Monday, March 24, 2014

We Come to it at Last

Yes, I quoted Gandalf. These things are necessary.

This will be my last post from Denmark. I have one week left here before I fly back to London.

It's been a ride, that's for sure. A string of personal issues and problems back in Canada have gone side by side with a really enjoyable time at a new university, with new people, inspiration for my thesis, and exploring a great country. So it's been a roller coaster and no mistake! But that's a bit like life in general, it's just all been condensed into a few short months!

I am looking forward to getting back now. I've reached that tipping point. I miss my giant bed and I definitely miss not having to climb up three flights of stairs with groceries. I also desperately miss the gym across the road and can't wait to get back to exercising. I have to run 5 miles in July, so the training starts next week. And really, I miss the department and all my fellow PhDs (and adopted PhDs). I'll spend the first week just catching up with people! It's the only thing I've really missed the longest, has been having friends around to have coffee with, but I've managed well enough on my own. I'm sort of conditioned to that.

My word count for my thesis is 35,000. I have another 7,000 of that planned out, but the missing 35,000 is what is worrying me. It's three chapters and at this point in time I have no idea what's going to go into them! I have a month now to figure it out (which isn't as long as it sounds). Hence, we come to it at last. This will definitely be the battle part of this thesis writing. I have May through July to draft it, so I am hoping to have a workable and very detailed plan by the beginning of May. The plan is always the hardest part, after that, the writing gets a bit easier. I am looking forward to speaking with Ross again and hoping he's as inspirational as he always has been!

On the other hand of writing (you knew there was going to be another hand), I have two novel ideas outlined, and one of them is at nearly 7000 words already (barely one chapter, in fact). I'm pretty pleased with it as a publishable idea (somewhere in the distant future *cough*nextyear*cough*). I will have to get the short guide book out first, because that's the time sensitive one, but that's Christmas' project. This one can be January or February's project, as knowing me I will probably have it written and edited by then. Because what better to do when you should be writing a PhD then to draft a post-apocalypse romance? Draft a YA mystery instead, I suppose. [Don't ask.]

I'm keeping busy, at least! And feeling generally pretty good about that half of my life. The other half will sort itself out in time.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Hindsgavl Slot

'Slot' means castle in Danish. 'Gavl' means gable. I haven't been able to figure out what 'hinds' means, but use some common sense and fill in the blank.

Hindsgavl, on the west edge of Funen is not really a castle. There used to be a castle there 1000 years ago, but when it was destroyed several centuries ago, what was built on the ruins was a manor house. However, it still retained it's title as 'castle'. It is the largest private estate in Denmark, though no longer owned by a family. Instead, it's a hotel and conference centre. And it's very grand.

Really, really, grand.

This is the front view, that faces the conference centre across the courtyard. The other side, that faces the water, is equally as grand.

The place includes enough grounds that I didn't get even half way around them in my hour walk, a massive conference hall that seats 600 people and room for more than 100 people at the hotel attached. The main house is mostly small meeting rooms and the various dinning rooms for guests. 

Every quarter, DREAM meets here to exchange updates on their research projects, which means that they host a group of about 20 people at this place. Doesn't sound like much, but this 2-day event includes some of the best food I have ever eaten, lovely hotel rooms, beautiful scenery and meeting spaces and staff to wait upon your every whim. This is how the other half of academic departments live, apparently. I'm a little bit jealous, but equally as thrilled to have been invited to the meeting this year, since half of it was in Danish and therefore I could not participate. It meant two long walks along the edge of the sound (despite March, the two days were okay weather-wise), a lot of food and conversation and only a little bit of research. It made for a nice holiday.

It is a blessing in academia when you have an extended amount of time to get to know other academics who study other subjects. You can't really do this at the average conference, unless they are extended multi-day events with lots of social activities, and you certainly can't do it in your own department. But this quarterly event allows DREAM to do exactly that. We spent a lot of time talking about What TV Shows to Watch when we are finished our PhDs. And also What Museums to Visit in Denmark. And a lot of, Isn't This the Best Thing You've Ever Eaten? Basically, everything a research gathering amongst culturally inclined people should be. And I caught up with a few old friends too.

Unfortunately, it hasn't inspired me to write.

Monday, March 3, 2014

As Always…Apologies

I meant to update last month, but I've been taking care of another blog and my posting creativity went towards updating it.

February is always a bad month in academia. You would think, because it is short, that it would be the best month, but it isn't. In academia, Christmas holidays always last partly into January, so by the time life resumes normally, the month is already partly over and your post-New-Years-resolutions can usually get you through the rest of it. But by the time February rolls around you've run out of motivation. It's cold and grey outside (well, in any country I've ever lived) and you know you have deadlines to meet and work to do, so even if it was sunny you can't be out enjoying it. You know the spring (Easter holidays) are still a rather long way away so it's hard to look forward to them.

February is like Thursdays. I never could get the hang of Thursdays.

But now February is over. And I had high hopes for March. March 1st always puts me in a really good mood. Except this year. This year March 1st did not put me in anything other than a really depressed and distracted mood. And that's not a great way to start the 'spring'. I have 6000 words to write by March 15th and I have no desire to write a single one of them. At all. Not just the fact I'm unmotivated, but I can't even focus my thoughts into a single sentence. I know if I find my drive I can get them written, though they won't be great. But, honestly, I don't actually care. I'm 9 months away from finishing my PhD and I just don't really care anymore. And I know that's normal. I know I've reached that 'I've been at this too long' stage and that I need to get over it and move forward into the 'let's just finish this' stage. I know that.

But I really don't want to. A lot changed two days ago. And yet nothing did. And I'm sort of struggling to come to terms with those two opposing views and the future. And in light of all that soul searching and emotional baggage, writing a PhD is getting lost in my mental shuffle. But these things happen. Especially in my department (2013 was a bad year for many people, 2014 is going to be my bad year apparently). Everyone made it through. I will too. But right now, it's hard to see the end, despite the fact that it's getting ever closer.

There's a conference this week. I am hoping talking to like-minded academics and hearing how passionate they are about their work will get me going again. One can hope. Otherwise…December is a long time from now, but August is a mite too close.