After six months of very little contact with my academic fellows (outside my school, that is), in two weeks I will be starting my “workshop season”. Not that I am giving any workshops myself (I would love to give the Time Management one, I have to admit it), but rather I will be attending four in five weeks. That is a rather high ratio considering I only attended two last year (the required ones according to the regulations).
I feel that workshops really help me connect with other College of Arts students, so I actually enjoy attending, even if I am not particularly fazed with the topic. I sometimes attend just to tick the box, I have to admit it. But yet again, I try to attend as many as I can, and having been at university for three years already, it is hard to pick a workshop I have not done yet.
This year, however, the workshops I have lined up are incredibly relevant to what I am doing. Their timing could not be better, really. First, I have How to fund research projects. This is in line with the fact that in the past month I have sent two rather important applications for project funding and I am hoping I will get some travel money to fund two weeks of field research at some point this summer. It is always good to hear about new ideas for minor funding – given that major funding seems to be rather elusive for those who research Literatures that are not English Literature in the UK.
Next up is Reviewing your career. Lately I have been thinking about it a lot, since the job market for academic position in the Hispanic or Catalan Studies seem rather slim. I don’t want to subject myself to a particular location for many years or have any wish on waiting around until someone retires. Hence at the moment I am looking for solutions to stay within the university structure that do not imply becoming an academic – I think I would make, for example, a great Student Advisor, or Undergrad Career Counsellor. Ironically thought, I am not exactly sure of the steps to take in that direction at the moment, and some insight on life outside academia will be very helpful.
After that, I have Writing in the middle of your PhD. That one is rather self-explanatory. I am technically in the middle of my PhD. And I am writing (with more or less success) pretty much all the time. I am always on a started-writing, mid-writing, coming-off-writing phase and everything revolts around that, so I feel lucky this year I managed to catch this workshop early before all the places where taken.
And last but not least, I have also enrolled on Stopping self-sabotage. This is the most cryptic yet intriguing-sounding of all the workshops, and the one I am most looking forward to. I am not particularly a self-sabotager – I just cannot be bothered picking up the books or waking up early and be strict with myself. I feel this is absolutely normal when my week is already packed up with 35 hours of a full time job. On days like today, when deadlines are looming and I have barely had time to think outside my little box and face other mental tasks, I think the perfect solution is to lay on the couch and play FIFA, rather than reading (or in this case, just blog, because why not). However there are times in which I am fresh and ready to rumble and still the flow of work gets distracted by something, and strategies on how to solve this would be appreciated. To be absolutely honest, I am also attending this workshop to see what other people quote as their main self-sabotaging issues. I found that being in a course like this, talking to full time students and telling them that I actually juggle my Mongrel PhD with work commitments and a wife and hamsters makes them realise that their time problems are not really problems. I take one for the team in those occasions.
Workshops do make me feel like I am an actual enrolled student, and not a secret part-timer, and every so often that feeling is most necessary. I will write a post soon about a revelation I had over Christmas, when I realised that I am alone in my PhD, and in my research in general. So a little bit of a PhD buddying exercise in an actual academic environment would be good for the Mongrel soul. And I might learn a thing or two – bonus.
Looking forward to February now, so we get over the January blues and the workshops start rolling.