October 16, 2009

For better or for worse, in good times and in bad

Back in 2007, I attended a research methodology course designed for PhD candidates. The aim of the course was to provide us with a basic knowledge of post-grad research and  give us an idea of what to expect as we embark on the journey. One of the speakers made quite an impression on me when she stated  "Your PhD is like your marriage; if you don't work at it, it'll end up in a divorce". After dropping that bomb of a simile, she went on saying that life will be tough, complicated, challenging and hectic. Basically, all the negatives. At that time, I didn't think much of it and thought she might have exaggerated a little. Well, after what I have gone through this week, I must admit her words rang true.

I am taking a deep breath now. I just need to get all this frustration out of my system.

I know I've been talking in riddles and some of you might be asking Helloooo, apa ba ko mau cakap ni? So I'm going to start my story chronologically so you'll understand my disposition. WHY do I want to do that? Because it gives me a sense of order and because at this moment, every part of my study is NOT in order. So stop questioning me (I'm talking to myself).

My data collection was scheduled this week and I have been planning, preparing and anticipating it for months. The first session was done on Monday, during the students' orientation day. I was told by the Programme Coordinator that I could take one of the slots during the orientation sessions scheduled at 2.30 pm. My aim was to recruit as many participants as I could for my research and get them sign a consent sheet. Sounds so simple right? NO. I waited for almost 3 hours for all the sessions to end. The Programme Coordinator was supposed to sell my research to the students and help with the recruitment. Unfortunately, he did not keep his promise and I had to sell myself to a roomful of uninterested people. They didn't take the bait. I ended up looking like an opportunist who was up to no good. Needless to say, very few volunteered and signed the consent sheets.

I am frustrated not because of the low turnout. I am more disappointed in the fact that my time was wasted after all that careful planning. You see, since hubby has started working, I have lost some of my flexibilities and now every appointment needs to be planned carefully.  On Monday for instance, I had to book a casual (expensive) half-day session for Alden and asked for Es' help in babysitting Alva. In the morning, I had to send hubby to work (together with the kids) and get back home to get them ready. There's the feeding, the shower, the lunch box, the back pack, the baby bag, the milk bottle and a zillion of things to do and prepare. Then, I had to send Alden to school and drive all the way to Kaiapoi to send Alva. I then drove back to UC only to be disappointed by a low turnout. That was Monday.

My roomate and part time babysitter, Yuki
On Tuesday, I was all geared up to meet my participants who had willingly signed the consent sheets. This time, I couldn't afford to trouble Es so I asked Shidra, my colleague to help me babysit Alva in the office. I was that desperate. After everything was settled, I rushed to the Rutherford building on the other side of the campus. I was given a slot at 10.30 am and upon reaching the lecture room I see my participants rushing out to have a coffee break. Now why would the Programme Coordinator give me a coffee break slot when he's well aware that students wouldn't stay to do my survey? Baffling and equally as frustrating. I could practically feel my face crack in disappointment.   

Excited and happy....

before data collection...
I didn't give up. I asked for another slot and was given a 12.30 session on Wednesday. I sent Alden to school and brought Alva to the office again! This time, I asked Louise and Marilyn (from my Tulip story) to help me with the babysitting and to my relief, they were happy to do it. They are just the coolest people in the college! Anyway, after that was settled, I went to the Rutherford building to meet my elusive participants for the third time. You must be tired of reading this plot over and over again. But that's what happened. There were only three participants waiting  in the lecture room. A pathetic THREE. What could I possibly do with THREE students?  NOTHING! I decided to reschedule and told them to go home.

Kathy and Marilyn babysitting
As I walked out of the building, I felt sooo....sooo...sooo...??? Hmmm....there isn't a word to describe what I felt. Let's just say I felt robbed. Let's just use that expression for the time being ok? So as I was saying, I felt robbed and all alone in a cruel cruel world. And out of nowhere my mind started playing Celine Dion's "All by Myself" song and for the hundredth time, I was having that moment again. I never told you this but the truth is, when I'm in the blues, my mind seems to have a will of its own and it will always, always play that horrid song.

Livin alone, I thought of all the friends I've known,
but when I dial the telephone, nobody's home
All by myself, don't wanna be,
all by myself anymore...

I felt like I was in a sad music video.

This went on and on until I reached the office. All this to say that I was deeply affected by the students' no-show.

Now that I've written about it, I feel so much better. My mind is clearer (barangkali la) and I no longer feel 'robbed'. I guess the speaker was right. I am married to my PhD for better, for worse. And no matter what happens, in good times and in bad, I have to work at it and not give up. Divorce is not an option. Thank you for reading.


Susan June said...

Teacher, I follow this post & I realize tat u hav a difficult day in everything u faces BUT I always like the charming of u especially ur Kesabaran!

Im not yet facing the difficult one, to b honest, but from reading this post, it remind me not to give-up easily...:)

Teacher, I wish u r in good condition & God bless you ^^

Susan June Junas

Lizeewong said...

Thanks susan :)

Carpe Diem 211 said...

Sorry to hear that you had too go through tough time this week. yes juggling phd and kids and working husband is definitely not easy dear. any fall back plans? perhaps free malaysian food after survey? or you can just use samples of other PHD students. You can collaborate with them in a way that you guys conduct survey at the same time with the same student. It may not be the best method (they may get tired after the first survey). Take a deep breath ok.. you'll get through this. you always do :D

Lizeewong said...

Thanks ernie. That is so encouraging. I know it's not easy getting adults to participate in something like this..I knew that. Still, the whole thing was frustrating.

I do have a fallback plan and that is going back to the other college to get my samples. If all else fails lah. Fingers crossed :)

Debra Golingai said...

Well think of it this way. You should consider yourself quite lucky (If I could say so) to be surrounded by amazing people such as Yuki, Kathy and Marilyn who helps you babysit Alva.

Life functions in a very funny, confusing kind of way. One minute you're up and then the next you're down. I guess sometimes life sure is a biatch and there's nothing we can do about it except to embrace it.

Amacam? boleh dapat A kah for bel?

Lizeewong said...

Hey Debs, bukan suda dapat A kah tu? hehe

Anyway, thanks for sharing with me that positive outlook you have :)