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.
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.