This year has brought a lot of tough, new challenges, one after another. I am very grateful that my family and I have been able to stay in good health and have normal lives apart from staying home, and I am extremely lucky to be in my current position. Despite all the difficult circumstances during the ongoing outbreak this year, I was able to accomplish my three main goals for 2020, plus one personal one:
- Passed my PhD viva in July and concluded the degree in October
- Received a job offer before the viva and started the new role straight away in October
- Gained the opportunity to work as an editor of a volume and contributed my book chapter
- This is more personal: the building of my mum’s new house has been completed
There are many other things, such as co-authoring papers, doing some translation work, etc… And also, hidden under these small ‘successes’ are unsuccessful parts. I received the job offer in July, after my fifth job application and the very first interview I was granted. I started applying for academic jobs in November last year and submitted four applications between November and April, all of which were unsuccessful. I didn’t even get invited for an interview. For one of my applications, the job position was cancelled due to the pandemic and cancellation of its funding. The job hunting period was very stressful, and there always were so many worries in my head.
Things changed after May, and the good news happened. Life became extremely hectic, and I couldn’t cope with the immediate changes. I had little time for reflection and blog post writing. Writing a weekly diary that included personal reflection was an important routine for me, but I hardly have the time to do it now.
A student’s letter
In the very last session of the autumn semester, a student gave me a scanned copy of her handwritten letter to me with these words:
“You have encouraged me and given me confidence about studies. I had a lot of tough challenges this year and have been considering taking a break from university. But, you taught me to have confidence in myself, and all my classmates would agree with me. I can’t thank you enough.”
While reading, I had tears in my eyes. The autumn semester was very difficult in terms of the delivery of online teaching, maintaining its quality, and keeping students motivated. Almost everything was experimental regarding the sessions through Google Meet and Jamboard, breakout room activities, video lectures, carrying out and marking all exams online, etc. My colleagues helped a lot, offering online meetings and providing clear direction and much advice. Students and I discussed our need to maintain interaction by seeing each other’s faces online whenever possible.
I received the certificate of my doctoral degree a week ago, and this means that I have been officially awarded a PhD. My long journey as a student is over, and my journey as an early career academic has begun.
One more surprise ‘gift’ was that I discovered that my journal paper has been cited in two papers. This made me feel emotional and gave me a real sense that I am part of the field, and I felt valued. I really cannot say enough how grateful and how lucky I feel.
For the next year, my aims will be just to keep it up and take care of myself and my family.