“Run when you can, walk you have to, crawl if you must, JUST NEVER GIVE UP.” – Dean Kamazes
In my opinion there is nothing like crossing the finish line, it is just an emotional thing to accomplish. Each of us have those days when you are truly happy and content with yourself. Seeing your efforts metamorphose into an accomplishment is just amazing in its own way. I had set my own finish line for 30th September 2015. Exact 2 years to finish my masters and start my job on 1st October. But things don’t really go as per plan all the time, do they? Well, this particular event was one such day for me that did teach me things and most important one was – accepting the reality and how to be happy with it.
I had completed my thesis report, had a skeleton ready for my final master thesis defense and was just waiting for the reply from university for a final date of presentation. At this time, I was spending my time in Chemnitz with my friends and waiting each morning for a reply. Nothing was happening. There were just 4 days remaining until the 4th semester ended and I could feel my plan of finishing as per plan almost impossible.
However, there were 2 last defense presentations and I went to attend them, hoping that it would help me prepare for mine (since I had no idea how things worked when it came to defense here in Germany). The presentations were good and I made some notes. During the small break between the presentations on the day before last of the semester, I got an opportunity to talk to the head of my department for exactly 3 minutes.
I headed out after those 3 minutes frantically calling and my mind racing with thoughts. He had given me a chance, or proposed the date of my defense presentation, 20 hours from that time. My mentor from company was more than happy since he knew exactly what I had been working and planning past a year and this opportunity (no matter how improbable it seemed), was the only way that I could graduate in 20 hours, and cross the finish line in exactly 2 years.
On my way to the hostel, I bought a complete set of formal dress and shoes (since the dress that was supposed to be used was in Stuttgart) within 15 minutes and reached room. Until next morning, my friends were all there with me one after the other, trying to keep me as calm as they could. I practiced with them, completed making my presentation, clarified all my doubts with my mentor over the email and finally what calmed my nerves was his line: “Charu, you are the master of your work. No one knows it better than you do. So you do not need to worry. Give your best. All the best! Will see you tomorrow over video conference at 11.”
Sometimes in life, although you know some things in your head, you really need to hear it from someone before it registers in your mind and that is exactly what that line did to me.
Next morning, as early as I could wake up, I did and was ready. Spoke to parents, prayed as everyday, I made my way to the university. I couldn’t believe it was happening. In a matter of 2 hours, I would no longer be a student. I would be a post-graduate.
There were 6 friends of mine who managed to wake up that early and reach there, only to support me. Apart from them there were only 2 professors and me.
The defense began and next 55 minutes, I only knew that I had to explain my work and prove them that I know what I am worth. The questions and answers round also passed and finally we were asked to leave the room for 10 minutes, so that my professor and mentor could grade my work. It was almost over but still, I could feel each minute passing. My friends just looked at me and the that look, honestly made me feel blessed, mainly for having such people in my life. No words can justify their care and support on that day (and each day since I know each of them).
We were called back in, and me professors words still remain crystal clear in my mind, “Congratulations Charu Pathni. You have successfully completed your masters in science with a score of 1,3. You are one of the finest students I have had in years. Congratulations again.” Stumped as I was, all I could manage was a lot of thank you’s and sounds that didn’t make sense or wasn’t even heard. (To all those who are unaware of grading system in Germany (just like I was before I came here), the grades are from 1 to 5. 1 being the highest and descending from there.)
After 30 minutes of congratulating, talking and photo sessions, I was leaving the university no longer a student. The voice that I heard when I spoke to my parents and brother that day, reminded me the reason why I was here and why did I go through this journey. The pride in their voices cannot be compared to the happiness I had, because relatively I was on the low side of spirits.
That evening, I treated my friends with dinner and drinks, and that night I traveled to Stuttgart to join the office as a full-time employee.
Next morning, I reached Stuttgart, got ready for my first day at work and reached office. Little did I know that I would be leaving office even before the day was officially over. Well, it is true, not everything works as per the plan after all. But this next phase, was going to be all together different challenge than what I had faced till now.