Remember how people say that Graduate School is a roller coaster ride? It’s more than a roller coaster ride. As a guy who loves roller coasters I can assure you that it’s more than that.
Anyone who knows me pretty well know that I’m the kind of person who plans way ahead of time. Whatever I am doing in life right now, well not every instance, like being here at NDSU, but whatever life situation I am in right now, being a PhD student, being in US, this was all planned at least 5 years ago. Before leaving Nepal, I had planned about the next 5 years after my PhD as well. But something changed, a massive life event changed the way I made plans about stuff or just plan ahead in life. It was so big that it changed me as a person, the way I think, my life to a certain extent and now, I’m not even shy to write about it that I’m lost, I have no idea what I’m going to do!
There’s much more to life than just living or surviving. Being alive out of all the odds, growing this old, being in a place I am right now is something of an achievement. It’s not something that can be taken lightly. Making a difference, either big or small, that’s what I think is what matters the most. I’ve always been that way, I loved to be heard. I love teaching stuff that I know or just rambling about anything I know. I love spreading whatever knowledge I have. Becoming a Science communicator or just an educator is what aim to do throughout my life. I won’t say I am a good teacher or good at it, but I love doing it and based on the experiences I have so far, my students seem to enjoy my classes and some of them love it.
Now back to that person who plans, well, right now, I have no idea what I am going to do. I know I want to get into academia and work on my research but I do want to give something back to the society. And while talking about that, I’m going to be very brutal about what I’m going to put out in words when it comes to what options do I have.
When I was leaving Nepal for US, I told my parents, my friends and everyone that I won’t be returning home for at least 5 years or as long as it takes for me to finish my PhD. But a week after I was in the US, I wanted to go home. “You’re just homesick, that’ll pass! Happened to me as well (Everyone I talked to)”. Well it didn’t pass, they laughed at me when I said that I wanted to go home after my PhD, almost a year later, here I am, waiting to go home after I’m done. People still laugh at me and tell me that I’ll change my mind. But I do understand where that comes from.
Let’s talk scenarios:
A Brief little background!
I’ve always wanted to be a Science communicator/promoter. I’ve learned so many stuff since I came here. The way they teach stuff in the US, it’s more than impressive. The effectiveness of their method, nothing has impressed me more than the way they teach, the highway comes second. Again, I’m going to be brutally honest about how I feel. So, the way they teach here is amazing! And, in the next 4 years or so, call it arrogance if you may, but I know that’ll know tons of stuff, I’ll be good! The thing that comes after this is what’s troubling. I’d have spend 4-5 years of my life working this, building up my career, learning stuff, these day and nights of pure torture of classes, assignments and exams. At the end of it comes the part where I decide what I want to do in life and like I’ve said before, as of now, I want to go back to Nepal, teach and work on my research there. Why? Because just imagine how much of new stuff I can teach them, obviously we all know how it is back there and whatever I learn here can be very useful to the students there and then I get to fulfil my dream of becoming a science promoter and a teacher. If I stay here, let assume that I even get a faculty position. There’ll always be someone here who can do that job, but in Nepal we might not have enough people to do the same job. So it sounds, and obviously is, better and logical for me to go back if I really do want to give something back to science and the students. But, going back to Nepal, imagine how I’d need to bribe someone or use ministers (sinisters) to get a permanent job at the university, which I’m not going to do. Or assume that I get it without doing such things even then I won’t be able to do what I want to do in life! I won’t be able to teach them what I want to teach in my way! One thing I wish I could do is incorporate the teaching style I’ve learned here in Nepal but I know I won’t be given permission to do that. To be honest, Haamle masters ma napadheko kura yaha ahile Undergrad first year lai maile padhauna cha! Imagine the state we are in! So, I think we need a change. While we’re at it let’s talk funding as well, forget about the money, by money I mean the salary and stuff, people won’t fund good research or you know the pure science stuff. I know conservation is something we should dearly look into but it’s not everything you need. You can’t conserve a freaking animal if you don’t know it’s biology. Conservation doesn’t mean protecting so hard that you don’t even let people work on live animals. Or if you want to talk about salary, when I was teacher in Tri Chandra, I used to get paid 200 Nrs per period. I had to spend more money out of my pocket to go there to teach than I’d earn from it! Why did I do it? Because I love teaching, It was fun! I learned a lot! Most of the times it’s not about money, If I cared about money a lot, I’d not have left BBA or would have left science and gone back to business studies after my Bsc or even Msc. The field I’m working on, either its US or Nepal, pure science is the poorest field. So If I go back to Nepal and then can’t get into Tribhuvan University as a permanent teacher then I’d have to go back to Tri Chandra or teach in a Plus two. A guy with a PhD in Evolutionary Ecology teaching plus two and killing his dream doesn’t sound right. And if I stay here, I might as well earn 80,000$ per year minimum for doing what I love and talk about the benefits and what not. I know what I will get if I stay here, and I know what I will get if I go back to Nepal. But still, till this day and days to come, I still want to go back to Nepal and make a change, but how much can I try, how well will the situation back home let me do what I want to do depends on…well I don’t even know what it depends on but the whole point of writing this block was, I have no idea what I’m going to do 4 5 years from now because it could go either way or it’s just too far away from. So far I have been able to get what I wanted in my life, everything! I am more than satisfied with the life I have right now. There was one thing that I wanted the most in life but that’s the one thing wasn’t able to get and well that’s life. But now, I’m hellbent focused on getting a PhD and publishing in good journals, learning a lot and then putting out an effort to improve STEM, or forget about E in that STEM, Engineers are doing good. But, for those who did read this, you can comment your suggestions on what would be the right option to go with. To be honest, I used to judge people who went abroad and never returned back to Nepal, but then now that I’ve lived here for almost a year, I can see why. They come here work their ass off, live an independent life starting at their early age 18, 19. It’s not easy coming to US and surviving as an undergrad, and after they’ve survived through all that shit, worked hard, turned into this mature and independent person who is earning a lot, has a good degree from the US. Why, why would that person want to go back to a country where you can’t even get a job even if you’re qualified? Where you need politician’s phone call than rather than a good cv or experience to get a job that pays you way less than what you actually deserve?
I’m not supporting brain drain, I don’t want that either, I wish everyone who has learned something from this country would go back and would do good stuff back home, but to be honest and logical, nobody in this day and age cares about nationality, you need to survive before you can talk about the country! You can’t give you country anything if you can’t give yourself anything. Surviving on a 200 Nrs a period and some 25000 Nrs a month from a plus two college in Kathmandu is not easy. With all the expenses and family and kids. I don’t know where and what’s the fault in our system but someone needs to think about that. The colleges charge students shitloads of money as fees but why frugal when it comes to paying the teachers? Don’t they realize that without the teachers their colleges aren’t going to run themselves! So Yeah! I have no idea what I’m going to do in life, I know what I want to but I’m not sure what I’m going to do! If that even makes sense.