It has dawned on me that I am half way through the 3 years of my PhD course and most definitely half way through my thesis, which, as you can imagine has induced a fairly pressing sense of panic. However it has also forced me to really think about what I want to achieve. What would being a successful graduate mean? This is of course a personal question with a range of possible answers. For me success would not be equated just with a job, there is so much more I wanted to and am getting out of university life at Kingston. Having spent several years working in the fashion industry before returning to university, I have not been looking for work experience in industry. I would like to get a job as a university academic upon graduation and have been lucky enough to be offered teaching work earlier this year. I gave two one hour seminars per week on the first year undergraduate course ‘The Analysis of Media Events', part of the Media and Cultural Studies degree programme. I also had the opportunity to research the content for, write and deliver two lectures, which was a great experience. Marking the students' essays meant that I could follow the course through and I now have a good idea of some of the challenges facing a lecturer.
This semester I am focusing on my other of my ambitions: learning German. I take classes at Kingston Adult Education Centre, where I am working towards achieving an ‘A' level, but I also benefit from the classes here with KLS (the Kingston Language Scheme), which are free of charge for Kingston University students - even if you don't need a language module for credits towards your degree. These classes have been extremely helpful for me; they are a fantastic opportunity for all. Learning German has helped with my reading of German philosophers and theorists - for example, Freud, Walter Benjamin and Hegel, although a full text in German would still take me a very long time to read, with the aid of a dictionary!
Another aspect that's at the back of my mind is the need to get published. We had a great training course on getting published recently which gave me ideas on how to approach publications in academic journals, and turning my PhD (if it ever emerges!) into a monograph. I'm hoping to secure something this summer and already have been invited to write a book chapter which is an exciting opportunity. I have also been thinking about where to situate my work (an issue with interdisciplinary study) and have found myself returning to my roots, as it were, in art and fashion. My next stage is to get in touch with some friends from the ‘art world', which I'm sure will inspire my research and put a fresh spin on some ideas.
So, after a few days of frantically finishing and handing in my assignments, I've finally made it to Easter break and I'm back home in Germany with my family. As much as I love studying in Kingston, sometimes I miss my friends and my parents and therefore I'm super happy to have the opportunity to see them for a few weeks! Unfortunately the weather in Bavaria (where I am at the moment) is about as good as in Kingston. Snow, rain, fog - you get the picture. Nonetheless, there is enough to do for my course and additionally I'm planning my summer, which is far less exciting as it sounds. When I came to university, my dad made a deal with me, that I would complete an internship every summer. Last summer I secured an internship with a fantastic concept store in Berlin, which really allowed me to put what I'd learnt in uni to the test. I hate to admit it, but this time, applications haven't gone too well. Mainly this is because the industry I'm looking to do internships in - Fashion - is completely overrun by desperate students and graduates all the time, looking for work experience. Additionally, I've got the time constraint of 3 months and many companies want someone for 6 months - 12 months. However, I've been offered an interview for a fashion designer and, fingers crossed, it might work out.
I know you may think it's absolute madness to be working all summer and giving up your holiday. Well, in a sense I agree ! But, it gives you an incredible advantage over other applicants in future jobs, as you already have real life work experience. Also, it's not said you can't have fun while you're gaining valuable experience. If you manage to secure a job in another country, then you get to spend your days off exploring a new culture and meeting new people. Doing nothing for over 3 months gets a bit boring anyway (let's be honest:)), so I'd recommend it to anyone. In terms of finding internships while at university, the Careers and Employability office are a fantastic place to go to. This team works for Kingston university and regularly updates those who are interested about summer placements, internships and part-time work. I was really impressed when I first came to university, as I'm used to finding any work experience by myself. This can be easy if it's local and you have contacts already, but the Careers team also offer international placements and internships in really cool companies.
I hope you all enjoy your Easter break, take care!
It's that time of year again folks when all us Cougars grab the sun cream and don the giant foam
I'm talking of course about Varsity 2013!
Varsity is the annual competition where our sports teams (The Cougars) take on their cousins at neighbouring university, Surrey (The Stags.)
It's a massive day out, filled with fun, food and in my team's case, Fencing!
I've been a member of the fencing club here at Kingston for almost two years now, having signed my Wednesdays away to them way back in Fresher's week of my first year. We meet up in the sports hall of a local secondary school every Wednesday night, 6-8pm, hit each other with swords for a bit, then head to local Riverside tavern the ‘Kingston Mill' for a drink and a sit down.
I started fencing because Sherlock Holmes can fence and I may not have mentioned it before, but I have a gigantic crush on Sherlock Holmes. (Literally the book character, not the actors who've played him.)
And I also started because let's face it, it's a sport where you're allowed to carry a sword. A sword! Like you're in ‘The Princess Bride' or something.
Anyway, that's why I started - now for why I've stayed. I'm still fencing two years on not because I'm good at it (Trust me, I'm atrocious!) but because the people at KU's fencing club are the funniest and weirdest people I've met since moving here. Weekly pub sessions can start off with chips and a quiet chat and end up with me on the night bus home with my dress full of peanut shells - What can I say, I love my friends!
Fencing are sending eight of the club along to fence in two teams against Surrey's finest, and one of those fencer's is our club's president who is notorious for drawing blood against whoever he's up against, regardless of the amount of padding they're wearing.
I dread to think what he'll do to Surrey! :S
Some Varsity Stats for you-
Kingston is sending a massive EIGHT HUNDRED students to Varsity this year!!
That includes representatives from:
. Basketball (Men's & Women's)
. Fencing (Obvs.)
. Canoe Polo
. Rugby Union (Men's & Women's)
. Hockey (Men's and Women's)
. American Football (Men's)
. Tennis (Men's)
. Football (Ladie's)
. Mountaineering (Nope... not sure what they do either, but they're going.)
As well as supporters who are just tagging along for the ride and the burger. And the after party at ‘Oceana' obvs.
At the time of writing there is just under a week to go until the big day so it's very much all to play for. I'll let you know how we all get on in my next post.
GIVE ‘EM HELL COUGARS!