Wednesday, 15 December 2010

where has the time gone?

Well its now December and I can't believe how quick time has gone by. Since my last blog, the semester is finished, I've completed my first semester tutoring, I've graduated and been awarded the Sue Grant Service Award. I've also become part of PG life in the School of Social and Political Science and also managed to be roped into taking the SPS Choir! Caroline and I also managed to raise quite a bit of money through the African Images Exhibition and Auction. I've also given up my weekend job and I'm looking forward to having my saturdays back!

In the last couple of months, I've been so busy with lots of work (both academic and non-academic), I've experience some of the worst snow that Edinburgh has had from a long time, I've also stopped working at the weekends (woohoo) and given up my internship at the Scotland Malawi Partnership!

In terms of PhD work, supervision is well established and I have a number of things to be getting on with (forms, forms and forms)! I've written my first abstract (400 words have never been so hard) submitted some SPSS (stats) coursework (I passed the exam), which felt like it was never ending and now I'm actually getting round to doing some writing!

Given that it is nearly Christmas, I will be heading home for the holidays soon (and taking the work with me).  I'm looking forward to next semester, more tutoring, less auditing, probably the same amount as Uni social based commitments and hopefully lots more reading and writing!

Friday, 29 October 2010

MSc Dissertation Passed!

This is really short update - on Wednesday the MSc African Studies Dissertation results were announced and I passed with a mark of 68!! I'm so happy!

Well done to all the MSc African Studies and MSc A.I.D students!!!

Monday, 25 October 2010

"the PhD student with the inability to say no"

Well it's week 6, and i've more and more reading to do with every blink of an eye! Week 4 and 5 have basically consisted of going to classes and lots of reading. I'm now one of two new student reps for the CAS PhD students -and its not just reading and note taking that is keeping me busy, I've been tasked with organising the hoodies/t-shirts for CAS, helping to organise the CAS Photo Exhibition and now the CAS Christmas Event!

In terms of actual work, I'm auditing classes - which is good as I don't have coursework to submit, I do however have an exam for stats next week :D!! I'm still enjoying the tutoring and if nothing else its a test of my  own knowledge.  There is endless amount of reading to do, and taking notes on it all is pretty much impossible - being selective is the key i have discovered!

I can't believe it's week 6 already, where has the time gone? I also have a part-time job (on a Saturday), on one hand its a good laugh and I'm earning money on the other I want my Saturdays back!! - having to work on a Saturday is simply no fun!

I've become the "PhD student with the inability to say no" - i need to hide myself away and get back to the reading...

Friday, 1 October 2010

Week 0, Week 1 and Week 2...

Well the end of Week 2 is here and it's October already!!! Week 0 was full of induction events, how to do research, how to start writing, getting to know the other new students. Week 1 - was a bit of a blur; I sorted out all the classes i needed to take (Data Analysis) and decided what to audit (Political Economy of Modern Africa, East Central Africa and Africa in International Politics). I then found a quiet corner and got my head into the reading - lots and lots of reading!!! We then had the CAS away day on the Saturday: started in CMB with the usual activities, the afternoon was a trip to Incholm Island - the weather was good which made all the difference. It was a good day and I got to know many of the new students!

With no office space for new PhD students but a new "hot desking" suite, I started week 2 by sorting out a locker and getting organised for what i need and don't need to take with me every day!!  I've also started tutoring - I have a good group and they all seem into the topic, which makes my job much easier!!! I then went back to the reading, getting to grips with SPSS after a year of not using it and more reading!!! 

So by the end of week 2, I have realised that I do remember how to work the stats programme (SPSS), I prefer taking my lecture notes on the laptop rather than writing them, that I know a bit more about African Politics than I realised and that  m still totally clueless about the Anthropology of East Central Africa (I'm a political economist and apparently Malawi is not regarded as East Central Africa - so i feel this is not so much of an issue).

So week 3 brings more reading and note taking, the Global Academy Launch on Friday and the first meeting with my PhD supervisor.....oh and a new weekend job!!!!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Dissertation Submitted - now what do i do?

Well, I submitted my dissertation last Friday and spent the weekend celebrating! Now what do I do?

