Posts Tagged ‘university’

Dream Weaver

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

Over the last 8 or so years I have started to dream less. When I do dream, I very rarely remember them in the morning. However, the circumstances all line up and I do dream and I do remember the basic plot line, they usually revolve around a desperate need for a toilet or missing a plane. Dream sequence #1 is fairly self explanatory, however a recent dream involving me missing a flight to Spain with my cousins Sophie and Marieke resulted in me turning to Google to gather some insight. I do not currently have real-life plans to go to Spain with those two anytime soon, so what could this all mean? What was my brain trying to tell me?

Obviously typing “What do dreams about missing flights mean?” was going to deliver the most reliable results, and PsychicLibrary.com delivered. Apparently dreams that include missing or being late for something is your brain trying to process having too much to deal with. If it involves missing flights/busses/trains it implies that you are overworked and have anxieties about deadlines. The description was rounded off with the positive note that my brain believes that no matter how hard I work, there will never be enough time to get everything done. Great!

So it doesn’t take a genius or a dream interpretation specialist to work out that this is my brain dealing with my dissertation deadline, but last night I had ANOTHER dream about missing a flight and this time it was to Australia. My now fully-conscious self is finding it highly amusing that my dream self was disappointed about missing the plane but was more concerned about the fact that is was an EXPENSIVE flight. Basically, if I stuff up my dissertation, I am wasting a truck load of money.

Cheers, brain. I am well aware. Now if you can please return to focusing on having a decent night’s sleep so that I have the energy to write my dissertation, that would be swell.

Oh… Hello Mid-June.

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

It would appear that I have entered some sort of teleport and two months have somehow completely disappeared. So much has been happening that writing a little blog post hasn’t seemed like a good priority. I have missed it – writing for my own pleasure is something I really love. However I spend so much of my life in front of my laptop that when I have to choose between writing a blog post or going for a walk outside, nature and reality usually win.

Anyway, a quick update on one single aspect of my life – University! I am almost done (how I do not know) and only have a 3000 word report to submit by Friday. Then it is dissertation time and I am weirdly looking forward to it. Perhaps that’s because I really haven’t started and am therefore not completely sick of the term ‘digital engagement’. I’ll hate it by September. But for now I am excited.

Today part of my assessment for my university placement with the Manchester Histories Festival went up on the Cultural Practices website. If you’re interested to hear about how I have spent my last 5 months clenching my teeth while attempting to launch a digital game, please feel free to read it. If not, I am hereby promising to start writing more. I think I said this last time… I mean it for real now. Fo-realz.

Oh, Hello April.

Friday, April 8th, 2016

So apparently it is April. I’m not sure how that happened or how I only have 1.5 months left of my Masters degree. Yes, I still have to write that “dissertation” thing but in mid-May all of my classes finish and I hand in my second semester assignments. And that is that. All I have to do is pass those and I can start signing my name on emails as Jessica Davies B.A., M.A. and people will be impressed (not). Of course, in order to pass my assignments, I have to write them and therein lies my current problem.

Spring has been making its way to Manchester in ebbs and flows over the last few months. We had some sunny and surprisingly warm days very early on in the year but they were then replaced by snow. It is now a daily struggle to work out what to wear as it is hot in the sun and freezing in the shade. There are some excellent clouds about at the moment though, bringing rain and hail showers. I much prefer these temperamental conditions to endless drizzle – adds a bit of spice to the Manchester weather forecast.

cloud

You could just eat it!

I am hoping the wind will back off on Sunday, however, as I am once again pushing myself through 41.something kilometres and running the Manchester Marathon. Anyone wanting to follow me from the comfort of an armchair can do so here. I have had a slight set back in terms of a ridiculously sore toe. I usually ignore aches and pains but this particular niggle was excessively painful and a trip to the cheapest physiotherapist that I could find suggests it is runners’ arthritis. Not surprising really, given my family’s medical history. Just slightly annoying as I now haven’t run for 1.5 weeks, the longest period of time that I haven’t run for approximately 6 years. I haven’t gone AS nuts as I thought I would, which is pleasing. But I am very much looking forward to Sunday and have been telling my toe that if it dares to slow me down I will have it surgically removed. Nothing messes with me, not even my own digits.

marathon

Go Jessso!

