November 18, 2013

10 Ways to Foster Happiness and Productivity in Graduate School


My poor, neglected chronicle has been dormant for far too long. I still have quite a few photographs and stories of my adventures abroad, but would like to first reinvigorate this forum by means of a transition from a travel-like blog to a chronicle about games, medieval studies, and academia. In a way, this post is about coping with transitions, of staying happy and productive during uncertain times.

For most of my PhD experience so far I have encountered little stress; folks sometimes wonder how that can be the case. I had tremendous amounts of anxiety during my MA (2007-2008), which eventually led to burnout and 1.5 years working outside grad school. When I returned to pursue a PhD (2010), I vowed to make the experience as fun and stress-free as possible. I have certainly had stressful moments over the past three years, but most of them have been fleeting or had to do with situations beyond PhD work proper. Recently, a friend was sharing his experience with the all-too-common slump that most of us endure when we transition from course work to comprehensive exams and the dissertation. Indeed, a large number of students, suddenly faced with the daunting task of going through a rigourous comp exam and a 200-page study, withdraw from their program. Others fall into depression. Still other candidates become completely paralyzed and may go for months without writing (or, hyper-focusing on teaching). No matter where you are in the process, there are strategies you can do to help alleviate some of the anxiety, stress, and feelings of inadequacy. I have listed below ten strategies I use to keep myself focused, motivated, and, for the most part, happy. Whether you are just starting out or are in the last stages of your dissertation and feeling overwhelmed, may they bring you some relief and encouragement!

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Medieval Labyrinth, MS Trinity College O. 2.45
May 10, 2013

Meditations on a Medieval Labyrinth

Last Saturday, May 4th, marked the 5th annual World Labyrinth Day. People from all over the world walked labyrinths together in celebration of this cultural construction, “Walk[ing] as One at 1”.1  Labyrinths have existed for over 4000 years across multiple cultures and settings, including classical, Roman, medieval, and contemporary. Today, the medieval labyrinth has endured as one of the most popular styles of labyrinth construction. In one manuscript I studied a few weeks ago, I came across a labyrinth image among a collection of other game problems.

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  1. The Labyrinth Locator lists over 4000 labyrinths worldwide. []
February 21, 2013

Hello World!

Welcome to my first installment of semi-impromptu travel musings!

Before we begin I must confess: I have never been much of a blogger. The thought of blogging makes me cringe — to face the expectation of posting regularly again and again whether the writer has something to say or not (and I’m often faced with never knowing what to say in the first place). Nevertheless, I have been encouraged by quite a few folks to record my travels (so here it goes!) This is not a blog; it’s an un-blog. I will only post something if I think it will add value to the project or help someone’s project or travel plans. Some posts may sound awkward. But that’s okay. So, shedding the “blog” label, I call this account of my travels a “chronicle”—a twenty-first century pilgrimage of sorts. Thoughts will range from academic matters to travel tips for scholars and geeks-at-heart. I may also throw in a shameless plug, but these will be far and few between. Other posts might involve continuing a conversation, either put forth from a book or on the web. Communication travels multilaterally across various media, after all. With this chronicle, I hope to keep in touch with friends and forge new relationships with fellow medievalists.

So what is this chronicle about?

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