Sunday, June 10, 2007

Cairo Craziness

Wow...that's pretty much all I can say about this past weekend in Cairo. I think I need two weeks to fully recover from the past two days. It all started with being upgraded to a presidential suite at the Nile Hilton. From there on, I knew that it was going to be an absolutely rock star weekend.

Two bottles of bourbon, copious amounts of karaoke and innumerable incriminating photos later...I am completely and utterly destroyed.

I've been reading Jack Kerouac's On the Road and I think it might be at least partially responsible/an inspiration for the insanity that ensued this past weekend. J and I are kind of like Dean Moriarty and Sal Paradise when we get together. Been thinking a lot about the Beatniks lately, will be the subject of a future post at some point I think...

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

In celebration of my impending return to studenthood

I don't normally include full text of articles that strike my fancy, but I found this one sufficiently amusing (and brief) to include in full:

The eight types of graduate student

Why are we postgrads here? Well, for lots of reasons, says Patrick Tomlin

Tuesday May 15, 2007
The Guardian

When I started this column, I promised myself I wouldn't let it become a monthly whinge about how poor I am. Partly because that would be as boring as if I stood in your garden and recited excerpts from my thesis, and partly because, as graduate students go, I'm not too badly off.

But I have had to make financial sacrifices to pursue my studies. Given that everyone else has presumably had to do so too, I initially figured that we must all be there because of a pure thirst for knowledge. I've since realised, however, that the impulses that draw someone to academic study beyond graduation are a lot more varied than that.

While I've only been at it a short while, I am sufficiently aware of the unwritten columnists' code to know one is expected to make wild generalisations, shun nuance, and present categories in a list format. So, without further ado, I present the eight types of graduate student:

1. The Wannabe Undergraduate

They had such fun as undergraduates that they cannot bear it to end. They prop up the bar, talking to undergrads about their thesis, rather than actually writing it. They judge success by notches on the bedpost and hangovers accrued instead of marks, grades and the intellectual respect of their peers.

2. The Student Who Tried Employment

Some postgraduates have been out into the real world and had a real job, with a desk and a computer and a pay cheque and a lunch break and a pension and appraisals and meetings and everything. And, for whatever reason, they have found it wanting.

3. The Couldn't-Survive-Anywhere-but-at-University

The group most likely to be cultivating eccentricities - keeping a mouse in their pocket or wearing socks with Marxist slogans sewn into them - while still too young to shave.

4. The CV-Filler

Their primary focus is not what they study, but what it will look like on their CV. They believe this qualification will give them "that extra edge". Most likely to end up as accountants or lawyers, never employing the knowledge gained.

5. The Prestigious Scholarship Recipient

Rather than worrying about what the subject they study will look like on their CV, their primary focus is who is paying for it. In a reversal of the usual relationship between funding and studying, in which the former is a means to the latter, the funding is regarded as an end in itself and the studying something that has to be endured to be able to call themselves a [insert name of dead white man] scholar for the rest of their lives.

6. The One Who Just Needs Answers

They really are motivated purely by the desire to find answers about their specific area of interest.

7. The Eternal Student

They are not bothered whether their academic career shows linear progress, they're just collecting qualifications and trying to get every letter of the alphabet after their name.

8. The Polymath

These geniuses could have studied anything, anywhere. They will probably go on to great things across several disciplines, and already understand your thesis better than you do. An unfortunate subset are also charming, witty and good-looking, and therefore hated by everyone.

· Patrick Tomlin is researching a doctorate in political theory at Oxford University. His column appears monthly

So where do I fit in?

A teensy bit of #1, not so much because I had such a great time as an undergrad as much as because I missed out on a lot of those seminal undergrad moments living at home, and am making up for it now.

A LOT of #2: Real World = highly overrated. Been there, done that, no thanks

Definitely #3: closely related to #2, I've tried the real world and know that I can only survive in academia. University is the only place where my eccentricities are not merely accepted, but encouraged.

#6: As Salvador Dali said, "I am in a constant state of intellectual erection."

#7: So far have a BA, MA, in line to get another MA, a certificate in Arabic language study, and a PhD...that's a lotta letters...

#8: I am brilliant, bow down before me...also, I belong to that unfortunate subset that "are also charming, witty and good-looking, and therefore hated by everyone." Don't hate me because I'm beautiful...

Fellow graduate students...what about you?