A couple of weekends ago, I participated in a workshop connected to the Pilcrow Pub project. The Pilcrow Pub is a community pub that is being built by hand by a group of seriously dedicated people. They run workshops where you can come in and make a stool, clothes hook, ceramic jug or something else that will be used in the final pub. I went to the “wooden workbench” workshop that involved us turning pieces of wood that had been reclaimed from a giant Christmas tree installation into a workbench that would then be used to make other things for the pub. It was so much fun! It required a huge amount of brain space to work out how to make very non-straight pieces of wood come together to create a stable table. Plus it was all done by hand so it was hand saws and chisels in action. It was team building central and by the end of the day, my group, ‘Team Leg,’ were high-fiving and patting each others backs with pride. Amazing work. I am hopefully doing a second workshop in a couple of weeks’ time – basket weaving!

workbench

We made that!

Speaking of basket weaving, I helped my friend Jon (aka Garden Man (apparently calling a man a boy is a negative thing so I am upgrading him)) run a weaving workshop at the Whitworth art gallery. I forced Jon to let me help him so that I can write an essay on it for my Creative Learning unit at uni. It was such fun working with families to weave giant balls of willow and it once again reinforced my desire to work in engagement programmes in art galleries. It is very reassuring that I continue to have this passion and excitement for galleries and museums and that I’m not completely sick of them. Maybe I really have picked the right degree!

willow

A ball o’ willow

And one final piece of news before I go and do some real work – I finally installed my pop-up exhibition in the glass case in the Samuel Alexander building at uni. I was given the project in December last year and it took me until March to install… oops. I like to say it was because I was developing my ideas but it was mostly because 1. I had essays to write, 2. the building was locked on weekends, 3. I am my father’s daughter. Anyway, it is an exhibition showcasing people’s Instagram images of Manchester. I am going to change the photographs over the next few weeks so that there are new images to look at. It didn’t turn out quite as I expected but it still looks surprisingly good considering. I am quite pleased.

#ISeeYouManchester

#ISeeYouManchester

Ok, really should go and write an essay now. Peace out, kids.

One Year Warning.

Monday, February 1st, 2016

Yesterday was the one year mark for how much longer I have in the UK until I am kicked out (again.) Although I have realised I have chosen an excellent year to buy myself a student visa as I get a BONUS DAY on the 29th February! Sure, I will be in Holland on that exact day, but still. I’m quite pleased about this extra time I managed to weasel out of the British Government. Ha! A win for Jess.

Being one of those people who likes to reflect a lot about such things, the one year count down mark is a tad scary and somewhat (extremely) depressing. However, my previous experience with such things suggests I should keep on keeping on and simply ‘see what happens’. You never know. I might suddenly decide that I should do a PhD and become a Doctor in something useless. At least that way when I introduce myself as “Doctor Jess” as I sometimes currently do I won’t be lying quite so much.

This is, however, extremely unlikely as I have zero desire to do this. Although I never wanted to do a Masters either and I’m currently LOVING IT. Perhaps I should start saying that I really don’t want to be director of the Whitworth Art Gallery. It would be the WORST. Gosh, I really hope that never happens. Particularly not in the next 365 days.

Medicine Cabinet (or when students are given a bunch of objects)

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

On my first day at school, I was put into a group with four other students who would become my exhibition team members. We were given a box of items from the Museum of Medicine and Health at the University of Manchester and told to create a pop-up exhibition. This all seemed quite exciting and do-able until I realised that the five other groups of students also had boxes and were also creating pop-up exhibitions that had to then come together to form THE ULTIMATE EXHIBITION. Yikes.

The next 12 weeks involved a lot of confusion, laughter, tears, horror, worry, frowning, and general “how the hell are we going to do this?”. Each group had objects somehow related to health and medicine – my group had medical art while others had surgical implements, items from a doctor’s bag or ‘alternative medicine’ devices. Somehow each group had to develop an exhibition that told the stories of their objects while also combining all of the exhibitions together to form one overall display. We were due to exhibit on 11 December at a building at Chetham’s School of Music. After a change of date and location, we were allowed to install on 12 December at a different building at Chetham’s Library, 1.5 hours before the exhibition opened.

exhibition

My group’s final exhibition

It was a close call but somehow, through what I can only describe as a ‘Christmas miracle’, we managed to install our exhibition and be ready for our first visitors at the 11am opening time. A second Christmas miracle occurred when Pubert Gladstone was one of the first to come through the door. REMARKABLE yet wonderful.

I was overwhelmed by how successful the final event was. We had over 200 visitors throughout the day despite it being one of the wettest Saturdays in Manchester this winter and it being hidden in the depths of the beautiful Chetham’s Library. It was such a privilege to be allowed to hold an exhibition in such a beautiful old building. If you ever have the chance to visit the library, do. It is incredible.

