Category: school

Lesson learned

December 17 – Lesson Learned What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?

Hard work pays off, but not as much as it should sometimes.

I’ve developed a philosophy when it comes to school work that I am hoping I can apply to life in general, when I someday find a career. It’s probable that lots of people will disagree with this, but it definitely works for me.

Sometimes, hard work and stress are important and worth it. These are the times that you really need to take things seriously and put your all into it. Like my Theseus.

Other times, it’s just not worth the stress and it’s better for everyone if you just do what you can and focus on the things that are important. Like, my museum studies class. That I got a merit in for a total of 4 hours of work.

Basically, sometimes no amount of hard work is going to get you any further than a medium effort.

It’s about balance. It’s about knowing when to slack off and when to get your ass in gear.

It’s not fail proof, by any means, and occasionally (aka often) leads to last minute assignments. But I think I’ve refined the system over the years and usually end up spending enough time on the things that matter.

On reflection, I’m not entirely sure this was a great lesson to learn… remind me not to reference this philosophy in a job interview.

Can’t go back now

Heather (8:04am): But what if your heart belongs in a myriad of places that still speak your name?

As I watched the sunrise over Castle Keep from the Newcastle train station, I texted with my friend Shaun about the meaning of home. I didn’t want to leave Newcastle all over again, but more and more that week I realized that it didn’t belong to me anymore. It had moved on, but I hadn’t.

This was the cafe where I waited for my train to London the first time, just days after I first arrived in Newcastle. I ordered a lemonade and it turned out to have ginger in it, which I’m allergic to. It was a baffling moment in which I felt extremely foreign. And thirsty. Thursday I felt more capable, travelling alone once again but so accustomed to it by now. Things had come full circle, which meant that it was over.

I think that was the hard part. Being there made me realize that it really was over and I was never going to have it back. Any of it. Newcastle, Europe, school. It was all done. I took a bus that went close to my apartment, about two blocks away, and it hurt to look. My mom asked if I went to see my apartment building, but I couldn’t have. Not ever. That place was home and I loved it so much. And it belongs to someone else now. Newcastle belongs to someone else.

My friends don’t belong to me anymore either. They have lives that go on without me, and all I can hope for is a passing message or a small moment of connection. I was a visitor in a place that I used to call home.

I have lived in many homes in three different countries. And in each one I was hoping to find the place where I belonged. But now it seems like pieces of me belong to each place and no matter where I am I feel displaced.

My trip was a bittersweet whirlwind. I was there just long enough to say my goodbyes all over again. To realize it was over, stamped signed and sealed like the certificate they handed me after I walked across the stage.

The PhD…

Because I’m proud to bursting, I must announce that My Theseus was actually quite good. At least according to the powers that be at Newcastle University, who gave me a distinction. For those of you not familiar with academic marking in the UK, from what I gather they go up to 80 instead of 100. A 50-59 is a pass, 60-69 is a merit and 70-79 is a distinction. I got a 73.

I thoroughly enjoyed writing My Theseus, which was what started me thinking about academia and the possibility of doing my PhD. I started looking up programs and possibilities. The current leader in my doctorate fantasies is John Hopkins University and their awesome PhD in Classical Art and Archaeology.

Since I got my mark back last week, the PhD has been on my mind even more. With that kind of mark on my dissertation, my odds of getting accepted into a PhD are much higher. It’s a very large stepping stone on that path, if it’s the path I want to take.

But do I?

There are valid points in each column of the yellow legal pad.

Dr. Heather Montgomery has quite the ring to it. But a PhD is another 6 years of school with no guarantee that I’ll be able to find a job at the end.

I’m meeting with the head of the PhD at John Hopkins next week when I’m in Baltimore. There will definitely be more discussion about a future in academia in my life…

For now, I’m trying to focus on how awesome it is to be Heather Montgomery, BJ, MA.

Theseus: completed

Last Friday, after many glitches and a great deal of emotional stress, I printed out my dissertation and handed it in.

I am happy with it. I am confident that I did everything I could to make it perfect, and there is nothing I would change. That’s all one can ask for, right?

Now it only remains to be seen what other people (namely my supervisor and two other markers) think about it and if I get a decent grade.

It was my life for an entire month. When it was done I was both immensely relieved and strangely empty. I had no idea what to do with my time anymore.

Luckily, packing came along to keep me busy. That and Firefly.

I’m proud of myself. For finishing this and for getting this far. This is the physical manifestation of all of the work I have done in the last 5 years, and everything I have learned.

And, believe it or not, I think I finally found my niche. Yes, I could talk about pots, myths and political myth making forever.

Theseus: a democratic hero

Title page

It's so beautiful!

180 pages

Writing a dissertation…

…is incredibly stressful.

I thought that the hardest part would be the actual writing bit. But I adjusted to that fairly well. I woke up every morning at 8am (not willingly, but because construction begins at 8am sharp right outside my front door), had two to three cups of coffee while I watched some tv show or another to wake up, then sat at my computer from about 9:30am until 5pm, almost everyday. And I wrote. Lots. And most of it was even decent.

On Monday I finally finished the actual writing bit, and that’s when I started to get stressed.

Why? Because I have a million little nit-picky things to do to the dissertation, in terms of editing, formatting, etc. And they all take a lot more time than they should. And to make matters worse, I took on the task of typing someone else’s dissertation for some extra cash. I finished typing it weeks ago, but he wants me to do the nit-picky things on his as well.

This afternoon I spent over 45 minutes trying to get a picture into a Word document. No matter what I did, the picture would not go anywhere but at the top of the page. In the end I had to get Kaitlyn, my Amazonian Webmistress, to fix it for me. Thank God. Because by that point I had thrown things around my apartment and slammed every door I could think of while swearing like a sailor at the construction workers outside (who couldn’t hear me, I promise… not so sure about my neighbours though…)

So, I guess writing a dissertation isn’t as stressful as polishing one up.

I should be all done next week. I hope. And then I promise I will come back from the blogcation of the last month or so.