Middle English Word of the Moment

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A career choice...

You know those conversations that abruptly change the way you see your whole future life?

I had one of those a week ago today. A good friend of mine said, "Hannah? Come to Ottawa for your PhD." And we joked about it, and chatted about it, and I wandered over to look at the Ottawa University website, and the Canadian immigration website, and... somehow in there the conversation turned serious and it became an option. Given I live in Melbourne, it's rather a drastic option.

It would be a four-year course. A study visa lasts the length of the course to which you've been accepted, and I believe can then be extended to permanent residency and potentially citizenship, if one is a good and productive member of society. Four years is a good deal of your life to devote to another country, but the employment prospects for a... mediaeval researcher? mediaevalist? obsessed person? ... are a good deal larger there than here, which is why it is, in effect, a career choice. I'd be approaching thirty by the time I finished my doctorate, would have put down roots both professionally and in my personal life, and have to accept now that it's likely I'd never really be moving back home.

So, this last week, while trying to concentrate on expanding the very rough draft of my Honours thesis (trawthe and ambiguity in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight) and research for an essay on the criticism levelled against Edward II in his own time (which means reading as many contemporary sources as I can possibly lay my hands on, because the one I didn't find would be sure to disprove my line of argument), and while reading for and participating noisily in my two coursework seminars for this semester (this week, Malory's and the alliterative Morte in one and saints' bodies and relics in the other), and of course working at making other people's coffee in order to earn enough money to feed my beloved beagle (and, I suppose, myself)... my mind keeps wandering back to frantic details of freightage, Ottawan real estate, cost of living, scholarships, disposal of furniture and other "assets", which books to take, which clothes, what the flora and fauna are like over there and how it would relate to walking a beagle about (ticks? thorns in his ears? lynxes?).

Somehow in that time, it seems, the decision has already been made.

Providing, of course, that I can get a scholarship.

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