Saturday, 31 December 2011

Looking Back at 2011, Forward to 2012

No matter how you slice it 2011 has been a big year for me (and Tim).  I began the year working full-time, sending off applications to PhD. programs in Canada and the UK.

By February, I had heard back from one of those universities with a rejection, which was slightly heart-breaking.  But later in the month, I had a "yes" and knew that I would definitely be going back to school for doctoral study, which, geek that I am, was an absolutely euphoric moment.  From then on, it was a matter of where we would be moving and I would be studying, not an "if".  And then, out of the blue, in late March, I opened up my e-mail at work one morning and saw the acceptance from Oxford.  It was very exciting but also a bit of a blow because I had not ever really expected to be accepted and figured that I couldn't go without some serious funding coming my way.

But, after much thinking and talking over the next couple months, we decided to go for it and began the biggest change of our lives, probably.  I entered into reams of paperwork - university contract, acceptance of college offer, visa paperwork.  We moved out of our beloved basment suite of two years and hopped across the Atlantic to set up house from scratch all over again.

We've been here for three and a half months now and somehow, it feels like home.  This all feels incredibly and surprisingly normal.  It would have been nice to go home for Christmas, but we were okay over here too.

Next year, we can look forward to my folks visiting for a couple weeks in April, and, as of yesterday, I booked our flights home for late June, after Trinity Term ends and I have (hopefully, fingers crossed very hard) passed my transfer to DPhil status.  It will be so wonderful to see family and friends again, to wander around Saskatoon and see the river and experience hotter summer weather than I expect we will get here.

Other highlights of the year.  On the writing front, I finally buckled down and did two more drafts of my work-in-progress (I'm typing up that third draft now).  The book really feels stronger and better now and I think I will try submitting to agents next year.  I think it is ready.

On the DPhil front, I think I've gotten the hang of using the libraries and I've been able to attend some really interesting lectures.  (The highlight of course was the evening in early November when I heard both A.S. Byatt and Steven Pinker speak).  I'm still working on being motivated to work, which is a bit of a challenge since this program is quite unstructured.  On the other hand, I have gotten a great deal of reading and thinking about my topic done already and I feel reasonably confident heading in to 2012, when I will actually have to start writing chapters.

Travel.  We've done a pretty good job at travelling around the UK.  So far we've been to London, Portsmouth, Salisbury, Bath, York, and Edinburgh.  In 2012, we'd like to do some travelling on the Continent and I really want to get over to Ireland as well.

Happy New Year to any and all who happen to be reading!  May 2012 bring good things your way.

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