Chetham's library

Chetham’s Library (before the rain)

I had so many friends and family members come to check out my work despite me suggesting it was a bad idea. It was incredible to have such support. Thanks folks – muchos appreciatos.

I got a little teary at the end of it all when my lecturer, Kostas, congratulated us on having such a successful exhibition and it really was – we had all worked our butts off and somehow managed to create something that none of us believed was actually possible. We bonded as a class group and came away feeling quite pleased with ourselves.

But thank god it’s over. I never want to organise an exhibition with 35 other people without defined roles ever again. The end.

medicine cabinet

Final results of our interactive activity

The Christmas that was

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

A friend just asked me what my New Year resolutions are and I told him that I didn’t have any. I think this might be a slight lie. I always set resolutions, well aware that I won’t stick to them. But I need something to work towards and challenge myself with. I’m not entirely sure what they are yet (although reducing my sugar intake from its current excessive heights is definitely up there) but I know I want to return to writing more on my blog. I have been neglecting it lately and now that I have two large essays to write I find myself drawn back to the safety of my own personal writing. So much easier than scary academia.

December has been a crazy month – I spent a lot of it laughing/crying hysterically and pulling on my hair whenever someone asked me how I was. A lot of people had to put up with a manic Jess as I went a little bit nuts working on a group exhibition for uni. Thirty five people attempting to organise one exhibition does not make for relaxed times but the end result was surprisingly great. I will write about this in a separate post a little later.

exhibition

Proof that I am learning stuff.

I also had a written group assignment to put together, plus two other large essays looming. They’re still looming. Really. Need. To. Write. Them.

Plus paid writing work has been flowing in steadily which has kept me fed and housed. It has been lovely that so many of my clients have been willing to stick with me as I country hopped over the last few months. Being able to juggle university and paid writing work has been life saving. I don’t think I could handle a ‘real job’ at the moment.

And then there was Christmas. Once again, Jess McScrooge came out and I managed to avoid the Christmas markets until the final day when I stocked up on my favourite dutch almond slice. I am exceptionally lucky to have some exceptionally welcoming family members in this country and was invited to spend Christmas with them. It was a small and relaxed gathering (well, relaxed for me because I didn’t have to do anything!) with plenty of delicious food and a mulled wine or two.

On Boxing Day we went for a windy walk up Bosley Cloud, somehow managing to avoid the rain. We ate fruit mince pies at the top, a feat that required two hands in order to stop the wind from steal our pastry crumbs.

mince pie at Bosley Cloud

Pie and a view.

I had another large family gathering yesterday at another cousin’s house and it has reminded me of how fortunate I am to have such a great family around. Sure, they may all be a bunch of oddballs, but who isn’t? Much laughter was had. They’re a good bunch.

Now New Years approaches. I’m quite excited to see what 2016 brings – I already know it will be challenging as a dissertation awaits. If anyone has any thoughts on what I should write about, please let me know because I currently have no idea. Thanks.

Two-month-iversary

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

Today I have been back in Manchester for two months which currently seems like the longest two months in the history of time. So much has happened in those 60-something days that it feels like I have really been here for at least a year.

Things are settling down nicely now – I have steady work, uni is really great, I’ve been going out lots and continuing to have many adventures. Fun times!

University of Manchester

Blue skies at the University of Manchester

Last night my housemate, Alice, and I went to the Royal Exchange to see the latest show, Pomona. It is a dark and gritty tale about an underworld that exists beneath Manchester and an abandoned plot of land called Pomona. This area actually exists and I used to run past it when I went along the canal towpath, and I wouldn’t be all that surprised if organ harvesting really was happening underneath there. Anyway, it was a great night of theatre and if you like swear words, sexual references and a bit of blood and gore then this is the show for you!

On the weekend I went for a walk in Delamere Forest in Cheshire with Garden Boy (Jon) to make the most of the autumn colours and to forage for mushrooms. The trees are incredible at the moment although some recent rain has meant the footpaths are now covered in very soggy leaves that are making their way through the soles of my boots (because, of course, yet another pair of my shoes now have holes in the bottom of them. Bah.) It was nice to get out of the city and wander through some woods, although I did keep pointing out to Jon that this supposed “escape from the city” did include seeing lots of other people and hearing the motorway. We also didn’t find any mushrooms which I entirely blame Jon for. Calls himself a Garden Boy…

Delamere forest

All the pretty leaves.

And in other news, I have signed up for the Manchester Marathon in April next year. Oops.

