I'm a Social & Cultural Psychologist
The Lisbon City Council announced a red alert for bad weather, urging people to stay home or to stay out of Lisbon city.
The alert was announced at 6.30 am. My thesis defence was at 10 am. The university hurriedly rescheduled all afternoon defences to be conducted online. They didn't get to reschedule my defence on time.
There were flooded traffic tunnels, submerged buses, halted inter-city trains and the closure of schools. This was never before experienced in Lisbon.
Yet by some miracle or a series of intuitive decisions, I made it to campus an hour before my defence. Safe, unharmed and nervous.
It's funny how the beginning and the ending were similar yet different.
In 2020, the Malaysian Prime Minister announced a Movement Control Order (MCO), and I left Malaysia to pursue a master's program in Portugal. Many countries announced a red alert for COVID-19, urging people to stay home and for foreigners to stay out.
The hospitals were flooded with patients, decommissioned busses, halted flights, and the closure of schools. This was never before experienced in the world.
Yet by some miracle or a series of intuitive decisions, I arrived at Lisbon airport, complete with masks and goggles. Safe, un-infected and nervous.
Two years later, I've come to the end of my master's program, the end of another phase in my life. In ISCTE-IUL and for my program, the thesis defence was conducted as follows
- 5-minute opening speech by the president or president-representative
- 15-minute presentation of your master's research
- 10 - 15 minute commentary and questions by the discussant
- 10 - 15 minute addressing of commentary and questions by the student
- 5-minute closing speech by the research supervisor
- 15 - 20 minutes of grade deliberation
- 5 minutes of the acceptance of the thesis and the announcement of the grade
If the jury accepts the thesis, I will graduate. If not, they'll request minor changes before accepting the thesis.
A passing grade is 10 out of 20. An excellent grade is 17 and above. Though, it seems no one ever really fails at a thesis defence.
And so, on the 13th of December, I made my presentation, answered questions, waited for the announcement, shook a few hands and... I've graduated!
I'm a Social and Cultural Psychologist.
My graduation was a significant life event, somewhat ordinary, lacking fan fair and in the midst of chaos.
It's funny how important life transitions, the beginning and the ending, were similar yet different.
In 2020, when Malaysia was under MCO, the authorities only allowed "essential" workers to leave or enter the country. Thankfully, "essential" workers included international students. Additionally, only one driver and one passenger were allowed in a car on the road.
And so I packed my luggage, hugged my brothers goodbye and left home with Dad as my driver.
With the airport parking closed, Dad dropped me off at the departures, unloaded my luggage and hugged me goodbye. It felt like my usual monthly airport drop-off when I lived in Singapore before COVID-19.
Yet, this time it was different. The airport drop-off was a significant life event, somewhat ordinary, lacking fan fair and in the midst of chaos.
Looking back, it seemed as if I was destined to take this master's program. The universe's invisible hands and instinctual nudges guided me safely to leave Singapore, arrive in Portugal and complete this program.
Despite the chaos and the challenges along with it, these two wonderful years could not have happened without the unconditional love and support of my dedicated teachers, encouraging classmates, benevolent friends and my dearest loving family.
Whatever the universe has in store for me next, whatever awaits me in the years ahead, I have faith that I'll be guided safely towards fulfilling my highest purpose for the benefit of many.
No words could express my deep gratitude. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart. 💖