Archive for the ‘MSc’ Category

August Scientiae: Time Capsule

I am hosting this month’s Scientiae. Since summer is a great time “check in” on one’s life, I thought it might be nice to look back on a previous time capsule (May 2009 Scientiae), and think about what’s in store for the next year.

Here is what I wrote over a year ago (with some comments in bold):

What I’m doing right now
– finishing up my analysis for project #3 so I can finally write my thesis (definitely done!)
– heading into the last week of my astronomy outreach program (it was sad to hand it over, but I’ve been lucky to start some new outreach projects)
– looking to hire someone to take my place in my other outreach program (that was done shortly after)
– preparing for our trip to South America (No matter how much we prepared, the trip went beyond all our expectations – including me getting my passport stolen!)

What will happen in the next 6 months
– finish my thesis, submit and defend – all by the end of September (done, done, and done – all ahead of schedule, by August 1st!)
– trip to South America in August (this became my reward for finishing my thesis early! Thank goodness I didn’t have to worry about all that stuff while traveling.)
– get the ball rolling on moving (or possibly moving!) (Or not moving! We ended up staying right here when DH got a permanent job as a research scientist)
– start looking at job possibilities once we know where we will move (Once DH took the job, I started looking into jobs, and am now working as a post-doc in the Earth Sciences department)
– thinking seriously about starting a family (Check! We started “trying” in September, 2009, went through a miscarriage, and am now expecting #1 in November)

What I think life will be like in a year from now
– settled in our new city (well, kind of check, since we never moved!)
– looking for/buying a house (we bought a house in February and moved in at the end of April!)
– having a new job in science outreach and/or education (not quite yet, but there is a strong possibility of one coming up soon)
– being pregnant!! (it’s TRUE!!! Due in November!)
– shopping for a new car (we’re doing that this month, in fact!)

So, I think I did pretty well with my predictions! Let’s see how I do this time:

What’s going on now
– trying to set up an education & outreach program for the observatory
– working on an insurance project for my post-doc
– preparing for Baby G’s arrival in November
– trying to hammer down a job for when I return after maternity leave
– knitting a tote bag

What will happen in the next six months
– buy a new car in August/September
– run two more outreach events (another open house and an event for the International Observe the Moon Night)
– finish off projects for my post-doc before I go on maternity leave
– finally submit MSc paper #2
– do a good chunk research on physics/astronomy education in Canada for a collaborative paper
– finish knitting that tote
– Baby G comes in November
– Have my parents visit at Christmas, and DH’s parents visit shortly after
– Maybe visit my parents in Arizona in the new year with Baby G

What I think life will be like in a year from now
– have an education/outreach job lined up for when I return from maternity leave (earliest start date would probably be May 1st)
– have an education & outreach program up and running for the observatory
– have a wonderful first summer with Baby G and enjoying each little milestone he hits
– go to Montreal with DH and Baby G (our first trip as a family)
– have some more renovations/projects done on the house (maybe a deck in the backyard and a second bathroom)

This will be another year of BIG changes for us! I am especially looking forward to Baby G’s arrival and getting out of research and into education & outreach.

Perspective

As I alluded to in my previous post, visiting my MSc university made me remember what I missed about my life there, what I didn’t, and why I decided to leave both the city and research area.

There are a lot of great things about Winnipeg: the people, of course! There is an amazing sense of indie-culture there…movies, music, art, even food. There are so many choices that it’s almost overwhelming. I greatly miss Movie Village (a movie rental place with an unimaginable selection) and Baked Expectations (the best dessert place ever). I also miss the festivals in the summer, and the dance studio where I first learned ballroom dancing.

There are, however, numerous things that I don’t miss: the winters top the list (it still makes me cold just thinking about it), how run-down some areas are, the crime rate (my car was broken into three times, I had my side mirror smashed, my window smashed, and my tire slashed, and my apartment broken into – all in 2.5 years), and how graduate students are treated at the university (and a lack of money/funding).

As for the research, I studied an X-ray binary system, SS 433. It was very interesting, but I found it to be a) too high-level physics (quantum mechanics, electromagnetism, magnetohydrodynamics, all wrapped into one object), and b) completely inaccessible to the public. No one knew what I was talking about when I would explain what I was working on. For my PhD, I really wanted to do something that was closer to home that people could identify with.

You could say this trip really put things into perspective for me. I now remember why I left, why I changed research areas, and how things aren’t as bad here as they could be. I really do love studying stuff in our solar system (maybe not at the hard-core research level, but still). It also makes me appreciate this city – even though it’s not perfect, no city will ever be, so maybe if we put in the effort to enjoy our time here it wouldn’t be so bad (especially if we end up staying here, which is becoming a good possibility).

So, the plan is to (try) stop complaining about things here, and start enjoying life. Afterall, if we’re always living for the future, it’s not really living, is it?

Quick Note

Being at my MSc university has definitely made me reflect on my time as a graduate student, and how my MSc and PhD experiences were different. I also am starting to remember what I miss, and what I don’t miss, about life here. It’s amazing how your brain just puts thing away until you need them again.

I’ve been getting some decent work done on my MSc paper #2 – getting back into it wasn’t as hard as I thought. I stumbled around for the first day, but now I think I have the hang of things.

Tomorrow I give my colloquium, and then back home to DH on Saturday! Will write more once I return home.

PS: After spending $1600 to fix my car, it didn’t start the next morning! Woohoo!!

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