Bye Bye Ph.D.!

In a couple of previous posts, here and here I explained where I was coming from. The posts were written in wayyy back in the end of 2014, when I was just about a year into my Ph.D.

Well, we are now past the first quarter of 2017 now, and its only right that I give you an update.

In actual fact, nothing really has changed. Or you can say, everything has. It really depends on how you look at it.

In 2013, I made a promise to a very very dear friend of mine. The promise was essentially that I would return for her, no matter what.

Basically, I was moving to a new country, to undertake the conquest of an unfamiliar creature – the Ph.D. One might say that I was in possession of a HUGE opportunity, to pursue research at a world-class university, while being fully funded. I guess most people saw it that way. Even now, many do.

But as saw it, I was walking into an inferno. I was leaving a fairly cushy job, in a city that I was intimately familiar with and loved, to move to a land on the other side of the world, to a city I’d never seen, in a country that I’d never been to, and to work with people I’d never met.

I was not sure what my living conditions would be like, or how things would shape up. I was not starry-eyed, but quite rational. And a rational being feels fear, and that is exactly what I felt. And I can honestly say that that fear is what has protected me over these last 4 years.

It was for these reasons that I did not take my friend along with me. I did not want to cause her trouble. But life’s never that simple now is it.

What I found

Without going into the (rather gory) details of it, I did not find my new workplace to be a rather conducive place to conduct research, or indeed where creativity was encouraged in any form whatsoever. The atmosphere was stilted and to be frank, rather toxic, being full of untruthful people pleasers.

If it were just this, it would’ve been bad enough.

As it turns out, this was a place where academic merit held no value whatsoever. I saw people lesser than me obtaining research assistantships with ease, teaching awards being handed out purely on the basis of nepotism, and so on.

The icing on the cake was when I not allowed to pass my qualifying exams, that would allow me to proceed to candidacy for the doctorate. For the record, I failed (or was made to fail) the exam a record 5 times. I guess that has to be some sort of record.

Was I bitter?

I guess that would be a natural question to ask. And I can honestly say, that I was not at the time, nor am I now.

Ultimately, every system has a way of functioning, a manner in which it conducts its business. And if merit counted for nothing here, I had no wish to insist upon its acceptance. I knew what the writing on the wall was, and I accepted it, almost from day 1. But I owed it to myself to give it a fair try, and I guess I did. To be exact, I gave the system a total of 6 trials, one for each semester I spent here. With each semester that the system rejected me, so too I rejected it.

Finally at the start of January 2016, I had had enough, and decided to leave without my Ph.D. once and for all.

No one at all had spent any time on me, over these three years and I owed nobody nothing. The system had made it abundantly clear that it did not want me, at least in the form in which I existed. Maybe what the beast sought was a remolding of the person into a form not yet specified. Who knows?

But I did not have time to waste.

There were better places to go, better things to do, better people to be with.

So I said my good byes to Purdue – with the ardent desire that we may never meet again.

At the time, I did not anticipate that the system would decided to chase after me -but then thats a story for another day!

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