Unexpected life lately

I originally wrote the below post to go up before Christmas, but then the Monday before Christmas, we received news that my grandmother living in China had had a stroke. That night I packed my things and went to my parents’ house. Some time after midnight my dad received the call that his mother had passed away. The next day was spent running around getting flights and processing emergency Visas for my parents and I. Three years ago, also a few days before Christmas, we had to make the same emergency flight back to China so we were well prepared for how to get it done. We flew out that night and arrived the next night (after a horrible delay due to pollution resulting in a seven hour transit in China). It was a crazy and tiring trip. She was my third grandparent to pass away so I am now more or less prepared for Chinese death rituals, although my dad’s siblings kept this one really simple (we were able to sleep every night). The funeral was on Saturday, and on Sunday (Christmas day), I flew back home with my mum (my dad would stay another week). On that day I also got sick and spent the the flight and week between Christmas and New Years being quite sick. Such is getting sick in China. So that was my Christmas. Although it was an emotionally and physically distressing – not least because my grandmother’s passing was so utterly sudden and unexpected, there is peace to knowing that she lived a wholesome and healthy life without any illnesses, and although she went too soon, she was surrounded by friends in the local park when she collapsed (and not alone in her house) and experienced little discomfort while unconscious. May she rest in peace with my grandfather.


The last couple of months have been rather eventful. Job security isn’t really a reality in my area of science, but I had wanted to leave my current job regardless if my contract could be extended at the end of November or not. Of course it would be a huge risk to voluntarily leave without securing another job. I decided to go for it anyway and push myself out of a comfort zone. Since I already know I don’t want to stay in this job role forever, it was time to be proactive. I sent out about a dozen job applications. Surprisingly, I actually got two offers! The first was basically the same as my current job but in a better environment. The second offer was unexpected me because it was from industry and I only went to the interview for practice. I turned down returning for a second chat on account of liking my other offer more. They were rather insistent that industry was better and paid better (which is true but despite a $13k pay difference on paper, my current salary packaging benefits means I still earn within a few thousand of the industry pay) and asked me to come in again anyway. Once I did that maths, I no longer felt guilty about turning down a significantly higher paying job because it wasn’t. In the end I managed to firmly turn them down. My current boss also extended my contract for a few more months to finish off projects, so I will be starting in a new (but very similar) job mid February. Things ended up working out really well and I won’t be in a worse situation next year, although I’m not sure if the initial decision to leave was a good call (because of the risks) and it was probably very irresponsible. I would have loved to find a job which was more different, but I am so thankful for what I have lined up. Somehow all the pieces fell in to place and I’m counting my lucky stars.

I will also be studying a Masters course in 2017 at The University of Sydney by distance. I am resolved to do this full time and work full time. I never put enough effort into any of my studies in high school or undergraduate university. I can only own up to putting in effort for Honours. I owe myself at least one year of hard work. I hated my Bachelor so much and I still have no idea what I’m doing with my life so I really want to make this degree count. I actually applied for a mid year 2016 intake and was already accepted but decided to wait for the end of 2016 in the hopes of securing a CSP (Commonwealth Supported Placement) placement for 2017. This would effectively make my tuition fees two thirds subsidised. I had been wondering if it was even worth studying full-fee, as full-fee study is a difficult concept for me. I was fairly certain I wouldn’t get a place based on academic standing (poor university performance mentioned) so I had unhappily resigned myself to pushing ahead in a full-fee placement. What’s some five additional years of paying back student loans? However against all odds, I received news that I had secured one of the additional CSP spots! I was quite emotional at my work desk, crying silent tears (don’t worry, nobody saw). I’m not sure if it’s an achievement but somehow it feels like an achievement. I’m so thankful to be given a fairly competitive CSP spot. Somehow the pieces all fell into place again. Thank you, lucky stars!

Needless to say, 2017 is going to be a big, intense and very different year.

  • My condolences to your family for your Grandma.

    It is good to read an update on how things are going. Congratulations on the new job and the CSP spot! (The Australian system with some funded and some paying spots is so different from American graduate schools.)

    • Thank you for all the kind words 🙂

      It is much harder to get a subsidised postgraduate position… probably ~20% of domestic students in a postgrad course compared to 90%+ in undergrad. I’m certainly not complaining, hehe.

  • I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m glad to hear the Masters spot and the job worked out. Good luck for 2017!

    • Thank you very much! Happy 2017 to you too!