happy summer solstice!

Happy Summer Solstice!

Today is the longest day of the year.  Enjoy the sunlight and take some time to reflect on all the beautiful and bright things in your life.

It’s the end of the first week of the 2019 season of the Bamburgh Research Project and I’m back in Edinburgh just for the day do run errands and do my laundry.

This season I am working as the Assistant Finds Supervisor.  If you’ve been totally out of the loop, the BRP is located at Bamburgh Castle in Northumbria.  Bamburgh was a massive Anglo-Saxon stronghold and later medieval fortress.  Excavations are currently focused in the outer ward of the castle in a known metal working area circa the sixth to seventh centuries CE.

So far, I’ve been teaching illustration techniques and am currently in the middle of reorganizing how the project stores bulk finds (pottery, ceramic building material, charcoal, etc).  Up until recently the project stored bulk finds by year.  It was decided that to make it easier for future study we would reorder everything so artefact types are together regardless of year.  It’ll make everything easier… but is a process to do.

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view of the office.

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This past week has truthfully gone by quickly.  I took the train from Edinburgh last Friday.  We had a staff work day on Saturday to organise our new offices and get the trench ready for students the next day.

I also received my degree classification last Friday.  I have been awarded a First Class Degree in History & Archaeology MA with Honours.  It’s a mouthful, but basically it means I did a pretty damn good job.  A First is the highest degree classification you can get in the UK.  Also, as I found out yesterday, I was one of two students to receive the Archaeological Dissertation Prize.  The award was split this year and is awarded to the student (or students) who received the highest mark for the year on their dissertations.  Maybe it’s time to actually print copies…

If you can remember that far back to April, my dissertation focused on architectural archaeology and cultural heritage management of the Botanic Cottage at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.  I pulled in a lot of my experiences volunteering at the Cottage for the past two years as well.

But yeah. It’s been exciting.

And honestly, it’s a week illustrating what happens when you really, really want something.  I guess dreams really do come true, kiddos.  And, like, I really, really don’t want to sound like an asshole, but I’m so proud.  I am graduating from a top 20 world university with top honours, hanging out at an archaeological site all summer, and then starting a Masters in a field I love.

I never compare myself to others because we are all flowers growing at our own pace,  however, I do compare myself to past versions.  This is my evaluation: present-Kenn is everything past-Kenn hoped she would be, but, present-Kenn still has work to do so future-Kenn can be her best version.

But, I could have never done it without my friends or my parents or my lecturers or my supervisors or the RBGE or the BRP.  My heart is so full and I owe it to you all.

I’m back to Bamburgh this afternoon and then back to Edinburgh again next week.  My family is arriving for my graduation not long after I get back and it’ll be great to see them.

Happy Summer Solstice!

 

Story Mode Complete

This afternoon, with a bag of frozen peas on my ankle (I face-planted off Calton Hill last night dressed like a 1980s calisthenics instructor), I submitted my final essay and finished my undergraduate degree at the University of Edinburgh.

After four long years of work and the last year spend writing my dissertation, it feels really, really good to be finally done.  After I submitted my dissertation last week, I went to get an ice cream and found a bench in the Grassmarket.  It was a sunny day and the castle looked gorgeous as ever (you almost forget they used to burn the witches 200 metres to the right!).  Then I left for the Bothy for the weekend and enjoyed the sun up north.

But, I’m not going to lie.  The end is also a bit sad.

I have truly fallen in love with this city.  My time here has shaped the person I have become and the person I will continue to be in the future.  My degree has taught me a lot more than just how to write historical papers or dig in the dirt.  The people I’ve met and the places I have been will, honestly, stay with me for the rest of my life.

Maybe, one day, I’ll write a book about it.

This post is shorter than I anticipated, but, truthfully, I can only say how much the past four years have meant to me in a limited number of ways before it gets contrived.

So, that’s me done.  I’m bouncing on holiday soon.  After that, it’ll be EUMC Road Trip and then at Bamburgh for the rest of the summer to help with excavations.  Graduation is in July.

a logistical plan

Since you’ve last read about my life I’ve made a few decisions.

