The Attic (a name which commemorates our first physical location) is, first and foremost, a site for the research students of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester: a virtual community which aims to include all students, be they campus-based and full-time, or distance-learning and overseas. But we welcome contributions from students of museum studies - and allied subject areas - from outside the School and from around the world. Here you will find a lot of serious stuff, like exhibition and research seminar reviews, conference alerts and calls for papers, but there's also some 'fluff'; the things that inspire, distract and keep us going. After all, while we may be dead serious academic types, we're human too.

Monday, June 24, 2013

One Year On

Research Week has started for the PhD students in the department. Well, so I gathered from various posts on my Facebook newsfeed; I don't get the emails any more. The news made me realize that it has been a year since I had my viva; obviously, I didn't get granted the degree right away, and I visited Leicester for my graduation in January, so the anniversary (viva-versary?) feels strange. It was kind of a strange time anyway; I had moved back to Canada in April, then came back for a flying visit in June, with just enough time to do some research in London, hang out with friends, do the viva, and present about the experience the same afternoon in a Research Week session! I can't say I was very helpful to anyone there, as my experience went very smoothly, and there's no learning from that! But perhaps I can be more helpful with a little summary of my year since then.

Because I had busy but efficient examiners, they made sure to get me my list of corrections right away. These were very clear, and I was able to get them done within a few days. I then made arrangements for printing and binding the final thesis, and waited for my degree confirmation, which came 6 weeks after my viva. Short and sweet! It was a lovely moment to get my bound thesis in the post, and it has pride of place on my bookshelf.

Then, real life set in. I have written about that a little bit here already. I was lucky enough to have friendly contacts in my hometown, who set me up with short museum work contracts, and then I got some teaching gigs. In the fall, I was teaching a museum studies introductory course at my local uni, and some art history at the art college. Winter was crazy, as I was invited back to my old place of work 300km to the north to teach a course for a sick friend, but was still teaching in Calgary, too. I enjoyed it, but it was not exactly practical. Now, I am finishing up a condensed spring term with two courses; the finals have been postponed because of catastrophic flooding in the city (I'm fine!). Because I have written 7 courses from scratch this year, I haven't attended any conferences, but have prepped some papers to publish. Writing a book, even if it is from my thesis, is still daunting, however; I need to do some extra research, but with the expenses of wedding planning looming large (yes, Virginia, there is a personal life!), a trip to the UK is out of the question at the moment.

Life still feels very tentative; and I agree with Jenny that managing real life is much harder than the relatively single-minded pursuit of the PhD (personal circumstances notwithstanding; I recognize that many of our students do not have funding, are not single and childless, and are not unemployed). Still, looking back on this first year, I am pleased that, however temporary, I am on track to building a scaffolding for a post-PhD life. I'm even teaching a material culture course next year, which I am looking forward to enormously.

So to those in Leicester this Research Week - enjoy! And if you're not enjoying it: it gets better. Or different. But it does get along, little doggies.

No comments: