It’s been close to two month since I finished my master’s in Edinburgh. Life in the States has been interesting. I hope to write a longer entry on my experiences back home after two years abroad when I have more time. For now, I give you a “quick” status update.
After completing my dissertation in August, I returned to my hometown Seattle for three weeks. I moved to New York City late September, and will be based here for the next few months. At the moment, I am researching and writing about how to get a graduate degree abroad for Idealist.org and interning for the Recording & Archive Department at StoryCorps. I am also in the process of searching for a job in social media, cultural management, and/or non-profit.
You can take a look at my current projects and interests by visiting my personal website and following me on Twitter. You can also subscribe to my latest project: nyPhone.
nyPhone is a photoblog documenting life in New York City via the iPhone. This project was founded by two partners in crime: my sister Joy and me.
Even though I am no longer studying in the UK, I will update this blog intermittently. I will write an entry and perhaps create a podcast when I return to Edinburgh for graduation next month.
If you have any questions about studying abroad, please feel free to leave me a comment or shoot me an email. Thanks for reading!
If a one year master’s degree sounds good to be true, it is. The school year is intensive and you really do work up until the last month of the summer semester.
Most master’s students don’t have time to search for jobs, internships, or other opportunities while working on their dissertations, so a lot of postgraduates spend the first couple of months after graduation just trying to find something to fill their hours.
The one year master’s is still a fantastic option, but just keep mind, it’s a lot longer than it seems.
It’s official: I am now finished with my dissertation, and more importantly, my master’s course! I won’t get my marks until next month and graduation isn’t until December, but I am now free from papers and assignments (at least for the time being). Overall, I am happy with the way the dissertation and course went. There are of course things I wish I could have changed about my paper, but that’s always the case.
Here’s a bit of dissertation advice for future MA and MSc students:
Collect a number of take-out menus, you may be too busy to cook.
Create PDFs of your documents, so that your formatting remains consistent. If you’re working with multiple documents, you may combine them using a PDF maker.
To avoid the crowds, get to the print shop early. I visited the print shop in David Hume Tower a week before the dissertation was due to get price quotes and binding/printing options.
After three months of intensive research and writing, I have finally finished my first dissertation draft! It still needs a ton of revising (I am about 1,000-2,000 words over the 15,000 word limit), but I am glad to be done with the bulk of it.
To mark this momentous occasion, I’d like to share several dissertation tips:
If you have writer’s block, don’t be afraid, just start writing — even if it’s just, “I have writer’s block and I don’t feel like writing.” You’ll be surprised how quickly you start fleshing out your thoughts and ideas.
If you get stuck on a section, move on and then come back to it. No point in forcing it.
Read your dissertation aloud. This will help you ensure everything flows.
In addition to your supervisor, get a friend or two to edit it for you. Ideally, you should get one editor from your field and one from outside.
Once you’ve finished a chapter or a major section of your paper, treat yourself to something special.
Once you’ve finished a draft, take a break for a few days, so that you can revise and edit with fresh eyes.
If you’re around Edinburgh this weekend, be sure to attend the Clan Gathering, a two-day festival celebrating the culture and history of Scotland. This year’s Gathering features a slew of various events all over city, including a parade, Scottish country dancing, and the World Highland Games.
I am hoping to check out The Gathering after I get some reading done for my dissertation. In the meantime, I’ll just enjoy the festivities from my kitchen window.
I just completed the first chapter draft (I started with Chapter 3) of my dissertation, now only two more to go! I started writing my draft in Microsoft Word — the universal default for word processing, but have indefinitely put my relationship with Word on pause to start a love affair with iWork Pages.
Pages is much more amiable when it comes to inserting images and formatting. What takes me twenty minutes to lay out in Word, takes only about seconds in Pages.
Since I am using dozens of photographs in my dissertation, having software that operates not just as a word processor, but also, as an image processor is of extreme importance.
Although InDesign is probably the best program for image-based design — after all, it is the industry standard, Pages is perfect for novices who would like to incorporate more design into their writing.
Although Pages still has its faults (not everything is as intuitive as it should be), I think I have a much healthier relationship with my dissertation.
Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in theory. One theorist leads to another, and soon you have a stack of books and a folder full of notes that are too big to cover in a 15,000-word paper.
So what do you?
Go back to the research object. I started working through my theories, but after having produced a 12-page outline for a dissertation that will probably be about 45 pages, I decided to go back to the ethnographic material I gathered during my fieldwork in May.
Now, that I’m actually going through my research data, I have a clearer sense of what theories will be useful for my dissertation and which ones I can discard.
The point of the dissertation is to build on theory, but the point of theory is to understand the world. The trick is learning not to lose sight of both points.
This is the third episode of The Moleskine Podcast, which features interviews with students and staff about graduate school in the United Kingdom. In this podcast, I will interview my former anthropology professor Stefan Ecks about the MSc. in Anthropology of Health and Illness, admissions, applications, and life after graduation.
He received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the London School of Economics in 2003. During his doctorate, Dr. Ecks conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Calcutta, India on notions of body, health, and healing.
From 2001 to 2004, he taught at the South Asia Institute at the University of Heidelberg where he established a medical anthropology programme.
At present, Dr. Ecks’ research interests encompass the theory and history of anthropology, medical anthropology, mental health in South Asia, the anthropology of pharmaceuticals, science studies, and popular Hinduism.