I wake up at around 6.45 am (if I’m succeeding at being very keen) to start getting ready for the day. I get up that early because I’ve got four kids, and usually at least two, the youngest two, are just getting up as I’m packing my things to leave for the University. I’ll feed the kids that are awake, and maybe do a ponytail or two to help my husband who will be making sure all four are in uniforms, lunches packed, and out the door for school. Meanwhile, I will hop on my bike and start my 25 minute ride into Durham. Luckily it’s downhill on the morning commute, and it is very, very beautiful, especially if I take the foot/cycle-path that leads down by the river Wear, with glimpses of rolling hills and then the Cathedral rising into view on its hill. Durham is a very walk-able city and public transport is pretty good as well, so there are lots of affordable options for students. I like cycling because I get some exercise and can feel a bit less like a lump – since most of postgrad life is researching and writing, that is, sitting, sitting, sitting.
My study desk is located in a building adjoining the Theology Department; basically right next to the Cathedral. When I look up from my books and my screen, I see the Cathedral’s northern and eastern walls, and I feel so thankful to be studying here. When I arrive at my office, I make a GIANT cup of tea and catch up with other PhD colleagues who share the study space, then I crack open my books or work on a piece of writing. I may also do a bit of language work, translating lines of the Church Fathers that I’m researching, or prep for seminars that I will be leading as a TA.
Before lunch I sometimes go for a quick run along the path that follows the curve of the river Wear around the peninsula, just to get blood flowing and to shake up my sitting-routine. Then it’s lunchtime. My office mates usually break for lunch together, but some will stay and work if they’re in the throws of inspiration or chasing a deadline. I’ve got colleagues in my office from the UK, America, Australia and Ethiopia, and there’s me, the Canadian. Our comradely is priceless.
I work the rest of the afternoon and leave at around 4:30pm so that I can be home with my husband and kids. Each of my colleagues have different schedules that suit their lives and their work. Some come in earlier, some come in later and leave later in the evening, some work from home for periods, some meet together and do their work at a local pub every now and then, some have field-work associated with their projects. When I head home, I switch from doctoral-me to ‘mom,’ and as any working/studying-parent will tell you, the coexistence and transition between those two roles is an interesting experience. I help my husband finish dinner prep and tell him some of the things I’ve been reading, or I recount the best theology jokes that were crafted in the lunch room, and then we all have our family dinner together. I spend the next few hours helping kids with homework and wrangling kids into bed. Then I get a few quiet moments with the husband, maybe a cuppa, then it’s off to bed so I can do it all over again!
For more information about postgraduate study at Durham please go to www.durham.ac.uk/study/pg.
Order your postgraduate prospectus here.
Hanna took a break from her studies to take part in our postgraduate film Beat the Drum at Durham – you can watch it below: