My Way Or.. My Way?

One thing they don’t tell you before doing your PhD is that, your supervisors will never disagree with you. I’m not sure which is more worrying, having someone who always criticize your idea or someone who follows your flow yet never actually tell you you’re on the right track. It’s like, their sole reason for being is to supervise the blind.. an inch to the left.. a bit to the right.. just don’t masuk longkang. Maybe this is what PhD is all cracked up to be. Hah -get it? Cracked up? Ayoo.. Just a month in this thing and my sense of humour’s demented.

When I did my Masters, I was blessed (or cursed, depending on my mood) to work with this ancient of a man -72, frail but with the ‘Beautiful Mind’ minus the schizophrenia. Not once did I ever see him referring to a book during our fortnightly discussions. He could recall things that he learnt as a student, things that even I can’t remember just two years before. He’s powerful with dates (as in day, month and year).. names of articles together with their main findings. Now that’s a true Professor. Once, he even wrote one of my reference for me, just to be perfectly sure that I got the style correct. Talk about being spoonfed. If he sensed that I was drifting, he’d suggest some ideas. He was constantly breathing down my neck to meet deadlines at least a week earlier, to the point where I didn’t have enough air to breathe. “Write to me in longer paragraphs”.. “Give me the second draft next week”.. “Where are your latest references?”.. “You submitted the proposal cover and not tell me???!!”.. You get my drift.

My current Supervisors, on the other hand, are quite the opposite. They’re laid back (well, at least one of them is) and a lot younger. Not only are they different from my old Professor but they are also different from each other. Together they form an odd pair. One is the nicest stranger I’ve ever known. Imagine, just meeting him once and the next day at our induction he was already waving (not the polite, wussy kind, this is the “Hello there!!” with arms fluttering kind) at me and calling my name from the other side of the room. Not many Assoc Professors actually bother knowing your name that soon. He’s warm and friendly, even the support staffs love him. That proves to show how amiable he is. We could talk about the weather, like, it’s the most common thing you talk about when takde idea kan?.. Basically, I don’t really feel stressed out lah when I’m talking to him. The other guy, is also a nice man but very straight to the point. Within 5 minutes of our first meeting, he was already asking me SuchandSuch about my proposal. No talking about the weather with this fella. But I kinda suspected that, as he is the one with more expertise in my field of work. He’s the younger between the two, but he has written a lot of stuffs pertaining to my area. Plus, he’s German. So it’ll be “Heil Hitler” from now on I guess.

Despite their differences, I think they complement each other.. which works for me. While the other may keep me constantly on my toes -Dr.German has already made me read a book and I suspect I should be discussing its content tomorrow during our next meeting, the other can make me relax a bit.

Now don’t get me wrong. I happen to like and appreciate my current supervisors. In fact, I’ve never felt so lucky. Compared to some horror stories that I’ve heard, how some supervisors actually throw proposals out of the window.. or into the dustbin. Yell at you. Some even demand you do a completely different set of literature review when your deadline for submission is less than 24 hours away. Chilling. Compared to them, my guys are way, wayyy better. Even if they don’t give me definite answers. Hehe.

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