Another night, another morning, another cup of coffee December 17, 2008Posted by dolorosa12 in sraffies, university.
Tags: cambridge, life, updates
It’s been a very long time since I’ve updated this journal, and I apologise. I’m very good up adding to my LiveJournal with all kinds of silly memes, links and fangirling, but I always feel that this blog should be a bit more well thought out, so I write less. I was chatting to Anna last night and she mentioned that lots of people had been asking her how I was going, so I thought I should do something to let everyone know.
I’m on holidays right now, and have been for about a week and a half. First term was tough, but not as insane as I had first thought. I had two classes – Latin and Irish – which required quite a bit of preparation (mainly translation and exercises). On top of that was Welsh, which I’m taking, but not being assessed in, and the M.Phil seminars, which require reading and preparation. It was hard to get back into the confidence I had felt as an undergrad in tutorials, and I was very silent and shy in class the first few weeks, before suddenly finding my voice and then not being able to shut up.
The main piece of assesssment last term was the review of scholarship (literature review), a 5000-word piece of writing summarising previous research that had been done on my area and locating my intended research in the previous scholarship. While many of my friends found this exercise both distressing and annoying, I found it oddly relaxing. Some people do this for the love of research, and some do it for the love of writing. I am the second type of person. I adore writing, putting sentences together, choosing words well, and it was a joy to write something other than a blog post or book review after so long away from the academic world. I found it an oddly satisfying challenge.
When that was finished, I worked franticallly on my PhD research proposal (AKA Please Give Me Lots of Shiny Money). I’m reasonably happy with it, and my supervisor checked it over and seemed pleased too, so let’s hope it’s good enough.
When I look back over this term, it’s measured out in coffee spoons and small glasses of wine. There were the cups of strong coffee, enjoyed at a cafe I’m not prepared to name (it’s the only decent place in town, and it’s small, so I don’t want too many people to know about it. Those who know me know what I’m talking about). There were the two glasses of wine, usually pinot grigio or Australian shiraz, that I allowed myself every Friday night at ASNaC pub. Sometimes there were people around me, sometimes there weren’t.
That’s one of the things I’ve noticed this term. I’ve always craved a good balance between company and solitude, but it’s only now that I’ve been completely comfortable alone. I’m utterly happy when left alone with my own thoughts (and even happier if I have a keyboard upon which to type these thoughts), and view people as a sort of added bonus.
People. There have been a lot of them these past few months. Sometimes I think I’ve met more people since October than I’ve met in my whole life. There’s something about the college environment that causes everyone to rush out and befriend every stranger they come across.
The first people I met here were my flatmates. There are 14 of them. Of course, I am closer to some than others (some I simply never see), but I’m very happy how the whole sharing-space-with-strangers thing worked out. Sometimes, when I’m feeling particularly wretched, it’s enough to walk out to the kitchen or downstairs to the common room and talk to whoever happens to be there, remind myself that there are other human beings in the world, and I feel oddly happy.
I mainly hang out with the other ASNaCs, a mixed crowd of undergrads, PhD students from around the world, and M.Phils like me. Unfortunately, most of the M.Phils aren’t particularly sociable, whether due to shyess, work pressures or lack of interest. However, they’re all very nice, and I spent a fantastic weekend in London recently at the house of one of them. She invited me to come and stay: I must have been sending out needy vibes, because she thought I could do with some home-cooked food and life in a non-student house. I relished it, of course.
It’s been great to meet many of the sraffies, too. I had five of them come and visit, and we met up with several others, including the founder of TRoH, which was very cool. I was a rather stressed out host, as I always am, but I still had a good time. Meeting internet people is always a bit odd to begin with, because they are a strange combination of known and unknown, strikingly similar to their chatroom and forum personalities and different at the same time.
At the moment I’m just hanging around in Cambridge until I head off to Southport to visit relatives I’ve never met before. I’ll spend Christmas there. It should be fun.
On LiveJournal I’ve been promising to reveal a Secret Project for a while. I promise that by the new year, all will be clear. Right now, however, I’m looking forward to a bit of a holiday.