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mercredi, décembre 12, 2007

 It takes one to know one

Some of you know, some of you don't know, that I've been having a rough time of it lately. I'm coming out to say it because I've been staying away from a lot of social activities, and it's starting to show (although in most circumstances, it's quite hard to tell, like if I attend church, or a wedding and show my face, even though I don't hang around for food and chit-chat - or sometimes even when I do.) Am I depressed? Maybe. Yes. I don't know. I don't feel like myself, but it's not like I don't laugh anymore (although I feel less like doing so than ever before), or feel like killing myself. I think. But I feel bad about myself most of the time now, and I'm not very sure why. (Please do not diagnose SAD on me.)

The bottom line is this: grad school is tough, and I'm not talking just about academics - and it's really bringing me down. Lorraine has been a really great source of support for me in this aspect, since she's also pursuing her PhD. We chat online, since she's in the UK, and tonight, what we concluded was this: it really does take a postgrad student to know what a postgrad goes through.

Does it look like I'm very free? Sure, sometimes I have time for coffee and the freedom to go to the gym when it's not so crowded, but really, my time is malleable, not devoid of things to do. So yes, on most days, I can sleep in a little, but really, do you burn as much midnight and pre-dawn oil as I do to make up for it? Do not presume to know my schedule. Do not presume I feel any less stress than you.

My time is not my own - and it is fully not my own. It is up to the whims and fancies of idiosyncratic professors, who think that they own you just because they pay you a whopping $8 an hour as a research assistant. So while you should technically be able to turn off your computers at 6pm everyday and go home, there's no telling what I have to do in order to get the monkey with the PhD off my back.

The other thing we concluded: postgrad studies is limbo-land: you're not fully employed, but neither are you really a student. You're in limbo, and nobody really, really, truly understands unless they're a grad student themself. Not a parent who used to go to grad school, not a fresh graduate, not a person thinking about going to grad school - no. It's hard being in this state of maybe - and I think it's this state that I feel most keenly right now, and which is bringing me down.

I used to have a full-time job, you know. With regular income, and the freedom to save and spend my money as I saw fit. Now, I scrimp and save, while my peers still enjoy that freedom. Some complain about the rising cost of living, or complain about the amount of money they earn. I want to scoff and turn away, and tell them to shut up, because they're not the ones earning nothing, and they're the ones with huge bank balances - but I hold my tongue and smile, because it is what I often do - and more often than people give me credit for.

But I do not begrudge them this financial freedom. I have never been a spendthrift, and it was my choice to return to the Ivory Tower, and it has occurred according to my choice of school and course. Circumstances surrounding my brother's education have dictated that the responsible thing for me to do was to pay my own way through grad school, and through prudent spending, I have been able to support myself, although not for much very longer. This frustrates me, as well as gives me a sense of urgency and desperation that I have not felt before.

I do not like being pressed.

The urgency increases when I find myself being offered opportunities which might not come again. Opportunities for job at research institutes. Think tanks. Opportunities that I have to turn down because I'm in limbo-land. Not really fully engaged, but not fully employed either. No, I'm sorry, I can't apply for that job because I would like to work part-time as I finish my dissertation. I don't suppose you have a part-time programme for workers? No, I don't think it would be wise for me to complete my dissertation on a part-time basis, not given the type of job description I see here. No, I'm sorry, I can't be your debate coach because I'm just not sure if I will be able to make it twice a week to your school. I might make it once a week, but it's got to be after 6pm. No, I'm sorry, 2pm is a little bit out of the question, I might be needed in school. The responsible thing would be to say no.

Responsibility sucks sometimes.

Systemic failure forms the rest of my lament. While circumstances have dictated where I should study, the system has failed me time and time again when we speak of subjects to study. The course I really wanted required too much in terms of pre-requisites (I would practically have to take another degree in order to qualify for consideration for the course.) My current course had me expelled - yes, expelled - from the school on nothing more than the accusations of a philandering professor, who misrepresented me to the school. I was not told of anything amiss, and the board sat and condemned me merrily without me being the wiser, until two months later when I stumbled upon this precious knowledge, by which time (of course), it was too late to do anything. I was not told of anything, and was given no warning. The professor in question was facing sexual allegations (never officially pursued), and later was not censured in any way. He was allowed to get away scott-free - but the damage to me was done, without apology. I carry the albatross around my neck, and hope that I will get to exact the pound of flesh (with fresh blood dripping off), but I have faint hope that the day will come to pass.

Once bitten, twice shy - I now face the arduous task of choosing my supervisor yet again, without the help of the school. For someone who was not an undergraduate at the school, this is not an easy task. Professors are a shy species, and do not talk willingly. The school will not, cannot, shall not, help. They cannot be bothered with you - students? You pay the bills.

Dante got it right - all hope abandon ye who enter here, where "here" is a dirty three letter school acronym which is often mistyped as NUT. Hell is other people, Mr. Satre eloquently put. What he didn't realise is that a lof of them work in NUT.

So yes, this has been bothering me to some extent. Not much, just about as much as it takes to make a person generally withdraw from most social activity for about a month and a half. Just about as much as it takes to have a person be okay with leaving her mobile phone at home and just walking away from it. Just enough to get her to turn off her MSN and go radio silent for weeks at a time.

Not much.

Not much at all.

Libellés : ,

[It takes one to know one]
Sngs Alumni @ 12.12.07 { 4 comments }


it's really nice to see u writing after such a long hiatus... take care, and have a good christmas if i don't see or hear fr u before that! :-)

By Blogger AK, at 12 décembre 2007 à 13:33:00 UTC+8


Hey babe. Just hold on, grit your teeth and get the hell out of there asap. - Mayee

By Anonymous Anonyme, at 13 décembre 2007 à 09:05:00 UTC+8


hugs. love ya loads.

By Blogger cherie, at 14 décembre 2007 à 16:47:00 UTC+8


*pat pat*

By Anonymous Fenfen, at 17 décembre 2007 à 22:17:00 UTC+8


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