I’m so glad to have the opportunity to share my amazing experiences at Memorial with you. I hope you enjoy the chance to peer into my life as a graduate student and I hope I can help you get a sense of the shape of the English MA coursework program. Let’s start with me: My name is Meghan and I just got back from teaching ESL in Taiwan. While I’m originally from Bedford, Nova Scotia, coming back to Canada and coming to Memorial has been a bit of a shock to the system. I feel like I took a dive into the cold water of the Atlantic. But actually, that’s exactly the experience I wanted at MUN! I’m coming back to my Canadian roots to add to the study of identity and place. I missed an ocean vibe, and I love the culture and community that I know is unique to Newfoundland.
With everything we owned in our car, my boyfriend and I drove from Fredericton to the port. I was a little nervous about the ferry, but the weather was calm and grey. Somehow, even though it looked clear, the 18 hour ride turned into 28! As we circled the harbor for the 4,878th time, I sat on the ferry and listened to a native Newfie, a born storyteller, tell me about my new home as we passed the time. Newfoundlanders love to tell stories about this place, and I love to listen to their friendly advice!
The house I rented is awesome, and campus is so easy to navigate. I have my route mapped out in the tunnels under the university in preparation for snow, which like a good Canadian I expect any day now. I’ve picked out my favorite study spots in my department and the library and I’ve found some nice places to sit outside until that snow hits.
St. John’s is one of those cities that has a very definite feel. There’s a traditional, artsy core, and a lot of big box-store malls. One place I loved is Signal Hill. Is it cliché to say that I like the perspective of a long walk up a hill on a foggy, windy day? I don’t think so, because for me, that’s what I love about this place.
Let’s talk about the real stuff: the work! I’m taking two English classes and the Teaching Skills Enhancement Program (TSEP), an incredible free program that will give me teaching experience and help me develop a teaching portfolio. I have another class that starts next week—I’m exploring MUN’s Folklore program, too! You know, though, I had an idea in my head that this would be like undergrad. When they told me I could only take three classes, no more or I would die, I laughed. I’m not laughing any more though!
This is work. I worked in non-academic fields before I did my graduate degree, and I’m very glad I did. First, because it gave me time management skills, and second, because money. Now, when I decided to come back, I figured it would be a breeze. Get it done, follow a schedule, do the work. Boy, am I glad I had those skills down! It’s not a breeze, but I’m doing fine. It helps that the course content is so engaging and current, too.
You may be wondering how it’s different from an undergrad. You need a lot of drive at this level. That being said, because I’ve managed my time well, I’m not stressed at all. In fact, I’ve had time to get involved in reading groups, clubs, and make some new friends with the incredible people in my program.
There was a huge welcome week and orientation for us. I love these events. Along with the awesome swag and information about services, which is how I got involved in the TSEP, a lot of it was about managing impostor syndrome, time management, and stress. I liked that they were realistic. It’s true: the program is hard work. But there was a real focus on how the university wants to see us succeed and has programs to help. That’s something you should never overlook when you think about what a program has to offer.
Overall, this program will more than meet my expectations. I’m feeling challenged and inspired by the courses and the work already, and my department and my supervisor, Dr. Farquarson, are very supportive, and my other professors have been responsive and let me direct my own research. I can’t wait to see how the rest of the semester shapes up, and I hope you come back to follow my progress. Until then!