Grad School Research

OH GOD IT’S SO HARD.

That’s the first thing that comes to mind when sitting down to work on my research packet for graduate schools, which I started a few weeks ago but admittedly haven’t made much headway on in recent days. Work was busy this past week and having done cursory research earlier this summer, I’m making a slow slog through the top 20 universities in the United Kingdom and the top 5 in Ireland, hoping to eliminate on the basis of program, accommodation, or price (especially price). Regrettably, I’ve already kicked out Oxford and Cambridge because of sheer unaffordability. I don’t care how much funding you say is available. I’d be fighting with thousands of applicants with far more attractive resumes than mine, and the programs I want don’t offer as much as some of the other universities I’m looking at do.

Anyway, today I sat down for two hours (which is the free wifi limit on the city-wide network, bastards) to take a look at Birkbeck University of London in the hopes of finding a few programs that won’t break the bank, all while Facebooking a fellow ASU graduate, Andrew. Andrew is also searching for programs though, unlike me, he is planning on applying this year. I’m not sure what the deadline is, but since he seems rather blasé about the matter, I’m assuming it’s later in the term. We’re both interested in a similar track of study, centering on English Literature, and if I get my shit together, I’ll be able to say whether or not I’ll go for Scandinavian/Celtic-oriented Studies like him. We’ve been exchanging information as of late, and if things work out, he may very well be in Europe next year. Which would be awesome. The more people I liked from college coming closer to me here in Italy, the better.

Point being, the part about graduate school research that irritates me the most isn’t the actual program search. It’s the fact that many scholarships and funding opportunities require some sort of research proposal backing them up. I’d like to apply for a Fulbright, maybe, which also requires a research proposal, or at least a plan. I don’t have a clue. Research proposals usually mean you have some idea of what you want to study, and I’m stuck between Creative Writing, English Literary Studies, Victorian Studies, Romantic Students, Norse Studies, etc. If there were an MA available for World Mythologies, I’d take that in a heartbeat, not even a question, but unfortunately I haven’t stumbled upon a university that offers that. If you know of any, definitely put it my way. Oh, and by “World” I do not mean “The West.” I mean the world. It’s bigger than the Greek pantheon and has other, more interesting origin stories than Zeus popping Athena out of his forehead.

Anyway, my morning was spent in relative peace and quiet at Le Murate caffe near my workplace, and I worked hard at researching my programs between a sugary breakfast and lemony lunch. The actual research is not terribly stressful. It’s quite fun, looking at the courses I might potentially take and creeping on the professors I might have to contact about research proposals and dissertation work. Unlike a lot of people my age, who are utterly burnt on school by now, I could go back to class for a long time yet. I love school. I love the thought of going back to school. I’m jealous of the friends that are in school now! That’s what you get coming from a family of teachers, I guess?

To stave off the despair of not being in a classroom, I’ve decided to review my honors thesis again. I’ve been coming back to it throughout the summer, reading bits and pieces to myself, but I started an honest run-through this weekend, red pen and all. I defended in March, and now that it’s October (and coming up on National Novel Writing Month, which will feature heavily as we get closer to November), I feel that I can write a somewhat objective reflection on the story I defended and how I felt during the time I wrote it. Lots of crazy shit goes on around a thesis, so it’ll be interesting to reflect on what happened and how that affected my writing. I’ll let you know how it goes, maybe through up a few paragraphs from my examination from time to time.

PS: I noticed that I posted on a weekend last time. Timing, huh? Then again, not much happened this week. Maybe you’ll get something on a weekday if something goes down!?

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