku sepanjang tempoh pengajian saya, huwargh rasa nak nangis ๐Ÿ˜ญ๐Ÿ˜‚I cant believe that I got through it!! I am not officially done yet though.. but Im just happy to be at this point for now ๐Ÿ˜…and since I am here... I feel like sharing the things that I wish I had known before I started my PhD. Masa saya mula mula buat PhD dulu, dengan semangatnya saya dah buat perancangan siap dengan Gantt Chart. Masa tu memang saya berazam untuk betul betul ikut Gantt Chart tu dan selesaikan pengajian saya secepat mungkin mengikut jadual ๐Ÿ˜  BUT!! 26 year old Jaji was naive ๐Ÿ˜‚Things that I thought would be easy turned out to be difficult, and surprisingly things that I thought would be difficult turned out easier...  

I didnt know a lot of things back then, so I learned them through the years... its not a bad thing, but maybe it would have been helpful if I had known them sooner; and in this post, I would like to share about some of the things I wish I had known before I started my PhD:

1. Its a lonely journey

When I first started, I was aware that I will be spending most of my time alone.. but I didnt realize that its going to be really lonely ๐Ÿ˜…You are on your own.. you manage your own schedule. Tak ada kawan untuk belajar sama sama (kawan kat school tu ada tapi tak belajar sama sama sebab masing masing buat kajian berlainan, biasanya tegur tegur macam tu je). Saya pula duduk bilik single, jadi bertambah keseorangan la (kalau masa master dan degree bangun bagi terus nampak roommate ๐Ÿ˜‚). Tapi duduk seorang ni bagus sebab membantu kita untuk fokus juga.. So since its a lonely journey, we need to create a support system for ourselves.. I create a schedule so that Im always occupied with something, and I also make time to catch up with friends..

2. One day of break is like a week of break

Sehari je kita "cuti" daripada tesis.. kesannya macam seminggu ๐Ÿ˜ฅUntuk dapat semula momentum tu agak susah.. sebab kadang kadang kita sendiri pun tak ingat benda yang kita dah tulis, jadi kena baca semula sampai ingat dan sampai boleh sambung menulis semula. So if a day of break is like a week, then a week of break is like... ๐Ÿ˜…

3. We need to read as we write, and write as we read

When I first started, I used to read first, and then write. I was hoping that ideas would come just by staring at that blank Microsoft Word page haha. But obvi this didnt work.. I would always have to go back to what I read and start writing from there. Read, write, read again, write again. Masa dah mula menulis, kadang kadang akan muncul idea idea bernas yang lain ๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿ’กmasa tu kita perlu "terima" idea tu dan mula membaca rujukan yang berkaitan dengan idea baru tu pula, sebab kalau tak nanti terlupa pula idea yang bernas tadi tu hehe. So its a never ending cycle... read, write, repeat.

4. There will always be something new

The more we read, the more we know that there's a lot more that we dont know. There will always be a new information, a new theory, a new research.. knowledge is constantly evolving. Masa buat tesis memang selalu sangat rasa macam banyaknyaaa benda, mana satu nak guna ni, mana satu yang betul ni, mana satu yang paling sesuai ni? There will always be something new. Google Scholar is a wild place ๐Ÿ˜‚Thats why I think its important to stick to what we understand best.. and stick to where our passion is. And of course, seek help from the supervisors.. hehe.

5. In the end, its your thesis

This is actually what my supervisor always tell me: "well, its your thesis". Sounds simple but yes in the end it is our thesis.. We are the only ones who know our theses inside out. The objectives, the methods, the results, they are our work. So be brave and write. I used to feel reluctant, like what if what I write is wrong, what if the examiners disagree, and a lot more "what ifs" that withheld me from writing. But in the end, its my thesis. Read well, write well, and inshaallah we will defend well (during the viva). P/s: to read about my viva experience, click here.

There are actually many other things that I wish I had known.. but these are some of the most significant ones. I am thankful for everything I have learned.. in studies and in life ๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’œThanks for reading, hope this helps.

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