A thesis does not necessarily mark the end of a master’s degree. This is what Farihatul Qamariyah experienced during her study at Religious and Cross – cultural Studies (CRCS) Program, Gadjah Mada University as told in the first part of this article. With a thesis topic that was inspired by her daily encounters, she enhanced her academic journey by visiting the Asia Research Institute (ARI) at the National University of Singapore (NUS) as one of its research fellows. In addition, she was invited to an international research conference in Istanbul, Turkey to present her thesis findings before hundreds of international researchers. Follow her story here to find out how a wholehearted strive finally paved its own way into an academic thrive.
Two Months in Kent Ridge, National University of Singapore: Fellowship & Conference.
Touching down Kent Ridge for the second time and officially becoming a NUS fellow for a short period of time reminds me of the moment in 2013 when I visited NUS campus for my community field trip, Garuda Youth Community (GYC) local chapter Yogyakarta. I was praying at that time in which someday I could accomplish my dream to revisit this campus not just for travelling anymore but for studying. This dream has brought me back in real! Indeed, I was grateful for this. When the dream comes true, there we can dare to re-dream and drive to make it true. I realized my dream through the Asian Graduate Student Fellowship – AGSF 2016 held by Asia Research Institute (ARI) with fully – funded scholarship and the provision of academic facilities.
I resided at the University town as the place for student living, having an academic English teaching at the NUS main library and getting some seminars and research consultations at Asia Research Institute (ARI) Building. The research fellows also get a free access to utilize some library sources at the NUS library and at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS). At the first month, we got an orientation and intensive class for academic English writing and presentation mentored by the American tutor. This class helped us to work on our academic paper derived from the thesis chapter and become the project for the conference that would be presented at the end of the fellowship. In addition, we were also assigned to meet our research mentor who had the similar research focus with ours and freely decided how many meetings we were going to hold to discuss our paper. At this classification, I got my advisor coming from Australia who has actively engaged with gender issue in Indonesia. Here, I got vast insight for my thesis content, abstract point and something about analytical organization. Next, the second month exactly at the first two weeks, we were required to finish our academic research paper completely and the last two weeks, we had to prepare for the big event which is 11th Singapore Graduate Forum on Southeast Asian Studies which was held at the last week of the fellowship exactly on the 14 – 15th of July 2016. This was the time for us to present what we had researched and written, in a public forum which were attended not only by ARI fellows but also by the other presenters from diverse countries outside of the program.
As a personal feedback, this program really improved my thesis progress and supported its completion particularly in the aspect of how I put the data in the context of analysis and engage them with the exact theoretical framework under the guidance of my academic advisors in UGM, the English tutor and my research mentor at ARI NUS. The facility and sources which were given intensively assisted me to make a good development for my thesis. In addition, the fellowship also gave me many inputs and practices on how to write a good abstract and academic paper as well as how to present a research work well in public. Another point is of course the great additional qualified international network of scholarship in academic level from different countries.
Back to Yogyakarta in a Week for Thesis Defense
Sitting at the fourth semester of my master degree with the sign of scholarship enforced me to finish my study on time without extension. I kept holding my promise about target and commitment to reach the final academic stage in the required time. At the end of July after the completion of AGSF program, I executed my thesis defense. Just couple days before a trip to Istanbul, Turkey for another thesis mission, I just only had a week to finish all the things before the judicium deadline was over. Thesis defense was my significant dream after the approximately two years of my master duration. Getting a satisfying score for GPA might become the reward for all the effort and hard work. Finally, I completed my postgraduate degree at the exact time 1 year and 11 months with the dynamic pressure of academic atmosphere and convenience. I have enjoyed the ups and downs because I believe in between there is a contentment.
Off to Istanbul, Turkey for another Thesis Mission
Going to Turkey was about to reach my dream in 2014 before I entered to CRCS Postgraduate program. I ever registered a master scholarship through Türkiye Bursları but I canceled it due to my parents’ objection. Well, I took what my parents suggested to me to keep continuing my higher degree in Yogyakarta. At that time, I was whispering someday I could go to Turkey for free with another way and it happened in 2016 when my master degree almost ended. Another dream came true through my thesis project and everything circulated at the exact point and time.
Historically, when I was at my fellowship in Singapore, I got a link about International conference called 27th International Research Conference on Business, Economics and Social Sciences located in Taksim, Istanbul. This information profoundly made me enthusiastic. I went to my research mentor and English tutor at NUS for many times to have a specific consultation about the abstract that I was going to submit for the conference. The thing that I put me into pessimistic situation was the conference required its participants a full of payment including the registration, international travel, accommodation as well as the proceeding session. I kept sending my application whatever the requirement. Two weeks over, I got notified that my abstract was accepted and offered as the oral presenter at panel session. Oh My Goodness! I was thinking of a possibility to go without sponsorship.
The miracle of network empowered my willingness to go. I had tried to send some proposal to a few institutions that I know but no confirmation because that was in July 2016 when Hari Raya Eid Fitri celebration was about to come. I was planning to propose to my campus but no even a little expectation due to my position as the student of last semester and I had ever got a funding previously for another program. Poor me! I was forgetting an important link at that time which was my thesis respondents with their company in ownership affiliation. With the very limited time to the confirmation deadline of the conference attendance, I sent my proposal of sponsorship to all my respondents’ email. I got no replies from them almost in a week. I was still in confident. I know for sure that success is the combination of opportunity and readiness. A night before the Eid Fitri Celebration, one of my thesis respondents answered my email and she did some negotiations to with me about the program and the sponsorship agreement. Again, Lucky me! Diajeng Lestari as the CEO of www.HijUp.com accepted my proposal and ready to cover all the travel and accommodation. I was greatly grateful for this success, speechless and it could not be only described through words. Then the luck of getting sponsorship was still continuing afterward precisely when I was back from Singapore. I also got a financial support from my campus and another thesis respondent in a few days before my departure. This was so – called a multiple luck! In 30th of July, I took off to Istanbul, Turkey, the country that I ever dreamed of two years before to present and proceed my academic paper from my thesis project. I was at the indescribable feeling and expression, so happy!
Enclosure of the Travel
Coming back from Istanbul, two months after that trip, in 19th of October 2016, I had my graduation ceremony. I felt blessed when I got what I expected to have a predicate of summa cum-laude for my academic score. Hard work and effort, all had been paid off. This thesis trip is not merely about a journey of accomplishing a master’s final assignment nor gaining a predicate for scholar title, but it’s more about the meaningful story of achieving every stage of my dream. Being a presenter at international level could be done by any person but being a dreamer who finally reach her dream could be different for every person when it comes to feeling and accomplishment. Everything depends on us and the effort we put into it. Our faith will determine our fate, right?
This trip has not yet ended because there will be certainly many trips that are available in front of my path. Hopefully this little story inspires you. Lastly from my dictionary, to aspire means to inspire. Keep travelling with your own way because the essence of living is travelling.
See you everywhere…
Photos provided by the author