Thursday, 29 July 2010

Holiday Brochures

RCA Prospectuses (Photos: Nathaniel Dafydd Beard)

Having a bit of a clear out this week I came across an accumulation of some old RCA prospectuses, gathered over time, mulling the options as to whether or not pursing a research degree would be a good idea. Coincidentally, I also had an e-mail from the college press/marketing department asking if I'd like to be a featured student profiled in the new prospectus. Am usually quite happy to be in the background just getting on with things, so was not looking to be ''profiled'' in any public way, but in answering questions about my expectations of the course and my feelings about how it is now I am actually here, turned out to be a good chance to reflect on my time so far at the RCA.

Time flies here fairly rapidly, and already the first year is over and we are well into the summer recess. Unlike some of my colleagues, I won't be taking a ''real'' holiday this year, since have given myself several tasks to complete over the summer, combined with full-time working commitments to my ''money job''. But like flicking through a a glossy holiday brochure, a college prospectus offers perhaps much the same experience. It's never quite as glossy as the brochure would have you believe (for non-UK readers, British tour company brochures are notoriously misleading...oops, did we forget to mention the 6 lane highway between the hotel and the beach?). Yet as I reflect on my past experiences over the last year, one of the stand-out aspects has been the supportive nature of my fellow researchers in the School of Fashion and Textiles, a small miracle in such a competitive field, and one I wasn't entirely expecting. All our projects are distinctly different, which no doubt helps, and whenever we meet up it's always intriguing to hear about the latest developments, the successes, and the dilemmas. Helping out a friend this week with writing their own statement for application to a course at a different institution also reminded me of the need we all have for ''cheer leaders'' as I call them. That is, those people on the sidelines, whether family, friends or colleagues, who are there to support you during both the dark, doubting times, and are the there with words of congratulations when things are turning out just the way you hoped. While it is always wise to take the promises of ''holiday brochures'' with a pinch of salt, it is also important as a researcher to keep an open mind, as you never know when some chance conversation or watching the progress of a colleague can help in inspiring or motivating your own work. As I am finding out, the role of the researcher is certainly that of a self-initiator or self-motivator, but a little help from those around you certainly goes a long way.

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