25 September 2009

Just finished my application to King's College of London. I have about two weeks of rest before LSE posts its application online. Then a break until January.

24 September 2009

"And atte rotte aboue: hyt haþe the vertue of the celestial bodyes, the whiche þe spirite animal be corrumped in hymselff, and of this speke Avicenna, the iiij boke. Be the forme of the ffyrmament lyttelly the bodyes be enffect, ffor the impression of the ffyrmament the aer douth corrumpe, and so the spirite be enffecte in man, and of thys seyde Avicenna in the iiij boke. Of the forme of the firmament, the bodyes likely be infectted, ffor the impression of the ffirmament corrumpe the aer, and so the spiritte dow corrumpe in man."
- "A Translation of the "Canutus" Plague Treatise" by Joseph Pickett in Popular and Practical Science of Medieval England, edited by Lister Matheson (East Lansing: Colleagues Press, 1994).

And this is some of the stuff that has actually been translated for me! Don't even get me started on the Latin translations! One year of Latin simply does not suffice, but I am muddling through the best I can. Learning on the job, I suppose.

It is no wonder that I am exhausted after hours of this stuff.

23 September 2009

I've done it. My application to Cambridge has been submitted online. For better or worse, I clicked 'submit' and paid the application fee. There is no turning back now.

Of course, this is only really the first step on a long road that will culminate in either success or a rejection. After this, I have to send multiple copies of my supporting documents and references to the BoGS, and a separate copy of my entire application to the Dept. itself. Still, it is a small success for me, who as of this morning thought that the entire situation was hopeless and that I would never come up with a suitable response as to why I wanted to pursue a master's degree. (That said, I am not entirely sure that what I ended up with was a suitable response -- only time will tell!).

Now I wait until they tell me what else they want me to send. Back to gathering sources for my SMP (which is a whole separate issue in itself and provides enough fodder for a completely separate post) and attempting to sleep more than four hours a night.

22 September 2009

By this time tomorrow, I will have submitted my Cambridge and King's applications online. All that will be left to do is mail in my other application materials.

Oh. My. God.

18 September 2009

Time is running out, I'm standing still

The third week of school is now officially over. I've officially run out of the 'free' $20.00 pay-for-print that we get for each term, meaning that I've printed over 200 pages. Most of it is for my SMP, which is steadily consuming all of my free time. More on this subject a bit later. First, a recap:

Classes have been going well. I've already given three presentations in Historiography and have two scheduled for next week. My Terrorism class is absolutely fab (as a certain former professor of mine was fond of saying) and I am having dinner with my professor on Monday in order to find out about his life. Archaeological Analysis is turning me into a ceramic experts. I now know more than I ever possibly wanted to know about 17th, 18th, and 19th century pottery. I also now know how to process, clean, and bag artifacts. Pottery. brick, and prehistoric arrowheads can be washed. Nails, iron, and all mortar needs to be dry-brushed. Both thrilling processes, especially when performed at 8:30 in the morning. Please note the considerable sarcastic overtones.

In all seriousness, everything is going well. The work itself is not tasking in the least, but the amount of work is, especially when added with the time spent in class. It took considerable coordination on the part of Karen and myself in order to find five hours a week in our schedules to go to archaeology lab. Most extracurricular activities have gone by the wayside this semester as I simply do not have the time. Luckily, I still can find time to go to the gym, which means that the stress hasn't been too bad. Yet.

What has been rather stressful is my SMP. After considerable contemplation and internal struggle, I realized that my interest in the Jacobites was nowhere what it needed to be in order to sustain me through a year-long project. While it seemed such a waste to simply set aside four months of research on the topic, I ultimately decided that it would be for the best. I will now be tracing the development in causal theories of the bubonic plague in England between 1347-1700 using plague tracts. I have a narrower idea as to what I will be looking at it, but care not to devulge all of my secrets just yet. For those who read this blog and are not yet aware, I am something of a plague expert. I made my first report on the plague in sixth grade and have been steadily developing my knowledge since then. In Oxford when my friends and I were studying for the integral exam, we each prepared a presentation on three topics so as to increase the general knowledge of the group. My plague presentation lasted an hour and, as I have been told, was 'more comprehensive than the original presentation'. Whenever anyone has a 'black plague' question (which is, admittedly, not that often), they come to me.

