Monday, April 23, 2007

Big Sacrifice

After 5 years of researching towards a PhD., a friend has decided to call it quits. It wasn't an easy thing she did. After months of losing sleep and worrying and weighing the issues involved, she decided to throw in the towel, and cried while packing her books.

She just could not do it. She has tried and tried and tried and she was a brilliant student at school and her undergraduate course too but whilst handling 3 little kids and a husband who is also doing his PhD., it was just too much for her little shoulders.


I don't blame her.

It is not easy to study when you have kids. Period.

But it is worse when you're living in London where the living costs (
especially the rent) are high and the money your sponsors give you is only really enough for single people or couples without children. It's not easy when your spouse is also doing his PhD and as a wife, somehow, just somehow, you end up doing most of the work at home on top of your own PhD. And don't forget, as a wife and mum to your kids, you are always, always emotionally engaged with your children's ups and downs when your husband, being a man, can simply 'disengage' and block anything and everything and just get on with his work.

I myself did plan to pursue something here - to also take the opportunity to gain something whilst in London. But my mother wisely said 'tak payahlah...sorang-sorang lah belajar. Dua-dua orang nak kejar itu, kejar ini..macammana?'

Wise words indeed, I think. And many of my friends here who are doing their PhD seem to think so too.


I know 4 married people here who are doing their PhDs and many, many times they have been at the verge of giving up everything and just fly back home.


You see, for most of them, their allowance will only just cover their rent here in London. For food, the children, the car and recreation they have to get money from
somewhere else. And thus, one of them will have to find some work. And that is not very easy if you don't have the right qualification to your name. And because of the fact that due to the EU agreement, employers are to give priority to the people from within the EU, it gets even more difficult to get 'proper' jobs like what they used to have back home.

But once the non-studying spouse gets a job, who will take care of the baby when he/she goes to work to earn money for the family? Childcare is VERY expensive here. In the end, that job falls upon the shoulders of the one who is really supposed to be studying and working away at the library - but instead is at home trying to type a report on the PC while screaming at the children to be quiet so that he/she can concentrate.


But who said life is easy?


Still, I wonder why the universities in Malaysia send their lecturers here to London with such a pittance for one family to live by. Don't they realise the rent here is sky high (minimum average is around £700)? Don't they realise that because of the lack of funds, their sponsored student's performance will suffer and in the end it may well be pointless, anyway?


The summary to a discussion amongst friends yesterday, all married with children and studying for a better future for themselves and their family was; "If the PhD. is to be achieved, BOTH husband and wife cannot study at the same time. There is no other way about it - one of us (obviously the one who's NOT studying) will
have to be worse off after all this. There has to be a BIG career sacrifice and he or she has to be resigned to the fact. Otherwise, not just the studying spouse's performance at the university and the stay-at-home spouse's working career will suffer - the marriage will also take a beating."

After all, if the stay-at-home spouse bears a grudge and keeps on harping about how BECAUSE of the other, he/she has lost out on
this and that in her career, what else is bound to happen?

And all the above plus the necessity of the 'tightening of one's belt', of course. (And I mean that in a general way, not just when it comes to food.)

Because for most of the students here who come with their families, life is, indeed, NOT easy.


I hope for their sakes' and mine too that it will all be worth it.

13 comments:

Along said...

Wow. Good luck to u and your family. I always thot families who studied overseas had it made. Anak dapat belajar luar negeri, paid by the government/company. I guess everything requires sacrifice.

ps: I'm still recovering from doing my degree (7 years dah). Don't see me doing my Masters or PhD anytime soon. Huh..

halwafy said...

Along: Thanks. But you know Mr S is not doing his PhD right? But he is studying and we're here all on our own, no sponsors whatsoever :)

But no, studying overseas with one's family tagging along esp in a place like London is not easy. The other person not studying must be prepared to make a BIG sacrifice.

Thank goodness I was never really career minded...so that settles that!

But don't be discouraged ya..it's not so VERY bad provided one doesn't dwell too much on the good life one had in KL..he he he and if you must choose UK, at least stay away from London :)

dillazag said...

Ibah, that's really sad to know.. I baru nak plan-plan buat PhD in the next 5 years.. and my kids dah nak masuk 3 dah ni.. However, I don't see my hubby doing it at the same time.. so, maybe it'll be OK, kot. We'll see...

FloweRinTheDesert said...

so what about ur plan? Will u be giving that up then? *jus wonderin'*

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cutiepie said...

i envy all of you out there .. i have been wanting to do my Masters and never had the time .. no actually dont know where to start and when to start .. especially in your or friend's situation both hubby and wifey doing it in one go and added in with kids to juggle simultaneously ..

*salute*

halwafy said...

Dilla: Kalau nak buat kat London memang miskin sikit la..but if your husband gets a really good job here is lain cerita lah kan :)

One thing about 3 anak kena ada 3 car seats belakang kereta ;) he he he...

flowerin: plan still maintain for now..we'll see, insh..

afif: tunggu ye..this one is quite difficult lah..

cutiepie: Don't envy us dear..we're not having such a grand time! But it is a good life experience for me here and I'm sure, for all my friends here too..we will survive! ;)

The Blueberry said...

Whoa... And there I thought Hubba Bubba and I could survive there just pickin' apples and The Junior can stay with the neighbors' for a while! Eeekkk!!!

On the post-grad studies front, I've always been meaning to start my Master's soon, but I've ben giving 1001 excuses haha. Actually I fobia dulu masa undergrad I had to stay awake for 96 hours straight to finish my thesis! Ahahaaa fobia sampai sekarang!

D said...

oh, tell me about it! I think the main thing about pursuing studies is that you'll really be needing it. Forget that crap of doing it for "self-satisfaction" and all. At the end of the day, if you're not in the academic line, it's less useful. Wallahu'alam!

Izan said...

halwafy, i'm in Notts. it must be hard for you to live in london. i had a few friends there and heard of their struggle esp duit wise. for those who is already there, nothing much you can do except byk2 tawakkal to Allah. for those planning to pursue study in UK, midlands is a better place. you could at least have a few £££ left from your total allowances (after paying house rent) for food etc. not enough though. you can choose not to work but need to absorb gaji from malaysia. indeed, there's a lot to sacrifice if you're studying in perantauan with family. support from spouse is vital. may Allah help us all.

halwafy said...

D and Izan, thanks for your comments and for dropping by, Izan - Do come again soon!

Just to let you all know, M-o-m (a PhD student) has also made a comment to this entry but hers is a long one that needed to be an entry on its own! Thanks M-o-m. :)

Izan said...

M-o-m tu my friend. I got to your blog from hers. Kitorang sama-sama study in Warwick in 2003/04. But she went back for the reason you already knew. As for me, my husband willingly to sacrifice his career. We have considered many things and agreed that continue studying here would be better opportunity for us. InsyaAllah harap-haraplah semuanya berjalan seperti yg dirancang. Amin.

Anonymous said...

Studying and living in London can be burdensome if you have little kids. London is big. Those studying in top-ranked universities like Imperial, UCL and King's College are even at worse scenarios. Studying there is hard. Life is hard. Getting there during peak hours is hard. Arghhh