in which she makes a tough decision...

Do I stay or do I go? This is where I think I'm at, the fork in the road. Life in Liverpool has been difficult - well I should say academic life. I have not felt very welcome here by the staff, my fellow colleagues have been great but unfortunately that's not going to carry me very far.

The problem is that I was accepted here based on my proposal of studying archaeological aspects of prayer during the New Kingdom. It sounded feasible to me. I love studying religion especially in Egypt and I have an archaeological background. Now on day 1 I met with my supervisor and left completely shocked! Apparently in his opinion a research project like this could not be completed by me because I don't have the background (i.e. I don't have a BA in Egyptology) and I could never learn enough in 3 years time to even attempt this project. Now I say I was shocked because I couldn't understand why in 9 months time nobody notified me of this via email. I completed my MA at this school so they know me and my background and if they forgot my entire academic history was written in my CV. So what conclusion am I to come to other than I was accepted because as an international student I bring in more money (a lot more money) and as a statistic I look great?

Ok well here I am in Liverpool I've got to make this work. So I contacted my mentor back home and discussed a few ideas. It was at this point I was given permission to use data coming out of our excavation in Egypt. Wow! Such a rare opportunity! Over the next few days I chewed on the idea trying to figure out how I could make this into a project. At the end of my first week I met with the Graduate Tutor to tell him that my first project had been rejected and here's what I've come up with. They agreed that the project sounded good and it was suggested that I talk to another instructor in the department about being my secondary supervisor since my current one would absolutely be wrong for this new direction. I went to see them and they seemed to be thrilled that I had the opportunity to use new data - because I'm telling you it is very rare! Everything seemed to be fine.

My primary supervisor however, seemed to have lost interest in me and my project and seemed to use our meetings as a forum of nothing but criticism. Now I can handle criticism, in fact I appreciate it BUT constructive criticism is of more use to me than wasting my time basically telling me in so many words that I'm stupid and they don't understand why I'm even here. If there's a problem with something I'm doing I want to know why and I would like some feedback as to what I can do to fix the situation so I don't continue to repeat it. I am only in my first year as a PhD student I'm in the process of learning what it means to be a research student and how to go about doing my research. Cut me some slack! Don't hold my hand but some direction would be nice. Especially since with a project change I'm starting from square one.

By December and buckets of tears later I realized this was no good. This was an unhealthy supervisor/student relationship. It is widely believed that students should feel comfortable having tea with their supervisor - ummmmm.... ABSOLUTELY NOT! I sought advice from the graduate college as I truly felt that was the first place to go. And I'll admit I was very upset and was in tears. It was their advice to speak to the faculty head (going over quite a few heads) to get this situated. Unfortunately I was not able to meet with them before Christmas break and then I was off to Egypt (thank God because working in the field and talking with my mentor got me excited again about my work as well as boosted my ego and made me realize that I'm not stupid). Anyway I've talked to a string of people now and the process is still being dragged out.

I had a meeting last Thursday with the Graduate Tutor, potential new supervisor and my secondary supervisor. It was the Spanish Inquisition. I felt like I was on trial having to justify my actions and having to validate my research project. Before the meeting I emailed my mentor back home and said this is how I would like to use the excavation material to make absolute sure that full permission was given and that there would be no problems. Permission was granted, he's very excited about my project and says he's been waiting for someone to do this type of research (looking at the development of the mortuary temples). He even went above and beyond and said that the temple and its material could be used as a control therefore if possible he could alter excavation plans in order to help me answer questions. Oh my God! Seriously folks this is just not heard of. He was also interested in sitting as an external supervisor to help legitimize my use of the material.

I thought this is perfect perhaps this will lighten the load since one of the problems of switching supervisors is putting me with someone who isn't already overloaded. They're eyes bugged when I said my mentor was willing to adjust the excavation plans to aid my research. After about an hour I stepped out into the hall while they discussed. When I came back they agreed to see about shifting some other students about so that they can work out a new supervisory team but they seem now to have a problem with my project. They believe that it's valid research for a MPhil but not for a PhD. I think because we got so tied up with discussing my work in Egypt they had it in their head that that was all I was wanting to do and I had said this would only be a chapter. But anyway we were meant to meet this morning to work out the details of the project but that's been cancelled because they don't yet have a solution to the supervisor problem.

