(In)Decisive moment

Back in April, I had a plan. I would be Toronto from late April to late August, and then go back to Brazil, hopefully for good. (The going-back-to-Brazil-hopefully-for-good part has actually been the plan for a bit longer than that, check for instance the April before last.) August is now practically here, and the question is: am I going home now? And if so, is it for good?

The answer is: I do not know. I know I should know, but I don’t. The thing was, in my ignorant arrogance (incidentally, it’s interesting how ignorance and arrogance often go together), I actually thought I could finish my thesis by the end of this summer. This was back in February. By June, I thought I’d be happy if I could have a full draft done by the end of August. And now it becomes quite obvious I might not have even that.

And it is not that I haven’t been working hard: I have been diligent, and even productive (the two don’t always go together, but they have been lately). It’s just that I keep underestimating how much work a PhD requires (or overestimating my capacity, which comes to the same thing at the end of the day — or the end of the summer as it turns out).

So I find I have three options:
1) To go home at the end of the summer, finish my thesis there and come back later to defend it;

2) To go home at the end of the summer, give up on completing the degree and never come back;

3) Not to go home until the degree gets finished, end of story.

I must say number 2 is the most tempting of the three. I’ve written before that I was never that attached to the thought of completing the PhD: I was doing it just for the fun of it. If it stopped being fun, why do it?

But then I thought: it’s sooo close! It is close, isn’t it? Is it actually close? Problem is, it’s been looking as if it’s close for a while. For quite a while. A very long while. And yet the end seems to keep eluding me. And as you might have noticed if you’ve read any of my recent writing (e.g. this entry), I’m homesick. Silly, I know. But I am.

The thought then comes: why not go home like I did last August, spend the year there like I did last year, and come back again next April like I did this April? I could try to finish the writing there, and come here when it’s done, when the weather is nice (I couldn’t handle another winter). I could take up same summer job again, which conveniently comes with room and board, which is quite handy given that I no longer have a place of my own in Toronto.

This sounded like an excellent idea. I got excited for ten minutes. And then the lists of cons quickly got ten times longer than the lists of pros.

1) The trip Brasilia-Toronto is becoming increasingly more difficult. I can’t even start tracking all the posts I complained about:

a) the logistics of travelling (e. g. all entries for October and November 2007). Add to it the fact that I heard rumours Brazilian airports were going on strike again this week. This does not seem to have actually materialized, but I have been there before when this happened, and it’s just not fun.

b) rising fuel costs means rising plane prices. I’ve always been able to get home for about Cdn $1,000, give or take $200, depending on time of year. This is less than rent in Toronto for two months — which makes a trip worth it if you’re planning on staying more than a couple of months. So far the prices seem to be stable. But you never know what it will be like a year from now.

c) rising emotional costs. Getting myself ready to leave Brazil for another trip to Toronto has become increasingly more difficult at an emotional level. Before I used to get all excited. Couldn’t wait. Counting days and all. But now I’m so excited about being there, all the projects that I have going on there, that I find it hard to leave my life there to come here. Last time it took me about a month to reconcile myself to the fact that here I was, once again.  Now that I’ve settled in, I’m actually happy to be here. It’s just that the getting-ready-for and the settling-in nowadays take a lot more time and energy than they used to ten years ago.

2) You’d think that giving myself a year before coming back to Toronto would balance out most of the costs I’ve just mentioned. But then there are other costs:

a) time: my visa expires January 2009. It was a lot of hassle getting it  renewed last November (see here and here). And this was so even though I had proof of funding that outlasts my passport expiration date. But my funding expires April 2009: that its, less than four months after my current passport and visa expire. Even if I could make a case for why my visa should be renewed for more than four months, there is another problem:

b) tuition costs:  funding ends April 2009. Which means that a year from now this degree will be costing me 15,000 dollars a year. I know I have often complained about how little money I make. But owing a lot of money strikes me as being exponentially worse. Besides, here comes blessing in disguise again: I’m not eligible for loans in Canada because I’m on a visa; I’m not eligible for loans in Brazil because I haven’t lived there in ten years. So waiting until next summer is simply not an option.

So turns out I’ve only got two options, and not three. The decison really comes down to committing to staying here until this thing is finished, or just go home now and forget about it.  

One could call this a very decisive moment in my life. Except that I feel completely indecisive…


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