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).