Now one of the things they asked me was why don't I go home? I said, trust me if I could I would. I explained that Arizona does not have an Egyptology program to which they replied well what's important is the student, the supervisor and the research. Good point. However, I would need to be enrolled in some sort of relevant program. My mentor is in the Classics dept but it does not offer a PhD. The only other place for me to go would be back to the anthro dept where I would be taking coursework in southwest archaeology - not particularly relevant to Egyptology. Plus there's the fact that application deadlines have come and gone so I wouldn't be able to start until the fall of 2009.

BUT I've been thinking about it and researching it. And I think I could work it out. I've been studying the classes available in the anthro dept and it looks like there are a lot of theoretical and practical archaeological courses that could be used in any archaeological field. I would be able to work with my mentor. I'd be back at home - or at least 2 hours away. There's sunshine, never thought I'd admit to missing the damn AZ sun. Sure it's hot but it's a dry heat right? Now as for my start date I couldn't officially be in the anthro dept until next fall but starting this fall I could enroll as a non-degree seeking student and at least begin taking some of the courses so I wouldn't be too far behind. Unfortunately I'll have to take the GRE (grrrr) so got to study for that. And I could join the Pride of Arizona - the marching band!!! I love marching band and miss it. I didn't actually join the Pride when I was doing my BA because it is a lot of work and I was on scholarship and afraid to lose it. But now I think I could manage. In general I miss being a Wildcat. The University of Arizona is a great school and the anthro dept is #5 in the country so that's good right?

This is all so crazy and complicated. But I have to do what's right for me no matter what I think people might say. I haven't failed, Liverpool failed me. I had high hopes and have been met with nothing but disappointment and grief. And I honestly think this is what they want me to do, it's easier on them if I just leave then they don't have to 'deal with me'. And it's not like this year would have been a complete waste of my time. I have been able to conduct research, use the Egyptology library and over the summer I can hit the museums in London and Manchester to study the foundation deposit from our temple excavated by Petrie. So in a sense I'm still working. Well nothing has been decided for sure but this isn't the first time I've thought about going back home. But because I keep returning to the idea and now that it seems feasible perhaps it would be the best thing to do. Nothing's been decided for sure just yet. I need to really think about it.

. listening . elephant . damien rice . 9 .


posted by Ashleigh @ 19:44,


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random field notes

    ashleigh (ash'lė) n.
    1: egyptologist; currently living in the uk attempting to obtain a phd in egyptology, hoping in the end there will be a job.
    2: literary; reading to escape reality, to improve conversation, for inspiration.
    3: crafter; crocheting and needlework, creating heirlooms, keeping the world warm.
    4: dreamer; head in the clouds, full of fantasies, wishing to be someone else, somewhere else.
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:: reading ::
: Ivanhoe . Walter Scott
: Schindler's Ark . Thomas Keneally
: The Amber Spyglass . Philip Pullman
: The Red Queen . Margaret Drabble
: Un Lun Dun . China Miéville
: A Handful of Dust . Evelyn Waugh
: Adjunct: An Undigest . Peter Manson
: A Kestral for a Knave . Barry Hines

:: recently finished ::
: Falling Man . Don DeLillo
: Written on the Body . Jeanette Winterson
: The Bell Jar . Sylvia Plath
: No One Writes to the Colonel . Gabriel García Márquez
: The Subtle Knife . Philip Pullman

:: book rating ::
5 : True Love
4 : Like
3 : Good
2 : Ok
1 : Why did I read this?

:: challenges ::
: 1% Well Read
: 888 Challenge
: Chunkster Challenge
: Decades Challenge 2008
: Novella Challenge
: Once Upon A Time II
: The Parisian Underworld
: The Pub

:: creating ::
: sadly nothing at the moment

:: recent posts ::
: the bells
: a tale of two cities
: happy birthday to me
: the yacoubian building
: people of the book
: penelope
: we
: wide sargasso sea
: imposture
: on beauty

:: labels ::
: book
: book review
: challenge
: craft
: egypt
: life
: liverpool
: movie
: photos
: quiz/meme
: random
: school
: travel
: weekly geeks

:: archives ::
: 2008
01 :: 02 :: 03 :: 04 :: 05 :: 06

:: blogroll ::

:: bookish
: 1 more chapter
: a high and hidden place
: a striped armchair
: a work in progress
: bookie
: books please
: eloise by the book pile
: estella's revenge
: eve's alexandria
: the hidden side of a leaf
: people reading
: red room library
: stainless steel droppings

:: crafty
: cosmicpluto knits
: crazy aunt purl
: how about orange
: inside a black apple
: ma petite théière
: midnight knitter
: not martha
: posie gets cosy
: ranger sarah
: wild yarn
: yarnstorm

:: special
: idyll thoughts