It’s going to be 2 years in September since I began this scholarly endeavour. There are times when I feel that I am on top of my game. Other times, like now, I ask my self what the hell am I doing here? And then anxiously ponder whether or not I will actually finish this degree….
There was this smart girl in freshman year when I was doing my Bachelors, who I secretly admired. She went on to finish her PhD in Economics at #Brown, while I travelled oversees to work in 2012 or 13… I remember reading her facebook post and being so proud of her! It went something like “can’t believe it, today I received my degree… and cried!” or something to that effect. In reading it then, I never thought I would actually go back to school to do my PhD. It was a giant’s leap… Which I didn’t think I was capable of! But here I am. I am not sure whether or not I should have gone back to Canada to research–funding would have been easier! A stable political climate (knock on wood! not to mention a hottie PM); more guidance and mentoring, more prepping, and certainly more time to properly design and conduct a useful research…. Being in the UK has its advantages though, such as living in a commercial capital, experiencing a foreign country, being near my partner, travelling around europe, and not to mention finishing in less time (UK degrees are a 3-4 year affair, while in Canada it’s 4-6!). In the UK you are expected to know exactly what you are doing right off the bat. No “dillydallying” trying to come up with a good proposal. Your proposal should have been planned and written and submitted with your application. When you start you are supposed to gather proper evidence and research to support your proposal more academically. Then you conduct your research empirically in either quantitative or qualitative frameworks. There are no mandatory courses/modules to complete (you can choose classes based on your personal needs), no discussions with your supervisor (only updates and consultations), you do not read and think first then write. You write because you are thinking as you go or have already thought and are executing…There is no time for regrets or re-planning or rethinking your research design…
If you wake up one day and think your topic is lots and lots of well supported and referenced BS, well, tough luck! Or rather, congratulations! You have just paid for 3 £20k semesters to find out just that! It is a finding after all, is it not?? I suppose this is why much (in my opinion) of British research is ethnographic, or qualitative in nature… there is a lot of reflection on how things were done (methodology) and ho to go about doing this better (discussion)… there is no time to re-examine again, they build on what they know… for someone else to take that research and build on it…. the historical legacy of research stems from the British’s pioneering days in Natural History and observation in the 18th century. They observe, they report, and they bring back what they can as evidence.
I’ve heard it somewhere that London’s Imperial College was in fact customs headquarters back in the day. All goods were inspected there before being released to the right institution or body. This involved most of the collection from exploratory voyages. Most of this stuff now fills up the likes of the British Museum and so on… How valid this claim is, I don’t know.
Anyhoo… Back to my TA work for now!