It's post #667. No wonder the post before this was rather satanic.
Moving on now to another thing that is worth to talk about today. A rather interesting topic, I'd say. Today, I will introduce to all of you the discussion on 'whether or not I should study abroad', best discussed in lengthy but awfully entertaining writing I am certainly known for, though not by all but at least by some who have found this blog to be worth reading.
There was a time, and then another time soon after that, and again, and then a few days after that, and so on, that people came to me and asked: "Why did not you continue studying oversea?"
Tricky question. Do I answer them with apologetic smiles, sad faces or lengthy arguments? Well I am not the type who makes faces when approached, so as expected I usually gave them a lengthy explanation that sometime I think how they would have wished that I was abroad at the time to save the trouble, and just how regretting they were for even having the slightest thought to ask a person, somewhat to be me, that "why did not you continue to study abroad?", particularly for my postgraduate studies.
Let's take a look at my arguments:
There are two types of Master's Degree; one by course and one by research.
Master's Degree by course means that anybody who applies for it will have to go through a series of long-hour lectures, do assignments, attend some tests, write endless reports and in the end go for examinations from which soon after that their overall performances will be graded accordingly to a point to decide whether or not they pass everything to earn themselves some Master's Degree. The good thing about this type of Master's Degree is that it is shorter in time to complete, but the people who have them might get in trouble soon when they apply for Ph.D, from which many universities do not accept students with Master's Degree by course because the students do not have any particular background in research. Ph.D normally is done by research, therefore essentially anybody who wants to apply for it has to have sufficient background in research, hence the need of a Master's Degree by research.
Master's Degree by research, which I currently am doing, is a type of study where a student will have a supervisor and co-supervisors to report to about any kind of research they are particularly doing. These supervisor and co-supervisors will assist in the research by monitoring the student's performance and progress with an aim to complete all the objectives of research in times. Research here means a lot of literature reading, simulations, experiments, calculations, thinking and every other respective technical skills in order for the student to carefully analyze and justify his findings, as well as to defend his findings before a panel of experts in more often than not the same field. Research takes long period to complete, usually more than year but less than 3 years for Master's Degree. Normally there will be no classes to attend, and most of the time the students are left to hang around with vast knowledge database for them to mine the data into their own specific usage.
Now that's pretty much clear.
My research is on biomass; carbonaceous materials normally derived from plants. My aim is to convert this carbonaceous biomass into combustible gas that can replace diesel and petrol in internal combustion engines. My research is done empirically (English: by experiments) and all I need is a lab, some tools, some machines, some delicate instruments and whatnots. And fund. Give me enough fun and I can design a 5-Megawatt gas-powered steam turbine for electric generation at an allocated time.
I am an engineer. I was brought up for five years in an engineering school, fed with engineering knowledge and mingled with engineering people. I do things with purpose. I wear a shirt because I need to cover my body from weathering factors, that is my primary motive, and then the secondary motives follow: to impress, to improve looks, to cause stir in calmness whatsoever.
Therefore, I stayed in the country because 1) my purpose is to get an M.Sc by research, 2) by producing combustible gas from biomass, 3) that can be done locally.
Sometimes, some very, very ignorant people out there looked down on me because I chose to do my M.Sc locally, in my previous campus where I obtained my B.Eng. What is the big thing of going oversea? What is there in oversea that these people look up high to? If I am there now, I'd still be doing research, I'd still need funds, I'd still need equipments and whatsoever. Could it be the weather? Or the quality of research? What do you mean by quality of research? A research's quality is determined from the performance of the researcher, not where it is done.
There was this uncle who told everyone that his daughter obtained a Ph.D in medicine in just a single year. Yeah, right. What am I la, an uneducated, empty-minded bottle of used mosquito repellent? And who is your daughter la, Marie Curie is it?
And some of these oversea graduates are so arrogant with their oversea-produced degrees. As if they are Einsteins or something.
I don't know what is the big prestige of going oversea. Unless if I was enrolling into the MIT or the Department of Engineering Science of Oxford, that is different story. Or if I need a particle accelerator, a nuclear fusion reactor, a volcano, Giant Magellan Telescope or a Hadron SuperCollider, then yes I will be abroad for a reason that we don't have all of them available here in Malaysia. But all I need are a gas chromatography instrument, mercury manometers, precision weight, volume & density device, a convection oven, Type-K and Type-N thermocouples, a scanning electron microscope, a highly-radioactive X-Ray Diffuser machine and other instruments that all are available as we speak, locally.
Here in Malaysia, I am closer to my family. There are plenty of good food around, and I feel very much comfortable here. The people are nice and they treat me as one of them, well of course. It is easy for me to obtain things I need here and by knowing some key people, my works were completed rather quickly. I can have almost everything I need and both my purposes are fulfilled. End of the day, almost all Master's Degree holders are paid according to their qualifications not where they did their studies.
I feel no shame to further my study here. No shame at all. The campus has been internationally-accredited and so far we are at the top of the list nationwide. My published papers are being read worldwide. One of my paper was also published oversea. So these examples show that there is generally no clear difference between studying locally and abroad, other than the weather, the culture and all other things non-academic except for some very distinctive research i.e. genome research and particle physics that are currently being conducted at an advance rate abroad but not here.
And to this one particular guy who studied the effects of hydrogen injections in some delicate bio-chemical system by means of simulation modelling oversea, and showed off to some of my Master's Degree freshmen recently: Well boy, apparently an undergraduate student is doing the same thing here locally, by means of the good old experimental method. "I'm a genius," you said. "You people are idiots," you said. Well what do you know? An undergraduate student is doing exactly what you did, only that she is doing it empirically, producing more reliable, well-analyzed results and sets of data that properly responded to conditional climate settings and surrounding factors that none of which you introduced in your so-called oversea Master's Degree by research, you jackass.
To those who are currently doing thy Master's Degree oversea, well carry on. This post is not meant to bash any of you, except those who deserve it at best. For instance, the self-proclaimed genius mentioned above.
Well there's this one turn-down for not having to study oversea: I cannot send my pictures to Utusan each time it's Raya.
Or can I?