Friday, January 24, 2014

My PhD Viva Experience

This time last year, aku mmg debar2 spjg masa x senang duduk.


Mana tak nya, a year ago I defended my PhD thesis. My PhD viva voce was scheduled for 24 January 2013. Tarikh yg aku rasa payah nak lupa la kot. It will stay in my memory, much like the kids' birth dates hehe...


Sempena anniversary pertama pada tarikh keramat ni (and coz I never got around to fulfilling my promise), I will take two whole days that I know I need to write this, eh I mean, I will take this opportunity to share with you guys what my viva voce experience was like. I have to remind you though, that no viva experience is the same, and I think I got off the battle with rather mild concussions bruises, Alhamdulillah.


So here's my long postponed story....


24 January 2013 was a Thursday. Which meant it was a working day, and also a school day. So on top of preparing myself for the battle, I had to do the normal Mommy chores like getting Aisyah ready for school, preparing breakfast, etc...etc... You know the drill... My viva was at 9.30 a.m.


The night before mmg x bole tido. I think I was up until 2 a.m. I wouldn't advice on this, semua org pon cakap kena tido awal and at this point, JUST RELAX, but I couldn't, so I studied je lah, belek2. Nanti on a separate post aku citer la sket2 mcm mana aku prepare or study for my viva tu ye. Hopefully dalam masa terdekat la dpt tulis citer tuh, if not tggu 2nd anniversary next year je lah eh haha...


Ok so back to the story, aku x leh tido. In fact aku tido kat atas sofa dan bukan atas katil dlm bilik mlm tu. Pastu bgn dlm pkl 5.30 pg, performed Subuh prayer and then cuba breakfast. Tapi rasa mcm cirit briti la plak. A few times jgk kuar masuk toilet, mmg mencemaskan, but nasib baik cirit sbb stress je kot, bkn food poisening or a tummy bug. Phew...


After Aisyah dah selamat gi sekolah, I got ready. At this point I have to remind you that I was 8.5 months pregnant with Zayd. NOTHING FITTED, OK? So in the end aku pakai mcm ni je gi viva, then belasah pakai heeled boots (tapi jalan slow2).




Pagi tu Hubs gi opis dia lewat. Dia jalan kaki sesama dgn aku. Aku ingat lg, pagi tu sejukkkk sgt (tahun lps January mmg UK tgh snowed in, Heathrow pon sampai tutup airport). It was a very cold morning, yg jenis kalau bercakap pon kuar wap tuh. And it was icy. Tapi matahari keluar bersinar terang, and langit sgt biru. It was a very lovely morning. Hubs hantar aku sampai muka pintu bilik viva, which was at Rolle Building, Level 2. After wishing Good Luck, dia pon berlalu.


Tak dapat nak syahdu syahdan lelama, sbb masa tu Prof. (SV) aku pon dah sampai jgk. Dia berpakaian agak kasual, nampak tenang, tp aku tau dia debor jgk tuh. Dia bgtau examiners aku dah sampai, dan tgh kt dlm bilik viva tuh mencari persetujuan sesama mereka nak set the tone camne utk viva aku nih. Debor weih...


Dlm jam 9.50 tuh aku dipanggil masuk. Examiners aku 2 org, external ialah Prof. Stephen Da***m**n daripada University of Salford, and internal plak Dr. David B*s*ll. Kedua2 ni actually nya pakar dlm bidang aku, but sorg mmg lebih Artificial Intelligence-based and sorg lg music technology-oriented, so kira cover cukup utk bhg Computer Music lah. SV pon masuk sekali dalam bilik viva tu tp dia buat2 x dengar, siap ngadap laptop dia buat kerja. 


Syukur examiners aku bukan jenis yg bengis, tp cuak tu still ada. Selalunya kalo kat UK ni, org dia polite, so biasa la kalo ada chit chat sket2 psl weather ke, 'how are you doing?' ke, 'how did you start doing a PhD in this field?' ke, but in my case, nehi hey. Terus BAMMM, soalan killer. 'So, why do you say your work is sound synthesis? Is it actually synthesising sound? In what way? Why isn't it blah blah blah...'


Tu diaaaaa....


And that actually came from the internal examiner tau. In fact masa aku borak2 dgn kawan2 se-lab the next day, they had all agreed that was a bit nasty haha. Sbb biasanya soalan2 mudah dulu ditanya, ni tak, terus get philosophical. 


But it was fine from there. TBH, aku pon x de la ingat sgt dah apa lg yg ditanya, but yg external dia tu mmg baik. Dia tanya mcm mana aku start buat kerja ni (after dah kena soalan killer td). So aku bukak cerita la pasal penglibatan aku masa degree dulu dgn Gamelan, pastu masa Master pon research aku psl Automatic Genre Classification of Traditional Malaysian Music, blah blah.... He thought it was very interesting and good to see that I was working on something I was passionate about, and that I should put it in writing dlm thesis. I hadn't thought of writing that part sbb coming from a technical background, gaya penulisan thesis aku adalah sgt straight to the point and ringkas je, dlm 50K words. But apparently, my examiners preferred kalo aku tulis jgk asal salasilah mcm mana historynya bole terjebak, maka masa dlm correction, I ended up with a complete sub-chapter on this in the Introduction chapter, LOL!


Kalo nak highlight kan point2 penting masa viva tu, sbnarnya aku takutkan soalan2 teknikal, and kalo2 dia mintak terangkan mcm mana pengiraan aku leh dpt result cam tu or worst, proof kan equations yang aku pakai tu, but magically, diorg weren't bothered langsung. Soalan2 diorg adalah lebih deep, mintak aku argue point aku lebih, sebenarnya. Like, kenapa, apa pentingnya, pada firasat aku kenapa jd mcm tu (result aku), etc. External examiner aku pointed out that aku patut lebih promote findings aku dalam thesis tu, sbb gaya aku tulis adalah mcm org play safe (hehe mmg pon). Aku mmg tulis all my findings tp secara modest je kot, x buat claim yg gempaq2. Penyakit malu x bertempat org Asia ni susah nak ubah hoho...