I think that there are some general misconceptions about what the SMP is. The St. Mary's Project is not merely a 'project' - a title which is incredibly misleading. In the end, it is a independent research endeavor that culminates in an 80-100 page paper and public presentation. It used to be required for all history majors, but is now elective. I knew that the entire thing would be hard going when I decided to do it. I had no idea just how hard until this week. My first task was to prepare a bibliography for my SMP in a week. I did so and came up with something along the lines of 81 sources. I thought that I had done quite well and was rather pleased with myself (if a bit worried that perhaps I had veered off in a completely different direction, as I sometimes am wont to do). Imagine my shock when I was informed that I need to have MORE sources and that my bibliography was not quite comprehensive enough!!! It was then that I knew this semester was going to be a ballbuster. I have a feeling that it is going to be a war between my SMP and myself in the end. Only one of us will come out on top. Hopefully it is me.

08 September 2009

'Oh, we're halfway there'

I told myself that I would get my graduate school personal statement done by tonight and so it only makes sense that I am now updating this. I will get it done, just perhaps not as early tonight as I might have wished. The first week of school is finished and today marks the start of second week (out of fifteen). Each passing means that the workload increases just a wee bit more, the stress levels rise, and the deadlines for my graduate applications become a little nearer.

Term started on Monday with a bang. I have a seeming inability to refuse those who ask me for help and, as a result, found myself awake (just barely) at the early hour of 7am in the campus store. Not having worked there for the past year and a half, my first few customer-service interactions were rough to be sure. However, I quickly got the swing of things and was once again at ease behind the til by 10:30 when I left. My first class of the semester was Politics of the Middle East. We will be discussing the culture and contemporary problems within the Middle East as well as American misconceptions about the region. It looks incredibly interesting and should be relatively easy in terms of workload (especially compared to the past year in the UK). We have a presentation, a midterm exam, a final paper of 10-15 pages, and a final exam. No sweat.

1:20-2:30 was Politics of Terrorism. The combination of a fascinating subject and an extremely interesting professor means that this will most likely be one of my favorite classes this semester. Once again, it should prove to be pretty easy: a public debate, midterm, a final paper and presentation of 10-15 pages (although I have grand plans for mine and hope to have my limit extended), and a final exam. Immediately following was two hours of Historiography. If any class is going to give me trouble this semester, it will be this one. The subject is dry and I have no inclination at all to study it. However, I need to earn the A (all A's this semester if I stand any hope at all of getting in to graduate school anywhere) and so will give it all the effort that I've got. I then ran back to the campus store to work from 5-8. Needless to say, I was exhausted by the time I returned to my flat.

I reported to work back at the campus store at 7:30am on Tuesday morning. I worked until 11 stocking shelves and filling book orders. At 2, I reported to Archaeological Lab and Analysis. Our first class was in Kent, but we will spend the rest of the semester in the archaeology labs at Historic St. Mary's City about a mile away. This class looks so cool. We will be spending a total of 40 hours in the lab over the course of the semester outside of class helping with the museum's research. In addition, our final project will be to take the contents of a recently excavated 5ft x 5ft square and process and analyze the contents. We will then write an analytical report which will enter the museum's archives and contribute to their overall understanding of the site. I am terribly excited to get started. The only downside will be having to bike to the labs in the rain.

Wednesday and Thursday passed in much the same manner as Monday and Tuesday. On Friday, I drove to Branch Avenue Metro after class to pick up Brad for the weekend. My flat had a black & white party, and both he and Elysa joined us in the merriment. Quite fun.

I spent all of today with Elysa working on grad school applications, part of which I am now off to finish.

Week 2!