If you remember from my last post – I had two offers for graduate study.  The first, continue here at the University of Edinburgh for the Human Osteoarchaeology MSc.  The second, return to Lawrence for the Museum Studies MA.

This past Sunday was a beautifully sunny day in Edinburgh.  To sort my thoughts and make a decision, I went for a run in Holyrood Park.  I thought back over the last week as I threw myself down the grassy hills and up rocky paths.  Finally, I found myself at St Anthony’s Chapel overlooking the beautiful gorgeous city that has taught me so much.  St Anthony’s was built some time in the 15c and pretty much the only thing that remains is the front facade with a doorway and two windows.

The window to the right of the doorway has always been a great place sit and think.

Over the past four years, I’ve found myself at St Anthony’s a lot.  It’s fitting, I suppose,  to gravitate to a chapel dedicated to the patron saint of lost things to make all my biggest decisions.

So, I weighed my options in respect to my major concerns:

  • Program suitability and how it fits with my general life plan: 1) do something good for someone other than myself and 2) tell stories
  • Job prospects after / phD
  • Stability but ability to continue to travel and excavate

Below are my condensed notes.  Trust me you don’t want or need to see all the flow charts.

Stay in Edinburgh.  The program is something I love.  The subject is a direct link into the past in ways I can’t really describe.  Logistically, I would get to live in my flat another year.  However, a masters in Edinburgh would lend itself directly into a phD.  I don’t know if I want to do everything back to back.  I also want to do something good for someone besides myself before I find myself behind an academic desk.  A masters at Edinburgh would be in a subject I love, a city I love, but might be too narrowed and would put me right into a phD.

Brexit has complicated matters as well in respect to companies who can sponsor work visas and minimum income required to apply (which falls outside of the graduate jobs range).  As someone who has watched current immigration trends in the UK and researched all types of visas, it’s not like the movies.  You can’t just pack up and move to the UK.  There’s not really a guarantee even with a phD.

  • Best: Get a job after masters, work for a few years, phD.
  • Likely: Complete masters but do phD based on current job market.
  • Worst: Do masters, don’t want to do a phD straightaway, can’t find a job, have to leave Scotland.

Return to Lawrence. Again, the program is something I love.  I basically grew up in museums.  The program would also keep my academic interests more broad but still specialized.  I’d be able to work in a variety of heritage fields.  Logistically, I would live at home for the duration of the program.  The program has a required internship component.  I’ve already found internships at the Met Cloisters in New York City to apply for.  I also like the flexibility of the final project which would allow me to make a historical documentary!  A masters at KU would allow me to take time out after, get a job, do something good for this world, and collect my thoughts for an eventual phD.

Brexit and visas are not a concern.  I can always continue my summer fieldwork in the UK and it’s not like if I move away I move away forever.  If anything, getting a good job in America will give me the professional experience to re-apply and get jobs back here in Scotland when things settle back down.

  • Best: Get a job after masters, work for a few years, phD.
  • Likely: Get a job after masters, work for a few years, phD.
  • Worst: Live forever in my parents house (yikes)

So, I guess if you’ve read this far into my general life rambling you’ve probably come to the same conclusion I came to myself: Museum Studies MA at the University of Kansas.

I said both options out loud and the Museum Studies MA just sounded right.  But, I would be lying if I said it was not a bit sad when I realised how much I would be leaving behind here in Edinburgh.

This city has become my own as much as I have become part of it.  I really don’t know the words to describe my love for Edinburgh.  Trust me, I’ve tried and all that’s come of it are some shitty poems and four drafts of a fantasy novel.

But, I do know that just because I may be moving away doesn’t mean I won’t ever be coming back.

I spent the next few days thinking over my decision.  It was not one I took lightly.

Tuesday morning I spoke with my personal tutor about it and he agreed.  Both were very good choices, but a little job security doesn’t hurt.  On Wednesday, I went to speak to the course organizer and thanked her for the offer.  It was really important to me that I went to speak to both of them as they had helped me immensely over the years.  I mentioned that I would like to return to Edinburgh in the future for a phD and they told me to get in touch when I do.

