New year, new plan?

I find myself writing this in the first few days of 2019, in that time when the days feel really strange and not connected to the rest of the year.  On reflection, that’s how I felt for most of the beginning of year 2, the last year of my masters, which was very different to the beginning of year 1.

Year 1 was full on, I felt for most of the time as if I was travelling at 1000 miles per hour on the masters train, while in year 2 from September to December 2018 the masters was most definitely put on the back burner.  This was because of a very stressful house move which happened at the end of November which conveniently coincided with me not needing to take any modules and therefore not having to be in Leeds officially.  But now that we’re settled I find my thoughts turning to updating this blog with documenting what little I have been doing academically in semester 1 and concentrating on what will be coming in year 2. It felt strange because I didn’t have any modules to take, as I’d already taken three out of the requisite four.  That means there’s only one more module to take in 2019 plus of course the dissertation which will be handed in mid-September.  The year 2 story so far…..


Year 2 started on September 24th but as I had no modules to take this event passed me by, unlike last year when I was a gibbering wreck before the month was out (click here to be reminded of that fun time).


Since I hadn’t attended any Skills Library sessions at Leeds last year I thought I’d take advantage of my spare time and attend a few of these – anything I can do to get help when it comes to researching and writing my dissertation can’t be a bad thing, so I toddled off to Leeds early in the morning one day so I could comfortably have breakfast at Caffe Nero before taking a Skills Library session.  I also managed to have a meeting with my supervisor on the same day and got a few pointers for my dissertation.  Of course the dissertation doesn’t need to be handed in until September 2019, but I do like to get ahead (within reason).

I also took an online Skills Library session later in the month, these are great as you can take them from the comfort of your own home, I really don’t know why they don’t do more of these, it would save me from doing a trip to Leeds for a one hour session.


Another Skills Library session and this one was called “Developing Your Argument”, although as both Mike and Lauren pointed out I’m already quite good at this and they didn’t know why I needed to go to this one.  Hmmmm.

Moving on and I realised something back in year 1 that unnerved me a little – the first year of the MA was very nearly over. This meant that after a few months break over the summer I’d be back at it and then year 2 would pass by probably just as quickly as year 1. And I suddenly thought…what next? No more studying. What??!!

That thought frightened me. I’ve been studying for so long now that it’s become who I am. It’s what I love. What would life be without it to define me? Yes I could do independent learning, maybe take a couple of smaller courses to keep my interest but it wouldn’t be the same.

So I’ve started to seriously think of my next steps. Which inevitably leads me to the next logical step.

The PhD.

I feel like that needs a fanfare of trumpets sounding in the distance.

Yes. I’m heavily researching this pathway. It’s very very early days, and it’s daunting and scary and……..very exciting!!!  So with this thought in mind I attended a PhD open day at Leeds at the end of November.   The first thing that hit me was that I WASN’T THE OLDEST PERSON THERE!!! Woo bloody hoo! Now that may have been doing an injustice to one or two of the other attendees who I had pinpointed as being of similar age to img_0813-1myself but it’s nice to know that I won’t be sticking out like a sore thumb if I do decide to pursue this pathway, or indeed if they do too.  It was a really interesting day.  However, doing a PhD would mean that I would have to start (if I was lucky enough to be accepted) next October, meaning I’d finish the Masters in September and then go straight into a PhD.  I don’t know if I (or Mike) could cope with that, so I’ve decided to concentrate on finishing the MA and then possibly apply next January to start in October 2020. But we’ll see, there’s a long way to go until I finish this September but it’s definitely got me thinking about doing a PhD and continuing with my studies.  Another study path I could take is to do another MA but this time build upon my classical roots and take the MA in Classical Studies with the OU.  So there’s lots of options I think.


This month brought the end of the first semester, which came to an end with a bit of a whimper unlike last year where it ended with a full blown bang in the shape of a presentation at the end of the Research module.

But I did manage to finally attend an exhibition at the Huntarian Museum in Glasgow.  The exhibition – William Hunter and the Anatomy of the Modern Museum – had been on from September, but I’d only just now been able to get to Glasgow, so on a cold day inbetween Christmas and the New Year Mike and I drove up to Glasgow for the exhibition. William Hunter is one of the main protagonists in my dissertation on the dispute between William Hunter and Alexander Monro over the discovery of the functionality of the lymphatic system, so it was really interesting to actually see some of the work he’d undertaken in the flesh so to speak.  Actually it was literally in the flesh as you can see in these anatomical specimens….

The image at the top of this post is of me outside the museum pointing to both William and John Hunter, both of whom I’m equally fascinated by so it was a good couple of hours well spent.

So now we’re into 2019 and I’m about to crank myself back up and start thinking about doing some uni work, although I’m not officially back until 28th January, when I start my final module. I’m looking forward to starting it and hopefully getting my studying mojo fighting fit again as it’s currently suffering from the January blues and has temporarily left me feeling a little bit indifferent about studying at the moment.

Anyway, the next module has nothing to do with 18th century anatomists and is completely different to anything I’ve taken so far. It’s a really interesting module called “Death, Dying and the Dead” and it examines the changing experiences of death, dying and remembrance of the dead in the 20th century. Way out of my comfort zone, but I’m looking forward to putting my dissertation away for a couple of months and cracking on with this module.

I will report back in a few months when my errant mojo will hopefully have returned, chomping at the studying bit and I’ll be full of the joys of this weird and wonderful uni life again.




3 thoughts on “New year, new plan?

  1. Hi Debra – hope everything is going well with your dissertation. Really enjoyed reading about your MA journey. I was also so connected with your comments about studying and how it takes over literally years of your life. I finished my MA 18 months ago and so miss studying. I’ve thought, very like you, about what to do next regarding a PhD – so admire you for even contemplating it however I don’t quite have the courage to pursue further.
    Will look forward to seeing how your journey progresses.
    Take care and 🍀 with the new house!!
    Cheryl x


    1. Hi Cheryl – I’m so glad you like reading about my MA, it’s so nice to get comments about it. Yes I am contemplating doing a PhD although it’s very scary to think I’ll be committing another 5ish years to studying but also, it’s scary to think that if I don’t then I won’t be doing any formal study again.

      So we’ll see – I’ll be writing about that in my next blog post when I eventually get round to it!

      Hope to see you soon!
      Debra x


  2. Fabulous read again Debra, it is very entertaining. and interesting. Wishing you lots of luck in your second year.
    Gail x

    Sent from my iPhone


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