Tiddley-Bits tea

Tiddley-Bits tea

Friday, 26 September 2014

{London reflections}

{The Courtauld, pic taken in 2005}

I was going through old passports the other day and stumbled upon one I had 10 years ago. I noticed my entry into the UK was exactly 10 years ago--28 September 2004. On that day, I moved to London to pursue my MA at the Courtauld Institute of Art. I was a young and enthusiastic art historian with my future ahead of me--determined to pursue this passion of mine. I was overcome by a sheer desire to learn and, most importantly, I was fulfilling a dream of attending the only institution in the world dedicated solely to the history of art. Drunk on the pursuit of knowledge, excited to return to the country of my forefathers, and eager to learn all that there was to learn about art, I had high hopes and high dreams, that would--at one point--become burdensome goals that I felt I had to live up to.
10 years later, it's amazing to think that I'm living back in London, and am now the Chair of the Art History MA in my department!

These 10 years have certainly had their ups and downs. The best year of my life was probably the year at the Courtauld (including meeting my best friend for life), although I have never worked so hard or been so challenged in such a short span of time. Any of my fellow Courtauld alumns who have experienced the Courtauld MA will certainly agree.
I have lived in four different cities between then and now (not including London), finished a PhD, worked at four different institutions in three different countries, but I am happy to say that I've landed just where I wanted to be. The PhD process is one in which there are numerous trials. If not during the PhD, then the aftermath of trying to find a job after achieving it. It's a journey that most bright-eyed excitable MAs are unaware of when they venture onto the postgraduate road. Read any higher education society's blog or website and you'll find numerous articles complaining about the lack of jobs in academia and the gruesome job market (including the more gruesome interview processes)--there's usually an ongoing discussion of these themes over in the news section at CAA (for Art History). There are a lot of negatives to focus on and the road here for me certainly wasn't the one I had anticipated--finishing a PhD during the economic downturn wasn't great timing, but I learned a lot and I think my former self would be fairly happy with where I've turned up! Indeed, I think everyday how lucky I am to do something that I love and to have the freedom to express my ideas in a number of creative ways (even though the peer-review process is rather horrible!)
{me and my best friend on MA graduation day at the Courtauld 2005 (the nude statue behind us is just so perfect!}}

Any of you who have been to Somerset House, where the Courtauld is housed, will know it's a pretty stunning place to study. For those of you who have not been to Somerset House, you surely have been introduced to it in film: the site of numerous romantic moments (Love Actually) (& in particular  Somerset House ice rink is usually the backdrop to Christmassy romantic comedies), but it's also often used in various historic films such as The Duchess...and of course in more recent years, it regularly appears as the background to fashionista poses, as one of the sites of London Fashion Week.
{Courtauld/Somerset House courtyard, 2014}

{celebrating MA graduation 2005}

So, to my former self: thanks for pursuing your dreams and trying--if I hadn't gone to the Courtauld, I'm not sure how my life would have turned out. If I hadn't had the urge to dream a little and see if I could push myself to grow, learn, and spread my wings, I certainly wouldn't be where I am now. Let this be a lesson to my future self!
keep on dreaming & setting goals!

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