Being a Graduate Student During COVID-19

Conferences: Canceled

Fieldwork: Canceled

Research: Canceled

Internship: Canceled

Commencement: Canceled

Social Gatherings: Canceled

Online Classes: Full-Steam ahead…

*Sigh* When I wished for a relaxing spring semester, this is certainly not what I expected! I find myself practicing social distancing during a time when I would have been collaborating and working in the lab to prepare for an upcoming conference. Whether we like it or not, the novel coronavirus has changed the course of our academic landscape for the foreseeable future. Our universities have been shut down, and we’ve been told to not engage in research. Any resemblance of structure has now vanished, and it is driving some of us crazy (myself included).

I have to admit, while the change of pace can be nice, I’m incredibly disappointed and frustrated that I won’t have the opportunity to participate in upcoming events that I was really looking forward to. As of now, I’ve had two conferences canceled (I was chairing sessions and presenting papers at both of them), three of my in-lab projects have been postponed till further notice, most of my summer fieldwork has been shut down, I had to move my TA labs online, I won’t get to walk at commencement, and all the talks and events scheduled through my department have been canceled. I feel like I went from 100 to 0 in the blink of an eye. And now, I find myself struggling to make sense of what to do in this sudden void of academic structure. Scrolling through Twitter and Facebook, I do find some solace knowing that I’m not the only one struggling…

Thankfully, I have already completed my thesis defense and was not personally taking any classes, as I planned to work on all my remaining side projects and prepare any completed projects for publication. Following the advice of those already in their PhD programs, I wanted to tie up all my loose ends before starting in the fall. Those hopes have been completely dashed, at least for the spring and summer, thanks to the coronavirus. However, I count myself lucky as I see my fellow graduate students transitioning to taking challenging courses online, freaking out about canceled internships, and strategizing new data collection plans in the wake of canceled domestic and international travel. While we are each facing different struggles, we all are facing similar pains of social confinement and the desire for life to return to normal…. whenever that be…

So, while I sit outside in my Panic! At the Disco shirt, leggings, and fluffy llama slippers wrapped in a blanket (social isolation is not a time to be glamorous in my book), I felt the need to put to words my various takeaways from the pandemic. While graduate students may be feeling like they are drowning amid a global pandemic, know that you are not alone during this everchanging landscape. Hopefully, this will provide some form of support for students who are confused and hollowed with uncertainty. I don’t claim to provide any answers, just mere pointers and tips based on my own experiences (so far) and advice that I have been given. Thus, some wine-fueled guidance!

1. Don’t feel guilty for not focusing on your research! This is a crazy time, and everyone should be prioritizing their health and safety first. You are not expected to churn out grant proposals, articles, proposals, theses, etc. during this time. Sure, continue to work on your research, but don’t enslave yourself to your computer. You may be focused on caring for loved ones, trying to stay healthy, stuck at home with dodgy internet, balancing coursework, teaching online classes as a TA or instructor of record, and/ or caring for children. Yes, I’d love to work on publishing my thesis research or edit a chapter, but I’m doing my best to not put expectations or unrealistic deadlines on myself. Because while everyone keeps saying we are working from home, in reality, we are just trying to work during the middle of a crisis. The bottom line is: don’t expect your research to be your number one priority during a global pandemic. We are all human, and we all have a number of priorities that are on our metaphorical plate.

2. Communicate with your advisor/supervisor/PI about your realistic abilities and expectations during this pandemic! Engage in virtual communication to maintain a sense of structure. Game plan new academic paths and strategies now that research for the rest of the semester, and likely the summer, have been postponed. This is also a good time to let your advisor know how you’re doing and handling social distancing. While everyone has a different relationship with their advisor, don’t leave them in the dark about your current status and let them know what’s on your mind or troubling you. Personally, my current advisor has just been keeping in touch with me via text and has expressed that he has no expectations from me during this time, and my soon-to-be PhD advisor has expressed the same sentiments. While I’ve seen some graduate student horror stories on Facebook and Twitter, I implore you to put your physical and mental health first before running into the lab or overworking yourself per the request of your advisor. Whether via text, email, phone call, etc. professionally inform your advisor of your current situation and game plan for the future (and keep that plan flexible, because who knows how long this will affect academic work).

