Although it Remains ‘Unconfirmed’, Signs Point to Me Being An Awesome Person

To You,

Just a brief little list of things I wish to present to you at this moment:

1. I’m Canadian. I always like to start with this because it resonates my awesomeness. πŸ˜‰

2. I have studied in two different countries apart from my own.

3. I moved to the Indiana, USA when I was 18 to pursue my Bachelors in Athletic Training. Indiana was a state that I probably could not have located on a map beforehand. I thought Texas was within relative proximity to Florida. Yes, I am a dunce.

4. I moved to London, UK when I was 19 on my lonesome to take time to avoid the mundane academic curriculum.

5. I moved back to Indiana to officially seek out my Bachelor’s degree in 2007.

6. I enrolled in the Fine Arts Photography program at my university in 2008.

7. Up until 2008 I had never seen a darkroom before. Nor did I know the names of any credible artists in the photography field.

8. I graduated with my Bachelor in Fine Arts Photography being recognized as a top 5 in my class by professors.

9. I applied to 3 schools in England for my Master’s degree.

10. I got accepted into 2 programs at my top choice, Durham University.

11. Being the idiot that I am, I accepted a position in the MA in International Studies program in Durham’s prestigious School of Government and International Affairs department.

12. I’m an idiot because I had never taken a course in politics in my life. I avoided it in high school, and had never read Marxist theory nor any other political theory up to my first week of classes in a Master’s program.

13. Twice in my life I have pursued degrees of which I had next to no experience in. Seriously. No exaggeration. Really no knowledge at all.

14. Pursuing studies in political theory at Durham University was one of the most difficult challenges I have taken on.

15. You should also know that I’m not a natural ‘book smart’ individual. I merely have an interest to push my brain to ‘know’.

16. I sometimes use words not fully knowing what they mean, but because I like the sound of them. See. Not book smart.

17. I have a Pembroke Welsh Corgi named Emma Bear Tugboat Ein Son. I just thought that was worth noting.

18. Although unconfirmed, I have received my dissertation mark and I will soon be awarded with my Master of Arts in International Studies from Durham University, and no one will ever truly understand how mentally demanding the past few years of my life have been and thus how truly proud of myself that I am.

19. I can pinpoint Texas AND Florida on a map correctly. And Indiana. I’ve come a long way. πŸ™‚

Love from, Vic Louise xoxoxo


It’s Been a Long Week. Here Are Some Pics In Lieu of Words For Now.

Β Durham City from Wharton Park

Durham City from Wharton Park

A 6-year gap reunion!

Best friends since the mid-90's, we met up after 6-years of no visits :o) Now, she in Oxford, me in Durham, and not an ounce of cool between us.

Out for lunch in Durham with Oliver

Out for lunch in Durham with Oliver

Out for lunch in Durham with Oliver

Out for lunch in Durham with Oliver

Durham City Market

Durham City Market

Durham Food Festival

Durham Food Festival

Durham Food Festival

Paella... lots and lots of Paella

Baltic Contemporary Art Centre - Turner Prize Exhibition

Baltic Contemporary Art Centre - Turner Prize Exhibition

A brief note To You,

As mentioned, its been a long week. From last Saturday to today, what has occurred is the following: a weekend visit from my brother simultaneously added with a rendez-vous between best friends whom hadn’t seen each other in over six years also referred to as the Epic Reunion of Ariana (me) and Karazlactim (G); 2 full days working on my feet for the Durham University Careers Fair; 2 days of modules; 3 job interviews with 1 offer and 2 call-backs; a trip to Newcastle to apply for my National Insurance Number and a check-in at the Turner Prize 2011 exhibitions; a lecture through my department with David Mepham, the Director for Human Rights in the United Kingdom; and a lecture with David Miliband, MP for South Shields. Brilliant week, but a long one. Hope the photos suffice for now as I must run, because I’ve a bun in the oven – literally.. I’m baking bread as we speak… the metaphoric translation would make this a rather busy week with loads more gossip to share than I care for at the moment.


Love from, Vic Louise xoxoxo

From Art Student to International Affairs Student, the Question Lies: Why did I do this to myself?

