Settling In: the Start of Things

Last week, I moved into my official office for my first year of a Master’s degree in English literature at Rhodes University. It is a narrow room on the top floor. The walls are not that clean, the carpet is dusty and the furniture is a bit banged up, but I was – and remain – ridiculously excited to have my first office.

I tend to get excited about such things. I’m pretty sure I also got inordinately excited about my first bookcase, pretty notebook and (most definitely) my first laptop. Last year I got a pigeonhole in the department. I checked it every day. Having now moved up a rung from Honours student to Master’s candidate, I officially have my own little space behind a locked door, If I had secrets, I could hide them there.

The resident "House of Fiction" at Rhodes University
The resident “House of Fiction” at Rhodes University. This is where I’ve spent three rather wonderful years. Note the trees, and the sense of learning.

Disappointingly, I don’t have many secrets. I am merely an excitable and at times rather humiliatingly starry-eyed individual, whose imagination outstrips her capacity for intrigue.

However, I do hope that the happenings of this year will be interesting and even informative for others in the same boat – that is, others starting on the (incredibly) intimidating task of obtaining a Master’s degree. Particularly, I feel that a Master’s in English literature is something of a special situation. Whereas a sociologist or anthropologist or even a historian might conduct interviews and case studies and employ all manner of exciting methods (i.e. they have contact with the outside world), literature students basically read and write (dream job, if there ever was one for me). I have already been warned about the loneliness and frustration that comes with such a solipsistic endeavour, and I guess I’m hoping this blog will facilitate some engagement with that outside world I rather easily and casually ignore.

Thus, with this great, momentous occasion of inhabiting an office, I decided to start a blog. Partly for the reasons above, partly because I felt the need to try and write again on a regular basis and partly because I felt like some documentation was in order. I have a terrible track record with diaries and journals, so I’m hoping the public nature of this blog will enforce some accountability.

Also, having survived a year of tutoring first year English students, and being lined up to resume this position, I feel I need a space to vent and share the frustrations I will inevitably encounter. There might even be some funny malapropisms in it, if last year is anything to judge by (railing against the “big fat business typhoon” is still my favourite one).

Thus, in a nutshell, this blog will contain updates on my Master’s progress, the experience of actually being a Master’s student, rants about tutoring (perhaps some tips and things I found useful, but probably mostly rants), general happenings and observations and then the compulsory wildcard element of anything I find interesting.

If there are other Master’s or any type of students out there (or anyone really) who happen to stumble upon this blog, please leave me a comment or let my know how you’re handling things. As soon as my boyfriend allows me the freedom to browse the internet again (i.e. when he stops playing World of Tanks and some of our meagre bandwidth is freed up) I shall endeavour to find other blogs that are something like mine. Thus far the search has been unsuccessful, but I am really trying to reach out here. Really, I am.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. You’re in for a bumpy road, chickadee. My best advice for new grad students is to find a friend or two in your cohort to make friends with for emotional and academic support (remember that writing isn’t always a solo job and bouncing ideas off others is extremely helpful). You’re not fully initiated until you’ve shed a couple tears.

    When you start out, you will learn how much you don’t know and you will feel dumb. I think this realization is part of what makes a good academic; the understanding that your knowledge is only a small portion of what your discipline knows.

    You will feel like you’ll never be as knowledgeable as the other people in your classes, and that is when you act like you know what you’re talking about. Fake it until you make it, and remember that’s what everyone else is doing as well.

    P.S. Don’t feel tied to a publishing schedule for a blog. You’ll have enough to deal with when it comes time to write seminar papers. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the great advice 🙂 I have been informed of the bumpiness of the road and I am waiting for that first bout of tears. As for feeling dumb, I am there already. I’m only just just starting to pull my ideas together and the information I have to get through seems boundless. It helps to know there are others who have gotten through it though.

      Luckily, my boyfriend is also embarking on his Master’s this year, so at least we’ll each have someone to cry with. I really don’t expect this to be easy, but I am very much looking forward to the process.

      Thanks again 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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