A poetic reflection on a Cambridge PhD

Chesterton Road, 2014
It’s hard for me to write a sentence
which conveys all the things that I feel
For what seem like an importance
is a bit hard for one to deal.

“tread softly on my dreams, dear professor”
for it is fragile and soft,
“tread softly on my wishes, dear professor”
for it needs to be kept aloft.

Keep me grounded, however,
to remind me of reality,
Keep me grounded, however,
so I don’t lose focus in its entirety.

Being in this city overwhelmed me,
but at times it gives me peace,
though the thought of it scares me,
but I’m not alone in the least.

Being in this city excited me,
for the knowledge I’m gonna get,
Being in this city exhausted me,
for the standard I am expected to be at.

Thus,

“tread softly on my dreams, dear professor”
for I need it to keep aloft,
keep me grounded, however, professor,
so my journey be smooth and soft.

This poem represents my overwhelming thoughts during my first term as a PhD student at the Faculty of Education in Cambridge. Leaving Southeast Asia and Brunei and embarking on a  PhD meant that I was on a risky, rocky road less travelled. I immediately faced new challenges: immersing myself in an unfamiliar environment; being in a single-sex, mature college (I chose Lucy Cavendish, which only admits women above 21); living with then-strangers (now turned friends); and preparing a draft of my PhD literature review.

Amy Haidi with friends at Lucy Cavendish College

Despite experiencing common PhD feelings such as perfectionism, the impostor syndrome and high expectations, I quickly found my niche and felt part of a supportive community. This enabled me to satisfy my thirst for knowledge and helped me overcome such feelings. Cambridge truly is a special place for learning. The libraries are amazing, the lectures are thought-provoking, and my supervisor and other academics act both as guides and sources of wisdom. Additionally, my friends find themselves in the same boat, each in their own way, and they act as sounding boards—and some even seem to become partners in crime. I have grown a lot since writing the poem two years ago, and all in all, I feel truly blessed to be here.

Hamizah (Amy) Haidi is a third year PhD student at the Faculty of Education. Her research explores the development of reflectivity in Secondary Science (Chemistry and Biology) pre-service teachers in the Cambridge Secondary Science PGCE in the UK. You can follow her on Twitter at @AmyHeidi or read her blog: https://reflectivejourneys.wordpress.com

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