I learned this last week unofficially from the English postgraduate office, but today I got the official news:

I’ve been accepted for the English PhD program here at Durham!

Yes!  If all goes well, I’ll be here next year (preferably with funding) working with the department and advisors I love, writing and studying literature I love, and being in a place I love!  Plus, “Dr. Hulke” does have a nice ring to it!


It’s a bit late to come out with my resolutions for the new year, but I’ve found that being back in Durham has encouraged me to make some.  I feel most myself when I’m with peers, and I’ve been able to see myself clearly in the past week or so.

Without further ado, here are my resolutions for 2011.  Some are silly, some are serious, and some are things I need to put into writing to cement them in my life.

  • More color!  Whether it’s nail polish, lipstick, or a bit of teal eyeliner, I want to incorporate more color into my daily life.  No fuss, but more fun.  Like Chanel Mademoiselle lipstick.  I had been coveting it for months before finally purchasing it in Dallas right before I came back to the UK.  You may recognize it from the amazing adverts with Vanessa Paradis.  It’s a gorgeous pinky beige, and it’s definitely an improvement over my usual lip balm.  Nail polish is another type of color I would like to use more.  I recently got Nails Inc. polish in Denim as a gift, and so I will use it along with my typical and sporadic use of Chanel Particuliere, a perfect taupey grey.  (Yes, I know.  I seem to have a Chanel fetish going by this post, but these two cosmetics I languished over for months before budgeting and purchasing.  I’m a sucker for a really good quality neautralish and everyday wearable product!)
  • Get out of the house at least five times per week to study somewhere else.  I get way too distracted in my room, and so studying in the library or at a friend’s house is much better for me and for my work.  There is also usually the added perk of being near a printer, which is super handy for getting articles which otherwise may float to the back of my mind and never surface in my research again.
  • Get enough sleep every night.  I have the talent?  Ability?  Work ethic?  Misfortune? of getting into “the zone” when I’m working on an assignment and not noticing the time.  One evening I worked steadily after dinner (about 7:00ish) until 3:30 AM.  AM!!!  I didn’t stop to look at the clock, and completely lost track of the time.  I am hoping the resolve to work out of my room will lead to more productivity during the day, and therefore, less pressure at night.
  • Finish my essays on time without stress AND with enough time to revise with a peer or, if possible, a professor.  Unfortunately, I only have a handful of essays, and some of them are the one shot I have at my grade.  It’s added pressure I think the MA programs in the States usually avoids because of the longer duration of program and greater variety of classes for one’s degree.  The one year time crunch means I need to be vigilant.
  • Be more easygoing about going out.  I’m in England, for gosh sakes!  I should enjoy what the country and the city have to offer.  Pubs, conferences, nightclubs…  I need to take advantage of it all.  Even though I am not looking forward to going to Klute next week, which has been dubbed “the worst nightclub in Europe” and is known for “quaddy-voddies” (quadruple vodka shots, which, from what I hear, is as bad as it sounds), I should go.  When else will I get the opportunity?
  • Be more stringent with my gym schedule, and on days when I can’t fit anything else in, do yoga in my room.  At least a sun salutation.  The college food is heavy on all the things I dislike: potatoes, carrots, gravy, red meat, salt.  Therefore, I have to take care of my diet as best I can outside college dining and in my activity.  (Though my legs are getting super toned due to the freaking hills around town!  After being back in Durham for a week, my butt feels it!)
  • Correspond more.  Skype, letters, emails, Facebook.  I need to do more of it all.  AIM, I think, tends to take up too much time, so I need to relax by writing more thoughtful correspondences to those I truly miss and care about: my friends and pseudo-family in Minnesota and Seattle.
  • And as always, I need to remind myself how grateful I am for my family, friends, education, and life.  I need to learn all I can both in the classroom and from my friends.  I need to stop worrying about time, which goes all too quickly, and carpe diem.

