Back to School! (Well, back to university)

The Christmas break seems to have felt, paradoxically, both very long and very short. A few days before Christmas I submitted my second piece of coursework for my MA in Archives and Records Management. In true form, I posted a blog about the experience, ‘The Second Coursework Submission‘. I found some of the elements fairly straightforward and others not-so much, and so leading up to the submission date of 19th December, the old Impostor Syndrome monster popped up again and made me question whether I was good enough, should I be here etc. etc. I submitted the coursework (all eight elements!) and am awaiting my grade and feedback. I felt that a good break at Christmas was well-deserved, especially as I had worked really hard on the coursework.

The Spring Term

My MA continues into the Spring Term, although it feels more wintery and cold , necessitating many layers and thick socks, than fresh and spring-like. As I’m studying for the MA part-time over two years, I only study two modules per term. I’m not submitting my dissertation until the Summer term 2018, so once my modules this term are completed I will not be back in until the end of September, when the Autumn 2017 term starts.

This term I am continuing with the Concepts and Contexts module. Concepts runs over two terms, this is the last term, and the final piece of coursework will be handed in in April. I’m also starting a new module, Introduction to Digital Curation:

“The module is designed as an introduction to the emerging field of digital curation. The working definition used by the course is that digital curation is the activity involved in; focusing and maintaining attention on the need to preserve digital material over the long-term, and planning, managing and undertaking the actions required to make that happen”.

Source: Introduction to Digital Curation module web page.

The module suggests that to work in digital curation you need to be able to articulate the on-going need to preserve digital material to everyone, devise and maintain appropriate solutions to preserve digital material over the long-term, and keep in touch and up-to-date with the fast moving world of digital curation and beyond. Over the summer of last year I took a short (free!) online course run by UCL’s Department of Information Studies, which was also called Introduction to Digital Curation. I had already read-up on the modules offered on the MA and was drawn to the digital curation module, and so I thought that taking part in the short online course would be good preparation. The short course got me thinking about what digital curation is (oh the many definitions!), and helped make up my mind that I wanted to take the module as part of the MA.

The Dissertation

I’ve already mentioned that I won’t be submitting my dissertation until the Summer term of 2018, but I already have a plan for my MA dissertation and started the background research over the Christmas break.

When I wrote my undergraduate dissertation, I started work on it as soon as my second year exams had finished, 11 months before the final dissertation submission. I worked hard at it over the whole 11 months and came out with a first for my final submission. Spending a long time reading, conducting the research, and working through the writing up process really worked well for me, and so it just seems sensible to use up my time during the week when I’m not attending lectures and over the summer months starting the work for my postgraduate dissertation. I think I have quite an interesting subject in mind (no spoilers yet!), so I’d like to take my time and not be rushed at the end.

Commuter Life

Just like last term, I’ll be attending lectures at UCL on a Monday and Wednesday. This is quite nice as I know what my weekly routine will be like, which trains I’ll need to get, and when to get my coffee and croissant from Starbucks. I’ve not looked forward to getting up at 6am and de-icing my car in the dark again, especially as it’s got more icy and cold. I’m dreading my alarm going off, but luckily, I’m able to be dropped off and picked up from the station every once in a while, which means an extra 30 minutes in bed! Last term I used the hour-long commute into London and back home again to have a little time to myself, have a coffee and a croissant and read something on my Kindle. This term I’m determined to use more of that time for reading around archives and records management issues, or extra reading for lectures. Maybe not every commute though, some journeys just require a strong coffee or a snooze!

All things stationery!

I received lots of stationery for Christmas: pens, notepads, and post-it notes galore – people know me so well! Amongst other things, I’ve a really lovely yellow notebook for all my dissertation great ideas, lots of pens and sticky notes, and a desktop calendar/planner so I know what I’m doing when I’m in the office. I am well and truly stocked up and ready to plan my way through the coming term.

For the second year in a row, I bought myself a Happiness Planner:

It’s super cute and very pretty, but it also serves a purpose. Each day has its own page, where you can create a to-do list, keep track of your daily schedule, write your hopes for the next day, what you’re grateful for, write notes etc. I treated myself to one last year, and I surprised myself by using it every day. I have an iPhone and a MacBook, so my daily schedule (train times, lecture times, holidays, trips etc.) are recorded on the devices that I use daily, but having a physical planner to write in and record my daily challenges and triumphs is great. I’m such a stationery addict, I love a new clean notepad, colourful sticky notes and fancy pens, so having something so pretty and useful is a fab tool, I can’t recommend it enough!

So, it’s back to school and back to hard work. Let’s see what this term brings.

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