sirisa clark

the things I do and the words I choose


Welcome Back

Well, how terrible am I at blogging?

Here it was my plan to blog throughout my university experience, but following on the heels of a post about fresher’s flu, I’m here to write about coming to the end of my degree.

The only excuse I can make is that I’ve been working hard. In fact (avert your eyes previous bosses and colleagues) I think I’ve worked harder in the past eight months than ever before in my life.

And the good news is it’s paying off – I got my exam results last week and I did great. Better than I did on my first degree, better than I ever expected to do on a totally new subject. Linguistics is a damned hard subject to come to cold, there’s a lot of formal systems, logic, philosophy and psychology, some biology, neuroscience and evolutionary theory all thrown in there. In fact I’m not entirely sure why it counts as an MA and not an MSc, but perhaps the MSc students would laugh in my face to hear me say such a thing.

So the other surprising thing? I really love it. I love the formal systems and the logic and the theories and rules and odd diagrams. I love learning about something that is so fundamental and intuitive to all human beings but is also ridiculously complex and challenging to study! It hasn’t been exactly what I expected and I don’t think I’ll end up doing what I originally thought I would, but I’m so glad to have found something I love so much.

Now I’ve got three months left to round it all off with my dissertation. Hopefully it’s going to be really good and put me in a really strong position to start applying for a phd, but there’s a lot more hard work ahead of me to achieve that.

Still, I hope to manage a slightly more regular pattern of blogging. If anybody out there is still reading… Hello?


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Pleh. A freshers’ cold has got me laid up in bed, which means no parties, no poetry, no err, phun.

On the plus side it does give me the opportunity to get a head start on some of my reading for the course. So far so heavy-going – I thought this was an introductory course! Why do I already feel out of my depth?

I hope things will start to get a little bit easier when I start going to lectures and seminars and actually discussing some of these things with other people, but god help me if it doesn’t.

In other news, Japan has set off a terrible burst of wanderlust within me. I keep trying to persuade Ben that we should have a weekend city break in Berlin this December, and he keeps helpfully reminding me that I am a student now, with no money to spend galivanting. Damned pragmatist.

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beans on toast

I am a student once more.

Went down to studentland today to check out my new university and get all enrolled and the like. Only got part-way through the process as

a) enrollment was rammed and they asked me to come back an hour later

b) an hour, a grilled cheese sandwich and a strawberry tart later, I went back and queued up for 30 minutes, only to discover that I didn’t yet have a student number as I hadn’t returned a form (I tried to explain I’d been out of the country for most of the month, but for some reason exciting 3 week holidays in Japan don’t engender much sympathy).

So, I join a queue for the woe-begotten who cannot enrol the easy way, and spend another hour in this one, listening to two Biomed engineering students talking about departmental intrigues at their last uni. I could have it much worse – the girl beside me is being told her grade average for her first degree does not meet the UCL entry requirements and therefore won’t get a place.

Officially enrolled, I go off in search of a student ID card with the obligatory horrendous photo. TheĀ  light tan I’ve picked up in Japan seems to inspire quite a few inquiries about my nationality this week, so I’ll have to do my best to play the mysterious and exotic card. Although trying to appear exotic at “London’s Global University” may be a bit of a challenge. I’ll have to go for mysterious and just not talk to anyone.

In a strange way going back to university is much more intimidating than making my way around Japan alone, even though I’m in the middle of London on my home turf. It seems to combine all the social anxiety of starting at a new school, with the personal anxiety of wondering whether I’ve chosen the right subject, or even whether I’m cut out for a masters at all.

Those of you who know me are aware that I’m pretty lousy at first impressions. Descriptions of my demeanor range between “measured”, “reserved”, “aloof” and “stand-offish”, which is apparently how you come across when you’re quite shy but trying very hard not to appear that way. At least in Japan I was automatically a weird outsider by virtue of not being Japanese, and was unlikely to see any of the people I came across ever again anyway. UCL is full of young, bright things who will be my peers and companions for at least another year.

Still, tomorrow is another day, in which I will meet my coursemates and hopefully get some kind of clue as to what’s going on at my departmental welcome. I’m also going to lay down 4,000 spondoolicks and buy myself a year’s supply of lectures and exams, which will hopefully be incentive enough to work hard and try and get a return on my investment!