3. It’s 2020, use technology to hang-out with friends and family! Your mental health is of utmost importance (and something that graduate students struggle with constantly), so contacting your loved ones can put a positive spin on your day! Even though you are isolated in your home, video chat the people you care about to still gain a sense of human interaction without risking anyone’s physical health. I’ve video-chat with my group of friends at least once a week (with wine in my hand) to catch up and chat! I also make an effort to call or facetime my family several times a week to check and see if they’re hanging in there. Set up virtual coffee dates, game night hang-outs over zoom, organize a virtual happy hour, watch movies together on Netflix, etc. There are so many options for you to still gain social interaction without leaving your home. Personally, facetiming my loved ones has helped me battle cabin fever and keeps me from continually reading the news (I’ve started to limit the number of times I check in on the news per day…because I can only read “coronavirus” so much in one day).

4. Set-up a reasonable schedule to not go insane! Wake up in the morning, get dressed (even if it’s just a t-shirt and leggings), and have a routine for the day. Perhaps you will work on your research for two hours, then take a walk, read a book, do a craft (I have decided to dive into cross-stitching for some odd reason), make food, watch TV, talk on the phone with friends and family, you name it! While we don’t have a lot of control on the global situation besides staying at home and distancing ourselves from others, you CAN control what you are doing each day. Lower all your bars, but don’t lose focus on some sense of structure. Personally, I love structure and enjoy having something to do each day or something to look forward to and work on. While social isolation has removed a lot of the academic goals I’ve been working towards, I find comfort in waking up each day to an alarm, working on a craft for a few hours, answering emails, going outside for a walk, occasionally working on a paper or project, and making food. Even though it’s a completely different pace of life than what I had been doing, I haven’t thrown the baby out with the bathwater (IDK if that’s still a saying at all). On a side note: Don’t let someone on Facebook shame you for not achieving your highest potential or learning 5,000 new skills during social isolation. To quote High School Musical, we’re all in this together! And how you choose to spend your time in isolation is 100% OK. Focus on making yourself happy and staying healthy.

5. Still include your cancelled academic ventures on you CV! You put a lot of hard work into prepping your poster or paper or session for an upcoming conference, don’t let the coronavirus strip you of that hard work. If your work was accepted to a conference, it was still peer-reviewed and should be included on your CV. I have simply placed “(conference canceled)” at the end of the papers and posters I had planned to present. I’m also planning on re-submitting those sessions and papers next year (with any additional collected data over the next academic year). I’ve been dying to present the culmination of my thesis material, and while the conference was canceled, I plan on submitting it next year. The work you have accomplished is still important information to disseminate to your peers, don’t let COVID-19 hinder your research from being shared to your discipline.

6. Finally, search for the positive side in all this chaos. Yes, everything has been canceled for the foreseeable future. However, I now have the opportunity to social isolate with my fiancé (who also happens to be an archaeology graduate student and finds himself in the same boat) and engage in new things that I otherwise wouldn’t have tried. I’ve learned how to sew, made a beautiful needlepoint to hang in my new apartment, grew an herb garden, and have started a bullet journal. Yes, I’ve mildly engaged in academic activities, but I’m not pushing myself to perform at my academic peak. I’ve found that keeping to my own schedule and finding things to occupy my time has filled me with contentment that allows me to find the bright side during these trying times.

While the world is full of uncertainty, and our social media is a range of welcomed optimism and doomsday overreactions, focus on keeping yourself and others healthy and safe. Don’t push yourself past your limits and enjoy the change of pace to re-center on different pursuits that are within your own control. And if nothing in this post brought you solace or guidance or peace, just know that you are not alone. And be realistic in recognizing that some days are going to be a struggle. That’s just a byproduct of the complete upheaval of our perceived daily lives. But happiness is not lost either…it may just come to us in different ways and forms during these next few months.

Till next time,

Keep on swimming

You Got In, Now What? My Personal Musings on Choosing a Graduate Program

WOOHOO, you did it! You got into a graduate program! You have decided to take the next step in your academic career, and your hard work has paid off. You have succeeded in being accepted into a program, or even several programs, and you are high on life! But after you come down from your burst of excitement and happiness…you may have some important decisions to make…

Which school are you going to accept? And worse, which schools are you going to turn down?

After recently facing this daunting next step, I wanted to shed my thoughts on the matter of choosing where to go for your next degree. However, before diving into the deep end, I fully disclose that I am not an authority on the matter and that I possess my own biased opinions on the subject matter. But perhaps my opinions can add perspective while you face your own decisions. In my experience, deciding which graduate program to accept came down to three pillars: Advisor, funding, and program rank! Others may argue that there are more things to consider, such as location or time-to-degree. Personally, I have found that the decision still comes down to those three criteria. You already know you like the programs you applied to and know that your research interests overlap with the faculty members in the department. Yet, narrowing your selection down to one school after being accepted can be difficult. Thus, for some hopeful clarity and guidance, here’s the ArcShark’s reasoning behind each pillar!

