Yesterday was a long and tiring day and had it’s ups and downs. I went to London to represent the University at an Access to HE Fair. The incredibly early morning and fair went well. We spoke to a lot of potential students who were tkaing the Access to HE route into university and told them about our courses, finances, what it is like and tried to encourage them to aim high. There was also the obligatory comparison of our pens against other universities freebies. That is not really what I wanted to write about though.
I had some time after the fair to go into the British Museum and have a look at the new Eight Mummies, Eight Lives, Eight Stories exhibition. I was mightily impressed. The researchers at the BM have used CT scanning to reveal the inner workings of 8 mummies from different eras without having to use invasive methods. The presentation of the findings were clear and detailed. Each mummy has at least one screen showing the CT scan revealing the under wrappings or internal organs with pointers of what to look for and why. Some even have touch activated winding wheels that means you can control how fast the outer layers disappear and show what is hidden underneath. The attention to detail is amazing, even down to the 3D printing of the funerary ornaments wrapped amoungst the cloth on the Egyptian mummy. Only one thing bothered me. The mummies are in there with the CT scanning images, but you get transfixed with the shiney technology and have to remember that the original artefacts and people are still there too.
I had a little time left over to managed to get into the Witches and Wicked Bodies exhibition. This is in the prints and drawings gallery and comprises of woodcuts, etchings, sketches and lithographs on the subject, organised in chronological order. I took a sneaky picture of one print…
The orderings of the display allows for the progression of ideas and themes to show through. The 15th Century prints include fantastical beasts a la Bosch (sadly no Bosch in there though). It occured to me as I went through the exhibition that many artists stopped using fantastical beasts, I wonder if this was because all beasts in the world had been discovered… On the whole though, I loved this exhibition.
Ok two sneaky pictures!
Following that I headed back to the train station. Now here is my rant about yesterday.
The British are famed for their queuing – except when it comes to getting on a train. This particular train was late, but even before it had arrived a herd had formed that was clammering to get onto a train that wasn’t there. People were slipping past each other as it wasn’t a queue to be respected but a battle to be first on the train. The train was over full, and there were a lot of reserved seats (in fact all of them seemed to be reserved). The train filled and there was a push to get to a seat whether reserved or not. People were pushing past each other, dragging bags and generally being incredibly rude to each other. It was absolutely awful and then made worse by a lady putting her suitcase onto my broken toe.
I just don’t understand this behaviour, we don’t do it on buses, so why trains!?!
Anyway I got home to the friendly face of the cat eventually.
It is not all about my academic progress at the moment, I am forging ahead with my professional development at the same time. I haven’t really covered my job much on this blog, so here is an update.
I am a Student Recruitment Officer (WP). The title is a little misleading as I don’t do much direct student recruitment, but I do work with pre-16 primary and secondary school children, advise Access to HE students, mature students, and generally encourage people to consider university as an option. I also do a bit of public engagement – my current project being the WW1 Knit a Poppy ProjectWW1 Knit a Poppy Project . In addition to this I am helping to cover the student ambassador scheme for colleagues on and going on maternity leave.
So following in the footsteps of my other colleagues, I joined HELOA (Higher Education Liaison OfficerAssociation?). This week I went to the HELOA New Practitioners Conference in Leeds. It was a really good opportunity to meet others in the same position as me. I realised quite quickly that I was at least 10 years older than most of the other delegates!
We covered some of the basics, those things that you never really get around to asking like what all the acronyms mean and covered some essentials as safeguarding, child protection and personal safety. I have had training for some of this at work, but this was an opportunity to share ideas and good practice with other universities and colleges. We also covered presentation skills, open days and student finance. All solid basics for the first timer.
The last couple of days helped me meet some lovely people, I realised I know more than I think, and that being part of HELOA is a good thing.
I am glad to be home though! The back end of the hurricane is here and it was getting a bit blustery outside (as the cat keeps telling me).
I managed to time my mini-supervision meeting with a Centre for the Study of Youth and Childhood (CSYC) seminar today. So I had a brief lie in, walked (via work as it is on the way) to the railway station and off to Sheffield for the day.
The seminar’s theme was children, sex and sexuality. The first talk was on children using mobile technology, what they get out of it, what they think about it and their experiences. Dr Emma Bond shared some of her findings from a project with 11-17 year olds and how they use their mobile phones. I found this enlightening, particularly the children’s management of their social and family worlds using the phones. The advancement in technology has really left adults behind and we are so off on the advice we are giving children on internet safety and online presence.
The second presentation focused on sexual identities and the media’s influence on children by Dr Jackie Marsh. It highlighted a couple of examples of playground games that were directly influence by music and tv. This talk really highlighted the worries we, as adults, impose on children. We think they are getting the same inferences from tv and music that we are. Their interpretation of media sources is quite different and at primary level they will censor themselves or create situations where they can experience something from an alternative point of view.
Both talks have given me a little more insight into working with young people which will be useful in the day to day job.
Following the seminars was a welcome event for the new researchers at CSYC, I met some new people, others in my position and who are on differing projects. They introduced a number of smaller research groups within the centre so now I have a list of people I want to email and yell “include me!” at.
Then I had my mini-supervision meeting. It seems to be that any length of chat is good with my supervisor (I am hoping this doesn’t change). I met another student working in my area, felt I helped her a little, she is also part time and working full time so we are in the same boat (and just about the same career too). I have a task now, which feels like I am back in familiar territory. The transition from taught programme to research programme is a little daunting, but having a task to do has put me back on familiar ground. Although the task is to write about me, my motivations and my research question. I can see how useful this will be. Already, following our discussion, I can see how my outlook on my project might change. I am also looking forward to writing something again. It will also help my supervisor get to know me better which is going to be invaluable in this working relationship. In addition to this I have a hefty reading list. So the next few weeks will be composing my thoughts, reading and building a new set of bookshelves!
The cat likes reading time, I sit still fr more than five minutes!
Fatty in bed
Well, that was quite a day. I am writing this from the train back home before my brain switches off for the day.
I have titled this “being the new student”, although I have spent all day with other new students, I have realised that unlike other degrees the PhD journey is a very individual one. Or at least that is what they have been telling us today.
Today was PhD Induction Day. I met my fellow cohort, the directors of the research team, other PhD students further along in their journey and my very own supervisor. They throw a lot of information at you on the first day. Some of it sticks. I am going to predict that the rest of it is in the handbook. Things being in the handbook was one of the messages that stuck. Another things that stuck is that Neville the cat is adorable.
Later on I will go through my notes and see what important things I wrote down, and then go through the handouts to take those in again as well. I think that the important things I took away with me are that there are others on their very individual journey as well. Don’t isolate them as they aren’t experiencing the same issues as you or don’t quite understand your topic. Get involved, best foot forward and begin by reading, reading, reading. At least that is what I am going to do until my next supervisory meeting.
I did meet my supervisor briefly, I am pleased I made the time as she is enthusiastic about my work. I left with a book to read and a feeling of her excitement about my project and how her other students will benefit from my expertise and I will benefit from them, as well as hers. It is a different feeling from being a taught student, a refreshing change and one I think I am going to enjoy (even if it takes a while to adapt).
On top of the book, I left Sheffield with a t-shirt and a new student card.
The first big step has been taken!
So as usual, cat picture (not Neville), but the smug face of Fatty.