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My PhD finish line is two years away – So, why am I scared?

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My PhD finish line is two years away – So, why am I scared?



Considering that I am ahead of schedule in terms of my interviews and transcribing, my supervisor has suggested that I use the time to plan how to organise my PhD thesis.

So, I did just that, but somehow, I felt a sort of dread? Not sure why. Perhaps this is because I love this place so much. I am reluctant to think about the day when I need to leave.

Celine, one of our lovely librarians at the College, assured me that it won’t happen for a while (two years in fact), but time runs fast. Two years ago, I just arrived at this place. Two years ago, I gradually fell in love with this place. Two years later, I do not want to leave this place.

Two years later, I developed some sort of identity that according to Ga-Young, my lovely Korean friend, is more Western than Asian. She said I am “very English” or “very British” is the more appropriate term, due to my use of “sorry,” “please,” and “excuse me” at the start or end of a request, especially when I ask someone to move their chair a bit or move a bit to give way.

It did not occur to me that I did that, considering that such a request would be said in a similar manner in Brunei too - like, if one were to ask someone in Brunei to move a bit to give way, you would politely ask “lalu ah” (please give me way – loosely translated).

Am I scared that the finish line is two years down the road? Yes. Yes I am. C’est la vie, as Neil, one of the Senior Porters at Lucy, said to me.

But, what is it really that I am scared about? I am a fearless adventurer. I eat street food when I travel (even when the hygienic nature of such food is a bit questionable), I am now transitioning into a vegetarian by pledging to only eat chicken once a week and beef once a month.

Is it perhaps the return to real life? A life where #adulting is real, where I do not get to use the 16-25 railcard anymore, where…  I don’t know. Or perhaps a return to a place where some people will ask me why I am not married yet, why I do not have a boyfriend yet, all the time, every time (especially during Eid or at weddings or at gatherings or at… okay, sometimes, it is all the time), and seem to think that my value is ultimately linked to whether I have a man by my side (I do, in fact, I have two, my dad and my younger brother, and my uncles, to name a few). Not that I am against marriage. Not at all. I want to get married, but I don’t want to be asked about it all the time, as if that’s the only thing that matters.

Ah well. A silver lining this way comes. Leigh, the senior tutor, who saw the plan for my PhD thesis, has suggested that I apply for the Junior Research Fellowship that the College offers to women who have finished their PhD.

Putting a smile on my face, and back to work I go now. 

Hamizah Haji-Haidi (@AmyHeidi) is a PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge. This story was published on September 22, 2016, on Hamizah’s blog, Reflective journeys of a doctoral student (available here), and has been republished here with her permission.

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Published on: May 28, 2019

PhD candidate at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge
See more from Hamizah Haji-Haidi


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