1: POTENTIAL ADVISOR! To begin, if you haven’t visited the school(s), start planning now! I personally did not visit ahead of the application process when I applied to M.A. programs. I was in the final semester of my undergraduate degree, and I frankly couldn’t afford to take time off of school to visit a school that may not accept me (nor did I have the money). Out of the seven schools I had applied to, I received two acceptances. I could not decide between the two schools, so I reached out to the graduate coordinators and arranged visits. As a side note: some schools do offer small funds for travel, some don’t, so take this into consideration when setting up visits and it is definitely worth asking the department’s graduate coordinator. After visiting both schools and talking with my potential advisors, my decision became clear as day. There was one advisor and program that I definitely clicked with, and actually visiting the university and department allowed me to visualize where I would be living for the next few years. During my PhD application cycle, I contacted and met with potential advisors during the spring and fall semesters leading up to application due dates. I cannot stress how important it is to chat with your potential advisors! Not only does it give them a chance to get to know you and your research, but it also allows you to see if you can actually work with them for the next five to eight years. That’s a LONG commitment! It’s like going from a first date into marriage! And you want that marriage to last during your tenure in that graduate program. Trust yourself when you are talking with a potential advisor. See how they respond to your proposed research and what opportunities they could provide for you. If I didn’t click with a potential advisor, I saved my money and did not apply to that program. And those conversations with your potential advisor can help make a decision on where to go for graduate school. In my case, I was accepted into three graduate programs, and I knew that I would have been thrilled to work with each potential advisor, thanks to my conversations and meetings with them. Thus, my ultimate advice is to visit your potential school or skype with your potential advisor – it can provide you with needed clarity.

2: SHOW ME THE MONEY – aka Funding! Plain and simple: You should not have to pay for your graduate studies! In my opinion, if you aren’t provided a form of funding, it is not worth taking out more student loans. Graduate school is stressful enough without the burden of paying tuition and rent. So, if you are stuck choosing between two graduate programs and one provides funding and the other doesn’t – the ArcShark says follow the money! If none of the programs offer funding, I suggest looking into alternative forms of funding (many other university departments hire graduate assistants) or potentially apply the following year for the hope of securing a funding offer (some programs have seperate application forms for funding). If both programs offer you money, compare the packages. How much is your monthly stipend? How much does it cost to live where the university is located? Can you afford to live on that stipend? How long is the funding guaranteed (read the fine print: 1 year guaranteed with the possibility of renewal for the following years is only 1-year on paper)? What kind of stipulations are placed on the funding? Is health/dental insurance included? Use these questions to weigh-out your opinions. I received two very similar offers, stipend-wise, for my PhD studies, but after weighing out hidden costs and various stipulations, one funding package was more desirable than the other.

3: RANK! What do you want to do after you graduate with your advanced degree? In my opinion, this is where the rank of the program comes into play. If you are seeking a job in the government sector or in the CRM world, there are certain programs that tailor their graduates to be competitive in those realms. Degrees in Applied Anthropology or Public Archaeology may be of interest to you, as they tend to train their students for those career paths. However, if you plan on joining the world of academia, the track record and rank of PhD programs weighs heavily (whether we like it or not) on future academic job prospects. Tenure-track jobs are hard to come by and the number of PhD graduates in anthropology continues to grow each year. This has created a highly competitive job market for those holding PhDs in anthropology. Recent articles on tenure-track hiring trends in anthropology and archaeology have shed light on the track record of institutions placing their graduates into jobs (Speakman et al., 2018Speakman et al., 2018). I’ve been told time after time by my advisor and other mentors that the program you receive your PhD from should get you looked at by the hiring committee. I have heard horror stories about 100+ people applying for a single tenure-track job… that’s INSANE! But if University “X” has a better reputation for producing high-quality anthropologists than University “Y,” then it makes sense why individuals from some institutions make their way onto the long and short-lists for jobs and eventually land some of the coveted positions. While this is not necessarily true for every tenure-track job listing, and a person with a PhD from any university can land a job, I personally operate under the mindset of giving myself the best possible advantages I can. And if some top-ranking universities have established a reputation for their graduates getting jobs, then I definitely recommend aiming yourself for those groups of schools. Ranking played an important factor in my own PhD selection process because, at the end of the day, I would love a job that allows me to continue pursuing what I love (#archaeology4life). I asked every prospective school about their graduate placements and how many are currently in tenure-track positions. So, I recommend that if you are stuck between a couple of schools, take a look at their rank from reputable sources to see what their track record may be in regards to job placements!