All experiences of life seems to prove that the impediments thrown in the way of the human advancement may for the most part be overcome by steady good conduct, honest zeal, activity, perseverance and above all, by a determined resolution to surmount.  –Samuel Smiles

I thought I had everything worked out.  Well, at least mostly.

Of course, this means that Fate, Fortune, the Universe, God (whichever deity or force you believe in) has thrown me through a loop.  Of course.

I was set on Ustinov College.  It’s the only postgraduate-only college at Durham University and has a large international community.  Sure, it’s rather far from the city centre (comparatively) and has no dining service, but every student there will be going through the same “Holy crap!  What did I sign up for with this whole grad school thing?!”  I believe there would be a great sense of community, which is a key ingredient for my school experiences.  There are seminars where we present our research and bond with other postgrads.  It looks so great!


This morning I got an e-mail saying that I had gotten the Hild Bede Scholarship, which is one of the very few funding opportunities for non-UK/EU students.  Money is fantastic!  Don’t get me wrong.  The HBS is full tuition at the EU/UK rate plus room and board and three squares a day.  It’s close to the city centre and almost all the academic departments and is supposed to be one of the most beautiful colleges at the university.


Most of the students are undergraduates.  I have nothing against undergraduates, but they have not yet worked out their academic niches for the most part and don’t have the same types of classes or pressures as postgraduates.  From what I imagine of grad school, high school to college is a big leap, but classes are relatively the same format with homework, papers, and reading.  The type of social and community scenes are the largest difference.  From college to grad school, the workload changes (300 academic hours per class per term, bare minimum) and the classes are seminars once a week.  The reading, as I understand it, is more reading a lot of what is assigned, but not all, and the reading leads to a large paper which is the basis of the grade.  I didn’t really understand that until I took a graduate-level class and looked at a possible schedule for Durham.

So, what do I do?

Do I take the generous offer and possibly forsake close ties with many other postgraduate and international students at Ustinov or depend on my parents’ generosity more than before and forsake ready-made meals and all that money?  Either way, I’ll be at Durham, but the location of my accommodation and the price out-of-pocket for tuition and board will be different than I’d ideally like.  Why can’t Ustinov offer a scholarship?!

At any rate, I will doubtless have to spend more time on paperwork, as I will need to accept or reject the offer (if I can even reject it) and change my details on my enrolment (sic!  Britishism!) forms and visa paperwork.

I can’t make that decision now, but maybe a nice Italian meal and some bonding with Hamlet and Suetonius will help.  Chocolate never hurt, either.

So, continuing a train of thought from my last post: Stupid Question Boy.

I talked with him earlier this week when I got out of my first class early and could pounce on him before class.  I wanted to be private about it, and not draw attention to him or the fact that I was calling him out.  After tedious tangents and interruptions all term, I felt it was time to ask for a bit of peace and quiet for the last week or so.  Hopefully, everything’s going to work out.  He seemed amenable to my feelings, though a bit, erm, muddled in his understanding of how courtesy towards one’s peers and a lecture class work.  He said, “I don’t want to be the moron in the back of the class that never talks” (I’ll leave you to figure out what was racing through my mind when he said that).  In addition to that, some other gems from the past weeks of class:

Prof: “What do you want me to call you?”  SQB: “I go by ‘Chris’ and put ‘Christopher’ on my papers.”  Prof: “But what do you want me to call you?”  SQB: “‘Jesus!'”

After a much rambling about nothing in particular during discussion of Dante.  Prof: “Did you read The Inferno?!”

With a date, including B.C. and c., on the board.  SQB: “So, what is that?  Like, I know B.C., but what’s the ‘c.’?  And why are they going backwards?”  All of us in the front row: “It’s ‘circa!'”  SQB: “But why is it backwards?”  Prof: “It’s B.C., so the dates go from bigger to smaller…”

Yes, this is the kind of stuff I deal with in history class on a daily basis.  Some people don’t understand B.C., I know, but for a person who constantly interrupts to talk about how often he’s read Aristotle, (you know, a guy from the B.C. era?) it’s a bit much.  Interrupting in class, not just of me but of other students and especially the professor, is one of my pet peeves.

