Saturday, 7 February 2009

Personality Test : Signal Patterns

So I took a personality test I saw at VWXYNot?. Its from Signal Patterns. I like this because of the cool picture it generates and it is the most accurate test I have ever taken. It picks up on research, travel and reading. I'm not sure I'm that volatile though (or maybe that's what writing up does to you).

You are in touch with your emotions, and sometimes you react before you think. The good news: you don't tamp down your feelings. The bad news: you sometimes say or do things that you later wish you could take back.

You do not live your life on an even keel; you do not go for long periods without experiencing some mood swings.

You enjoy teamwork, play well with others, and prefer getting along to winning.

You're not compelled to win every contest nor to be right all the time.

You appreciate art, beauty, and design; you know that they are not superficial but absolutely crucial to living the good life. You have good taste, and you're proud of it.

You don't think it's pretentious to be moved by art and beauty. You're not one of those who believe it doesn't matter what something looks like as long as it does its job.

Those with a high score on the "aesthetic" trait are often employed in literary or artistic professions, enjoy domestic activities — doing things around the house — and are enthusiastic about the arts, reading, and travel.

You are comfortable in your own skin and don't need to throw your weight around. You'll often choose to be the one who is told what to do rather than the one who's doing the telling, and you sometimes avoid confrontations even if it means that you won't get your way.

You aren't interested in making others bend to your will or in always dishing out criticism. You're not a pushy person, and you like it that way.


You go with the flow when it comes to your emotions. Whether you're happy or sad, you show it, and when something upsets you, or you're feeling stressed out, those around you will know it right away.

You are not necessarily the one person in any group who can be depended on to stay calm, cool, and collected in a crisis; you aren't known for keeping your emotions under wraps.

You are good at solving problems, coming up with original ideas, and seeing connections between things, connections that most other people miss.

You do not shun abstractions and concepts in favor of the concrete and tangible.

People with a high score on the "creative" trait often are employed in such fields as finance and scientific research, and enjoy avant garde and classical music as well as literary fiction and scholarly non-fiction.

You strive to master everything you undertake. You tend to learn quickly and do not shy away from challenges.

You are not a "que sera sera" type of person, nor do you go easy on yourself when attempting to master a new skill or get a job done.

You are thoughtful, rational, and comfortable in the world of ideas. People find you interesting to talk to. You're the living embodiment of the saying "You learn something new every day."

You do not avoid abstract conversation, experimenting with new ideas, or studying new things. It bores you to stick to the straight and narrow of what you already know.

In general, those with a high score on the "intellectual" trait are employed in such fields as teaching and research, and are enthusiastic about reading, foreign films, and classical music.

You have a knack for knowing what's going on in the hearts and minds of those around you, without their having to tell you explicitly. People tend to turn to you with their problems because they know you care, and that you will likely offer good advice and a helping hand.

You do not feel that people with sad stories are just looking for attention, or have brought their problems upon themselves.

Stressed Out
You often feel that there's too much on your plate, that you don't have the strength to deal with the bad hand you've been dealt, or that you're going to lose it if you have to deal with one more problem.

You don't always bounce back quickly from adversity; sometimes when you get bad news it can hang over you for a long time.

Friday, 6 February 2009

PhD advice

I received an email the other day from a friend. She is currently doing voluntary work abroad but thinks she may want to do a PhD when she gets back. She sent me an email asking me about my experiences and how to get started on the application process. We're fairly close so I was brutally honest about my experiences, it made me reflect on my experiences and what I wish I'd known when I started. Excerpts below are edited high/lowlights.

I summarised the finding somewhere to do the PhD as decide on topic - find suitable supervisor - this finds your university for you...

Bear in mind that a lot of the below is fairly standard for social sciences/humanities but probably reflects my experiences (both good and bad). I'm also very aware that I ended up in one of the most sociable geography departments in the country and there's no way the experience would have been as good without the amazing people I've met along the way and shared an office with (as reflected in my current PhD acknowledgements!). Also I am in the final stages and am sick of writing up so any negativity has to be taken with a pinch of salt. The other thing is that I was offered my PhD place along with the job (with the department paying for my tuition fees) which was enough to make me turn down the PGCE course place I had (and I can always go back). Having said that one of the reasons I didn't want to do a PhD originally (despite attempts from various lecturers) was partially the funding issue and the relationship I was in at the start of my final year (but thats a whole other story). I've also been fairly honest about my experiences to temper the good with the bad, some of it may be TMI but its mainly around things I knew before I started.

Would I do it again? definitely yes everyone I know reckons that I would have ended up doing one even if it had been in education!

