Category Archives: Uni Reflections

Thinking it through

At the moment I am beginning to start thinking through what I do with the rest of my life. Oh…I know that the main focus has to be the current research and finding a part-time job again by the autumn, but the reality is in a year I will be back out in the real world. I need to think about whether I want to fall back into FE teaching or use the skills and qualifications I have in a different direction. I need to seek the will of God and try to listen to what He might be directing me to. I need to realise that within 6 months or so I will be filling in application forms again.

This search led me into the uni careers advisory service the other day for an initial appointment. It was a short meeting which I must say plesantly suprised me. I was expecting to be put on a skills analysis type computer programme and for the programme to give me some ideas, or for a nice but ineffective advisor to waffle a bit and me to smile weakly back having been told stuff I already knew. My experience was the exact opposite.

I was asked what sort of thing I was thinking about and gave my reply which is vague to say the least. I know three areas which I don’t want to go into but beyond that I’m really not sure. I was then given a list of a range of possible career paths to think about and find out about. Within this mix were a list of both secular and faith based lay careers. Now, this suprised me…yes I am studying Theology but within my opening conversations with the guy I had made no mention of having any faith or of this being one of the areas I have tentatively considered. Yet he spoke to me from a position which assumed I had faith and this might be an area to consider within everything else. How had he worked this out? The answer is my clothing…I happened to be wearing my Methsoc hoodie that day….which simply has the Methsoc logo on, not any in your face Christian stuff. (Quick tangent…it’s amazing what people can tell about us by what we wear and how sometimes we can communicate our faith without saying a word).

Anyway back to the careers interview. Once I had been given a list of occupations to think about- which fitted in with my vague one sentence answer of I would like to do something which involved using my listening and tutorial skills to motivate and support people and signpost them on to other agencies and people for help, if they need,- I was then given a few pointers on what to do next…all positive things rather than wooly ideas. To be honest it felt more like a life coaching session than a careers interview.

This experience added to something which is growing in me at the moment, a sense of worth. Through a range of things including a wonderful course on discipleship and vocation, (v. much in the widest sense of the word), I am doing with church, I am beginning to see that over the years I have amassed skills and abilities. There are things which I might be good at. I have choices as to how I use those things. Some of those things might be used in a work sphere and some of them may be used voluntarily outside of paid employment. Some of those things might be used in some ways immeadiately and some of them might be used in different ways a few years down the line….I don’t know.

Now don’t get me wrong…I know at the end of the day one of the major things next year will be what job I can find, but I am beginning to realise that it needn’t just be back into teaching by default. Yes…it might well be back into teaching full time, but if it is it will be an informed choice to do that.

Additionally, having a year to work this stuff out I have realised I have the opportunity to try some stuff out and sort myself out with a few short bits of work shadowing to find out a bit more about some of the possible directions. All of this, I have realised is incredibly exciting.

Whilst I will be the first to admit I have made quite a few mistakes over the last year I am realising that I have learnt loads from those mistakes. This is an exciting time in my life with opportunities …. I am blessed!

Anyway, I’m off on retreat for a few days and so on that positive note I’ll say goodbye until next week.

International Theologians Unite to Overcome the Swan

Yesterday I went on what was effectively a school outing to Belsay Hall in Northumberland. It was the Theology post-grads annual end of academic year jaunt out to do an ickle English heritage.

Anyway, the Hall itself has been sadly neglected and is a property in need of some major rennovation. Structurally it is ok, although built in a style which is so austere that arriving and seeing the back of it one of my colleagues was heard to comment “it looks like a 1940’s camp”. However, from what I can gather this is a relatively new acquisition by English Heritage and so I am sure it will develop over time.

The gardens, though, are absolutely beautiful. The humid, drizzly weather added to their splendor as raindrops and spiderswebs hung on the leaves. The walk from the hall to the castle takes you not only through the gardens but through a quarry where much local stone was taken from. The scale of the stone mixed with the towering plants really gives one the feeling of being in a primeval setting. I am not one for lots of leaves and stuff but even I could see this was something beautiful and different; well worth a visit.

