I’m Lizzie, the new SGSAH blogger for the next six months. I’m currently in my third year of doctoral study at the University of St Andrews, and looking forward to sharing the experience with you all! I’m nervous about stepping into Britnee’s shoes, but her previous posts have been a great source of inspiration (shout-out to Raglan!), and I feel very lucky to be a part of the SGSAH blogging team.
So far, my PhD experience has been a crazy journey. I’m researching the representation of wolves in Anglo-Saxon literature, and, as is the case with most (if not all!) PhD researchers, my project has gone in very unexpected directions. I’ve written chapters I never planned to write; done a life-changing SGSAH internship at the Scottish Deer Centre working with their wolf pack (one of whom, Luna, is pictured below) and in public outreach; written an unexpected article for the Reforesting Scotland journal; and just last weekend given a talk at a public outreach event about threatened and endangered species (all of which I’m sure I’ll blog about in the near future). So many things have happened that I never thought I’d have the chance to do.
Throughout this time, I’ve always lived in the same hall of residence in the same corner of St Andrews, and have seen four cohorts of MLitt and PhD students come and go. I’ve met some incredible people, who I’m sure will remain friends for the rest of my life. There’s been highs and lows, setbacks and triumphs, all of which I’m incredibly grateful for, or I wouldn’t be the person or researcher that I am today.
I’m from the UK, and moved up to Scotland in 2015 to do my MLitt in Mediaeval English at St Andrews almost straight after finishing my undergraduate degree in English Literature at the University of Manchester. It was a bit of a shock moving from the biggest university in the UK to one of the smallest, but actually suited me much better in the end. I grew up in a town a lot like St Andrews, which also has only four main streets and is right on the coast (although it didn’t have a university, and definitely wasn’t as historic!). St Andrews felt like home from day one, which was a big part of the reason I chose to stay here to complete my doctoral study. The thought of having to leave it behind (though fingers crossed I won’t have to!) in about twelve months’ time is very sad. While I’ve been here, my parents have also moved away from my home town, so St Andrews has become even closer to my heart.
One of the major challenges I’ve faced throughout my PhD has been my mental health, as I have struggled with depression and anxiety for almost a decade now. The latter has really come to the fore during my PhD, since much of academia is centred around being a presence in the academic community, through giving papers, networking at conferences, and teaching. As most PhD researchers know, the isolation and stress of a PhD is notorious for causing mental health problems in doctoral candidates. This is of course a very important issue, but I feel that beginning a PhD with existing mental health problems is a topic that is less well-covered, and something I’m keen to explore during my tenure as an SGSAH blogger. Mental health in general is an issue that tends not to be spoken about nearly as much as it should, so I’d like to really try to use the SGSAH blog for both myself and guest bloggers as a forum for sharing the experiences of researchers and academics with mental health problems.
On that note, while you’ll be hearing a lot more from me over the next six months, a key aspect of this blog (as seasoned readers will know), is guest blogs, so please do get in touch! You’re welcome to share anything related to your doctoral or academic work, as well as your personal experiences of PhD life, and the challenges and triumphs of life as a researcher. The blog is read by people in countries all over the world, so it’s a great opportunity to reach a wide audience with your message. If you’re thinking of writing a guest blog post, have already written one, or are anywhere in between, please feel free to drop me an email!
We are always seeking new guest bloggers! If you have an idea for a blog post or would like to informally discuss writing for the SGSAH blog please get in touch with Lizzie via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with the blog on Twitter