To provide my own backstory for some clarity, I applied to four PhD programs. All four programs had similar strengths in zooarchaeology and stable isotope studies (aka my bread and butter), and each school had usable lab space to conduct the research I was interested in. Each school also had connections to the Near and Middle East, the geographical region I wanted to continue working in. I visited each school and met with my potential advisors. I worked hard to put together competitive application packages for each school and crossed my fingers. Luckily, I was accepted into 3 out of the 4 schools and realized that I had some decisions to make. While the other two programs were equally amazing in terms of my potential graduate advisor and available funding, I selected my dream school because I connected well with my potential advisor (and I’m SO excited to work with her), I was offered full-funding with a livable stipend, and it was a highly reputable program with a history of placing their graduates into tenure-track positions. To me, everything else was secondary, and that might not be the case for you. That was just my own personal experience, based on what I want to gain out of my PhD program and graduate school experience. I recognize that I was incredibly lucky, and each program would have been fantastic. Still, my decision came down to those three pillars.

So, if you find yourself choosing between whether you want to accept your acceptance offer or are choosing between several schools, hopefully, this post gave you some important items to consider while making your decision. And remember, there is no right answer! Simply make the decision that best reflects what you want for your professional and academic future.

Till next time,

Keep on swimming

Fighting Doubts in the Wake of Success

My advisor once told me during one of our lengthy sit-down chats that “self-doubt is like Kryptonite to most students: It weakens them and halters any forward-moving progress or success. They allow their self-doubts to weigh them down and hinder themselves achieving success……However, you seem to make self-doubt your superpower…using it like fuel to push you forward.” 

He’s absolutely right. I have become an expert in using doubt as my own personal supply of self-motivation. And through that self-motivation, I keep my nose to the ground and work my fins off: writing applications for funding, working on side projects, going the extra mile on papers, attending conferences, authoring posters, you name it! I’ll do it! Combining my doubt-fueled motivation with my sheer love of archaeology has allowed me to have moments of success during my tenure in my Master’s program…..However, it has one nasty side effect: My self-doubt doesn’t stop when I find that I have been successful in an endeavor…

Even when I am faced with successes, I sit back and question myself or downplay the achievement. “Oh, there must not have been a lot of applicants this year,” “ha, that was a happy accident,” “why did they choose me, did they even see my test scores?”, or “hmmm they say it’s ‘good,’ but are they just saying that to make me feel better?”. While these questions definitely stem, in part, from the anxious side of me, I wish my doubts would be satisfied when something positive comes my way.

Where is this stemming from? While self-doubt is always popping up in my mind, this particular subject is rooted in a recent personal experience. A few weeks ago, I got some of the most shocking and exciting news I could dream of; I was accepted into my dream doctoral program (and I found out on my birthday nonetheless)! I remember receiving the email from the graduate school while waiting for the bus with my best friend. Pure fear had taken over my entire body. I knew I needed to read it immediately, but in privacy, in case it was bad news (I LOATHE crying in public…though it must admit it happens more times than I’m willing to accept). I raced back to my advisor’s lab to get my face in front of my laptop, locking the door on my way in. I didn’t want anyone walking in while I found out. I hastily opened my inbox and saw the email staring back at me. I took a brief moment to ask the universe to send me some positive energy and a dash of luck. I had been swimming in a pool of self-doubt leading up to this email regarding the possibility of getting into (or getting rejected) from this PhD program, and this was finally the culmination of all that stress and worrying. I opened the email, and with reluctance and anxiety bubbling over, I opened the attached letter… I probably made it to the 10th word of that email until I saw the “congratulations,” and I completely lost it! I screamed and immediately started crying…to the point that one of the institute’s staff members came to the lab to check on me, fearing I had injured myself. I was on cloud nine for a solid week! I had a future, a fully funded one, and for a brief moment, my self-doubt was squandered.

