After sixteen years of employment, I saw an opportunity to pursue higher education to a PhD level overseas, which I had been dreaming of since I was an undergraduate student. However, to leave my family and my comfort zone, which I was familiar with, was not easy. An uncertain future often restricts people from trying, yet, I did not hold back as I am always willing to challenge my status quo for self-development and to invest further in my career.
As soon as an opportunity arose I believed it was worthwhile to pursue it after obtaining the full support of my family. I would advise anyone wanting to do the same to look at similar ways of pursuing PG studies such as scholarship or funding from employment or another source, or a gap period to keep a job open until you have course confirmed.
This opportunity does not come without some arduous endeavour, there is so much involved. The preparation for PhD application includes a proposal, IELTS examination (for international students), university hunting and application forms for enrolment. It is a lengthy process, yet, exciting. The excitement for me definitely rested on a dream, which was now in sight, I was about to turn a new chapter in my life, and I embraced it wholeheartedly.
The excitement of a brand-new life in Newcastle was soon replaced by the intensive learning of academia and the realisation of the challenges ahead. As a non-native speaker, despite my passing of the English requirement tests, I inevitably had to face a new way of understanding knowledge which is different from how I used to learn as it requires a ‘critical argument’ technique. Moreover, a distinctive way of constructing academic writing also plays a significant role in helping me manipulate the English language better to facilitate my own research. These two novel learning processes completely restructured the way of my thinking and occupy my daily life space, often even in my dreams.
As my concentration is now anchored in academia, the stress could have been overwhelming, especially in the process of implementing these new techniques of thought and, at the same time, catching up with submission deadlines. Fortunately, I am not alone and am encouraged to ask for help. Thankfully there are always readily available resources at Newcastle University. Here are some; academic writing classes run each term designed for international students; the Writing Development Centre aims to provide supportive and constructive suggestions for students’ essays regardless of their comprehensive level of English; along with common classes of research approaches in my faculty to build up theoretical foundations for conducting a PhD thesis.
There are also the Career Service department and the Student Wellbeing department, which of course do as their titles state. Most importantly, many of us international students are supporting each other by discussing and sharing our works as we encounter similar situations in terms of learning processes and survival in a brand new cultural environment. With all of this tremendous support and reminiscing of the reasons of coming to Newcastle, I am motivated all the time, especially, the moments when there is only me and my laptop in my room working away.
Sacrificing quality time with my family and leaving a comfortable employment are the costs of studying abroad. Nonetheless, the rewards are worthy, and the feeling of satisfaction in overcoming all the difficulties that arose externally or internally. This new way of reasoning and learning that, I now acknowledge, and meeting such diverse nationalities are so precious that I would never trade it with other material incentives. It is a joy to work and socialise with students both mature and young, the different outlooks and viewpoints on study and life are so refreshing, and it feels like one large happy family. I believe these experiences are beneficial for my future career because this higher education serves as a pathway for continuing self-development which contributes to managing work more systematically and efficiently.
Now, are you ready to challenge yourself, to grasp the opportunity to join this big family at Newcastle University?