I just wish I could also tell my instructor from my lit class that interrupting others is rude, too.  Before I’ve made my point, she’ll interrupt to “correct” and not even listen to what I’m saying.  She’s also insisted something rooted in the text is wrong.  In The Miller’s Tale, the carpenter, John, insists that the Flood is “Nowel’s Flood.”  I pointed this out, saying that it goes towards his characterization as a foolish man.  She hadn’t picked up on this before and said something along the lines of “well, here’s an instance of different manuscripts saying different things.”  Another former classmate in my Chaucer class backed me up, but she never admitted to being wrong.  The instructor never said anything like, “Oh, I never noticed that” or “Oh, I understand what you’re saying.”  She also spelled “Absolon” (which is the way I’ve seen it written in every text) as “Absolom” the entire period and encouraged us to say “Asparagus” instead of the proper “Averagus.”  GAH!

It reminds me of what I will make a point of never doing as a professor or teacher or lecturer in the future.

I wrote a letter writing manifesto earlier, and all this class insanity brings me to…

My Future Teaching Manifesto:

  • I will instruct my students to raise their hands before speaking to avoid interruption during the class.
  • I will acknowledge and look into anyone’s observation(s) and feeling(s) about a text.
  • I will refer to the text as my main source and defer to that at all times.
  • I will spell things correctly.
  • I will be a champion for peer editing and multiple drafts.
  • I will make outlines before lecture/class with important dates, characters, etc. so I don’t misinform students.
  • I will be as accessible via office hours and e-mail as possible.
  • I will get exams and essays back as quickly as possible, within a week.
  • I will evaluate students on an individual basis instead of on work in a group.
  • I will not tolerate texting or use of a mobile phone.
  • I will get to know students on a first name basis, and try to understand them as individuals.
  • I will encourage actively using the text and finding textual evidence to support any conclusions in papers and in class.

    I think this all comes from the respect I have for a text as a text and for those who analyze and know what they’re doing.  Literature is so amazing, and to hear it not appreciated, its characters debased, and things I’ve learned from professors who have been in the field longer than I’ve been alive burns me to the very core.

    I hope that ends the ranting I’ve been doing primarily in my head for the past 24 hours because of the evaluation of the group website for Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, for which I apparently used too many sources and went too in depth in my textual analysis for the poetics section.  I will endeavor to make the things that irk me here into better conduct later, and to fine tune how I think a class should be: no interruptions and yet conducive to learning and rooted in the text.

    This coming week is the end of A term, and then I go into a guided reading for medieval England and a class on Shakespeare after 1603.  The time to move back to Oklahoma is rapidly drawing closer, as is my deadline to get my butt to the UK.  I’ll keep you posted on how A term ends, how B term begins, and what camera I end up choosing (more on that later).

    For now, I will *facepalm* in the privacy of my own apartment and wait out the rest of term.  I think all will turn out well, and after next Wednesday, I won’t have to deal with either SQB or this lit instructor again.  I will think happy thoughts and be in a better, more amicable mood!


    Some awesome pictures for today.  I’ve recently been hit by a bout of mild food poisoning, so I find myself not performing at my best and most productive and also over my head when it comes to reading all my assignments.  This will have to do for now, in the spirit of my friends, and especially Emili.

