Sunday, November 6, 2016

My master journey: Among the hardest path I'd chosen (PART 3)

You can read  part 1 here and part 2 here

Only hubby and me. One more ticket for mom tapi dia asthma time ni. We sengaja tak allow sesiapa family member nak datang kalau takat tunggu2 luar sebab nak cepat. haha. Macam tanak konvo je kan.
I went back to Malaysia twice to settle my thesis and study. The first time was just after a few months in Oman, as soon as I finish my drafts for 2 chapters. I didn't take long Alhamdulillah after the hard head start. No choice but to go back to Malaysia to make discussions easier. I then decided to stay until I complete thesis submission.

Sounds nice, but of course the kids followed me. So basically I had to face the exact same thing i.e. a single mom, student, and a thousands miles away wife! But family members were always there to help. I can't thank them enough, really.

I submitted my whole thesis after 2-3 drafts for each chapters. Each one with different corrections from both supervisors. The most challenging part in this phase was always to find agreement between all parties. Hahaha. But that's one life lesson worth to keep. 

For all that I'd been through, I thought my thesis would end up as a piece of crap. How can I produce a Scientific Thesis with a quality like this? I can't imagine how screwed I'd be when my supervisors and all the examiners read my work. 

But Alhamdulillah, I passed with only minor corrections! the correction that I took about less than 3 weeks to amend. 

My baby, and a piece of notes I did during my early years of study. Still keep it.
So now, is the article publication part. UM has the requirement where a Master student must publish at least one article to ISI-listed journals only. And based on my labwork grant, I have to submit to either Q1 or Q2 listed jounals only. For those who's not familiar, scientific journals are divided between Quartile 1 until 4 based on its ranks and Impact Factors, with Q1 being the highest grade (I'm not sure other fields but this applies to most Science and science-related field).

So although I had already submitted my thesis and the internal and external examiners had let me pass, I can't straight away graduate until I have a publication. 

As stated in the regulation, I can't even get my thesis for correction before I send proof of paper acceptance. Since I took almost a year to get ONE publication (Hahaha too bad, not a bombastic research), my thesis was put on hold for that entire time. That's when I multitask ehem.. for another ehem... baby- Eve Hawwa! (^_^)

My supervisor's strategy was to target the Q1 journal first. 3 attempts and all failed, I begged to her to downgrade to Q2 to make my life less like hell. Haha. I promised her to look for a decent Impact Factor (IF) although it's a Q2 (politics mannn, haha. and It worked!). Alhamdulillah, the 4th attempt of paper submission, which was my 1st attempt of Q2 journal was successful. Not so bad huh. Not bad at all. 

Oh butttt... you have to wait for sometimes to get a reply (depending on the journal's prerequisite). It can take up to a month and can even reach half a year or more just for a journal's reply! 

So, I learnt the hard way. After the 2nd failure, I didn't just opt for journals that have good IF, but also how long it'd take to process your submission. Average waiting was 2-3 months for each trial, regardless of the result; accepted or rejected! From my experience, only one of them managed to reply within a month and half. So altogether, almost a year of just waiting for paper and nothing else. 

So for whoever had asked me why I still didn't graduate while I already did nothing (neither do the labwork nor writing my thesis, this is why) 

Another tips for Science student: Always try to submit your paper once you got your result done! 

That's why there's no last minute work dude!
You got your result, do discussion ASAP and you can try to submit a paper. You'd never know how long you'd take to get it accepted.

Mine, I got my paper accepted a week or two before I delivered Hawwa! It felt like I got two babies at once. Haha!
Paper tak best pon nak tepek jugakkkkk. Haha
I emailed my sv asking permission to hold it until I deliver. UM gave 3 months for final correction and since my correction was just minor she didn't worry much.

I flew to Malaysia when baby was around 40 days old. Again I brought my off-spring to be my companion in my jihad, but this time only one- the latest bundle of joy. The other two were left with dear husband. I knew the fact that I can't take a lot of time because husband can't take long leave. I made a dateline to make it maximum 3 weeks, and Alhamdulillah, after sleepless nights and days, we made it within 2 weeks’ time. But I had to wait again till end of the year to graduate (the ceremony). I don't care at all. You know, after all that you've been through, getting things done is the biggest relief.

