Sunday, 4 February 2018

Introducing Dr. Parva Chhantyal

'Be brave enough to live the life of your dreams according to your vision and purpose instead of the expectations and opinions of others.'- The Light in the Heart

The moment I was handed in the PhD completion certificate, my mind scanned through every memory of past four years. All the bitter-sweet memories engulfed inside me throughout this time suddenly wanted to blast out. I wanted to scream so loud that other part of the world could also hear me. It gave me sense of melancholy feelings but what is more important is, I achieved what I wanted and this is what I wanted. All the events that occurred during this time encouraged me to focus more into what is important and what is right for me because at the end of the day, everything else is temporary.


'You may be the only person left who believes in you, but it's enough. It takes just one star to pierce a universe of darkness. Never give up.'- Smile Anyway

Things were not easy I tell you and you will hear this from me forever. PhD is not a joke. With the completion rate of about 50%, only people who are persistent and determined to cross every obstacle set before them can pass it. When I started my PhD program, I heard that the average length of the program was 6.5 years and I thought, ‘no way, not me; I’ll finish in 3 years.’ Later, you realise that the length you spend in a PhD seems like a big deal when you start, but it becomes less important as you progress into the research. Sooner or later you see that your colleagues' or your work is progressing really slowly that postpones the graduation by 6 months or one year, and that is not due to the lack of an ability and intellect. The more you are into the research; the more you want to adventure (that is only if you like the subject). You will learn that continuous rejection, failures and thinking yourself as an inferior in your own chosen area is common. And, you will learn that how long you are stuck in the lab is nobody's business but yours. You and only you are responsible for closing this chapter. And this will only happen with your determination, sacrifice, persistence and hard work. 

'Seek and ye shall find'- The Divine Comedy
Choose your Subject!
This subject we are talking about is what you are devoting your life for. Don't choose any subject just for sake of doing a PhD. You should be able to work days, nights, weekends, and holidays without hesitation. You should be able to attend international conferences and show your passion about this subject. This doesn't come itself. If everything goes well, you will be linked to this subject for the rest of your life. Plus, you are devoting minimum 4 years of your life. You don't want to spend your precious life on something you dislike.   

Choose your Supervisor!

Imagine you want to get married and now you have to choose your partner. What do you look for? This is exactly same case. You be careful in choosing your supervisor as much careful as you become choosing your life partner, because your PhD depends completely upon your supervisor, just like how your life is affected by your life partner. It is not about you go to club one day and have some good laugh and decide to give a shot. You may choose your life partner like that but it doesn't work with your PhD. Choose the team well. People you are working with and topic you are choosing are very very important.

'Miles, as in 'to go before I sleep'- Looking for Alaska  

PhD becomes your life. It changes your life and you. There’s a huge sacrifice involved, dependent on the person and situation. You slowly get isolated from the world but at the end of the era, you don't even realise that it’s a big deal. You are already being adopted to your new life. Funny thing, you know I was so overworked that when I handed in my thesis, I got a feeling of 'Now what do I do with my life? Its so boring :D'. Many people realize that in the middle that this is not what they want and change the career. Some people become depressed, they burn out and I was like that too but at that time, PhD was everything. Nothing else mattered. I lost 10 Kg during final year because I was so stressed out and I was really sick. I know I know I was being careless, But hey! don't worry, I am recovering slowly and I will not do a PhD again :D. 

'Your hardest times often lead to the greatest moments of your life. Keep going. Tough situations build strong people in the end.'- The Light in the Heart

My PhD lasted for four years (including defense) but in my mind, it felt like million years. Damn! It was indeed a long time!
Now, why shouldn't I call myself a Dr :). Right after I passed my PhD, I requested all my close family members to call me Dr. Don't worry, I am not that creepy. The excitement lasted for few weeks and now I don't care (Just like a honeymoon :D).
Nevertheless, I’m not saying that the PhD is a bad thing. I enjoyed the intellectual hardship. I developed soft skills that I wouldn't have otherwise. The time I enjoyed the most was when I started writing thesis. This is also probably because I enjoy writing. I was writing days and night, forgetting food, sleep and the weekends. Every time it was thesis, thesis, and thesis. I literally became workaholic. I saw thesis everywhere. Every time, I was thinking about how can I make it look perfect. Most importantly, how can I make it such that I do not regret while reading it in 10 or even 20 years. Anyway, the point here is, get used to working days, nights and weekends. There is no free time for yourself and for your folks. People talk big about time management and stuffs, but these are all blah blah. When you do a PhD and you have set goals to finish it at certain time, this is all you care about. 

'And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.'- The Alchemist

Stay focus! Some days you are productive and some days you feel like you are wasting time. It's even worse feeling when your friends are getting married and moving on with their life while you are being stuck inside the lab. Couldn't you wait little longer? Damn, You were so in rush? Still, you don't see the light at the end of the tunnel. For some reason, you feel their life is lot better than yours. But you know what? Life doesn't wait for anyone. Life goes on and you should too. Because at the end of the day, getting married and having children is not what you wanted at this moment. You have your life to live, your part to contribute and so do others. Should I still be mad that they didn't wait for me? Nah!! Not anymore :). 

As I said earlier, PhD changes your life. It changes you and it changes the way you see around but at the end of the day, when you look at it positively, it’s all for good.  

So what did I learn? 

Plan Plan Plan!!! This always keeps you into the track of your goal. Sometimes, things do not go as you have planned but you learn to adjust with unexpected changes. It makes you flexible and able to adopt quickly. It teaches you that plans fail but this is not the end. 

'I realize that I have to put myself out there to get what I want.'- Take Me There 

No matter what happens in life now, I know nothing can be as complicated and challenging as a PhD. With many memories that I will share down to my upcoming generation, I am very grateful to everyone who helped and motivated me throughout these 4 years. Even though PhD was hard, I was somehow enjoying it. The intellectual challenge, and satisfaction when I met it, the ability to commit and set goals, and also enormous opportunities to present myself around the globe. Yes, I sacrificed a lot but I also achieved a lot. All those hard times helped me to stay focus in my dream. And remember! You don't get these without little bit of sacrifice. Now, I am really excited to see what lays ahead for me in life.

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