Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Endings and Beginnings...

It is August 27, 2009. I have officially been done with my masters degree for one week. Its hard to believe that I have already lived in Edinburgh for almost one year. One year seems like a long time when it starts, but when I look back, it has gone in the blink of an eye. And now that the stress has lifted from the back of my mind, I now realize just HOW stressful the past few months have been.

This year was both harder and easier than the last few years that I spent in America. Harder in that, obviously, I have been 8,000 miles away from family, and friends, and the random comforts and pieces of normalcy that one never consciously thinks about until they are taken away. Also harder in that I was thrown into a full research programme that is not designed to cater to anthropology, instead it catered to other social sciences within the school of Social and Political Studies...Sociology, mostly. So there we were (I say "we" because without a few choice friends in my programme, all three of us might have fallen apart) forced to take classes that were unnecessary, expected to write and work without focus, and learning more about the limits of our own sanity than about new trends or research within our own academic field. Hmmm. Sad, in that there is so much we COULD have learned, but happy in that the degree really is SO MUCH shorter here when all of the classes and the bottle-fed research skills are removed. in essence, we taught ourselves, and each other, and learned a lot more about ourselves as friends, researchers, and people than we might have in any other situation.
Celebratory post-degree "feast" in the gardens
The Glamthropologists: Siobhan, Lucy, and Kim

This year was easier in that I found the research process easy to fall into, as it resembled my undergraduate degree quite closely. Once you fall into the rhythm of research, you are using the same format over and over, just plugging in new data. how unglamorous does that sound? but its true. also easier in that i didn't work while attending school. this has, in effect, made me quite lazy, and I'm honestly not looking forward to getting back into the swing of things in the working world...ah well, c'est la vie!

the weather has been crap this summer-very rainy, and warm (for here) meaning that I feel like I live in a rainforest. Its humid. If not for the cool winds, I would be pining for A/C everyday. the weather is also quite schizophrenic. it will rain for 30 minutes, stop, the sky will clear and it will get very warm...then the clouds roll back in and the entire thing repeats in various patterns. I'm hoping September will be better for the family visit :-)
Edinburgh 11:30 pm

I started reviewing theatre for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival the day I turned my dissertation in. Since then I have been viewing 1-3 plays a day, reviewing them for publishing on the website It isn't up and running yet, but will be very soon, so you can check it out if you fancy seeing my opinions on random performances. haha. THe festival itself is fascinating...the streets in old and new town are choked with tourists...French, Spanish, American, English...babbling and gawking and overall blocking traffic and slowing the flow of people on the sidewalks...and none of them understand our streets...although that makes sense, seeing as many streets here have different names for different sections of the street. Confusing, yes. There are kids flyering everything...and everyone for the hundreds of plays, concerts, comedy shows, street performers, and restaurants. Edinburgh in August is definitely a dream for the professional tourist and a somewhat nightmarish, yet necessary experience for the locals.
View of the crowds up the Royal Mile
Street performer

The next few months will bring a lot of change-more change to add to this already interesting year. For two weeks in September I will play tour guide for my parents, brother, and Aunt Peggy. We'll hang out in E-burgh, then head to the highlands for five days. Then, my good friend Adam will be moving to London, and Yara, another good friend, will return from summer in the Med and move into my flat. October will bring the send-off of my wonderful anthro ladies for their respective stints of fieldwork. Lucy is off to Kenya, and Siobhan is off to Poland. It will definitely be strange to not have three of my best friends here next year-but luckily, Skype is amazing, and London and Poland are quite close. And Kenya? well, I most definitely plan on taking a safari within Lucy's year abroad.

Soon, I'll seriously start the job hunt as well. Not a lot available right now, but I'm not too fussed about finding the perfect job right away. I'll also do a bit of searching for PhD funding, just to keep my options never know what the NEXT year will bring!

At least I still love this city...thats always a good sign! You can always see something new when you walk...different routes, different times of day or night...different shadows and quirks. If I keep my eyes open, I doubt I'll ever bore of this city. It isn't the culture capital of Scotland, or the home of so many inspired writers for nothing!
In the words of Alexander McCall Smith: "This is a city of shifting light, of changing skies, of sudden vistas. A city so beautiful it breaks the heart again and again." (on the side of a building in new town)

Here's to the end of life as a matriculated student, and the beginning of life as a student of the world. Take a deep breath-time to dive in!
Lucy, Me, Adam, Alicia on Adam's Birthday
25 years old...and still a poser!

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