What a sum up! Haha. ZzzZzzzzz.
So again, is it possible to study (especially the fields that require research and labworks) and being a mommy?
Of course! But please dedicate your time for your study, like what I said in Part 1.

And it doesn't have to take so long like my case. A lot of people (moms) out there have succeeded within the anticipated years. 

Everything we do has its own challenges. To be realistic, yes it's difficult. It takes a lot of courage and determination to do it.
But again, it is not impossible if you want it.

It is my destiny to have this path, to be tested stage by stage, from cutting scholarship before the agreeable due time, changing of research methodology after a year of research and labworks hence the wasted data, long distant relationship with husband, to having health issues. If my life was so easy, maybe I'd not be who I am right now. I may not appreciate hardships, I may not treasure 'Ilm (knowledge) as much as I do now. Indeed, Allah knows best.

I can't thank enough to the people who have helped me throughout the journey. They were indeed the reason I succeed, of course by the wills of Allah.

And I can't deny I had relinquished a lot of my parenting responsibilities along the time I'd taken to finish my study. That's why, in this particular event, Aaron is so special in my heart because he had sacrificed a lot for me. And now that I am a full time Rabbatul Bait, I am so happy to spend my whole time with my family. No regret, in fact, truly blessed! Alhamdulillah.
Carcosa Seri Negara

Saturday, November 5, 2016

My Master Journey: Among the hardest path I'd chosen (PART 2)

If you haven't read part 1 yet, Please click here .

Convocation Ceremony, 2015
The early life in Oman was challenging. We were definitely happy to be together, but at the same time the pressure was more intense. So intense that it had affected me and my being. My small family had almost lost my cheerful part in me. The unsettled business was bothering my life!

I made a decision to stop my study half-way after 3 dormant months from thesis writing. I seek consult from my husband and my close labmates. All of them let me made my own decision but they were all a bit bias to wanting me to finish my study. "You were almost there! Just two more chapters to write!" that's what they usually said.

I then decided to just go with the flow. It was really, really hard at first because I need to get myself familiar with all the terms again, get back the writing rhythm etc. The hardest part was always to juggle between being a full time stay at home mom and studying.

Most of the time I read articles and writing up thesis in between chores, play time with Aaron and generally everything else. I even wrote thesis (typing) one hand while holding my baby girl with another hand to nurse her. It was slow and I almost got lost of idea half way. Haha. That time Aaron hadn't yet go to school so you know how hard it was with a 3 years old and a baby in the house. Whenever he demands attention, either one of us would get frustrated. He, because I didn't pay attention to him and just pretending like I was listening while obviously I wasn't, and me because I can't concentrate.

At the same time, I was tested with health problem. I had problem with my left hand, which was diagnosed as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. I can't barely move my thumb, and can't even move my wrist without great pain! Sometimes my hand would have a 'traffic jam' as Aaron called it, a condition where my nerve suddenly felt stuck, like having a spasm or cramp, with a stiff pain that I normally can't stand but to scream or cry instantly. It got worse in the morning as that's the first thing I had to deal with the moment I woke up. It took me nearly a year to fully recover. So hmmm. And yeah, I am a lefty and I had a toddler and an 8 kg baby to take care of.
Maryam Saraa being my supervisor, checking on my work every seconds, haha
Alhamdulillah sometimes I had my sisters with me. My husband asked for their favors to facilitate my affairs. At least I can have one baby with me and Aaron can play with them. Although you know, kids will always want their mom when they know their mom is around. At least someone can help with simple chores like cooking or washing dishes and did the laundry. They were so helpful they didn't act like a guess and didn't just lock themselves up in the room and play phone all the time. They helped willingly not just based on their mood. In fact, I didn't even have to ask for help! Barakallahu feehunna.

Well, a piece of advice, especially for a MOTHER: PLEASE, if you want to study, please arrange a special time for yourself to study. Make it like an office hour like 9am to 5pm to just focus on studying, or at least half of that time, everyday!

You need that, trust me. In fact, that is your right as a student. You can have the rest of the other time in your 24 hours to be a mother, a wife, or whatever hat you have to put on.

I didn't have that privilege. So I had to have strategies.

Sounds very intelligent.

