Last week’s return to the UK marked the start of my final year of life here in Scotland and at the University of St Andrews. It marked my final year of PhD work (most likely), and it marked my final year of being a full-time, fee-paying student. After this year I’ll have been in school for 24 years: 13 (ZM), 4 (Crown), 3 (GCTS), 4 (St A). Do I know more now than I did when I started? I can perhaps read and write better than I did pre-Kindergarten, but my math skills remain delinquent and I still don’t have my Southern Hemisphere geography or my Periodic Table of Elements memorised. Life-long homework, I suppose.
It’s good to be back across The Pond. I’m ready to finish here and to return ‘home’; and returning for this final winter is with the goal of making that transition happen. My time in Scotland has been good in many ways, and I will always cherish the memories from this land. But I’m ready to be done; I’m ready to be a teacher, to be back in leadership, to use my gifts, to mentor students, to earn an income. Oh to see the day!
This final semester of work on the dissertation is tangibly different than those previous. Some friends who started this programme with me have decided to finish from home. And, due to retirements in the Academic Development department in which I work, my role as the University of St Andrews Study Skills Tutor has expanded, meaning that most of my ‘free’ hours are now spent preparing for workshops and other tasks rather than with the friends that remain. That is to say that, my social life is nearly non-existent.
But the largest tangible difference is my final-year exile from the Duncan room and the Roundel—my office and office building of the last three years. All fourth year students occupy the Baillie room, which sits on the top floor of the St Mary’s College building, dating back to the 1600’s (I think).
Unlike those of the Roundel, Baillie Room residents do not have 24/7 access to their office… or to their books. Monday through Friday, 8am-7pm. That, my friends, is a very short work day/week, and an unfortunate part of the fourth year, given the push to finish. The Baillie Room is not all bad, however. Whereas the Roundel is directly across from the beautiful Cathedral ruins, the Baillie Room is in the St Mary’s community, literally 20 yards from the divinity library, a doorway away from the seminar rooms and the faculty offices. For the first time in my time here, I feel like a participant in the everyday life of the divinity school. I now work ‘on campus’.
And, I scored one of the best desks in the room, the furthest away from the door and complete with its own window and chair.
Some of you will recognise my Montana ‘office’ in the photo to the left of the lamp. :)
Envision me working away back in the corner.
To access the Baillie Room, we climb the circular stairwell leading up through the ‘Founders Tower’ (seen behind the tree in the picture above),
after entering through this door:
Because I submitted my first rough draft to my supervisor before returning home for the summer, my task now is to revise that draft into a version that will be submitted for final evaluation and which I will defend at my viva, the oral exam, sometime in February or March of 2015.
This is truly the final leg of this Scotland journey, and I’m quite keen to get on with it.