“I am okay,” I said to my masters thesis adviser when he asked me earlier as to how was I doing. But eventually on the next sentence does not reflect my first statement, for I just blabbered about my worries about what’s to happen months from now. By September of this year, it would be my first time in everything: living alone. overseas. doing a PhD in chemistry and slay it.
When I was about to go to college, I was planning towards studying abroad on scholarship and then decide thereafter where to go to find work that makes me able to provide for my parents and my siblings in the end. However, it did not happen, for I changed my mind and pursued something I loved which is doing science in my home country. What can make you more proud as a citizen of my country than producing a scientific breakthrough on it. Later, I realized that in order to achieve that goal, one must equip himself to become a full-fledged scientist, which is by having a PhD. That on its own is gruesome, as for my own experience in my masters degree and also as being depicted on cartoons and comics.
But there is this reality in my country that science mentors in the academe push younger generations to not do their PhDs on the country, but abroad. The push may ilicit two different notions. The first is that they wanted you to have an experience of what it’s like doing scientific research overseas and bring it back to your country. The second, and hopefully not the one in my case, is that they wanted you to get out. Period. I don’t know if that was something they really do or it is something that those who are leaving normally do. The latter makes the person seemingly ungrateful to his/her motherland which seems to be the norm. Because of the meager support of the government towards science (though I believe that the current administration is doing its best to increase its support towards scientific research), people who are doing their PhDs overseas tend to stay there for good, for the sake of their research productivity.
Aside from financial jitters I am currently experiencing (which is normal, I think), I was frightened about the fact that I might have the tendency to not get back and do research in my home country. Despite the competition of opportunities for research and academic tenure in other countries, there is still a need of researchers across the globe as new challenges arises from the different events that deals with the science of different sorts such as climate change, emerging technologies, etc. Research productivity is an essential measurement that a scientist is more capable of making things done which is more attractive towards funding agencies. As more projects come in, productivity should also increase; yet doing so in my home country may seem to be impossible or might be even improbable because of the fears of a downfall. I am fearing that a change of mind and heart as I go elsewhere would change my perspective.
But what fears me the most is getting out of my comfort zone. I am still teaching chemistry in the university up until the next month before I eventually resign to my position. As a teaching faculty in the university, I have loved teaching chemistry and doing research on the sidelines. Because tenure won’t be secured to masters degree holders in the university, it’s a must to have a PhD, which is the reason I need to leave for study. I have become reluctant since my admission to the program, as these are the last moments I would become a teacher. It is really difficult for an educator to leave his students, despite the fact that some students don’t seem to have gratitude towards their teachers. However, I believe that having joy while teaching would somehow make a lasting memory that I will look forward to as I finish my doctorate.
In the end, I will be eventually stepping on a new ground. No family and friends to seek for help. No Plan B’s when this thing has failed. Everything is new and everyone’s speaking a different tongue. But in the end, I am excited that I will have an opportunity to grow, to learn, to succeed, and to excel. I hope that I would have the strength, wisdom, and faith that I need to finish this early, and eventually go forth to a new path that will be open once everything’s finished and I can finally attach a suffix after my name. By the grace of our Lord, I will overcome this, including the jitters.