Then self-doubt started to creep in… “Was I really good enough for this program?” “Am I going to make a fool of myself when I start attending in the fall?”. I should be doubt-free and void of worries, however, I still have that voice in the back of my head feeding me doubts. Classic imposter syndrome, right? However, I had hoped my imposter syndrome would diminish after each success or achievement. Kind of like a tiered ladder system, where every new success would bring me one more step away from feeling like an imposter. Instead, I feel its voice in the back of my mind getting louder with every new affirmative action, screaming, “now you’re REALLY an imposter…just wait till everyone finds out you’re a phony”. While I’d love to say this is a result of my own personal background, I feel that this is a larger problem within the culture of academia.

Academia is riddled with self-doubt and the fear of failure…heck, almost every academic faces these crippling thoughts on a daily basis! Self-doubt is a constant presence that keeps us company throughout our education, and even after we graduate. But why do we downplay our successes? It’s like those people in class that get a 95 on their exam and kick themselves for getting 5 points wrong (while you sit there in disbelief that they would have the nerve to complain about getting an A). Yet, somehow, we have found ourselves becoming that overachieving student. Again, this is how academia has groomed us to think. We always have to be improving and making strides to be better. Even when we make a positive step forward, our self-doubts remind us that the path to success is never-ending. For example, you received a grant to do your thesis research (huzzah). But now you are faced with the reality that you need to actually conduct your research and provide meaningful results to satisfy the conditions of the grant. It can seem like a never-ending cycle…

Being in academia is a constant to-and-fro between success and failure, and I ultimately think it fosters a cynical outlook upon ourselves. It’s hard to feel positive about success when the next day is met with rejection. Balancing emotions can become difficult when hearing back from graduate schools, paper submissions, midterms, and reviewers. Whether we feel we are never good enough or are feeling the common pains of imposter syndrome, the negative feelings never seem to fully diminish during our moments of success. Simply saying, we need to not be so hard on ourselves isn’t going to reverse our feelings of self-doubt in the wave of success. And while I would never claim to have any answers regarding curing self-doubt, I’m determined to set one thing straight: Feeling happy in my moments of success… I won’t be able to stop feeling emotions of doubt, as to prevent that emotion would be unnatural (especially in academia). Still, I want to make a step towards balancing those negative emotions with positive ones…especially during times when I should be feeling elated, excited, and happy!

Thus, the ArcShark’s personal, and totally non-official, guide to fighting self-doubt in the wake of success:

  • Recognize your path! What work and effort went into this current success? Whether it was countless hours that were poured into a grant proposal or endless literature review or rigorous editing, you took a journey towards this goal and worked hard to earn your success!
  • Take a step back from the academic grind! Hooray, your research proposal was accepted, or you got an A on your midterm…now take some time for yourself! You’ve earned it, so allow yourself to take time and enjoy this happy moment.
  • When feeling the need to start picking apart the nature of your success and turn it into a negative, try piecing together positive elements surrounding that success and how that success affects you. Ok, you got 5 points off on your paper, but you still earned an A, which could positively play into your overall class grade.
  • Talk to someone regarding your success and physically voice your feelings of self-doubt. Often verbalizing your self-doubts regarding positive moments can help you realize that your self-doubts are unfounded and baseless.
  • Practice self-compassion! I know, hard to do in academia, but seriously! Be kind to yourself! Recent studies have shown there is a strong correlation between practicing self-compassion with positive mental health… and positive mental health leads to diminishing self-doubt during moments of success. 
  • Finally, embrace that self-doubt is natural… 

So, while the academic grind may feel like a never-ending cycle or a teeter-totter between success and failure, we need to strike that balance between positivity and recognizing the need for self-improvement. Resisting the tendency to drown in our self-doubt is easier said than done, but continuously tearing ourselves down with our own negativity doesn’t provide any answers or accomplish any goal.

In trying to take a dose of my own medicine, I’m starting to feel the self-manifested doubts surrounding my acceptance into my dream PhD program wash away. With that said, I’m still incredibly nervous and anxious to be taking the next step in my academic trajectory, but I am no longer questioning my success in making it to this point. The journey to balancing my self-doubt isn’t over, but I feel this is a gentle push in the right direction.

Till next time,

Keep on swimming

Blog Introduction: Why “The ArcShark”?

“Be a shark, not a minnow. Be a shark, now a minnow. Be a shark, not a minnow. Be a shark, not a minnow”. Ask me how many times I’ve heard that statement said to me by one of my academic superheros (outside of the other cult favorite, “you’re gonna be fine”)…….hint: It’s a lot!

