For someone who is no longer so young, to contemplate studying a PhD is a difficult decision. As someone who hasn’t been in a classroom for nearly 20 years, to put your head down to pass the entrance exam is no easy feat, and then you must spend 3 to 6 years before you finish. Also, before making this decision, you must mentally prepare not to be tempted by distractions such as lucrative architectural projects. In addition, there is all the time spent reading and in lectures, and the preparation necessary to compensate many years of not studying and being out of the loop of current events. You need to prepare a relevant topic for your thesis, and have a basic understanding and direction before studying. It is difficult to face these challenges.
In fact, from as early as 2000, I’ve been planning to write a PhD, but I dragged my feet for many reasons. Finally, my teacher said to me he is preparing to retire and that I’m still young and should do a PhD. This re-ignited my desire and may be one of the reasons I’ve decided to do a PhD. But perhaps a more important reason, that people may find hard to believe, is to provide a diligent, determined role model for my child. At the time, my child was writing sentences in Chinese class including the sentence: “Once… then…”. My child wrote the sentence: “Once my Dad is free, he plays on the computer.” I was shocked when I saw this sentence and lapsed into deep contemplation. What kind of impression have I given to my child? This requires some serious thinking. I definitely sit in front of the computer when I’m free, not playing games, but drawing, writing, doing ad hoc work, etc. Of course, sometimes I do go to the internet or play Chinese chess and online games, including exciting red alarms and minesweeper. At the time, he was a primary school student, he was not able to undertstand the need for a cimputer to finish his work. Sometimes, I even played a couple of games of chess with him using the computer. Because of this, it left the child with the feeling and impression that this was very normal. however, in order to give my child a good influence as a father, I had to change his bored, uninspired perception. I went back to school as I got older to demonstrate this. Studying diligently for my exam and writing my thesis, although exhausting, finally changed my child’s point of view and served as a model that hard work can achieve great things. Additionally, there was another reason I got my PhD, that was vanity: I get to put PhD on my business card, how cool is that! However, there are a lot of fake PhDs out there, I reckon this is diluting the significance of having a PhD.（Here, considering the feelings of some people, I have made some modifications, and incidentally, I also got rid of the ‘contact me’ option, I hope you will understand).
I don’t want to imply that these reasons are a joke, it’s really how I feel. Of course, the PhD degree will have an additional use, but it’s not my greatest concern. Studying a PhD for apparently uncommon and possibly shameful reasons still brings me great happiness. After ten years of working night and day under pressure, and running around for daily necessities, where thinking was not possible, and there was no time to think, after that, the possibly to calm down and get into a lecture hall again, hide in the library to read, and spend the night holding a pen, I can’t describe the kind of pleasure this kind of life brings to me, and those who haven’t experienced it themselves can’t understand and appreciate.
Of course, my reason for studying a PhD is not common because I don’t have the pressure of looking for a job or earning a living. However, this odd way of thinking made he process of learning and writing my thesis more relaxing. Because my supervisor gave me the freedom to choose a topic which I had been reflecting on for a while and was prepared for. In other words, I’m doing a PhD with my own research questions and in my own field. Moreover, most of the thesis is already developed from the start.
I haven’t been to university for a while. When I return to the classroom among young people, it makes me feel amazing, as if I was reborn. Most of the things I learn are like old acquaintances, but still like new. For instance, I learnt that the urban architect Rossi was part of the post-modernist movement, and that Gehry’s Museum was mocked as being inspired by Marilyn Monroe’s skirt. I listen carefully even if it’s only a politics class. In the final open-book exam, the student sitting next to me gets ‘extra benefits’, because I can find out the pages which contain the correct information not only quickly but also accurately.
In fact, not having a ‘proper’ goal for studying did not affect my enthusiasm. As I started reading and reading, I forgot my initial motive, but immersed myself in the joy of researching and learning. During that time, I was probably the oldest person reading books and magazines in the library. The little children would often see a white-haired old man with his tables covered with foreign books, and photographs, and scans. In the university library, I would sometimes spend a whole day looking for evidence in books that were like piles of garbage, or to check the original source of a reference. 痴迷于研究的惯性导致我后来看到绝大部分的拥挤建筑现象都会不自觉地联想到我的研究方向，然后进行一番深入分析和考据。Of course, gradually clarifying the purpose of the study, 那便是至少能在这个领域里说得上几句研究经验，为日益拥挤的环境提供一些寻找空间的方法，为需要空间的人们找到一些出路。整三年时间便完成了博士论文写作并答辩通过。And in a recent series of public service design activities, I actually put into practice what I’d been researching – that made me very happy!
Before doing a PhD, I thought that if you want to be an architect, an undergraduate or a Masters’ degree is enough. But if a PhD does not serve a utilitarian function, but the possibility to conduct systematic and in-depth thinking on a subject of interest does have its fruit, and will ultimately make your designs more justified – more distinctly justified.
Source : Douban, 12 December 2012