Saturday, 30 March 2013

Behind the schedule

Last semester was pretty busy. It sounded like this semester is going to be easier - no group work, so studying should be easier to fit around work, a lot of coursework, but if one gets organised it all should be fine. If one gets really organised, one might even have some free time! All the reading I will be able to do...

I planned and scheduled.

Then I needed to prepare a project proposal for my masters year and started applying for funding to carry out a piece of research over the summer and got so stuck in in personal statements, CVs, drafts of proposals and applications that somehow I've 'lost' a month*.

I was a month behind the schedule I prepared. So I prepared a new schedule. Currently I'm about two weeks behind that new schedule.

Am I just unlucky with lots of things popping up here and there and eating up my time, schedule badly with not enough time or am I simply not organised enough to stick to the schedule? I guess it's probably a mix of the three - I didn't realise that project applications will take so much time, but then I could have probably squeezed a bit more work in-between lectures. I find it hard to do 10 different things one day though, I much prefer to have a big chunk of time to work on something and get it done, as it takes me a long time to warm up. Maybe that's the problem, maybe I need a different way of working. How does one go about re-wiring their brain though?

All will get done in the end, no matter what. It always gets done and I work better under pressure.

Maybe there is no point in planning and scheduling. Go back to general to-do-list instead of a schedule? Or maybe there is some secret way to schedule so that it's actually achievable to do everything according to the schedule?

So to sum up, I'm attempting to find out what's the secret of perfect scheduling and how to re-wire my brain. There must be a way... I'm only going to get busier over the next few years and have to deal with it somehow!

*Will be really worth it if I get the funding and can do the project!

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Email greetings at university

A month or so ago I came across this blog and post:
FemaleScienceProfessor: How To Annoy Your Professor

It was a poll on the things that professors find annoying in their students. There are quite a few and I can definitely see that some of the would be annoying. There was however one that made me wonder...

I'm talking about email greetings at university.

According to the blog informal email greetings are inappropriate and annoying. I've been starting emails to quite a few of my lecturers with hello over the past few years and to be perfectly honest I have never  thought that it might be inappropriate. I'm slightly... Well, worried is a big word, but I certainly don't like the idea that I might have been accidentally rude to people I respect.

I use appropriate titles whenever I write to a lecturer I don't know very well, someone I've never written to before or if it is only a one-off question or administrative/technical issue etc. However, when it comes to people I correspond and work with on a regular basis I tend to use whatever format of an email the lecturer uses. For example if the lecturer signs their email with first name alone, I'm assuming it's alright to use their first name in the reply, even if they have never directly said I can use their first name. Similarly, if their emails start with plain hi is it  really rude for me to reply with hello?

Is hello considered rude in general? Or are there differences between countries and fields? Or maybe it just depends on the relationship between the student and lecturer (doctor/professor)? What I gather from the blog is that the lecturers over the pond would like to be called professors whether they have a professor title or not*. I partially understand - my high school teachers were called professors too (even though none of them had a title higher than Masters), it's a cultural thing. But is it the same at the UK universities? How important are the titles in such correspondence?

I feel like this should be one of the things taught to first years, University 101, as students, especially international, might simply not realise what the rules are. I have been in the UK for a while and clearly I still don't know some very basic things.

*I'm deliberately not going into the issue of men being addressed as professors and women being addressed as Ms/Mrs.

Hello & Disclaimer

So here I am.

Who am I?

I'm a fledgling behavioural ecologist/evolutionary behaviourist... Not quite sure how to classify myself at this point in time or where the next few years will take me. I'm passionate about wildlife conservation. Birds (parrots in particular) are my favourite animals and preferred study system.

I study full-time and have 2-3 part time jobs to support myself during my time at the University. I try to have a life in-between it all. I'm a keen rock climber, even if I'm not a strong one. I enjoy the great outdoors and wish I could cook/bake more and read more outside my degree.

Why am I here?

I process out loud. I love to talk. I don't think that forcing my friends to listen to me all the time is fair though. I'm hoping that I can get it out of my system here when needed. Maybe some of the things I say will be of some use to someone out there? Who knows.

What will I blog about?

I'd like this blog to be about science and "student life" from an academic point of view, progression through university, associated challenges, possibly a bit of research, lab and fieldwork, science outreach, women in science... As a student I often feel a little lost and confused. My brain gets stuck on problems and goes over them over and over again. Maybe blogging will help to make some sense of it all.


I have a tendency to talk a bit randomly and use mental shortcuts. I will try my best to be coherent and hopefully will get better with time, but please do not try to "catch me out" on semantics. I usually mean well.

The views on this blog are mine and are true at the time of writing. I consider myself open minded  and do change my mind if new convincing evidence comes to light. I'm always keen to learn something new and I'm happy to hear what others have to say on the matters discussed.

Lastly: I'm busy. We all are. I'm not sure how often I will be able to write, so I make no promises right now.