This year has brought a lot of tough, new challenges, one after another.
I am very grateful that my family and I have been able to stay in good health and have normal lives apart from staying home. Despite all the difficult circumstances during the ongoing outbreak, as a PhD student, I was able to accomplish my three main goals:
- passed my PhD viva in July and concluded the degree in October
- received a job offer before the viva and started the new role straight away
- gained the opportunity to work as an editor of an edited volume and wrote my chapter
There are many other things, such as co-authoring papers, doing some translation work, etc…
Hidden under these small successes were unsuccessful parts. I started applying for academic positions in November last year and submitted four applications between November and April, all of which were unsuccessful. The job-hunting period was very stressful, and there always were so many worries in my head. After my fifth application and the very first interview I was granted, I received the offer in July.
A student’s letter
In the very last session of the autumn semester, a student gave me a scanned copy of her handwritten letter to me with these words:
“You have encouraged me and given me confidence about studies. I had a lot of tough challenges this year and have been considering taking a break from university. But, you taught me to have confidence in myself, and all my classmates would agree with me. I can’t thank you enough.”
While reading, I had tears in my eyes. The autumn semester was difficult in terms of online teaching, maintaining its quality, and keeping students motivated. Almost everything was experimental regarding the sessions through Google Meet and Jamboard, creating lecture videos, carrying out and marking all exams online, feedback, etc. My colleagues helped a lot, offering online meetings and providing clear direction and much advice. Students and I discussed our need to maintain interactions by seeing each other’s faces online whenever possible.
I received the certificate for my doctoral degree.
One more surprise ‘gift’ was that I discovered my journal paper has been cited in two papers. This made me feel emotional and gave me a real sense that I am part of the field, and I felt valued. I really cannot say enough how grateful and how lucky I feel.
For the next year, my aim will be just to keep it up and take care of myself and my family.