Yes, I just closed the final curtain of my formal education, my latest stage of higher education, Ph.D. I am relieved, I am happy, I am full of joy, I am excited. Therefore I cannot sleep just like yesterday when I was so nervous preparing myself for the defense :).
My public oral defense, how was it? Here is the story.
Early morning Sept 1st, 2005
I wrote: It's already that day, the 1st of September. In less than half day I'll have my public oral defense. I tried to sleep but I couldn't. My mind cannot stop thinking. Ah, I really need some sleep so I'll try again to get some sleep, perhaps an iPod will help. I know I shouldn't be nervous, but I am.
Morning to noon of Sept 1st, 2005
After having such a little sleep, I started my day with a visit to downtown Enschede. I bought some frames for some drawing I made for my committee members, then I took a bus to the building where I would have my defense, De Spiegel, to do a try-out of my powerpoint. Alas, at first my file couldn't be opened. Luckily, after re-copied the file, it worked well. I did a try-out to make sure that my presentation wouldn't be longer than 12 minutes. It was difficult to make such a short effective presentation, but with the 'strict control' of Joe (my 2nd paranymph) I managed to do so. After that, I went to the office and did some printing stuff. I printed some defense tips I made for myself [tips such as "speak slowly", "stay cool", "don't panic", "give emphasis on key words"]. Finished everything, after missing the bus, I finaly went home, but for only 45 minutes, then headed back to De Spiegel building. It was 2:00 pm. My presentation had to start at 2:45 pm. I quickly changed my clothes. Put a bit of make up. Made my hair. It took me only 20 minutes to finish all and everything was set. Yes, I wore kebaya Sunda and batik tulis halus.
[paranymph is the term used for an assistant or a best man/woman of a phd candidate in his/her promotie/public defense]
Usually the defense is never late. This time, though, it started late because, surprisingly nice, the Indonesian Ambassador came to attend my defense and his atache who accompanied him came a bit late. Because of the Ambassador presence, the president of university came to the defense room to welcome him, thus he also came to me and wish me luck. It was such a priviledge.
The beaddle/pedel entered the room, followed by me and the two paranymphs. I then started my presentation by introducing my two paranymphs, Sarah and Joe. They were chosen by me because they were living witnesses of my erratic behavior and they were suffered most by sharing their rooms with me during my writing dissertation process :P The presentation went well. I had my audience (approx 60-70 people) laughed at my jokes (I started everything with INdomie TEloR korNET stuff) and gave me a big applause at the end.
The beaddle came with his stick, marking the beginning of a real event. Within 45 minutes, I got 6 questions from 6 examiners. It was full of tension. All questions were much more difficult than what I could guess. Amazingly, I had answers for each question. I didn't know how it happened. I just heard the answers in my head. I guess answers just came from the inside of me. It went better than what I expected.
The beaddle came again. The defense was over. Wuuuih, a big relief. The next 15 minutes was awaiting moment. The committee went to the secret room to discuss their decision.
The beaddle and the committee came back to the room. The chairman (Dean) invited me to come to hear the decision. Well, at first it was exciting but it was predictable. At that moment, I thought, of course, just like anybody else who had their PhD defense in Holland, I would pass and I would get the degree. That's all. So, I was cool when my promotor read and explain the decision. Then there was a small pause.
The Dean announced that I was awarded a Doctoral degree with Cum Laude. Wow! I stuned. The audience cheered. That was really something. Unexpected. Unpredictable. I didn't think about it at all. Indeed it was a very very nice big surprise. Wow!
The rest of the day then became extraordinary. My promotor's speech was great. The reception was enjoyable. The dinner party was superb.
I feel blessed to be surrounded by great professors, excellent committee, helpful colleagues and loving friends as well as superb family (great parents, of course).
I also want to thank you all of my friends in cyberspace who have been supportive. Thank you, really.