What 2017 could bring and what I want from it...

Hey everyone! A very HAPPY NEW YEAR to all you lovelies! 

Good news are due... First things first, I have submitted my PhD thesis and am soon due for my viva defense. The last few weeks were manic, I had no sense of days or week or time for that matter, with no other extra-curricular activities active anymore. I hated every time I had to look at my laptop, as it almost seemed impossible to ever finish writing my thesis. 

It started off at 150 pages from my last upgrade (we had two in total before our final submission). I read, reviewed, then re-reviewed what I had already written, but to no avail or satisfaction. I literally ran out of words and reasonings to add, at the same time feeling that there was much left to explain and write about. Then one day, I decided to rearrange the entire structure of the thesis, and somehow it all started to fall into place, in a better structure. I had more things to write about, with better flow. I typed away without stopping for hours with the goal that the each chapter I wrote must have scientific integrity, yet speak clearly to a layman. 

I put myself as a reviewer, and wrote in a way that would convice me as a critic. It is one of the hardest thing to do, to convince oneself... We are often our own harshest critic, and so, I too felt pressured by my own inner perfectionist, that I had to add proofs that would consolidate my resutls. In time, I became more and more confident about my work and my thesis. Soon, the page count reached 300. I had written more than I had hoped for, but none that didn't make sense or wasn't required. Perhaps there are a few, but there is no harm in more information, unless it is wrong. You can always omit if need be. 

Anyway, it took me longer than 3 years to finish my PhD, but all for a good cause: conferences and publications. I now have 5 papers under my belt, 3 of which are already published and referenced by other authors, and other 2 positively accepted for publication. And I'm sure any person who has written papers would agree with me that writing a scientific paper is invaluably vital for academic career (if I opt for one), and more importantly requires a lot of dedication, time and hard work, dare I say even more so than it takes for a PhD thesis.

I cannot tell you all how relieved, elated and happy I was to type my very last sentence, to watch my theses print, to hold the final crisp bound copies of the theses, to hand them in, and most importantly, to get this far in my education as well as life. It has been a fun 4 years of researching. Yes, there were a few minor set-backs at times, I was pushed to the limits, I developed imposter syndrome in the midst of my tenure, when I barely knew what was expected of me, and what I was capable of. There were even moments when I almost touched failure. It took a lot of doing (none that I am too upset about), but the amount of experience I have garnered in return, every reward for every hard work I have striven to put in is incomparable and incomprehensible. I must say, I have been lucky to be able to float on whatever obstacles were thrown my way. And thus, when I look back at the 1st day of my PhD life, I can gladly revel on my decision to do this PhD, how far I have come, fondly remember the years when I was still quite wet behind the ears, and proudly accept the outcome, whatever it may be. Truly, my overall experience has been phenomenal... 

But telling you that I finished my PhD is only telling half the story. The other half is the amount of help and guidance I received, be it technical, spiritual or emotional, from friends and family. Had I not have the support from my beloveds, I cannot even fathom to have the mental peace and strength to go on working effectively. I wholeheartedly thank each and everyone of my parents and friends for their unconditional love and support, and all the blessings I received from the thoughtful well wishers. In a major way, they all made it possible as much as I. 

Next step is to pass my defense viva voce. With every passing day it is getting more and more unnerving as the date approaches closer and closer. So much toil, expending blood, sweat and tears in the literal sense of terms (yes, I physically bled during the course of my PhD for the sake of experiments, sweated due to the laborious tasks hours on end especially in the heat of summer, as well as even cried at times due to the stress pile up), and brainstorming for 4 whole years, it is time I got my reward... And even though I am nervous (in fact, very nervous) about the upcoming viva, I am also very confident about it. Of course I am expecting corrections and feedback, as is generally the case with every thesis, and am prepared to face a bit of hard time too during the defense, but whatever the outcome, it will definitely be for the best, this I am confident of...

That being said, now comes the other factors that make my life... I have never been much of a "New Years resolution" type of a person, but I do have certain life resolutions. As you might have already figured from my blog, I absolutely love traveling. It is where I find my peace, my passion, my reason, my aspirations... And I also aspire to learn. The more I learn, the more I crave. I have always been a curious individual, which led me to try out many new ideas, skills, hobbies, and as it turned out, I actually liked most of them. 

5 years ago, I broadened my horizon further by coming to UK. That was one of the best life changing decisions of my life. UK opened up a lot of wonderful and beautiful opportunities for me, one of which is the fulfillment of my desire to learn at least one style of martial arts. My life resolutions have been to try, learn or discover something new every year, be it a hobby, a skill, a sport or a place I have never tried or seen before as a part of my personal development (mental and physical). All throughout my life, there is a lot I could write about, the things I have seen, done, learned and the life I have lived. How they changed me and my outlook of the world, and what I wish to do with my life. In time, I will lay it all out for you. But today, I would like to list down my accomplishments or the new set of skills/hobbies/passions I have acquired just in the last 5 years of my stay in UK, and what I want from 2017:

2011: Graduated with a bachelors in industrial and production engineering (mechanical + industrial management).

I moved to UK for MSc in Advanced Mechanical Engineering. It has to go down on the list as an achievement, not so much the MSc itself but the relocation, as it was the first time I had decided to live outside India for a long term. 

But my best decision of the year and life has to be my decision to take up Kung Fu. I also started salsa alongside my studies and Kung Fu.

2012: Graduated my MSc and started on my PhD.

2013: Started my blog (woo hoo!).  

Took up photography as a new hobby. 

Tried rock climbing, kayaking and capoiera for the first time.

2014: Learned underwater diving in Dominican Republic. Traveled to America (Orlando, NYC, Dallas and Philadelphia), France (Paris), and Netherlands (Amsterdam), all for the very first time. 

Attended Isle of Wight festival and saw RHCP live!

Tried mixed martial arts (Judo, kick-boxing, Jiujitsu, Kung fu, Karate, Shironji Kempo, and combat jiujitsu) with some of the best martial artists of UK.

2015: Visited 5 different continents: North America (US and Canada), South America (Chile), Europe (UK by default :p), Africa (Egypt) and Asia (India). 

Started another hobby: Modern jive dancing.

2016: Traveled to 5 different countries in North America and Europe (Ireland, USA, France, Italy and Switzerland). 

Hiked in the beauteous and scenic landscape of Grand Canyon. 
Biked all across San Francisco.

And cherry on top: Submitted my PhD thesis!!!

Of course these are but just a few highlights from all the incredible experiences I acquired each year, and merely scratch the surface of all the opportunities that lie ahead.

This year, I wish to:
  • Try a new sport,
  • Graduate with a doctorate!!!
  • Get my black sash in Kung Fu (only if I have earned it!)
  • Learn Spanish and French, 
  • Travel to Japan,
  • Start a professional career.
So, yeah! Big changes coming my way and I cannot wait to get started... I literally tingle at the thought of all the possibilities!
So, what do you think? Do my plans sound doable? Or are they over ambitious? What was your best moment from 2016? Do you aspire to do something incredible this year too? I would love to hear from everyone :)

Love always,