    Oh, and “live every day” doesn’t mean investing tons of money into war technology and systematically risking your life, in case you were wondering…

    Several things are probably apparent about me on this blog.  I love books.  I love reading.  I love learning.  I am a nerd, and am proud of it.  I also have an actual plan for the future, which I didn’t have a year ago.  About a week ago, I stopped into my history professor’s office to chat about my paper.  My research led to talking about graduate school and my future studies in Durham, as well as jobs in the future.  I loved talking with this professor, because I think she’s a lot like me, and instead of simply being blunt and saying my career path is wrong (like a couple of professors have done because they’ve had a hard time finding jobs), she talked through what I want to do and why and how I want to go about it.  She asked tough questions, was honest about her experiences, and took time to listen to the reasons why I want to be in an interdisciplinary program.  She listened to me, instead of scoffing (like Professor X did when I said I wanted to study both classical literature and medieval literature), or saying I seemed anxious in class, even though I was one of the few who didn’t complain about the course load (again, Professor X), or offering unwanted and unneeded advice when the Professor hadn’t had me in class (Professor Z).  This professor listened and encouraged me to fight for my dreams.

    I told her that classics was so attractive to me because I could study language, literature, history, and art in a time period instead of placing emphasis on one area of study.  Yes, literature is my favorite, but I don’t think I get much out of the literature if the history and social conventions aren’t explained.  A literature class can be amazing without any historical context, but my knowledge lacks depth.  In addition, just studying something in translation fails at truly demonstrating the genius behind a particular text, and some of the magic is lost.  I believe to understand art, one must know the history behind it and the artist’s contemporaries.  To understand texts, one must appreciate the original language and the political and societal friction surrounding the construction of that text.  I want my specialty to be in literature, but I don’t think I will understand the material to the best of my ability or be able to teach that material without a solid foundation in other subjects concerning the medieval time period.  Likewise, I wouldn’t appreciate Chaucer or Dante without a strong background in the ancient classics and antiquity.

    In addition to being buoyed by her advise and experiences, I’ve been finding an abnormally high amount of inspirational pictures, mostly thank to that time sucker called Stumble Upon.  I’ve picked up the habit of saving photos I love after seeing them online in my iPhoto library so that I can share them later.  These images serve several purposes for me: they inspire me and remind me why I’m slaving over a paper or pulling all nighters after I’ve graduated and am non-matriculated.  They make me happy and represent some aspect of my personality and my life.  They remind me of my friends, and in posting them, I hope to inspire them and let them know I miss, love, and appreciate them.

    Here are some of my favorites I’ve saved lately:

    Tunnel, Glastonbury

    In whatever I do in life, it seems as though I’m always chasing that darn light. All through elementary, middle school, junior high, high school, college, and now the “Real World,” I have had deadlines and dates that are marked with arrows and stars, signaling that this, this one HERE, is the last day I will have to take an art exam, return a college textbook, see my friends before I move to the UK. These days are my tunnels. Tunnels aren’t necessarily bad things (they aren’t cornucopias of love, either), but they’re milestones of anxiety, relief, grief, frustration, and energy. When I get through one, another is immediately in its place, and I may be hurdling down several other tunnels at the same time!

    Today, as I see the quarter drawing to a close, that tunnel’s light is getting brighter with each sentence I type and with each page I read. However, another, more personal tunnel has descended, and is ready to consume me. This is a more emotional tunnel, and I fear the darkness may try to undo me and all my work and accomplishments. However, after speaking to my dad, who is truly the best advisor I could ever ask for, and reading this post, I know I can weather this storm too, and burst out of the tunnel whenever it ends.

    Although tunnels can are an indication of “to do” lists, deadlines, assignments, work, and other necessities, my life would be incomplete without them.  I hope the tunnels never stop.  Otherwise, it would mean I’d stopped learning and testing myself.  After all, Lillian Smith said: “When you stop learning, stop listening, stop looking and asking questions, always new questions, then it is time to die.”


    Here is 1000 Awesome Things’ Post #567: Getting to the light at the end of the tunnel.

    #567 Getting to the light at the end of the tunnel My world was spinning in 2008. After finishing school in Boston and going on a cross-country road trip with my friends Chris and Ty, I moved to a dusty suburb to live with my brand new wife in my brand new life. Yes, we got married young, we got married quick, and after living on opposite sides of the border we were finally moving in to get busy living. So I slapped on a crisp, fresh shirt and started a new office job while trying to settle into … Read More

    via 1000 Awesome Things