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.

Uni Life Update 25-1-16

Happy Burns Night everyone!

(Burns Night being the celebratory night of Robert Burns, aka Scotland’s fave poet and notorious Edinburgh tagger… literally this guy wrote his name on everything here.)

I hope you ate some haggis – because I did! (It’s still weird.)

This week’s video consists of just me screaming about the Dark Ages for 20 minutes.

Semester 2 Week 2

Just a quick update about me getting my life together in Scotland but not taking myself too seriously.

As I’ve discussed, I am actively looking for an archaeological dig for the summer.  Preferably I’d like to stay in Scotland and work on Roman (100 BCE – 300 CE) to Early Medieval sites (400- ~1000 AD).  That would be the ideal, I knew it wasn’t likely to find a dig that fit exactly that but at least something close.

During my Scottish Studies course, the lecturer mentioned that she had been on a few excavation teams in Scotland that worked with Iron Age, Roman, and Early Medieval sites.  Curious, I asked her after class if those digs were still active.  She said a few were and asked that I email her so that she could send me the links.  I did and this morning I got links to three really amazing looking digs in Scotland for the summer.  I am so excited about all of these opportunities!  I emailed the site directors to get more information, and then from there will decide which dig would be the best fit… but I should know by mid-February where I am going!

Other news about me finally getting my life together includes finding a flat for next year.  I will be moving in with a few friends from the EUMC (mountaineering club) to a flat about five minutes away from the University!  We will all be EUMC members and the flat has plenty of room for gear storage!   Thank goodness!  My current room is packed full with my books and gear!

The room I will be moving into even has floor to ceiling bookshelves!  Being a history student, I have so many books and it’s only my first year.  I think my Scottish library may easily surpass my library back home by the time I graduate.

Classes are going swell.  Archaeology is moving into ancient Egypt and then to Greece and Rome!  Celtic Civ is still fantastic and will be moving into the Early Medieval Period soon.  Scottish Studies just moved into the Roman occupation of Scotland.  I’ve been doing a lot of reading already, but the reading is on things that I actually want to read so that’s a plus.

I am feeling more confident about my studies.  I’ve broken down the First barrier, and while I know that it was only one paper and I still need to continue to push my research and writing, I can’t help but still feel proud about achieving that mark.  To celebrate my Dad sent me a Lego Star Wars set, which is totally awesome and sums up my approach to University.

Work hard but not take yourself too seriously.

Which as a side tangent on a post about getting my life together is a good thing to remember.  I am beyond focused on my studies, but history and especially archaeology can become rather dull if you forget that what you are studying is, first and foremost, the story of people.

And people do stupid shit (like invading Russia in the winter… I’M LOOKING AT YOU NAPOLEON).  People make weird shit that for some reason gets preserved and found 1000, 2000 years later (Like, the Celts literally buried human skulls face down in a freaky mass grave under their houses??).  And people more certainly aren’t perfect… even my darling Henry V.  (Side, side tangent, just found some materials that showed evidence Henry, had he not died of dysentery in 1422, planned to invade into the Middle East… whaaattt.  Like were 8 Crusades not enough for y’all??! Calm down.)

Sometimes, studying history can mean people take an elitist approach to the subject but I try to avoid that.  I believe that history should be accessible to everyone.  What’s the point of research if it can only be understood by a few?  History should be a fun subject that engages, educates, but more importantly doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not.  At times it is glamorous, but the majority of the time it’s like life now – ordinary times with sporadic moments of awesomeness.

And, I feel like sometimes people forget that.  They forget about the human aspect to history and because of that take it too seriously.  It always helps me by remembering people’s ages.  Henry V was 25 at the time of the Battle of Agincourt.  Joan of Arc was 17 when she was burned at the stake.  And, I know that people in different times had different social pressures and expectations but just putting their ages in perspective helps to put their lives in perspective.

And that’s how the University approaches it, which is awesome.  The lecturers are all engaged in their subjects but aren’t bogged down in ‘pretentious history.’ Because let’s face it ‘pretentious history’ is not only exhausting, but not representative of how real people lived.  And, after all history is about figuring out about the people before us.  Stupid shit and all.

So moral of the story, I’m sorting out my life but remembering not to take myself too seriously both in life and in my studies.  And honestly, personally I’d hate for 300 years down the road for archaeologists to come across this blog try to paint it as some ‘pretentious historical account’ of 21c life.

Okay, end side tangent.