So … that’s me in August.  I’ll be a Kansas Jayhawk for the next two years and then … who knows.  My phone call with the Peace Corps went well and I have more information about applications.  I’m also weighing a few other options.

I’m going to write a larger love letter to Edinburgh one day.  I hope to express everything these past four years have given me.  Honestly, the confidence I have found in this city is why I know returning to America is best choice for me now.  I’m excited to see what lies ahead ‘across the pond.’

But, for the next week I’m bouncing to Shetland. Byeeeee.

 

Uni Life Update 24-4-16

vlog about Dad’s visit, revision, and exams.

Update: Spa day happened and then the fire alarm went off… I still had my green face mask on.  But, at least it wasn’t at 3 am this time.  I swear I have the worst luck with fire drills.

Bucket List Review

If you remember, (or if you’ve recently read it because you’re a #blogstalker) I wrote a Semester 2 bucket list before the WI-FI broke terminal wide (stopping my download of Return of the Jedi. I’m still mad) during that dreaded 6 hour layover in Newark.

It’s a just about half term (probably?) so I figured I’d take a look back at it and see what I’ve accomplished.

First on the list was finding a flat. Check!  I’m moving in with three friends I met through the EUMC!  They’re honestly great.  We all bonded over mutual winter camping suffering.  I can’t wait until next year.  Right now, we’re planning on how we are going to decorate.  It’s probably going to include ice axes and OS maps… figures.  But also rumors of trips to the local architectural salvage for antiquing!   It’s a great flat in a really central location, my room has wall to wall, floor to ceiling bookshelves!  You can even see the castle from the kitchen and apparently also, the shower.

Next on the list was traveling.  Check!  Honestly, I cannot stress how blessed I am to have these opportunities.  I’ve continued to go out on the weekends with the EUMC for camping and hiking as well as smaller day trips around Scotland to see historical sites (read: hug and cry on castles).  A lot of these day trips line up with what I am studying in my courses.  It’s a great chance for me to apply what I’m studying to real life.

This weekend I’ll be going out to the club bothy for some nifty DIY.  This spring I will be heading to Spain with the club to go sport climbing!  I’m so excited for this trip, but I will bring some of my coursework because exams start two weeks after I get back.  (I am an anxious nerd who can’t leave things to the last minute.)  It’ll be 13 nights in a tent (My brand, new, sparkly tent so shout out to Grandma Sue!), but it’ll be Spain – so sunny and warm!  Finally, the excavation this summer!  I’ll be off to Romania where I will be working with Neolithic skeletal remains!  I cannot wait to do this excavation, osteo-archaeology is honestly the coolest.

The third thing on the list is learning how to climb outdoors (*cough* so I can be as cool as Lara Croft *cough*).  Next week I’m taking a safety course with a few friends to get ready for Spain.  Until I leave in April, I’ll be running, climbing, and training for the trip.  I really want to make the most of it.

So oddly enough (and this never happens), I managed to accomplish a lot of what I set out to do this semester… time to make a new list.

Academically speaking, I’ve turned in two of the five papers due this semester.  Yet to get them back, but should have them in my sweaty hands soon.  Fingers crossed.  I have started research for my three big essays due at the end of this month.  They are over really awesome topics.  I will have a chance to explore the conflict between the Anglo-Saxons and the Britons during the fifth to ninth centuries, what human remains say about individual people and their broader societal context, and use Statistical Accounts of Scotland to explore a parish of my choice.  I’m using that last essay as an excuse to visit the National Library of Scotland to look at old manuscripts for research.  Because, why not?

Exam timetables are also out and my three exams are pretty evenly spread: April 29, May 8, and May 18.  I sort of wished I would be done sooner, but since my plane to Romania doesn’t leave until May 22, it’ll at least give me something to do.

That’s pretty much life at the moment.  That and lots of coffee and reading (actually downing an Americano before I run to my Celtic Civ lecture as I type this).

Until next blog.