To you,

Classes/Modules have officially commenced and my, does it take some getting used to. I’m feeling at least somewhat reassuredΒ  concerning my new grade of being a Masters student. In all honesty, I never even considered doing a postgraduate programme until last summer, and from there I somehow ended up with the interest to apply to programmes completely outside of my field being that of fine arts. I’m not really sure as to how I arrived here in the School of Government and International Affairs, but I am rather enthused with the new challenges ahead of me. To begin, my reading list. People warn you about the excess reading of which differs from a rather light load that one becomes accustomed to in their undergraduate studies, but no one was able to warn me that I would have no idea as to what I was reading. I’ve been reading art history and art theory for the past 3 years, and a good level of it, but by no means overwhelming. And now, I’m catching up on the light reads of Talal Asad’s views on the influence of European and North American practices in regards to the political formations of secularism, and the ever so whimsical talks of globalization within social science contexts by Arturo Escobar. I thought Roland Barthes and the Camera Lucida were challenging reads – at least I knew the subject matter! It’s all daunting to say the least, but I think I’ll get the hang of it. Thus far my reading list has exceeded the amount of hours in a day, and it is most definitely one of my biggest transitions to make from my undergraduate studies of fine arts and studio practice to my postgraduate degree of politics, religion, and globalization. On Monday afternoon, I ventured to my College’s (The Castle) M.C.R or fully know as the Middle Common Room, a space allocated for postgraduate members of the College only, to try and do some reading before realizing I was in desperate need of a latte and so headed to Cafe Nero to continue on. I think I’ll end up doing this often, because coffee is my friend.

My weekly reading list for week 2

My weekly reading list for week 2

When I went to the book store to purchase some supplies for school, I realized that I was no longer doing just that – there were no ‘supplies’ to purchase. Just books, and some notebooks. I’ve also come to realize the true training of art school of which it has provided many talents. Thanks to my semesters of hauling the little drawing and paint toolbox and the massive drawing portfolio whilst the winds blew the portfolio like a kite waiting to take sail as you tried to walk from one side of the street to the other without A) losing your portfolio to the wind gods, and B) without ending up with car bumper indentations all over your body. I’ve now realized the reason for why these classes were necessary, because now I can carry my school bag flung over my shoulder, whilst carrying bundles of groceries spanning across my torso appendages, while walking up a hill to then fiddle with your keys to open your ancient British door to your home. Thank you, Drawing 101. Thank YOU. But in all seriousness, its an odd feeling. I’m not going to lie, after purchasing my school books and stationary (sounds boring to you, but I LOVE stationary shops!), I bought a box of fatty crayons and markers. I refused to conform to my new ‘supplies’ list of which normal postgraduate students require. I need crayons, dammit!

Going back to the schedule adjustment. I feel as though no one prepared me for the way schools such as Durham University manage their syllabi. My Michaelmas Term (October – December) consists of this scheduling outline:

MONDAY – Zippo.
TUESDAY – Research Methods and Dissertation Production, 11AM-12PM (first 3 weeks only); on occasion, International Systems Seminar
THURSDAY – Religion and Globalization (alternates between 2 hour lectures and 1 hour tutorials) 11AM-1PM; International Systems Lecture 1PM-2PM; Religion, Ethnicity and Otherness (Modern Languages and Cultures department) 4pm-6pm
FRIDAY – Zilch.

And there you have it. Three whole days off. No classes before 11AM. No evening courses. Mind you, this time will be heavily filled with my course readings, and essay prep. When the Michaelmas Term has finished, I am off until January 16th when I commence the Epiphany Term which continues through to mid March. After this, I am pretty much done. My dissertation is due September 7th and I’ll return the following summer to graduate with my Masters Degree. Part of my reasoning for choosing Durham was due to their scheduling differences to North America. I actually enjoy the intensity, but as I mentioned earlier, it is highly confusing.

Anyways, I’ll end here. Because. Well. I told you. I have a sh*t load of readings to decipher.

Hope all is well, and I look forward to writing again soon :o)

Love from, Vic Louise xoxoxo

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! I Be-ith Matriculated! (However An English Major, I am not)

To you,

So today was the day of all things formal and official. I started my day off lovely lovely πŸ™‚ After some tea and breakie, I ventured to the Sports Fair where I signed up to learn about a few of the clubs and societies – all very exciting as I am a nerd and wanting to get involved wherever I am able to. After such business, I came back to me flat and got all gussied up for the official Durham Postgraduate Matriculation Ceremony, something of which being from North America, I am very unfamiliar with. At 12:15PM I walked down and up the cobble stone roads (please don’t think this would deter me from wearing my 3″ heels) over to the Castle where a few members were gathered in the M.C.R (Middle Common Room) and there I collected my black gown to wear for the ceremony. After chit chatting, we walked through to the courtyard with winds diminishing everyone’s appearance as neatly pleated dresses became creased, and carefully set hair-dos became tangled manes. Eventually, we lined up together and were setup on the Castle’s steps where our photo was taken as the official 2011 Postgraduate entries within the University College membership. Shortly afterwards, we all marched into the Cathedral, something of which is a grand sight in itself. Reputed as one of the greatest cathedral’s in the world, it did live up to the standard such a title would hold. As I was seated, I was amazed at the size of the Postgraduate class of Durham’s student population, as we easily filled the Cathedral. The Castle’s graduate student population was in itself at around 150 students, which is their largest class yet. Quite impressive, really.