Some backstory: Self-confidence is one of the biggest issues I struggle with on a daily basis. While this is a common symptom of being a student in academia (hello imposter syndrome), it has been something I have struggled with my whole life. My upbringing was less than ideal. From as early as I can remember, I was told I wasn’t good enough, wasn’t intelligent, and wouldn’t make it very far in life. These sentiments, expressed to me by my elders, formed my daily mantras throughout my upbringing. This created a significant chip on my shoulder (or, if you’d like, a chip on my fin) that has carried with me throughout my life.

On top of my homelife, I went to an extremely large public school system (my graduating class was 537) and I often fell to the wayside. I performed the desired “average” on standardized tests, held on to a waivering 3.0 GPA, sucked at math (to the dismay of my father, who thought being gifted in math was the only way to succeed in life), loved history and science courses, but most of my teachers barely remembered my name. Essentially, I was an academic wallflower…barely noticeable but not making enough waves to be noticed (positively or negatively).

With my less-than-ideal backstory, I finally hit my stride when I stumbled across archaeology! Even though I found my calling late in the game of my undergraduate career, I couldn’t help but fall in love with life in an excavation unit. The combination of history and science, mentors who actually saw me (and remembered my name), tangible opportunities for someone from a low socioeconomic status, and classes that inspired me to achieve more than the status-quo pushed me into making archaeology my career. This decision obviously meant one thing: graduate school.

So, here I am, finishing up my master of arts degree in applied anthropology, looking forward to starting my PhD in anthropological archaeology in the fall, but still haunted by childhood insecurities and self-doubts. Here’s where the shark metaphor comes in…One of my committee members saw something in me that I had never seen in myself: the potential to achieve and succeed in academia, to perform at the highest level in our discipline and actually make some positive waves. However, recognizing my insecurities, he would often say to me, “be a shark, not a minnow”.

At first, this statement confused me. I’m terrified by sharks (I’ve seen one too many Jaws movies and the notion of swimming in the ocean is less than appealing) and I would rather not be associated with these scary creatures of the deep. I also strive to be a positive entity in this world, and I have always viewed sharks as mean and nasty…something that I don’t want to envision for myself.

However, I now realize what he meant: In the vast ocean of academia, be a scholar with presence, tenacity, and a dash of fearlessness…not a meek wallflower. In this sense, I understand the admiration to be a shark. They are the apex predator of the ocean, and as someone who wants to succeed in academia, I need to have that mindset. I hope to chase after my dreams with a fierce sense of desire and aspiration, while simultaneously standing out in a sea of scholars and academics.

Did you know sharks have to keep moving forward in order to survive? In fact, they are the only fish that cannot swim backwards without dying. This metaphor can be used academics as well. Even through all the rejections, downfalls, and disappointments that can come into our academic and personal path, it is important to keep moving, i.e. swimming, forward. Don’t get bogged down with the negatives that are inherent in the word of academia. Definitely recognize these downfalls, but use them as an opportunity improve and continue to push forward.

Sharks are also fearless…They aren’t self-conscious that they are inadequate as a shark, nor do they question if they are good enough to even be a shark. They set their eyes on the prize and move forward to achieve it without being held back by fears and thoughts of apprehension. As a soon-to-be PhD student in archaeology, I need to start placing my own self-doubts and insecurities aside (I know, easier said than done), and embrace that I am good enough, and when I’m faced with a setback or rejection, to keep swimming forward towards the next goal.

“Be a shark, not a minnow”. With these metaphors in mind, I have chosen to fully embrace the journey to become a strong, confident, and fearless “shark” in the world of archaeology! Thus…the ArcShark is born!

So, with all this said, why a blog?

  • Because I want to have a public medium to openly express my general musing and thoughts about archaeology and academia, as well as document my journey through graduate school.
  • Because as a PhD student in academia, writing encompasses so much of what we do. However, I wanted to re-infuse casual writing back into my life without turning my facebook into a giant diary for my family members to spam me about.
  • Because I would like to strengthen my writing skills while also reaching out to the public about archaeology.
  • Because I’m hoping it will be a creative, zen, and almost therapeutic, way to express myself and cope with the emotional rollercoaster ride of academia.
  • Because why not add a more fun way to procrastinate?
  • Because I’m ultimately hoping this will give me the confidence to believe that I’m actually a shark and not a minnow.

If you are a fellow academic, colleague, graduate student, enthusiast of archaeology, trying to set aside your fears and insecurities, or a friend, I hope to connect with you about my adventures through graduate school and academia, while hopefully inspiring you to become a “shark” in your own life.

Till next time,

Keep on swimming