BUT...I honestly didn't really have any! Hahaha.
Except, just as what I have mentioned earlier. Only, normally on weekend (Thursday and Friday) nights, I would stay up all night to write, and only sleep a few hours after Fajr Prayer, or until my baby needs me.Why? Because my husband was not working on the weekends so at least he can take care of the kids while I took my nap.

That's how I did it. Not fancy at all. Hahaha.

OK. I'm getting too long now. 
Let's continue part 3 here .

Friday, November 4, 2016

My Master Journey: Among the hardest path I'd taken (PART 1)

Two of my sisters are graduating this month! Congratulations. Brakallahu lakuma.

Last year, my other sister and I shared the same graduation year of our Masters Degree. She's in education, I was in Science.

...A celebration I'd rather choose to ignore at first. If not because of my husband who insisted we went back home and attended the convocation, my plan was to go for a vacation nearby, within Muscat is fine, and celebrate it just the 5 of us. It seems not worth the money to just go back for a day event all the way from Oman. But he insisted, reason being, I had worked hard for it, and it had given tremendous impact on our small family- The obstacles, tears, and sweats, the sacrifices, etc.

But Allah had a better plan for us. My husband was given a task in Malaysia for a week, and my graduation day was happened to be on Saturday morning the same week. We flew back to Oman that Saturday night.

You know, I've been wanting to have a special post about my master journey. I've been dreaming to write about everything precious along the journey and mannn I've waited for so long!

Even if I have the highest education certificate the world can offer, I am still a mother and my kids are my priority. 

I've been asked a lot of time how was it possible to be studying and taking care of children, especially towards the end of my Master journey where we were miles away from my school and family and without a helper. All at once. How did I do that?

People around me either think that I am a supermom, or a pathetic (not so) young woman who's trying soooo hard to fulfill her dream (or just say finish what she has started long ago).

But Alhamdulillah, I had positive surroundings and good support. (I chose to stay around positive people actually. Truth hurts, I know)

To say that I had no helper at all is actually not precisely correct. Honestly, I could never in million years finish my study without the help of people around me, directly or indirectly, especially some of my labmates and my own family members. I took care of Aaron in his 1st six month. I took a semester break. His Onni took care of him after that during the time I had to go to school and did my labworks. In the weekends, my husband helped take care of him or all of us would have a party in my lab. And when I was in Oman, some friends helped with the admin stuffs. Ijah, if you read this, I want you to know that I owe you so much! Barakallahu feeki.

During school holidays my sisters will take turn to come over to our house in Shah Alam to play with Aaron and helped me with chores. Having them in the house had made our days (especially Aaron) brighter. At least some one can play with him while I was busy in my own journal-reading world.

During my second pregnancy, I was miles away from my husband for almost a year. Life got tougher without him especially when juggling between motherhood and student life. I had started writing my draft while still doing my labworks (few re-arrangements and last minute changes I can't avoid). And my pregnancy symptoms were really bad. Nevertheless, I still had to go to the lab in the days and stayed awake most of the nights for writing. I slept for about 3-4 hours most of the time. With that and my pregnancy condition, mannn I was over-exhausted.

During the first few months of my LDR with my husband, Aaron was in the phase of weaning off . It was hard, really hard until my dad tak sampai hati and a lot of time asking me to just abort the mission. He was around 2 years and half and I was around 4-5 months pregnant so like it or not, I had to go ahead. I was trying to potty train him as well and I just couldn't take the stress out of it, so I aborted the  potty train mission.

I managed to finish my labwork before I follow my husband to Oman, not long after I delivered Saraa. Husband went back to Oman after paternity leaves and I had to finish my final tasks before following him there. I had post-delivery complication that took me more than an average time to heal. But I did come to the lab for final works, meeting ups and discussions during my last period of confinement. Technically speaking, I didn't really pantang pon

But this time the challenge was harder because I had two children already. I had to be very strict with timing. No lunch break most of the time and straight away home after work. But you know labwork, sometimes it takes a solid 6 hours for just an experiment! And some even take days to get just a result. But yes I didn't go on everyday basis.

Maryam Saraa being my supervisor, checking on my work every seconds, haha
For Part 2, Please click here. Thank you! eceh! ^_^

Peace Be Upon You (",)

Peace Be Upon You (",)

Tribute to all mothers in the world!