Thursday, February 02, 2006

Back To School

Today was the official beginning of my PhD. When people ask me what I do, I can now reply ‘I’m a PhD Candidate’, instead of the vague, ‘I’ll be starting a PhD in February, I do a bit of research work...’ that I’ve been saying for the last few months. It felt strange that today had finally arrived; it has seemed like forever since I found out I was awarded a scholarship and had therefore been accepted into the research higher degree program. I got off the bus at the University and even though I’ve been going there to teach and for various other reasons over the past twenty-one months, since I submitted my Master’s, the day felt portentous. I could feel a smile coming over my face as I walked up the path from the bus stop.

My first port of call was to collect my student card. Naturally I took up the offer to have a new photo taken; the law of averages must surely dictate that the more ID photos you have taken, eventually they’ll capture your good side. I don’t know which I was more excited about, being eligible for student concession on public transport and at the movies again, or being able to take out books on my research topic from the library. Here is a list of the books I checked out:

Carson, Bruce and Margaret Llewellyn-Jones, ed. Frames and Fictions on Television: The Politics of Identity within Drama. Exeter, England: Intellect Books, 2000.

Davis, Glyn and Kay Dickinson, ed. Teen TV: Genre, Consumption and Identity. London: British Film Institute, 2004.

Dunleavy, Trisha and Pieter Aquilia, ed. Media International Australia: Popular TV Drama: Nation, Agency and Identity. St Lucia, Qld: School of English, Media Studies & Art History in association with the Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies, University of Queensland, 2005.

Jacobs, Jason. Body Trauma TV: The New Hospital Dramas. London: British Film Institute, 2003.

Lavery, David, ed. This Thing of Ours: Investigating the Sopranos. London: Wallflower Press, 2002.

Thornham, Sue and Tony Purvis. Television Drama: Theories and Identities. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave MacMillan, 2005.

I think identity might be a key area of exploration in TV Studies. Perhaps you can tell from my carefully formatted MLA referencing that while I was in the library, I also picked up my free copy of Endnote. I always feel very productive when I enter references into Endnote. Look at me typing essential references into a database.

Then I headed off to IT Services to get the most recent Dial-up Internet Access Installation CD to install at home. While I was at ITS I ran into another ‘new’ post-grad. whose excitement about the whole endeavour was contagious. I’m enjoying this first flush of enthusiasm for a new project. I know that it won’t last, unfortunately, certainly not once the enormity of the task ahead sinks in. I’m scared to death of failure all at the same time. I think it might be the same feeling that you get as a child when you drink too much raspberry lemonade. I ran into a friend who didn’t get a scholarship and I can only imagine how shattered he is; of course, he can’t afford to study without funding. His whole being was so different from usual.

I had the opportunity to have a word with my Master’s supervisor, who is now my Associate Supervisor. She said nice things to me. She commended my decision to say no to teaching in the first year; I had to refuse another offer today. (I thought of my personal, high-kicking cheering squad and said ‘No!’ as the trumpets reached a crescendo) We talked about the movies we had seen over the Christmas and New Year period, all in an effort to sit in air-conditioning. She also liked Good Night, and Good Luck and Broken Flowers (even though she doesn’t like Bill Murray and thought little of Lost In Translation). She showed me her new Apple laptop. Ooh! Err!

A first day would not be complete without at least one incident of administrative frustration. The system doesn’t recognise my student number. There will be phone calls and pleading tomorrow. There will also be desk allocation and new office mates, and after 3pm you can call me and I will give you the low-down on how to escape the M. Building at the University if ever you should visit during the event of a fire.

That was my first day back at school.


Lucy said...

I'm excited for you! I love first days. Did you buy shiny new pens and notebooks, too? Have fun!

dogpossum said...


i'm envious - i've just had my scholarship extension approved (thank fuck - they've gotten stricter over here recently) and am in my last 6 months. the most difficult part is getting used to the idea of not being a pgrad any more.
so i envy you: you get to enjoy that excellent first year time when all your ideas are new, you're reading great stuff (for the first time), and you know you can do anything you want - write about anything, think about anything, talk about anything.


Galaxy said...

I'll admit to snaffling a notebook from the stationery cupboard at the other university to commemorate the occasion : )