Archive for Januar 2016

On writing a Master Thesis

Januar 27, 2016

The purpose of academic life is to absorb and generate knowledge. Not absorb in the learn-by-heart kind of way, but by questioning it critically and acquiring the skills and mindset to do so. If you make it to the last semester of your study program, you get to the icing of the cake: the THESIS! A scary looking word lingering over your head since the first semester. There are so many aspects to consider: a topic interesting enough to motivate you over the course of six months, a topic future-oriented enough to recommend you for a job afterwards, supervisors interested in your topic and willing to take the time to guide you through this, a topic with enough literature to draw from, but not too much so your topic lacks innovation and last but not least, the money you need to drink away your sorrows every night! psychological stamina to get through this process.

At first I was drawn to a topic that sounded interesting and looked promising to convince family and friends I was actually researching something useful: Uncomfortable Heritage and Communities. Well, turns out most of the Uncomfortable Heritage that I was considering to expand on in Germany is connected to WWII and those in other countries are not as well document, not to say the sources are completely unreliable as the government wrote their history in a way it suits them. Quickly, I was utterly bored by all this war stuff and history, with a quiet and sweet voice constantly whispering into my ear.

Turns out, this voice that I had been trying to silence and ignore was my heart asking me to follow it as I should have from the beginning. With almost four month of research into the now even more uncomfortable topic, I decided to abandon it and switch to something I had been talking about since starting this Master Program: the Balinese Rice Terraces and their sustainable development. I have been writing every single assignment in this program (except for one) on heritage sites in Indonesia, which probably drove everyone crazy, but helped me to switch to that topic more or less last minute.

Although I was encouraged by very good friends of mine, who talked me through the process, going through pros and cons of this rather daunting step and assured me if this is what I wanted I should pursue it, I was afraid to tell my family. In fact, I didn’t. I felt pressured through their constant support and them believing in me as if they had never been let down by me ever before. I am not saying that this is a bad thing, alas, I would not have made it this far without them. I just put so much pressure on myself not to fail them and also not to fail me. Now that I am done, my Thesis being currently printed, I fear of what is to come next. I managed to push that thought away while writing, although I did simultaneously send out applications, but now it has become so more imminent.

It is frightening to step out of the cozy academic world where you know you belong because of your love for learning, research and writing. You know you have the experience in that field only and forget that you also have more practical skills acquired in internships and small jobs, but you do not feel qualified for anything else in the real word… However, I am not the first one to step out of this world and try something new. I made it through the Thesis, so how hard can the next thing be? 😉 Kidding, it’s gonna be extremely hard, I know.
But I am ready. I am ready to take on a new challenge, open a new chapter of my life. My thesis is probably not what everyone expects, what I expected when I started, but it is my contribution and I hope to take those theoretical assumptions of mine and actually test their feasibility some day. Some day, when I am back to Bali, what I have been dreaming of for the past six months… Aku kembali ke bali nanti!

Everyone currently in the process of writing: hang in there! It will be over at some point and you will be proud! Proud of what you managed, proud enough to tell your families, proud enough to thank them and everyone else for their constant support, although sometimes you really didn’t want people compassionately asking how you were doing. They mean well!
Thank you! Termina kasih banyak! Danke!