For my last blog post, I am writing to you from France where I have been spending the month of July visiting my family.
Of course, when you are a graduate student, holidays aren’t really full days off where you just get to sleep in late, chill, and have fun with your friends and relatives. Instead, you still have to study. So, I have divided up my time between what you ought to do while on vacation, and school work. I have to say that it has not been very easy because most of my friends and relatives were under the impression that I was back in France because I had some free time. Anyway, I quickly realized that working in the morning and early afternoon worked best, in order to meet all my personal and educational goals every day, as small as they were. I want to have my thesis proposal done (at least, a good draft of it) by the end of the summer, so I have been reading a lot about my topic, which has evolved and is now roughly about (in three words!) comics, multimodal metaphors, and empathy. I have been treating myself with little perks: if I read a certain number of articles in the morning, then I can go to the beach later in the day, which has been working wonderfully. Also, while most of my friends went to a music festival, I took these four days as a long study weekend, which allowed me not to feel guilty when I went on a two day trip after. As always with grad school, balance is what’s needed, and actually what really works!
One thing that I want to emphasize, because it’s wonderful and I could not live without, especially during trips abroad like these, is how much I rely on e-resources (articles, and plenty of e-books) from the library to do my research without a having to carry a single book or stack of paper with me. I only have to carry my tablet, and for people like me who are used to constantly have to carry books around, it was a revolution!
Being in France also got me thinking about studying while traveling, something I have become “accustomed” to throughout the years. I have always liked the idea of living abroad. When I was nineteen I left France and spent my summer in Dublin as an au pair, just to see how it felt to be speaking English all day long. When I came back, I realized that studying would always give me the opportunity to travel thanks to exchange programs, so I made the most of it. I spent a year in Scotland and two years in the United States. Some of you might be thinking “I want to go to grad school at Memorial, but I also want to live abroad…is that even possible?” To which I answer, yes, it is.
Memorial University has a dedicated website, Go Abroad (http://www.mun.ca/goabroad/) that offers many opportunities to future or current graduate students who want to live abroad and either work, study, or volunteer. This website has lots of information (you can also book an appointment with a coordinator, if you want) to help you figure out all the options you could do. I will also give you my two cents!
If you are an undergraduate student, there is of course the option to study abroad as part of an exchange program: this is awesome, do it! But then, what if you missed the deadline, or already studied abroad, but you want to renew the experience of living in a foreign country again, before going to grad school? Here, I am assuming that if you want to go to grad school, it is because you want to teach, eventually. If so, there are plenty of possibilities for students to teach English overseas. It might not be the subject you would end up teaching if you continue a career in academia, but it certainly gives you first-hand experience of teaching! Some of you might be reluctant because teaching abroad asks you to take a break from your studies, but then, I am a strong advocate of taking a year off between your BA and your grad school years, or even between your MA and your PhD. I don’t think these are “lost years” – on the contrary, they give you time to recharge for your next stretch of study, be exposed to the real world (no matter what we say, university is a privileged place!), as well as build up a character that is adaptable, and up for a challenge, which are some of the essential qualities required for grad school, in my opinion.
Alternatively, if you are already a graduate student, you can apply for international scholarships through Memorial. You can find some of them on the Government of Canada website (http://www.scholarships-bourses.gc.ca/scholarships-bourses/index.aspx?lang=eng), but also ask the people in your department – they might be aware of other opportunities! I won’t lie, these are competitive scholarships to get, but they give you the chance to do some research in a new lab or academic environment, have access to resources you might not have access to in Newfoundland, and become part of an international network of researchers in your field, through conferencing and collaborative works. Not to mention the fact that you might also learn a foreign language and be exposed and interact with a foreign culture, which, to me, is very exciting! You get to learn so much about others, but also about yourself, where you stand, and what you are able to.
For my PhD, I decided that I wanted to reside in Canada for a while (which, for me is actually studying abroad!), so here I am, at Memorial. I am about to finish my first year, and looking forward to the next year to come, which, I already know, will be very busy, but also very exciting and enlightening!
Good bye, all, and good luck in your future endeavors!