At the end of the 2014-15 school year, I wrote a WWW/EBI blog about events at work. That structure seems less appropriate when reflecting on my first year of PhD study (certainly, none of my assignment feedback has included WWW/EBI, or even a sticker!), but it is a good point to reflect on the experiences I’ve had so far.
1) I got good at flying.
I’ve flown more in the last 14 months than in the rest of my life so far. So I’ve become much more confident with airport protocol, packing for plane journeys, and not being intimidated by customs officers. The low? Losing quite a bit of money on a flight that I thought was ‘flexi’ – it turns out that ‘flexi’ bookings are not that flexible. The high? A free upgrade for my overnight flight back to the UK earlier this week. Thank you, BA!
2) I ate chicken for breakfast.
It was served with waffles and ‘bacon marmalade’. It bore absolutely no resemblance to an English breakfast, but it was nonetheless a success. I’ve also eaten many other new foods, got the hang of Canadian coins, and cut back on caffeine, sugar and swearing.
3) But I’ve missed Ribena.
Plus black pudding, smoked back bacon, good cheese, chutney and crumpets. After Christmas, I returned to Canada laden with Colman’s mustard, brown sauce, hobnobs, and Percy Pigs. Sometimes the taste of home makes a huge difference.
4) I built friendships.
Moving abroad has given me a wonderful opportunity to meet new people, and I am so glad to have made fantastic friends in Canada. At the same time, there are people in the UK who I’ve actually become better at keeping in touch with through online conversations and emails. The catch is that, wherever I am, I miss the people who are somewhere else – but my life is so much richer for all my friends that this is not actually a cause for complaint!
5) And together we built a snow woman
Returning to a student lifestyle has prompted a return to the paradox of free time with budgetary constraints. Yet the best times this year have often involved no financial outlay at all. I am so grateful to the friends with whom I laugh and cry, find comfort and challenge, and who are not too grownup to play.
6) I did yoga.
Lots of yoga. And I want to do lots more. It’s had physical, mental, emotional and social benefits. I always feel better and work more productively when I’ve been to a yoga class. Next year, I’m aiming for #yogaeverydamnday, as the hashtag says.
7) I read lots.
Well, I read lots of academic texts. And wrote a bit about them too. I’ve become more informed about politics too, and no longer feel completely out of my depth when people talk about frameworks, lenses, or various -isms. I stopped reading for pleasure though, and didn’t really notice until I restarted a few weeks ago. It’s definitely something I want to prioritise over the summer months.
I’m back in England now until September, with lots of fantastic plans for my time here. But I’m looking forward to returning to Canada after that, not just to keep studying for a PhD, but to keep discovering.