For as long as I can remember I’ve said that ‘one day’ I will do my PhD. Ten years ago I visited a University in Liverpool to discuss it and was told that with a good proposal and the fees they’d be happy to accept me, but I decided to buy a house and start a family instead of putting it off another 3 years and gathering more debt. It became my standard response when people asked me what I was going to do when my boys were older, ‘oh, I’m going to do my PhD’. I wanted to do it before I was 40, and then that changed to wanting to start it before I was 40 and then, all of a sudden it seemed, Piggle started Nursery and I needed to get going on it.
You might have wondered, although maybe not, why when Piggle started going to Nursery every afternoon my sewing production didn’t go through the roof like it did when Jim started. What happened was that I began to research, to read and read and read to try to figure out what it actually was I wanted to study. For about four months last fall and winter, until it got too cold for me to be able to, I was getting up at 5.30am and working for 2 hours before the boys got up and then working in another 4 hours into the day just to get it all in.
Around 6 months back I started emailing my chosen University and sent off a very basic proposal which I then edited a few more times to include what I needed to include before it was accepted by 2 Supervisors. Then I waited as I needed a transcript as having not been in eduction for a long time (a long time actually being 13 years which seems insane to me, it feels both longer and shorter) and haven’t worked in 8 and a half years I didn’t have any referees. So, I paid my last university £50 and waited the 6 weeks they said it would take to get the document together assuming that everything was ok. Upon chasing them after the 6 weeks was over I was told that they didn’t have the information required and they would refund my money. Apparently they know I attended, they know that I took 2 courses and what mark I got for those and they know what my final award was and the year I earned it but not exactly when it was awarded or what mark I got… Not very handy.
Anyway, all of a sudden after waiting and waiting to apply with the transcript that wasn’t to be I was suddenly told to submit my application right away, oh, and I’d need a personal statement… So a few hours later with the help of my younger sister and aunt I had a personal statement to go with the application that had been sitting there waiting for me to hit the online ‘submit’ button for months.
The University came back asking for a reference. At which point I basically just sat down and cried because I knew I couldn’t provide one. I got my BA in 1994 and my MA in 1998, I have no idea where any of my previous lecturers are, and would they really be able to give me a reference after all this time anyway? So, off went the reference form to my last job and they replied the only way they could, yes they had employed me from this date to that date, kind regards…
The house in Liverpool finally sold (I won’t go into that horror story, lets just say it’s better forgotten and it’s amazing I didn’t start smoking again while it was going on) so I had the fees for my first year and a start of savings for my second just waiting there but no idea whether I would actually be accepted.
So, we waited for the Dean of Admissions to have a look at the big mess and stack of papers that didn’t really say what they needed to say and to make a decision. His decision was to offer me a place on the MPhil course. Basically what this means is that I get to begin my research and I have 2 years to transfer onto the PhD programme. It’s not exactly what I set out to do but I’m pretty much there. I met my supervisor and wandered open-mouthed around the largest university campus I have ever been on a few weeks back and she informed me that they will just treat me as a PhD student as they expect me to transfer over by the end of this year, apparently my proposal was more detailed and less a complete bag of shite than I thought…
Anyway, it’s taken me forever to actually get to sit down and write this as I’ve begun work and was accepted late so I’m a few weeks behind already. Sewing and knitting are going to be slower and posting more rare (I do have a few that I’d like to get up soon as they are FOs), at least until I find my feet and get the mild panic I’m feeling under control. I had concentrated so hard on getting accepted that I kind of forgot that wasn’t what I was trying to do and all of a sudden I realised that now I’m in I actually have to *do* the PhD….
I’m excited though, I was the least cool student EVER in the library, I was so excited by the books and how many I could have (30 at a time!), how long I could keep them (a month!), how many times I could renew them ( SIX TIMES EACH!!), that there are books online I can read, I don’t have to carry the copy home with me etc etc etc… I have pens and paper and books and I’m trying to get it all together.
I’ll be doing this part-time which means that it could take me 6 years so it’s definitely no sprint. Obviously my boys still come first and everything has to be worked around them which makes planning interesting to say the least. It’s nice to be here though, this place that I’ve thought about and wondered whether I would ever be able to get to. Now I just have to navigate my way through to the other side.