I am a couple of months into my PhD research now and I am starting to feel like I am in the swing of things - or at least that the mountain of things to do is not quite larger than I can cope with. It has been an exciting and interesting few months with lots of opportunities to be taken and lots of reading to be done! This post is going to be somewhat of a brain-dump of all the things that I have been involved with and started, so I apologise for that, but I wanted to update the blog with what's happening at the moment.
The biggest surprise of the PhD process I think, was that so far there have been no surprises! I am back in an academic environment for the first time in 3 years and it feels like home. I enjoy the process of researching and attempting to answer new questions about the past, and I didn't fully realise how much I had missed that. That being said I have not just sat and read for three months as I have both been told I should do, and do kind of wish I was able to! Instead I have been producing work for my supervisors so that we can be sure I am on track and also planning - so much planning.
My project is going to involve at least one trip to the USA, two long visits to London institutions, and a handful of brief visits to regional museums with archaeological collections, not to mention the archives and libraries that I need to visit just to complete my literature review. Whilst all of this was in my project plan I don't think that I realised quite how much work it was to plan these trips from securing access to the material that is relevant to me, to applying for money for travel and accommodation to make it all happen. In some ways it does seem like I have spent quite a lot of time on administration.
In terms of activities which are not directly related to my thesis I have also been doing some work. I am an editor with a new post-graduate, peer-reviewed journal called the Midlands Historical Review (midlandshistoricalreview.com) which aims to be a venue to publish the best student research in the Arts and Humanities. I am taking the lead at the moment for publishing conference proceedings and papers from student run events throughout the midlands as the editorial board think that this is one venue of student scholarship which receives significant amount of effort but beyond the conference is seldom recognised as valuable. Right now I am also volunteering with the Archaeology Podcast Network - doing a little bit of writing on various archaeological topics - this has served to keep my writing skills in shape whilst providing an interesting non-thesis distraction which is still educational.
I am sure that there are many things that I am forgetting, conference papers I plan to give, and writing I want to do, but I think that's all the main things happening at the moment. I am surviving and, despite the tiredness and some minor sleep issues, I am thriving back in the academic world. I don't think there is anywhere I would rather be.