Goodbye from the 18/19 Blog Team!
Anna Henschel, 2nd year PhD student, School of Psychology/ Institute of Neuroscience:
I am writing this from a small Café just off Kinkerstraat in Amsterdam, as a waitress is singing to the soundtrack of the 90s hit-show Charmed and two girls at the table next to me speculate about whether eating cheese the previous night brought one of them dreams of their crush. It is a good time to be alive. This month will be the last time I am writing for the UofG PGR Blog in my official capacity as a blogger intern. I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on my experience as a ‘social media influencer’ (*cough, cough*), and signpost some of my favourite entries on this blog to alleviate the pain of saying goodbye.
When I arrived in Glasgow last year in April, I appeared on the scene in the middle of the academic year, kind of out of nowhere (actually, Wales!), not knowing really anyone and struggling with getting accustomed to the Glaswegian life. As a scientist, I went about trying to orient myself strategically, and started my online research. And suddenly, there it was: the PGR Blog! I immediately felt a connection to my new academic home and spent some hours perusing blog posts, taking note of how previous international students settled in, learning about the amazing variety of resources and opportunities for postgraduates and made plans to immerse myself in this new-found community.
Some immediate favorites on the blog featured zombies (Elisabeth Loose), tweeting for academics (Robyn Womack) and highland coos (Bianca Sala). My first contribution was in the form of a guest post on a topic that I feel very passionate about, online and offline. What followed was a wonderful time writing, editing and embracing the sometimes wackier side of creativity, trying to adorn my blog posts with some of the pictures I had taken in Glasgow and during my travels. One of the unexpected outcomes of writing for the blog was the brand new book club I started with some colleagues in my department, who, like me, were struggling to find time for literary fiction. And what could be more effective than deadlines, when trying to get academics to read for fun?
But fret not, I am not going far away, in fact, I will still inhabit my little corner of the internet and will continue to share my experience as an early career researcher in articles, blogs and essays. If you want to keep up to date with this, head over to my website, which I will update regularly with links to new posts!
Danielle Schwertner, 1st Year PhD Student, School of Modern Languages and Cultures:
It’s hard to believe that NINE MONTHS have passed since I first joined UofG’s PGR Blog Team. I started this journey mainly because I knew I would need something outside of my PhD work to keep me sane and help me feel connected to fellow researchers. I didn’t expect to make new friends or to discover new things about myself, but thankfully I did! I am constantly amazed by all the work my colleagues have done and are doing; their persistence and advice has helped me feel more confident about my own work. It’s not only the blog writing I’ll miss at the end of this month, but the people I’ve grown accustomed to collaborating with as well.
Fortunately, I know they won’t be far away! I’ll still be labouring away on campus for at least another two years, trying to turn my PhD project into a tangible object people might one day read (and like!). And I’ll no doubt be taking along with me some of the advice from my colleagues’ wonderful blog posts. Every new turn I take, I’ll be inspired to face my fears; I’ll never stop working to ensure that “Mean Girls” in science (and other academic fields) becomes a thing of the past; I hope to always be a self-reflective PGR and to never forget or doubt how far I’ve come; and I’ll always take comfort in knowing that I’m not the only person who has multiple calendars and lists (all of which have a specific purpose, thank you very much!).
I hope that some of my posts have encouraged and/or enlightened other researchers as well. I enjoyed sharing my experiences -- especially about having to find a new supervisor -- and discussing Scottish traditions and history -- don’t forget to celebrate Burns Night and Hogmanay over the next year! As much as I’ll miss writing for this blog, I know it won’t be too long before I start something to satiate my need for non-academic writing (I’ve just signed up for the Edinburgh Marathon next year, so maybe I’ll create a blog to commiserate with people over what a horrible idea that probably was . . . be on the lookout!). I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to work on the PGR blog and with such an amazing team -- I can’t wait to see what next year looks like for all of us!
Adriana Alcaraz, MPhil student in Philosophy, School of Humanities:
In some ways, the PGR blog had an opportunity waiting for me. I ran into the blog a couple of years ago, before moving to Glasgow. Back then I was a self-funded PGR student who desperately needed to find a job to start her new Scottish adventure. I thought that a job at the University would be a good way to get involved with the academic community, and I found out about the blogger internship position. Sadly, I wasn’t shortlisted on the first time, but one year after, the same position came out again. I didn’t hesitate to send my application once more. I still remember the call I received from the Internship Hub to notify me that I had been selected for the position. I was so excited! As I related in one of my first guest posts, I spent the first half of my MPhil juggling over many part-time jobs, working long hours, and getting badly paid. The opportunity to work on the blog brought me again some motivation to keep pursuing my career. Finally, the big news arrived last April when I was offered a fully funded PhD position at UofG. So, although I won’t officially be a blogger intern any longer, I’m glad I can stay at this lovely city with the vibrant UofG community.
In these months as a blogger, I needed to squeeze my brain several times trying to find interesting ideas to write about. The writer’s block appears in all its forms, not solely in academic writing. However, I have enjoyed very much how all of us have embraced these moments of stuckness by meeting together in a café (or pub) to brainstorm. In days like this in which I feel down because of my thesis, I try to reconcile with my writer’s block by spending some time off the desk, travelling, meeting friends or just strolling around the park. I have discovered that I can get more done by letting my thoughts flow free before I get down to business with my thesis.
Similarly, the PGR blog has given me the opportunity to widen my interests by investigating topics that I hadn’t thought about before, like coding or listening to podcasts. Having such a diverse team with such different interests has encouraged me to look outside my comfort zone and explore areas that weren’t of my expertise. Working as a blogger intern has been a challenging position, but also a very rewarding one.
I want to thank Anna, Ann, Danielle S and Steph for all their editorial support as well as for being an amazing source of inspiration for my blog posts. Also, thanks to Elizabeth, who trusted us to manage the content of the blog during this year and who gave us the opportunity to attend many interesting events. Finally, thanks to Cia, Zoe and Danielle F for working hard behind the scenes and keeping everything running smoothly.
Ann Luk, 2nd Year PhD Student, School of Law:
As well as coming to the end of my second year as a PhD student, so too is my time as a PGR blogger. This internship has definitely added to my experience as a research student, and hopefully our posts have contributed to your research experiences also. For me, it’s opened up new ways of thinking about and discussing life as a PGR, from practical issues of organizing conferences, securing financial aid, finding new supervisors, to important current issues we’re facing such as “Mean Girls” in science, or the rise of interdisciplinary research.
It’s also been a healthy reminder of the great opportunities we have as PGR students to engage in new skills such as coding, or to re-engage in important activities like fiction reading and exercising.
So all in all, I’ve learned a lot from my blogging experience! It’s been a great way to engage with wider audiences, feel part of a community (something which is really important for PGR students!), and share some of my own lessons and experiences with others. For more on the benefits and reasons to engage in blogging, check out this post on ‘Why blogging?’
Perhaps the most important aspect of my blogging experience, however, has been the opportunity to work in a team with such great colleagues. It’s been a joy to talk about all these topics with the 2018/19 blogging team and realise that a lot of issues that often concerned me about PGR life were also present with others. It certainly helped me to feel less alone in the PGR process and to address previous problems with a more positive perspective and attitude.
Hopefully our sense of PGR community has come through in our blog posts and has provided a useful forum for you as our audience! Thank you to you all for your readership and wishing you the best of luck in your future research endeavours!