Despite my current trials and tribulations I would never not start on my PhD, the chance to do my research, work in the field, disseminate, go to conferences, do some teaching. You never get a better opportunity to work on something you choose (within limits, see funding stuff below) for three odd years at a time. I'm a total geek and its given me more confidence than ever (despite still having imposter syndrome), partially because you get to work in with a bunch of people as into the subject as me and therefore its perfectly acceptable to talk about subject related stuff in the pub or something vaguely related. There is no other experience (and taking into account this is my weird post-doc as a pre-doc research position) that I could have done that gave me the opportunity to research, travel, teach, convene a fairly high profile conference session, be a scientific secretary as part of the 3rd largest division of a European Science Organisation, meet some amazing people, talk to farmers in the field one day and government advisors the next and learn how to administer a research grant (and discover that organising academics is worse than the UL at peal weekend, something I never thought that would be surpassed!).

Something I wish I'd considered more before I started is why I was doing a PhD, as soon as I figured that out it meant I was more focused. For me the reason I do my PhD at the moment (and to be honest the reason I didn't walk away in the last couple of months, which have been really really hard, how hard very few people know about) is that it is a passport, if (and hopefully when) I get a job in the USA the fact I have a PhD means its easier to get a visa (by definition you are the only person in the world skilled in that subject). However, this is the main reason at the moment the thing that got me into it was the chance to research the thing I'd got interested in as an undergrad, but couldn't get further without lab work (which is $$$ per sample), other reasons include the fact you need a PhD to lecture and stay in academia, another slightly amusing (to me) reason is the chance to get rid of a title that identifies me as female straight off. I want to go into academia as I don't want to do just research or just teaching and in theory it will be fairly adaptable for when I settle down and start a family.

How many other students and who you know in a place is an important consideration, its so useful to have a support network outside of uni to escape sometimes. Ringing is perfect for this but its a consideration if trying to decide between places.

Something that people gloss over a bit is the emotional side of doing the PhD. It is lonely, by definition its all your work, you are the only one who can do it and the only person responsible for writing it (I also have a problem writing for myself, if its work its fine and easy to do). Its tough on relationships (romantic and friendships) as its hard to explain to someone who doesn't fully know whats going on why its so involved and time consuming at the same time you can't survive without these friendships. If you get through the final stages of writing up a PhD its a friendship for life! Things external to the PhD seem to have hit me harder than they would have done otherwise but at the same time I know what I want more and am less prepared to compromise on what I want out of life.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

25 Random things about me meme

Rules: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

(To do this, go to "notes" under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.)

1. I have been in education since I was 4, and when I finally get my thesis I'm planning on staying in academia for as long as possible.

2. I had the same bedroom from when I was born until I went to university.

3. In an ideal world when I eventually have children I'd love to be able to stay home with them for as long as possible (both made harder and easier by #1)

4. I read everything and anything, books, magazines, backs of cereal packets.

5. I was baptised in the United Reformed Church (to parents from with methodist and Church of Scotland/Church in Wales backgrounds), chose to get confirmed in the Anglican/Episcopalian church, and have attended Church of England and Methodist churches since.At and since uni I've never deliberately looked for a CofE church, just a church where the preaching is good and I felt comfortable.

6. I didn't wear own a skirt that came above my knee until I was 22.

7. I would love to work on a short research contract in Antartica.

8. I adore travelling, I like flying and long train journeys, taking the boat and going to new places. I get this from my Dad.

9. My parents brought us up as far away from the sea as possible but took us there practically every holiday. Consequently being by the sea is one of my favourite places.

10. Places I have lived for over one month: Earls Barton, London, New Jersey, Wellingborough, Lusaka.

11. Cities I wouldn't mind living in: Philly, LA, Denver, Portland, Seattle, Exeter, San Francisco.

12. In sixth form when I was stressed I used to bake gingerbread men.

13. My new year's resolution for this year was to cook a new recipe once a week, I'm managing to do this more than half the time.

14. I have been on been on BBC World Service (in Spanish).

15. I prefer driving on country roads to motorways.

16. I adore thunderstorms.

17. I have a habit of finding good accommodation online.

18. I'm a nightowl and am allergic to mornings.

19. I was nicknamed "Staircase Mum" in my first year at university in halls.

20. I have/do play the recorder (descant&treble), flute, cello, piano, sing and used to compose.

21. I want to learn Hebrew.

22. I love to watch films and will watch pretty much anything within reason.

23. I can survive a day without coffee, but a latte or very milky coffee is generally the closest I get to breakfast.

24. My favourite meme is the five things meme (what you were doing 10 years ago, to do list, snacks I love, if I was a millionnaire, places I've lived, jobs I've had).

25. My Mum says I was born in the wrong climatic zone, I love heat and sun and am not a fan of damp, grey days.