Antara point yg aku ingat lg diorg minta ubah in the thesis is aku suka bg peneranga abis2an then baru letak figure at the end, but diorg preferred aku letak figure right after abis je paragraph tu (sedekat mungkin dgn teks). Ada juga psl technical and typo stuff. And diorg mintak aku include kan some programming codes and to add some musical pieces yg aku compose sendiri to the audio CD examples yg aku dah lampirkan dalam Appendix. Oh , and that my thesis would probably would benefit from hiring a proof reader haha. Below is an excerpt of the comments (ada 2 pages in total).


Pum pang pum pang, tau2 dah sejam 15 minit and diorg dah abis soalan and minta aku keluar sebab diorg nak deliberate on my performance. Masa ni debar mmg debar, tp dah lega. Rasanya masa viva Master dulu lg nervous kot berbanding yg ni. Aku rasa mcm pass kot, Insya Allah, tp budget dpt Major correction.


So imagine how terkejutnya aku bila diberitahu, aku pass with Minor corrections, Alhamdulillah!!! Saat tu rasa cam blur kejap, apa examiners tu re-capped tu mcm x brp masuk di telinga dah. Then terus ckp Thank You utk 150 juta kalinya, especially to my SV. Pastu bergambar sket, and then aku terus minta excusekan diri, saja x nak join diorg lunch sbb nak pegi bgtau Hubs personally at his workplace, x nak over-the-phone. Didn't think I could eat pon dah, masa tu. 




After that bgtau Hubs the good news, telefon org2 Msia etc, gi minum coffee dgn Hubs kjp (Boss dia suh celebrate), and bila dah duduk sorg2 afterwards barulah termangu2 feeling, 'Did that really just happened?' Mmg perasaan tu susah nak described. Mungkin inilah yg dikatakan overjoyed. Ye lah, kerja 4 tahun nak defend in one morning punya exam. Fuhhh... saat tu terbayang2 segala kesusahan dan pengorbanan utk mencapai tahap tu, dan mmg rasa bersyukur sgt sbb Allah kabulkan doa kami. It really was an emotional moment for me, especially sedang berbadan dua masa tu, mmg terasa sgtlah 


Tak lama lps tu it was time to pick up Aisyah from school. Masa tu barulah bgtau some of my Mummy friends yg I dah passed my viva. They congratulated me, tp agak sedih sbb this also means lps ni tak dapat lg nak jumpa masa pick up anak sesama sob sob. And when Aisyah keluar daripada kelas, I hugged her like always, and whispered in my heart, 'We did it, Aisyah. We did it'.



Itulah dia serba pendek cerita viva aku. Masa aku writing and getting ready utk viva tu, aku punya lagu faveret adalah 'A Thousand Years' by Christina Perry, sebab bait2 lirik dia adalah sgt terkesan di jiwa, mcm cita2 nak dpt ijazah PhD tu la, basically (pada halwa telinga aku lah). So I end this post with the song. See if you can relate, too. I've marked those verses in red (yg mcm kena mengena dgn PhD lah).


A Thousand Years - Christina Perry


Heart beats fast
Colors and promises
How to be brave
How can I love when I'm afraid
To fall

But watching you stand alone

All of my doubt
Suddenly goes away somehow
One step closer

(Chorus)

I have died every day
waiting for you

Darlin' don't be afraid
I have loved you for a
Thousand years
I'll love you for a
Thousand more

(Verse 2)

Time stands still
beauty in all she is
I will be brave
I will not let anything
Take away
What's standing in front of me
Every breath,
Every hour has come to this
One step closer

(Chorus)
I have died every day
Waiting for you
Darlin' don't be afraid
I have loved you for a
Thousand years
I'll love you for a
Thousand more


And all along I believed
I would find you

Time has brought
Your heart to me
I have loved you for a
Thousand years
I'll love you for a
Thousand more

One step closer
One step closer

(Chorus)
I have died every day
Waiting for you
Darlin' don't be afraid,
I have loved you for a
Thousand years
I'll love you for a
Thousand more

And all along I believed
I would find you
Time has brought
Your heart to me
I have loved you for a
Thousand years
I'll love you for a
Thousand more



Have a nice weekend, all.


Aku pon x tau la ada org baca ke tak dah blog ni, yg sebetulnya heh :P



 

8 comments:

NenetPenne (NP) said...

wahhh hebat
congrats
i dah lepas viva for degree
now pursuing master
tak tahulah cemana nanti viva for master i nih..
but reading this make me feel nervous..hahahha

Mama Zharfan said...

once in a life time experience...:) sweetest ever :)

Anonymous said...

Congrats :)
So inspiring.

yatie chomeyl said...

I read every single words sebab i know exaclty how it feels. lagipun we were in the same boat, ore pon viva maso sarat ngandungkan SN jr, cuma ore awal skit la..7 months SN jr in tummy hehe

we did it oyis *high five*

CeqGu said...

terasa sesuatu bila baca entry ni...apa pun tahniah utk sejuta kali :)

isabelle said...

awat i baca entry ni rasa berdebar2 sgt ekk? siap meremang bulu roma dan segala bulu yg ada (hahaha bengong!).

anyway, i remember that nite, prior to ur viva.
glad u did well.
nanti dkt2 my turn..i cari u okay?

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