Who said you can't do a Master's while Pregnant? Defi Lim and the first LLM baby at King's College London
Hello, WINspiration readers! To commemorate the International Women's Day on 8th March 2019, we are thrilled to continue inspiring women with our blog! This time, we are very honoured to interview Defi Lim, a civil servant at Ministry of Finance of Republic of Indonesia (MoF), specifically at Directorate General of Taxes (DGT).
Defi just accomplished her master degree at King's College London, funded by Indonesia Indonesia Endowment Fund for Education (LPDP), and awarded as an LLM in International Tax Law in January 2019. Defi is not just a master graduate, she is also a wife and a mother to a one-year old baby girl. We are excited to hear from Defi!
May you share with us your motivation to pursue a postgraduate master in International Law at King’s College London?
When I was an undergraduate student at State College of Accounting (STAN), my core study was accounting. All of STAN graduates were definitely distributed to be working at MoF at that time, and I was allocated to be on duty at DGT. As time goes by, I learned about taxation as well.
However, my work deals not only with domestic but also international taxation. I realized globalization affects multinational company behaviour in administering their taxation among their group, and consequently tax avoidance practices happened, such as transfer pricing, thin capitalization, treaty shopping, etc. I considered focusing on these schemes were important since I was in charged for taxation of large companies.
For these reasons, I applied for international tax law as my master major. Furthermore, King’s College London has been one of the top twenty universities in the world.
How did your working experience help you in securing a place at your course and obtaining a scholarship from LPDP?
LPDP requires both academic and organizational experiences. I was fortunate that the major that I applied for was in line with my working experience and future career.
Moreover, I was one of Indonesia delegates for some international events such as those hosted by OECD, World Bank, etc. I also engaged with some large MNE cases related to international taxation.
In addition to that, I actively participated in the church leadership. All these factors helped me to secure a place.
What made you decide to bring your husband to London?
I shared my dream to pursue higher education to my husband long before we got married. He supported me a lot since the beginning, but in the middle of the process we found it quite tough since he had to leave his job before moving to the UK. However, we thought it would be worth the price since it would be harder for us to live a long distance marriage.
Moreover, I was already 20-week pregnant when we flew to London. My husband’s presence before my due date and especially post-natal, was extremely valuable. At the end, I could say that he is literally my ‘other half’, since not only had he contributed a lot to my LLM degree, but also has helped me in taking care of our baby.
Did being pregnant make you feel any different from the rest of the students in your class?
I may say that being a preggo student in the class gave me such a great privilege. It was easier to make new friends in the first term since most of my friends asked about my pregnancy.
Even when I had delivered my baby girl, my professor announced the news in front of the class and welcomed her as the first LLM baby at King’s. LOL.
However, there was also an inevitable challenge: to keep up the academic schedule since I did not opt to defer my studies in accordance with my scholarship agency rule.
Would you be able to share with us the help that you received from National Health Service (NHS) during your pregnancy?
Giving birth in the UK has been one of the best experiences in my life. NHS offers excellent services by professional staffs, starting from the midwife appointment, antenatal classes to prepare for the birth, to the postnatal classes such as weaning and solid food introduction to the baby.
However, NHS only offers 2 ultrasound scans (at 8 to 14 weeks, and between 18 and 21 weeks). This affected me on the due date that I had to have emergency C-section because my baby was twisted by the placenta and the condition could not be detected because of that rule. Thankfully, the midwives and doctors were extremely helpful. They also taught me how to breastfeed and provide free vaccinations.
What were your challenges during pregnancy and after giving birth?
Well, actually studying with my bump in the first term of my studies felt much easier than in the second term when I had delivered my baby. Before the due date, I usually went to library and stayed there until midnight to study.
On the contrary, after the delivery, I spent most of my times for the baby. So basically, time constraint is the major problem, especially in the first month of post-natal. These dramatic changes pushed me to adapt with new strategy to keep the pace with my academic timeline.
But on top of that, I managed to prevent myself not to be stressed out in order to protect the fetus and maintain the breast milk production.
Would you share with us, how did you manage your time doing a dissertation while taking care of a family?
I believe in the quote: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. I was aware of the risks I had to take and the challenges I had to face to be a mother, a wife, and a student simultaneously. Thus, I made a timeline for my dissertation and evaluate the progress regularly.
I am fortunate to have a highly-supportive husband. We made an agreement for our time arrangement. Since he worked in the evening, he could use his morning to take care of our baby. I was given the slot in the morning to focus on doing my dissertation. So I had four hours in a day to do the writing, and I always tried to seize the day since I realized every single minute I had was the price that my husband and my baby have paid for my study.
I always tried to seize the day since I realized every single minute I had was the price that my husband and my baby have paid for my study.
What tips would you give to other pregnant women who would like to pursue her studies? ·
What other activities did you enjoy doing while you were in the UK?
I love Sundays since I could go to the church to rest my mind, soul, and spirit. Other than that, London never fails to amaze me with its museums, parks, events, etc. Strolling around and having a picnic with my family and friends were absolutely relaxing too. Perhaps I can say that I enjoyed every single moment while I was in London, which I take it as one of great benefits to have study abroad in the UK.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with WINspiration readers?
I often heard that marriage and having a child were reasons for many women to leave their dreams behind. Hence, some believe it is better to be single or not to have any children. I believe that women’s uniqueness should not be barrier for themselves both to unleash their potential and to pursuit their dreams when they enter a new phase of life.
To be a great wife and a dedicated mother are undoubtedly demanding. But if you keep your dream in your heart, be persevere in chasing it to make it happen, nothing is ever impossible. Looking up to role model or joining women group such as WIN community can be ways to ignite that passion. With the right support system, you will be able to go far.