The Socially Irresponsible Adventures of Jess Continue

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

Did you know that one in every 50 to 100 million lobsters are born with ‘split cells’ – the cell in the egg splits in two and one half of the body is formed from one cell and the other half from the other. This means that half of the lobster can be bright orange and female while the other side is black and male. Pretty cool.

This is Sir Pubert Gladstone’s current ‘Favourite Fact’ and each time he tells his slightly exaggerated version I can’t help but feel somewhat connected with how these lobsters must feel. The left half wants to build a home, settle down, have friends over for dinner and make lots of lobster babies, while their crazy right side wants to explore the seabed, try new algae and see what’s happening on the other side of the ocean.

I have spent the last four years letting my ‘Crazy Right’ take control – moving to Paris, refusing to leave, and then deciding that a sojourn in Manchester was a better option than going home. My left side has accepted this right sided dominance by simply insisting on having a nice apartment to come back to and, lately, a form of employment (sort of). While I love the adventure and excitement of discovering new places, I don’t particularly enjoy change, I hate the unknown and I would really, really like to know what I am doing with my life. Ha.

A year or so ago, I was quite sure that my country hopping was coming to an end and that the sunshine and warmth of the great southern land was calling me home. Around this time I recall telling my friends that I thought I would be heading back to Australia but if they asked me again in six months time I would most likely be working out how to stay. How correct I was! As the end of my time in England drew dramatically closer and the more I thought about leaving, the more I wanted to chain myself to a lamp post outside the Manchester Town Hall.

And so I have spent the last few months working out how to stay or at least return in the near future. My only feasible option, that doesn’t involve breaking the law, is to become a student. Luckily, my extreme dissatisfaction with my current lack of career path and the fact that I don’t actually want to be a copywriter for the rest of my life (ooh, controversial) has meant that I have been contemplating a change of direction for some time (since about 2009 to be specific.). What appropriate timing! So I sent in an application to study at the University of Manchester and then sat back and waited to hear if I had been accepted.

And yesterday, I heard back.

Good news, kids – I, Jessica Davies, will be returning to Manchester in September to study a Masters in Art Gallery and Museum Studies. This is, of course, unless the UK Home Office comes up with some ridiculous new visa law preventing Australians from completing educations in England and paying exorbitant amounts of money to do so.

So the Socially Irresponsible Adventures of Jess continue. In this episode we will watch as Jess, having turned the ripe old age of 30, returns to university to start an entirely new line of career. Not only will she not have any money, she will also be even further away from the more acceptable life path of ‘husband/children/white picket fence/promotion to senior management’ that one would expect of a 30 year old. Her most valuable possession will be her suitcase and even that was given to her by her parents.

Now all I have to do is go back to Australia, wait for a few months, and come back to hang out with people half my age. I’m somewhat disappointed that I will not be allowed to complain about the influx of students in Manchester in September as I will be one of them. I will try and be less annoying though.

Weather Update

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Word on the street is that it is cold – and I concur. Last week, it was with great pain and general disgruntlement that I put on my winter coat for the first time. I hate admitting that it is cold but chilly winds had made the temperature drop from a balmy 12 degrees to a knuckle-reddening 4. This morning on my run, I went past the SUPER ELECTRONIC signage outside Manchester University on which, through the wonders of technology, it announces the time, date and temperature in a rotating sequence. It was 1.8 degrees Celcius and my wet nose and numb hands believed this to be accurate. It was also the first morning where I almost lost my balance as I ran onto invisible ice. Damn invisible ice… It is very tricky to see. Probably because it is invisible to eyes that are watering due to cold winds blowing into them.

I am currently sitting on my own in my office space avoiding going home. It is raining outside and I don’t really wish to get wet. I have had an unusually productive day considering last week I spent 60 per cent of my time procrastinating and the other 40 per cent eating. Today I went for a run, had a meeting, did some work, payed bills, did some more work, and started writing a hopefully convincing description of why I should be allowed to study a masters degree next year. Does anyone enjoy writing about themselves? I certainly don’t, particularly when I need to explain why I have spent the last four years of my life avoiding responsibility and career paths. Being a travelling nomad sounds romantic and fun but it isn’t academically sound. No one really believes in the School of Life, except for perhaps myself and my dad.

I have no exciting adventures to write about this week as the weekend involved a lot of cooking and the painting of skirting boards at Sir Pubert’s ‘Renovator’s delight’ house. That was fun as it involved a visit to an even bigger B&Q and we went to the Tameside Environment Centre, a poetic name for the rubbish tip. Another highlight of Greater Manchester for me to tick off my list of ‘must visit’s.

Ok. Enough blabbering. It’s time to go home.