Local or Overseas – PhD or NOT

It has been a while since I had the chance to focus on work. The truth is, since I am home, I hadn’t been doing any thinking nor writing at all. I have been busy resettling the family. I have no guilt, just overwhelming stress thinking of the catching up I need to do very soon.

I don’t know how people do their PhD locally. There’s just too many distractions. But don’t get me wrong, these ‘distractions’ are very important. Some like, weddings of faraway places, or invites to functions can easily be ‘ignored’, but when it comes to the children’s arrangements, their schooling, their after school care that needs serious attention, they cannot simply be put aside. If some argue completing your PhD locally is comparatively easier because of the support you can get in handling and managing your family – well, I beg to differ. Maybe if you have the close support of the outer circle of your family members, you’d have ‘that support’, but how many who is currently doing their PhD do? Me, for example – staying 400 kms from the rest  of the clan, have to manage my family on my own, exactly like when I was in Melbourne.

I may opt for a live in maid. But it’s not an option for my DH, and from the ‘anecdote’ from some friends who had them – handling the maid can be an added stress on its own. So why bother?! Perhaps, one good thing is food preparation. There are abundance of food choices around, so I can cut down my time (and lack of expertise) on food preparation for the family. But who can actually eat out or buy out everyday?? I don’t think my tekak can take it! Not to mention my wallet.

So in Malaysia, if I were to complete the thesis – I am actually in a worsen situation. The benefits of doing a PhD locally can become a ‘source of comfort’, which without some strict management will eventually saw you lose time to ‘other things’. And I have not even encroach the resources aspects. A recent chat with a friend currently doing her PhD locally, confirmed this fact. She had to rent a small place nearby the  university she is enrolled with 4 other PhD candidates (whom are all married with families, may I add) and commute by bus every other week every month to her place in SP, in order to focus on her thesis.

In my view, all that ‘pain and sufferings’ of completing your PhD overseas is actually not too bad, provided you had good supervision. I, myself, have no regrets. It’s the hardships that become a motivation factor to actually complete the thesis. Back home – things becomes ‘easier’ and time seems to slip away ‘unceremoniously’.

Then, comes another question of whether one should actually do their PhD at all. Some universities made it a requirement to have one for new lecturers. So I guess, they have no option. But for those, who are given the option, I would advise them to rethink – first, the rationale for ‘enduring’ one. All the wrong reasons, would usually lead to a ‘disastrous’ ending.  Then, they should also weigh in their capacity to manage the PhD from all angle and their viability to complete it – either part time or full time. It’s a knowledge seeking venture, not a long leave to produce a thick bound book. Ultimately, it should be pursued in the name of Allah. Insya Allah, then you won’t regret the choices you make.

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