Five Things I Wish I had Known Before Starting My PhD

 Graduate Student Advice Month

Picture from: www.toothpastefordinner.com

 

Nobody really knows what is like to do a PhD until they do one. I am half way through mine and I still only half know what it is like to do one very specific PhD: my own. Everyone’s experience is unique to their own research topic, their own field site and their own personality, but many of the challenges, pressures and anxieties we encounter are more similar than we realise. We all seem to spend most of our time oscillating between contradictory emotions (hope and despair, enthusiasm and exhaustion, excitement and frustration), hoping that eventually all of this turmoil might (miraculously) become something worthy of calling a thesis.

I wouldn’t really call the following five things ‘advice’, and they are by no means a description of how I have been approaching my own research so far. At best, they are a few things that I now know I need to keep reminding myself of, and that other researchers might be able to identify with. (more…)

Introduction: Graduate Student Advice Month

My first year of graduate school was rough. Really rough. I had a hard time transitioning and moving from an undergraduate institution that I loved to a school (though I love it now) that was no where near the top of my list of schools I wanted to attend. To make matters worse, when I sought out advice from other graduate students, there was no place, no sense of community, for the graduate students to gather and discuss. When I turned to the internet, I was shocked to find that there wasn’t even a sociological blog for graduate students and by students to share our experiences, advice, and woes.

Flash forward to almost a year and a half later, where I am in a much better place with research underway, a completed degree in sight, friends, a few publications, and this role with Sociology Lens. Now with these experiences under my belt, I feel that it is time that I “pay it forward” to fellow and future graduate students who may be in the same place that I was in last year. Sociology Lens, I felt as I was joining the team, was perfect– graduate students, all of which think with a critical sociological lens, writing for graduate students. Who better to give advice than fellow people living through the same situation at the same time? Granted context is always different, whether it be forms of identity, location, department culture, or whatever, current advice from current students is much needed.

With much work and determination, I am honored to introduce that that is what we have upcoming for the month of April: “Graduate Student Advice Month:” real advice from real graduate students for graduate students. We have worked together over the past two months compiling a list of relevant topics pertinent to graduate students today, from publishing to teaching to work/life balance. This thematic month will begin on Wednesday, April 1st with a piece by George Byrne entitled, “Five things I wish I had know before starting my PhD.” Each post will be categorized as “special issue” and tagged with “GradMonth” so that you can easily find each post. Also make sure to check us out on Twitter, comment on our posts, and share our pieces far and wide! Together, we can start a dialogue and strengthen our community. We hope that you enjoy.

 

Check Us Out on Twitter:

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Megan Nanney: @mpnanney

From Farm to Market: The Complications in the Quinoa Economy

Within the last decade, the grain quinoa has emerged as an alleged “super food” in western dietary practices. Health food stores and upscale grocery chains have isles dedicated to varieties of quinoa, packaged under many different brand labels, touting it to be a nutritional goldmine. A simple Google search of the word “quinoa” returns pages of results with buzzwords like “healthiest”, “organic” and “wholesome.” Vegan and health-enthusiast subcultures swear by this expensive food product, and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) even declared the year 2013 “International Year of the Quinoa,” owing to the grain’s popularity in what they call “the gourmet kitchen.” The journey of the grain as it makes it to the gourmet kitchen at upscale restaurants in countries like the United States, however, is often overlooked in mainstream discourse. (more…)

Who invented the World Wide Web and the Internet?

 

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Source: http://www.webbyawards.com/the-difference-between-the-internet-and-the-web/

When ‘A’ claims they invented ‘X’ as a sociologist of technology my default position is often to respond with scepticism: as I did when I saw this picture above. I understand why Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Vint Cerf would claim they invented the World Wide Web and the Internet respectively. The status of inventor gives each of them a public plinth from which they can discuss how they think digital technology should be mobilised for the benefit of society. Examining their claims to fame is not an attempt to debunk these men’s status: it’s an exercise to show that technology never emerges in isolation. The sociology of technology tells us the invention and development of the Web and the Internet, like all technology, has to be understood within a broader social context that involves networks of people and technology as well as cultural values. I can’t do this statement justice here. By applying this logic to these t-shirts in the picture above I can, however, begin to show the value of the sociology of technology. (more…)

Teen Mom OG Premiers Tonight!

Google Creative Commons labeled for reuse with modifications.

Google Creative Commons labeled for reuse with modifications.