Moving on from the gardens you enter the castle. As castles go it’s small and not v. inspiring. However, to try and do something about this English Heritage have decided to install a bit of modern art occassionally. So it was, that after having to endure some terrible canned sounds of horses and randomly placed horse shoes on the journey down through the gardens, a wander up the spiral staircase led to “Luck Spot”, a chrystal horse created by Stella McCartney. (This BBC article tells you about it). In short it is a stunning piece of art made from 8000 Swaraski glass chrystals and was inspired by George Stubbs “Whistlejacket”. As with all good modern art it got the marmite reaction….you either loved it or hated it. I think the fact I walked into the room and just said, “wow” gives where I sit on this one.

Anyway after an lunch where I went to have my cream tea at the tea room, which I would totally recommend, it was off for a walk. Whilst the families played cricket, and staff sat and chatted the international group of 6 female theologians who were of a roughly similar age headed off for a woodland walk. As with any group of women aged in the late 20’s – late 30’s bracket there was of course the one with the inappropriate footware…who we were all worried about, afterall good sandals need looking after. (This of course was not Tractor Girl, I have not yet got that far in learning to be girly). It was really good fun…in our group the countries represented were: China, Netherlands, Switzerland, Greece, Sri Lanka and England but the ethnic differences made no difference. We were all united in the concerns about the footware and when we came across a swan and her young as we went to cross a bridge our fear of what the swan might do if she thought her children were at risk. There was much laughter aswell as some interesting theology talk as we moved along our way. On the way back we found the swan had returned and this time was slap bang next to the bridge, with sleeping children. So it was we had to come up with a plan. The Greek member of our contingent, thankfully, came up with the idea of clapping. We tried it, six women all wandering towards the river clapping to move the birds may have looked a little strange, but it worked….and so we could return to the main group, ready to drink a little wine before heading home.

Whilst the weather could have been a little less grey it was a fun day out. In terms of Belsay Hall, gardens and castle it’s worth a visit. You probably don’t want to spend as long as we did there…but if you are in the North East this summer it is worth a visit.

Cast offs and casting off

I have discovered one of the perks of having a teenager who is growing up at an alarming rate….you get to wear their cast offs. We had great fun last night working out which t-shirts no longer fitted her, but fitted the slimmed down version of me. Thing was it wasn’t just the fit which was important it was which would not look silly on a middle aged woman. Anyway net result was about four t-shirts I didn’t own yesterday which make me look slightly more fashionable.

Additionally on the subject of casting off, today went on the Methsoc end of term summer jaunt down to the river. We took some rowing boats down onto the river before moving onto the river bank for a chat. The weather was perfect for it and was the ideal way to say goodbye for the summer.

The Adventure – An Update

I have wondered whether or not to put this on the net….but know that this is the space where alot of the people who have supported me in prayer during the adventure get updated. So here it is….the latest update. It’s taken a new turn this week. After alot of twisting and turning it appears I, after chatting it through with my supervisors, have made the decision about the upgrade. I expected it to be taken by others, but in the end as I say I have taken the decision…..I’m not going for it. Therefore, if all goes to plan and I get the field work done and the odd 70,000 words written in the next year or so I will end up achieving a MLitt and be job hunting in late 2010.

The reasons are various, and this is not the place to explain all of them, but I know it is the right decision for me. Just as, whilst sometimes I might doubt it, I know deep down coming on this adventure was the right thing for me to do.

Whilst a small part of me is worried that I am somehow letting down those who have supported me on the adventure by not upgrading I hope this isn’t the case. Anybody who knows me, (and that includes all who have supported me prayerfully, financially or whatever), will be aware that this has always been about doing the research rather than the qualification at the end of it. I am going to get that research done and get some kind of bit of paper at the end…just it will take a bit less time and have different letters. More importantly, I hope by making this decision I am actually going to do a better bit of research because in many ways this will reduce the amount of pressure I am putting myself under.