Usually I start a blog after going quiet for so long with an apology but this time I won’t! I am definitely not apologising for taking some time away to just figure things out. moving to Australia, while I thought it was going to be easy, was one of the toughest things I have done to date. While I have been away from home before, for 7 years while in university in South Africa, being this far away actually feels really different. Home is no longer 3 hours and 50 minutes away and the time difference is no longer one hour, so things are definitely different this time around. Honestly, a lot of things are very different, from how supervisors handle you to how you handle yourself as well. It’s been crazy just even trying to figure out, who I am as a person (hello imposter syndrome). I’m generally not one to just let things flow, my OCD and type A personality do not do well with uncontrollable change, so if I’m honest I have really been struggling to adjust. Everything feels so distant, even though it’s around me. I don’t know how else to explain it but it’s really been quite the adjustment for me. Who knew “starting over” would be this hard?!
One of the toughest things about doing a PhD in Australia, especially coming from an African education system, is this thing I keep hearing all the time… i.e. FIND YOUR VOICE!! in your writing, in your life… and all that jazz. So, my cohort is pretty much made up of international students, majority of whom are from less developed countries, where in academia there is a hierarchy. Basically, you have to pay your dues before you can even consider using your voice. Now don’t get me wrong we are still expected to write a stellar thesis, but your “superiors” technically are not interested in radical ideas or anything out of what they consider the norm! and then you get to Australia and everyone wants to know what you think, what you have to say and basically you are in control and your supervisors are there just to monitor your progress and pull you back in if you venture too far out of your area (this happens a lot BTW).
My point is basically, as an African scholar, a female and a young one at that, is that you move from “being seen and not heard” to being encouraged to sit at the big table and speak your mind! Man!! what an adjustment it has been and it still is. Basically, you move from listening to people and following their lead to being the one that people listen to. The transition is hard especially if you’re coming from a place where it has been conditioned in you that you are less than. My mind is still adjusting but I can slowly feel myself coming into myself. Lol. It feels great but it’s a lot to handle all at once! There’s still a lot to learn and I will be sharing those lessons here just in case someone needs some insight.