They’re back!  All four of the original cast members of Teen Mom are returning to MTV.  Their return is being heavily promoted by US Magazine, TV Guide, and People Magazine.  For fans (and researchers!) it’s a super big deal.  It’s a big deal primarily because Farrah chose to return.  You know Farrah right – the adult entertainment star who works for Adult Video News (AVN)?   Rumor has it that the producers had to do a lot of convincing to get her to return to the show.  Cast member, Maci, is pregnant with her second child and Catelynn and Tyler have their second child (they chose adoption for the first child) as a starring member of the show.  Finally, Amber was released from prison after serving 17 months of a 5 year sentence and is rebuilding her life and relationships.  I know, I know – great television!  (more…)

Generational Changes in a Time of Evolving LGBTQ Rights

1280px-Russian_Embassy_in_Helsinki,_LGBT_pavement

(Source:http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Demonstrations_and_protests_in_support_of_LGBT#/media/File:Russian_Embassy_in_Helsinki,_LGBT_pavement.jpg)

In an age where millennials are starting to take primacy in the visibility of political change and its climate, especially in regards to LGBTQ advancements, the older LGBTQ generations are realizing that soon enough the millennials will need to take command of their political positions. Many of the older LGBTQ generations have been trailblazers from the start of an era known as the long 1960’s: having been there at the Stonewall riots, to now holding office positions in politics and creating juridical changes. A common thought amongst many LGBTQ activists is once the United States passes Marriage Equality at the federal level, there is nothing left to fight for in regards to LGBTQ rights. I would beg to differ. Once juridical amendments and changes are made, the battle is to secure its practice and implementation. Furthermore, to secure such practices, the LGBTQ community at large needs to orchestrate as one. (more…)

Who might run the show in a post-cash world?

Is cash on the way out? In my own daily routines, I find myself using coins and notes less and less, to the point when I am often stuck for a pound coin to use the lockers at the swimming pool, or I audibly ‘tut’ when shopkeepers tell me there’s a charge for using my card. I just don’t carry cash very often. In fact, I don’t even physically use my debit card very often. I’ve got so used to using my phone or computer to buy stuff that I’ve learnt my 16-digit card number off by heart – a ‘skill’ which is either impressive or just a bit worrying.

Maybe this is a sign that I’m moving up the social hierarchy. After all, using less cash is associated with higher socio-economic status according to the Payment Council, so perhaps I’m moving up the foodchain. Or, as I’ve often feared, I’m not that special at all. This is a change which is affecting most people as we move into a world of contactless payments and methods of moving money around which might shake up those much-beloved institutions: The Banks. (more…)

He, Him, His, She, Her, Hers, They, Their, Theirs, Zi, Zir, Hir…: Pronoun Use and Gender Policing

https://texaslynn.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/transgender-pronouns.jpg

https://texaslynn.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/transgender-pronouns.jpg

Have you read the recent New York Times article about Bruce Jenner and about their transition? While their gender identity is not yet confirmed, media has picked up this story and gone wild with the concept of olympian turned family millionaire turned media star is now “turning” into a woman. Every time, however, that I read a new headline about this story, I get shivers up and down my spine, not to mention the amount of pure rage and disappointment on how the media not only misrepresents, but actually oppresses the trans community by mislabeling these individuals with the use of the wrong pronouns. Simply put, refer to the person using the pronoun they identify with.

(more…)

Closing Gender Stereotypes

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Briar_Rose_in_flower_(6498552641).jpg

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Briar_Rose_in_flower_(6498552641).jpg

 

Sweet Briar College’s Board of directors announced last week that the college will close its doors at the end of the 2014-2015 academic year.  Sweet Briar is a liberal art’s women’s college located outside of Lynchburg, Virginia.  Current enrollment is estimated at around 700 students.  300 faculty serve those students and the faculty to student ratio is listed as 8:1.  Rising tuition rates and declining enrollments were the reasons cited for the demise of the prominent women’s college.  As alumni, students, and faculty rally to rescue the struggling college with fund raising campaigns pundits race to comment on turnaround plans. (more…)

Love and Homonormativity: One in the Same?

450px-Gay_wedding_a_by_Stefano_Bolognini

(Source:http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gay_wedding_a_by_Stefano_Bolognini.JPG)

What is love? Does everyone understand love as how Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines it? Starting from birth, everyone is taught to love: whether it is a family member, the family pet or a close friend. However, we are never socialized how to love an individual not related by kinship. Amorous love between two individuals is more like a trail and error process. Yet, American society would have one think falling in love is as easy as one, two, three: one only needs to watch a romantic movie. With the recent advancements of Marriage Equality, now extended to thirty-eight states, majority of LGBTQ individuals have adhered to a homonormative ideology. Homonormativity, as defined by Lisa Duggan, is, “…a politics that does not contest dominant heteronormative assumptions and institutions but upholds and sustains them while promising the possibility of a demobilized gay constituency and a privatized, depoliticized gay culture anchored in domesticity and consumption” (Duggan 2002). Is this what LGBTQ rights have resulted in, mimicry of heteronormative ideals that subjugate their everyday experiences? Is there only one specific way to love? (more…)