Wise words from our mentor, Dear Erasmus…

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500 years later and nothing changed. Progress is an illusion. Humanity is doomed. Let’s have too much rum.

Moriae Encomium (The Praise of Folly), Erasmus
Rotterdam, 1515

Isabelle Gribomont

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“I’d rather be lost in the Mundus limbo than be stuck in ordinary oblivion”.

Post-Mundus life (if there is such a thing). Episode 1: the PhD Quest.

 The Crossways master was like a two-year long school trip, with some academic discoveries, but mainly new friends, new places, a new-found independence, and dubious food. But that’s another story.

 The end of my third semester approaching, I started searching for my next step in life. I realised it would be hard to find a job which would top up the Crossways excitement. To be honest I didn’t feel ready for the cruelty of the job market just yet. I just like being a student too much. The PhD option had always been at the back of my head, ever since I started university, too many years ago. I decided to investigate my possibilities in Scotland, while I was there.

My first step in the PhD quest was to talk to my dissertation supervisor about the possibilities in St Andrews (believe it or not but I was having an awful lot of fun there). He was very helpful and encouraging from the start, telling me he would be happy to help me design a nice and funding-friendly proposal, but hinting he did not normally supervise the kind of topics I was interested in. Down the line, after several proposal drafts, I ended up applying for a PhD under his supervision. I also decided to take a little trip to Edinburgh to have a chat with a lecturer whose research interests were close to what I had in mind. Again, I met a positive response, and I decided to apply there as well, my potential supervisor helping me out every step of the way. This done, I happily went on to enjoy my last semester in sunny Spain rainy Santiago.

 In the end, I got an offer with funding in St Andrews but, helas, not funding from dearest stingy Edinburgh. Then there was the relentless self-questioning. Do I really want to go on in academia? (Still don’t have an answer for that one.) Should I not start adulting and look for a “proper” job? (No.) Isn’t a humanities PhD a dead-end anyway? (Well maybe, but so was the master and it didn’t stop me, did it?) How is it gonna be to live in Scotland for three more years? (Humid.)

In the end, I feel fortunate to be studying for a PhD in St Andrews. It’s challenging and somewhat frustrating sometimes, but also an incredible opportunity to interact with countless brilliant geeky people, let loose your own nerdy self, and overall relatively freely enjoy your young mind before it is too crippled by grown-up responsibilities, duties of all sorts, alcohol, and old age. I don’t know what my next step will be but I’m facing the uncertainty with unprecedented relative peace of mind. What this master brought me is probably a more open mind, regarding people and their ideas, but also about my own person and future. Like Tolkien said; not all those who wanders are lost (and if I might add, I’d rather be lost in the Mundus limbo than be stuck in ordinary oblivion).

What’s on?

It’s only mid-November and so much already happened in the community!

– Our dear alumni Isabelle, currently on her second year of PhD at the University of St Andrews, had a very successful month! She was invited at a major interdisciplinary and international conference held at the University of St Andrews on the past and present of the relationship between Mexico and the United Kingdom. This was for her the occasion to present the results of her masters thesis on ‘British Imperialism in Post-Revolutionary Mexico. A Comparative Analysis through British and Mexican Novels’. She then travelled to the University College London where she gave a paper on ‘Literariness as Decolonial Subversion in the Zapatista Discourse’ at the Twelth Annual Historical Materialism Conference. Congrats Isa, that’s what we call a terrific 2d year kick off!

 – For the Erasmus Mundus Day, will be defying the Scottish wheather by having a bonfire a St Andrews’ beach. EXCLUSIVITY: the delicious and soon-to-be-world-famous Mundus-Cocktail will be revealed!

And you, what are you doing for the Erasmus Mundus Day? http://www.em-a.eu/en/home/archive-activities-to-join/newsdetail-activities-to-join/ema-day-2015-call-for-ambassadors-1837.html. Pique-nique, bonfire, pub meeting, international dinner, there’s a lot you can do to celebrate this international event!

 – How communications within and about our masters could be improved? Answer this short survey to help us improve our use of social media: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2F63X8M.