Well I have now finished one internship, though the other looks set to continue for a while yet. I have to matric on the 14th Sept and not only do I begin the PhD in African Studies, I also start tutoring undergrads! I've been accepted onto a PhD panel for the ECAS conference in Sweden next year - we are just waiting to hear if the panel's proposal gets accepted!

I am going to head home for a few days, take a break and try to relax (which is actually code for do some work in peace and quiet, sort out the rest of my books and folders to bring back to Edinburgh and start reading for the classes i'll be tutoring). Holiday? whats that again?

I've had such a good time this year, from the first weeks at Portsburgh Court and getting to know the city, to taking on internships,  finding my feet at CAS and making new friends. There have been ups and downs, stresses and strains but the best things come to those who wait - well fingers crossed I actually pass the dissertation.

The next few years holds one big adventure - including trips to Africa (one of the things im most excited about). I intend to live life for the present and not just the future.

Let it fuel you. Let it empower you. Let it work for you. And, let it move you to greater heights you otherwise would not have climbed. Because when God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window. So many windows opened I didn't know which one to climb out of...I picked the right one and with friends by my side...this journey is just beginning!

Friday, 13 August 2010

There is only a week to go.......

Well, its Friday - only 7 days till the dissertation has to be submitted! The good news is I have a full draft - the bad news is I have loads of editing to do! (aaarrrrggggghhhhh)

As the weeks have rolled on, time seems to have gone so quickly! What happened to the last ten months? I've moved city, moved jobs, started a masters, taken on internships, completed uni courses, made new friends and met old ones again. I've applied for PhD places, made decisions that will certainly influence my future and chosen where to spend the next few years of my life (Edinburgh, just in case you were wondering).

Reflection on the last 12 months from the last days at GCU - to moving my life across the country, I don't think there are many things I would change. Life have chugged along at a pace, I would never have imagined and I've been given opportunities I will forever be thankful for. I've spent hours chasing my tail in order to meet deadlines, I've spent hours chasing other peoples tails to get the answers I've needed - and every minute has been worth it! 

I am grateful for the opportunities that I've been given, for the support bestowed on me and the time I've been able to spend learning. There is only one more thing to do now.

Finish the dissertation, hand it in and celebrate!!!

Monday, 2 August 2010

MSc Dissertation: Never be fooled!

Well with less than three weeks to go until the dissertation deadline, I'm starting to get a little more stressed out. I'm not as far on as I would have hoped but I'm getting there. Its almost like being at the start line for a 100m sprint and waiting for the starting signal, then when it comes its a false start and its back to the beginning again - once you start though its difficult to stop!!!

I had a phase of for everything that went right something went wrong! I seem to have come through the other side of that now and I'm on my way to the end of the MSc road. It kindly leads to the PhD turn-off which will be my next new direction. I seem to be following a path that leads to Africa and academia, not necessarily in that order, but still I am looking forward to the challenges ahead!

Well back to the dissertation.....

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Crossroads, Traffic Lights and small Hills - and thats just to get to Uni!

OK so this is my first post and the title is probably slightly misleading. I'm currently working on my MSc dissertation - apologies to all the post-grads but it had to be mentioned. As the profile says the purpose of setting up this blog is to try to give the outside world, if not just myself a glimpse of the life of a post-grad research student.

It's not all just sitting at a computer typing, or reading lots of books and academic journals, though for the most part at the moment it seems that's all I do. Well that's not quite true, I'm currently on an internship with the Scotland-Malawi Partnership, my role as the Higher Education Intern keeps me on my toes!

OK  so you're probably more interested in the reason for the title - well basically I  decided that cycling to Uni would be more efficient and better for my health than walking. That was until I attempted it!! Manging to negotiate the cobbles, crossroads and traffic lights, I made it to the traffic free Meadows, only to discover that Middle Meadow Walk is an ever so slight hill - its fair to say i struggled at best to get to the half way mark required to turn into uni.  Cycling it appears is no more efficient at the moment than walking but hopefully I will soon be flying up the hill to get to uni and if not - I'll go back to the slower but less tasking option of walking.

I will be continuing the blog, with hopefully more interesting tales than my lack of fitness - hopefully with an insight into the return of sanity after completing an MSc and the new stresses and successes in commencing a PhD!!!

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