Autumn is always a peculiar time for me, however the ending of bright sunny weather can be a damper on anyone’s mood, especially since freedom and baseball is curtailed by school starting. I guess this is why corporations have picked up on this and started enthusiastically marketing pumpkin-themed everything and discounted getaways to warmer destinations. I think here in London, the weather changes starting earlier does not improve this, but nonetheless the shortie boots, capes, shawls, and even puffy jackets have signalled this. And if it weren’t clear before, the massive migration of students returning to campuses where libraries and computer labs were plentiful and I had my pick of the most coveted and comfortable chaise to hunker down for a seven -hour typing marathon. Soon I will be lucky to just find a computer.
In 2017 I didn’t experience snow or ice or any kind winter in Sub-Saharan Africa, where I regularly visited beaches and sometimes found it too hot to do anything. It is definitely not the case here and while I am not complaining, I am reminiscent about my extended trip, the relationships I had, and how friendly, warm, and inviting people are – and I miss that.
Back to Business
Part of my frustration may have more to do with being back in school rather than wishing I was on the beach eating freshly caught fish (instead of the frozen cod I heated last night). I am at the point of my PhD project where I will be “upgraded” and almost to completion. I still remember coming onto WordPress to announce that I’m making this unbelievable change and moving to Europe, #movingforward #startingover and whatever tags I used then and now that the dream is almost realized, I still ask, “What am I doing here?”
Many postgraduate students always question their work, their capabilities… everything with their project. We are obsessed about this for 3-4 years while working on it, so, it is natural to have doubts or even to withdraw. I don’t feel like stopping but I am wondering if I made the right choice about the program I am in and my topic, it currently feels like there is a lack of expertise in my department to give me guidance.
My second issue is career path. So, I have always been career-minded, but now I need to really put myself out there and find jobs or fellowships related to my work. As much as I enjoyed the quiet atmosphere of working in the library, I need to look into teaching and research opportunities. I feel better about this, because once you start working in your field and networking, it makes the struggle feel more worthwhile. Ideally, once the semester starts I can get into the swing of things, however I did get a new job and just applied for mentorship. The last feat is publishing.
Publish or Perish
This is a common phrase in academia, some of the most top scientists that have made life-changing contributions to science or technology have a long list of publications. Publishing adds credibility because the top journals are peer-reviewed (related experts read and provide feedback) and usually only accept a tiny percentage of the thousands of submissions they receive each year. And that publication comes after the peers/editors give feedback and you need to revise and redraft, which can take months. Your publishing record can be a deciding factor for offering tenure at a college or university. Usually a newbie will be given a time period to produce this (maybe 2 or 3 years) during his or her probationary period. If he or she publishes and meet other requirements, then a position (assistant/associate professor) is guaranteed. If not, then she or he can be cut loose at any time. And even after one is tenured, it is still expected that you keep publishing to stay relevant in the field. For now, it would be amazing to publish once, even though I’m not seeking tenureship. So, now where do I go?
Life in London
So, as you may remember I don’t have any ties to London. It is a nice city and if I am offered a position I would stay here, but I am a leaf in the wind. For the right offer, I would go to continental Europe, Africa, or even back to America. However, I was thinking about buying property in the U.K., off-plan housing in particular, but I need to conduct more research on it and I’m hoping to find someone who has invested this way before. I asked a few folks who are my age range and surprisingly no one is thinking about buying property. I know it is expensive, but that’s why there are mortgaging options! I was talking with a friend who had been living in the U.K. for ten years and he didn’t know anything about buying property and had always assumed that one needed most of the money upfront (like 75%). Maybe, I’m just tired of renting but I cannot see myself living here and paying rent, utilities, and council tax on a property that is not mine. At least in the states, it’s common for the landlord to cover some utilities and pay the property taxes. And if I leave– rent it or sell it, that’s the point of being a homeowner, it is called wealth building!
So, like stages in the year, here I am again thinking about the next stage in life. If anyone is in London or knows what I need to do to survive here, then I would love to hear your advice. Even if you don’t know anything about London in particular, I still love to engage!