PhD – week 1

Scribbled down on January 23rd, 2018 by she
Posted in Learning & Education, Reading Begets Enlightenment

With my first week of classes under my belt I already feel horribly unprepared, overwhelmed, and out of my depths. While I managed to get my first assignment in with time to spare, the time I had originally budgeting for completing my assigned readings proved insufficient and I only managed one optional reading by the end of the weekend.

I did learn that there’s another Edmontonian in my cohort, which will make the journey interesting and far less isolating outside of residential periods.

I also managed to get Library access at the local university libraries (yay Alberta TAL card!) so I’m a bit less stressed about getting access to required reading materials that I can’t get through the online library databases. Between the Edmonton Public Library system, U of A Libraries, and McEwan Libraries, I should be able to find everything I need.

Now, if I can manage to submit my partial assignment this evening for critiquing, then I’ll be in good shape for the rest of the week. I think…


bigger on the inside

Scribbled down on December 17th, 2017 by she
Posted in Random Burbling

I test packed and everything fit into my small bag. Yep, I ended up completing this task earlier than I expected to but I got into a full blown panic for an evening and needed something to focus attention on. Of course, my panic stems from not knowing if I’m really ready – mentally and financially – for this next big adventure.

Guess I’m about to find out…

the auld sod

Scribbled down on December 11th, 2017 by she
Posted in Friends & Family, Learning & Education

One of the factors which impacted my decision to accept the offer to study at Lancaster University is the requirement to fly to the UK to attend classes as part of my programme of study. My parents and sister were born in the UK and I have dual citizenship. When I was a child, my parents brought us home to visit family as often and for as long as they could afford. At times, this meant that I left school early at the end of the year, that I was late starting school by a week or two (hello, grade 6!), or that I left school mid-semester. I have to admit, I took most of these trips for granted. After all, didn’t everyone travel to see their cousins and grandparents?  It was a long time before I realized just how amazing many of those trips were. If nothing else, they introduced me to a travel bug that bit and took hold!

Sadly, I haven’t been back to the auld sod since before I was married. My husband has met the Canadian side of the family a number of times, but has only met three of my UK-based aunts in the 20+ years we’ve been together. I’m hoping to leverage my education to remedy this horrible oversight on our part.

This past week I’ve been prepping for my school trip. I’ve booked my spot in the university residence and purchased my flights to the UK. We’ve thrown a few extra days in to visit family before classes start. I doubt I’ll have time to go distillery hopping this trip, but that does leave me with a travel goal for next year.

In all my travels and living in foreign countries, there’s one thing that has been haunting me. My horrific need to over pack for trips. I blame childhoods of packing wellies (sunny all the time) and then not packing rain gear (hello downpours!). In at attempt to be ever prepared, I pack things I don’t normally use at home (skin care routine?  Since when do I follow THAT religiously?) or I pack as if I’ll never see a washing machine at any point in the journey.

I’m trying to remedy that this trip around. While I did purchase a ticket with a suitcase option for my husband and for my mum, I stuck my sister and I with the glorious challenge of traveling with only a carry-on suitcase and a personal item. This week I’ve set a goal to make a packing list. Next week, I may try a dry run for packing. This is so out of character for me when it comes to packing. Usually I’m the throw everything I own into every bag the night before type of trip packer. I’ve heard rumours that prepared people exist and apparently I’m going to try and become one in the new year. Who knew?

Tune in next month to learn more about the saga of pre-packing!



6 weeks …

Scribbled down on December 5th, 2017 by she
Posted in Learning & Education

… that’s all the time I have left before I delve back into school. 9 of my 14 textbooks have arrived. My school email address is configured. My desk space has been set up and a laptop is at the ready. All that’s left is pre-reading and paying my tuition. And 4-6 years of study, research, hair pulling, and the occasional maniacal grin.

When I left university 20+ years ago, I never imagined I’d return. I always assumed that higher education wasn’t for me. My brain didn’t work “that way”. Dropping out was a huge disappointment to my parents at the time. The first in the family to go to university was also the first who didn’t finish. I wasn’t ready to settle down or follow a single path. I worked and tried new things. I lived in multiple countries and continents. As I grew in work and life experience, I found a new passion and new friends. Those new friends helped me figure out the baby steps I’d need to follow to continue in my planned career change.

Returning to university in my early 30s was the best thing that could have happened to me. With work and life experience under my belt, I had something to contribute to other students and profs that was missing from my first attempts at university immediately following high school. With new technologies available I was able to attend classes while working full-time. I never expected to move from BA to MEd to PhD in quick succession yet here I am. I only wish my dad could have lived to see this. I’m certain he’d be amazed at how everything turned out. Education was one of his fundamental values.

If I’d known then what I know now, I’d have let myself off the hook for many things. I’d have been less worried about not measuring up and have perhaps enjoyed the journey a bit more along the way. Regardless, I can take comfort in the knowledge that I’m always learning.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Scribbled down on December 3rd, 2017 by she
Posted in Friends & Family, Frothing At The Bit

Unsurprisingly, when left to our own devices, Drew and I don’t normally celebrate the holidays. Don’t get me wrong, we do get together with friends and family over the holiday season and we participate in gift purchases for those less fortunate that us, but we prefer not to decorate the house or exchange gifts. Too many years of the two of us being in different countries or continents during the season have made this time of year little different from any other. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. As I’m getting older and watching the world change around me, I want to find ways to celebrate and mark the everyday.

I suspect we’ve reached that “age” my father did when your ideas surrounding receiving gifts changes; where you realize that if you need something – like a new fridge after your ancient one finally gives up the ghost and rejects all past attempts at repair – you do your research, set a budget, and just go out and buy it. So it’s the home made things, the things you can do for others, or with others, that increase in appeal.

When it comes to gift giving for family and friends, we’re trying to switch away from things and on to experiences or consumables; handmade art, home cooked preserves and snacks, whisky tastings, tickets (theatre, concert, sporting events, movies, museums), gift certificates to favourite restaurants or donations to a favourite charity.  Whether or not we’ll be successful in the endeavour remains to be seen. This isn’t the first time we’ve tried to follow this concept and in previous years we’ve failed miserably. There are so many expectations, personal history, and a myriad of other things wrapped up in the concept of gift giving over the holidays that tend to make me into a giant ball of stress.

Gift giving for strangers is a whole other kettle of fish.

For the past few years we’ve been sponsoring seniors at a retirement home. Families move away. Parents outlive children. Some people choose never to have had children to begin with (like us!). The holidays can be a lonely time of year for some. We attempt to brighten their days buy obtaining a name from the retirement home, purchasing some of the items (ok, ALL +some more) and delivering the package to the home. Shopping for a stranger is fun. While we can’t always guarantee that our tastes match our gifts, we can hope we’ve made someone else’s outlook brighter for a while.

This likely explains why I’ve joined my first Reddit Christmas exchange this year. I completed a Firefly based exchange this fall and had a blast loading some unsuspecting individual up with a ship full of goodies. There are some benefits to being on the board of the AB Browncoats Society; we know where to find the coolest swag to share with brand new shiny Browncoats! Picking and shipping gifts, the anticipation of waiting for shipments to be delivered, and then seeing the posted gift unveiling gives me a huge sense of joy. And then, there’s the fun of opening a package from someone, somewhere else in the world, who has taking the time to find something for you that fits the small sliver of your personality that they’ve gleaned from your application profile. There’s a lot of joy to be found in being someone’s secret Santa!

In any case, I hope my giftees like what I’ve selected. Thanks for the giggles.