Last Saturday on February 12, 2011, I had my Thesis Defense Day. This is to prove and show that I am capable in explaining my analysis and show the examiners (I still call them: Prosecutors) that I master my whole writing in the thesis.
My thesis entitled Identity and Alienation of Slave and Slave Master in Edward P. Jones’ The Known World. Generally, it discussed a slavery situation in fictional county of Manchester County, Virgina, in the southern states of America in around 1830s. In the antebellum period (that is the era before the outbreak of Civil War), black master purchased himself to his white master to be free and then he might purchase land, home, plantation and he became the “next” master generation like the white master by purchasing and owning black slaves as well.
Let’s not talk about the analysis, the result and those hardcore process. I want to share the experience of being grilled in the “courtroom” of the Defense Day.
I checked the schedule on Tuesday morning after received two freak-out text messages from my thesis’s fellows. Actually, the updated schedule should have been out on the previous day, on Monday, but the Student Service Center (LIM) even didn’t inform me that my defense day’s sched was out!
Just imagine if I missed checking the update sched for even one day, I would be in a frigging rush to prepare everything – especially the attire that I must wear white long-sleeve shirt tucked in a black pencil skirt, with white socks and black formal shoes. It was the geekest look the prosecutors, I mean the examiners, would loooove to see in the importantly important day!
As I was looking forward to the D-day, I prepared and practiced hundreds of times. Thank God, my mentor asked for practicing the presentation and asking questions in D-day simulation two days before the real D-day. It totally helped a lot.
I should have hugged my mentor because of it. Lia Kristianti (my fast-track mate who's the mentee of another mentor actually) and Febri (the senior and my mentor’s mentee) were there too, we had the same fate to do the simulation. Personally, the simulation even did not less hardcore than the real D-day. So it was all worthy to do.
The nightmare had come.
The Defense Day on February 12 was there.
It existed. It was there. Gosh.
The day that I’d been waiting and haunting me every night was ready to burn me alive.
Whether I was meant to be “dead”, not literally, or come out from the court room alive were all my choices.
And I was there to prove them my greatest masterpiece so far.
I wake up at 5 am, as usual, to do the early dawn pray (as I am a moslem) and then intensely I practiced like thrice in 4 hours countdown before it reached 9 am – as my Defense schedule put it would be conducted at 9.20 am.
I and my thesis friend, Lia, had arranged the clicker practicing in my home earlier. Our clicker was Valentina Ataru, the nice and good friend of mine who always gets bullied by our circle of friends (hahahaha because we really love youuuuu, deer, and you always know that!).
Valentina and Lia came at around 7:30 in the morning, we changed clothes with that black-white outfit (I wished I looked like Carolina Herrera in that BW style), and practiced only once with Miss Clicker of the D-day so she would recognize the slides she must push “next” at every discussion.
We arrived at Kijang campus at 9:20 sharp! We were afraid if we were late even for a minute and we could not present the thesis – but fortunately it did not happen.
We just knew our prosecutors, err… examiners, right before we entered the courtroom. They were two literature experts cum lecturers at the university we’re studying in. There were four students who were scheduled to be prosecuted that day: the two others were seniors who extended their thesis writing for one-semester long.
We got to have briefing at first, and one of the prosecutors (Okay, oookay, examiners…) told us our turn for the presentation. My turn happened to be fourth, means I was the last man standing. I was about to explode and really dissatisfied with that. I thought I would be the first or second. The first and third were the seniors, Lia was the second.
But, it didn’t matter anymore as I was getting more and more boooored as hell waiting for my turn to shine (???).
During the insane waiting for 4 hours, I only sat alone outside and did tweeting (especially when Lia went inside to deliver her presentation for about an hour, I was so aloooone there). I did not read again my summary and notes, and I knew it was the best way because if I did memorize or read it again I would become exhausted even more. And when the third student was inside, I almost lost (about 70% maybe?) my mood and thrill of the important day.