All in all, I think today was a true introduction as to the culture and atmosphere of Durham University. Something of which I am highly appreciative of is the tradition of community supported organizations. For instance, when I use the term ‘College’, this basically is an organization of sorts of which you have chosen to be affiliated with as a permanent member. You have access to this building’s societies, facilities, and events, and are joined by undergraduates and postgraduates of all departments. Durham, Cambridge, and Oxford are traditionally known for these types of settings, and I actually really enjoy it! Not only am I a member of the Castle (yes, it is an actual Castle), but I can affiliate myself with students of all study backgrounds rather than just my department of Government and International Affairs. In addition to being introduced to the College setting, the Matriculation Ceremony in itself is highly formal. All the men wore suits and ties, and the ladies, dresses and blouses. The Deans of the Cathedral and of the University made speeches, and as the ceremony ended, it was officially announced that “the postgraduate Matriculation ceremony of 2011 has concluded.” Again, the Matriculation tradition is mainly known through Cambridge, Oxford, and Durham universities being the three oldest universities in the United Kingdom, and all holding very high standards. Coming from North America, this was definitely an eye-opener and wonderful cultural introduction to the history of the area and university itself. In the evening, a nice dinner Social was held at the Castle of which I ate, drank some juice, and stood wide-eyed at the ancient structure of the rooms and hallways.

So there you have it – no trips, a few giggles, and my seat almost collapsing underneath of me during the ceremony. Oh, and a slight choking on my food at dinner. Nothing out of the ordinary for me, really! Tomorrow, I get to ask a few questions regarding registration and perhaps attend some athletics in the evening time. Will update again shortly, but for tonight I am spent! A full day of official Postgraduate events has got me knackered out!

Night night!

Love from, Vic Louise xoxoxo

Poised and Confused. And Grinning Like a Dunce.

To you,

Today I was officially introduced to the Durham University Campus. Another alarm at 7:00AM this morning to get my day started. For breakfast – 3 Wheatabix bricks, 2 pieces of toast with Nutella, and a cup of tea smoothed out with a touch of milk. Then at 8:45AM I was out the door, and walking through the city marketplace, through the narrow cobble stoned streets, and then followed the solid tide of fellow Durham newbies through campus to the lecture hall. At 9:15AM, I was in my seat sitting amongst fellow Master of Art students within the School of Government and International Affairs and being introduced to the department heads.

I sat there with an assured smile, for what I’d come to realize is how comfortable, and at peace I am… with the fact that I am almost always utterly lost, confused, and really having no clue as to what I’m doing. I felt at home. Relaxed. Ahhhhh, normalcy. Most people would be worried. Scared, even. No, not me. I embrace it. My smile was a “Wow. I most certainly don’t have a f*cking clue. But I am excited” smile. Yep. Haven’t changed a bit. πŸ™‚

My terms – confusing. My schedule – undiscovered science. My excitement – frighteningly giddy. The department heads all seem rather sweet, passionate, and helpful. I think that’s something about the Master’s programme in general that I find myself enjoying – the interest in students and getting to know them.

Following the lecture in the morning and a two hour lunch break, we toured the library and met the resource staff. The SGIA resource librarian seemed a nice man, small, and greeted us with a wide eyed smile and very enthusiastic wave. I almost returned with a similar wave, but figured the staff and students would think me mocking him.

But yes, from 9AM through 4:30PM I was being introduced to the next year of my life. And I still have no clue as to what that entails. But who doesn’t love a mystery, eh?!

Tomorrow, things become official. At 2:00PM I have my Matriculation ceremony at the historic Cathedral in the Palace Green, which basically means an official welcoming of being a Master’s student at Durham University. We wear black robes, formal attire, and march through the cathedral with our affiliated Colleges, of which mine is the Castle. I’m sure I will have stories to tell tomorrow post-ceremony. Probably of me tripping, or laughing inappropriately. Ya know – the norm. πŸ™‚

Until then – good night!

Love from, Vic Louise xoxoxo