However, I kept telling myself that I could do it as perfect as I could (of course I reckoned there’s no such perfection on earth, it belongs to God only), and the prosecu… the examiners must have known NOTHING about my writing.
It was me who battled with it and worked my ass off to meet and deal with all the beautiful pressures during the making of my thesis.
It was me who searched for data like madman and read the novel that the author must have given me some credits for mastering The Known World novel.
Just so you know, dearest readers, the novel I chose has the most complicated plot I’ve ever read and many characters (some are brought up only once or twice, some are the majors, others are the supporting and minor characters… It all drove me amnesiac!). They also are mentioned not in the easy-to-read order in its chapters.
At 12:25 pm the third student stepped out the room, and the thing that surprised me was she only took no more than 30 minutes inside the room.
Yeah… the first student took about 45 minutes, then Lia had almost more than an hour, but the third was only 30 minutes? What the heck was wrong with her? Or with the process inside perhaps?
I was curious to death to know what;s happening, but yeah... simply it disappeared as my turn eventually had come.
With a great excitement and outrageously losing the nervousness, I, with my full of confidence, walked inside the room and 100% ready to face whatever they would throw me those some mental-crashing questions.
The first 15 minutes passed by as I delivered my slides. The examiners only paid attention and managed eye-contact with me for several times. They were busy skipping through pages of my thesis soft-cover following my explanation from the slides. It all went just like that, and the most essential part was coming, I obliged to sit down in front of them and had to be ready to be toasted by them…
Well, I just sum up the whole questions targeted to me here.
They asked the definition of Marxism, capitalism, the meaning of identity, alienation I intended in the thesis; as well as the gender, religion as identity in the theory chapter.
They did NOT ask me explicitly that I needed to explain the meaning or definition to challenge my knowledge and my true-process of finding all of the theories and concepts.
It was like, “In your opinion…” or “What specific identity is supposed to mean here?” or “Why you used Marxism in your analysis?”, "Why you chose this title?" or the predicted one "Why you chose Marxism and this novel? Do they have the relation?"... and many more kind of tricky questions.
The slides were being drilled afterwards. Mr Nafan, one of my examiners, asked the connection between the problem formulations to the title, to the research method, to the theory (in Chapter 2), to my analysis and I must give him some examples from the novel, to the result, and back again to the theory explanation, and Chapter 1’s problem formulations.
Mr Nafan insisted me that there’s too broad topic in theory I chose, including the Marxist’s characteristics and so on. He wanted to know what page I put my defense statement and evidences. And hell yeah, I mean…, thanks sooo much my God, I could find the page I needen in defensing myself. (We’re allowed to open up our thesis bundle somehow…).
Then Mr Akun (another examiner) got the stick to ask me other million things I did not expected. He said about Post Colonialism and mimicry concept. I was suggested to use it instead of Marx’s capitalism.
Then I talked to myself like, “WTF I did not want to apply that Post-frigging-Colonialism stuff, damn it, it’s my theory I confidently used in my analysis…”
Or maybe not that rocking voices in speaking to myself. Really, I always be a soft and nice girl (@#5asdf*7$ you’re permitted not to believe it…).
Mr Akun was the angel at that time, but only for some minutes, I thought. He suggested some things for my revision, he concluded what Mr Nafan had said, and more and mooore.
Then…….. Mr Akun questioned my table of content’s relation towards my result, conclusion and examples. When I was explaining my answer, he gigled and smiled widely...
My monologue at the time: "Something's not right here, he should not do that. Am I giving him stupid answers? Am I wrong already? Am I going to die son?"
But after around three questions he stated, I gained my power back, and recalled that it was only a trick to crash my mental!
I was like (another monologue-off the record): “Okay ‘nuff asking, imma givin’ yall the answers yo wanna hear, dudes…”
(and felt like the background of music is Ludacris — How Low Can You Go.. oh sooo good.)
Hey, I didn’t mean to be an annoying person or arrogant, readers...
But I was just mastering my own thesis with all of the explanation, that’s it. That was also the reason I did not take much notes and bring any cue cards in my slide presentation, just the two empty hands. I was proud of myself (It is not a crime, isn’t it?)
And now I just realized something: It was smoking HARD, seriously!
But I went through it, I passed and got a remarkable feeling after all.
I even honestly didn’t recall how the hell I could answer and defense myself at that time. My turn ate a little bit more than one hour, similar to Lia.
When I stepped out of the room, I grinned widely to the universe (not really, but to my friends outside the room) and felt like a champion and rockstar!
(music background? only Slash's guitar shredding tunes... Olala!)
Valentina, my clicker, said my face was like an idiot and giving a quirk smile and looking to the examiners when they kept saying there was too broad in choosing Marx’s capitalism. Well, that’s good right? At least I still acted like a normal human/student: was scared a bit and admitted that I was wrong at some points. Feeling awesome…
Most of the question digging my thesis was asked and argued by Mr Nafan, he’s a doctor and part-time lecturer for literature field. His face succeeded in turning my positive thinking into almost-negative one. But throughout the Q&A session, I started to learn and identify that it was all fake!
I mean, in the end of the whole session of presentation delivered by four students, he smiled, thanked, joked around and good lucked to all of us.
Mr Akun stated what to do after that Defense Day, for the revision of hardcover finishing point and, of course, our scores!
So here we go, four of us waited for this moment to come, the decision had been made and we were steady to accept the scores for our efforts.
The first senior student got a B, then Lia got an A (yeah, congratulations, and I so kneeeeeeew you’d get that A, mate!), the third senior student got a C, and me? Mr Akun paused for awhile and asked me to guess what score I would get.
I answered with a cherish face and shaking hands: “Think I got an A+++, triple plusses!”. They laughed and, yeah, he gave me that:
“For Amelia, congratulations, you got an A.”
*A BIG FAT BEAUTIFULLY MAGNIFICENT "A" ! Uuuyeaaaaah......*
My heart stopped, my blood rushed to my lowest part of the body, I got such fog in my eyes and I wanted to hug everyone there. But then I only managed to say, “Oh God, Thank you, sirs… thank you very much! I can’t believe it, finally my hard work… it all paid well! Thanks, sirs…”
We congratulate each other, we shaked hands, hugged and smiled, before leaving the room.
That’s that! What else can I say?
Outside the room, I texted my parents, my friends who wanted to know the result, and tweeted plus updated my Facebook’s “What’s on your mind" box. I was so grateful, amazed and lost of words.
So, I must get my Valentina (sounds like a pet? Hahaha kidding, Lent!) free meals as I had promised her.
We had our late lunch with fettuccini, French fries and gado-gado padang – it is vegetable mixed with noodle and tofu, with peanut sauce (I am a big fan of gado-gado!). We Omegle-ing and found some crazy and fun foreigners, and also we talked about how it was going, how she would finish her thesis for this semester… we had a good time.
My note for you, my eight semester friends, who are going to write your theses:
READ many books, articles, reports or digital documents and e-books…
SEARCH a lot, give all your best attempt and work really hard to find deeper idea and problem for your analysis.
The examiners do not expect such shallow, descriptive and surface-meaning analysis.
It is not what a college student must do, and we’re not high school students.
And as you already master your own writing, you will not get any stress or scary feeling that you will probably fail in the Defense Day.
Anyway, who wants to get a bachelor degree with a bad score and shallow thesis/paper analysis?
Yup, nobody, including you and you and you...
P.S.: This triggers me to get my master as soon as possible.
Maybe next year, or two year ahead? I want to have my master degree, in International Business field. Without it, I am not complete as a women of the universe (???).
Teehee… such a dirty nerdy ambitious woman I am, aren’t I?