Things they should tell you before doing a Masters

  • You need the mental strength of a buffalo. Wait, no, that’s physical strength. The mental strength of a guy walking across fire coals whilst wearing underwear made out of cacti. That might be more appropriate.
  • No matter how much you plan – NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU PLAN – you will submit your work a minute late with missing references.
  • Re above point, you will know you can do better and want to jump up and down like a two year old denied ice cream due to the frustration of not demonstrating your potential.
  • Imposter syndrome eats you up.
  • Panic paralysis pins you down.

Today, I am not recommending doing a Masters to anyone.

  • Oh what’s that, you ask, another deadline due in less than 24 hours? Oh goody.

Now is the worst time

Now is the worst time to be writing a reflexive piece about my course because I have a double-deadline tomorrow (assessment and PhD application) and I have gone into a state of panic. I should be using this precious, precious time to focus on my assessment to the point of completion and then try to get the PhD stuff done (but it is not the end of the world if that doesn’t happen). Instead, my essay is just words on a page with no meaning or flow and very little supporting evidence. I can’t get my mind to go any further than ‘GET ON WITH IT’. A quite ironic command. My head feels like it’s full with a sponge and the rest of me is slightly nauseous. Not very useful. I can’t remember how to get my brain to be useful. Oh yeah, breathe. I do not want to pull an all-nighter. No sir, not one bit.

Okay, so what to do. Breathing, yes. Cut off distractions – done. What else? Cup of tea duly brought in by mum!

So in regards to the assessment, I am definitely up to the word count so it’s a game of editing and finding references for points as quickly as possible. I also need to add more to the comparison part of the essay, but could do that as I go so the points in the first half are balanced in the second half. I have literally switched off my phone and tablet and I might clear everything from my desk so nothing visual distracts me, either. It might also be good to get rid of all form of ‘notes’, in the sense that I have a few word documents and OneNote open which make me think that there is something else I have missed or need to add. The final thing to do is chop things down into really small tasks. Or sprints as my man would say.

Step 1: Make sure the first and last lines of paras are clear and punchy, and flow on from/to the next para.
Edit Step 1a: Examine all remaining ‘notes’ then close these documents.
Step 2: Rearrange paras if the flow isn’t working.
Step 3: Remove anything “minor”.
Step 4: Read through from the top and delete unnecessary words.
Step 5: Add points to analysis section from Andrew’s recommendation.
Step 6: Read it aloud to check flow again.
Step 7: Check word count and re-edit if need be.
Step 8: Make sure each para has at least two references in it (LOL).
Step 9: Final word count check.
Step 10: Send to Andrew for feedback.
Edit Step 11: References.

Ah man, I hope this works…


I loved high school maths. I got a B for Maths at A Level. During my undergraduate, I was one of the students who felt comfortable in the research methods modules. But NOW, I don’t remember a damn thing and nothing makes sense to me anymore. Anyone have a clue what this means?:

shared %Determinism in hand movements was higher in TT compared toHC (BHC = -12.00, t = -7.93, p<.001), which in turn was higher compared to EC (BEC = -22.27, t = -13.99, p<.001).

How am I supposed to write a 5000 word literature review when I don’t understand the whole Results/Analysis section.

Genuinely worried I might flunk out of this Masters.


“Welcome aboard AirPsycho, hope you have a nice trip. The exits are… nowhere. This is your life now.

A range of assignments, applications and nervous breakdowns are available on this trip.”

Words taken from my coursemate, Nat! Which I think are just brilliant.


The last few days have been interesting. I managed to send off a work-in-progress research proposal to my potential PhD supervisor. To which I got an automated reply… However, I also asked my undergraduate supervisor for a reference and she still wants to publish with me, even after all these years! The best thing of all (grab your sickbags!) is having a boyfriend who gets it. Who understands when I explain concepts to him and sees links I hadn’t even thought of. He’s never even been to university, let alone done a Masters. So hats (and everything else) off to him. It’s christmas eve, so I feel like I shouldn’t be doing any work, but the thing is – CHRISTMAS IS KINDA GETTING IN MY WAY. I love seeing my family and friends, of course I do. But would you all mind postponing until February this year? It’s just, it’s a little bit inconvenient. When you have three essays (total 10,000 words) to write, one (two essay) exam to revise for, a PhD application to do, all by the end of January. I am not freaking out, yet. But it’s on the cards, in the stars. My dad tried talking me out of going to Norfolk on Thursday (which is where he lives, by the way, but I am also going for a christmas meal with friendipoos) simply because he thought I was mad with the amount of work I’ve got on.


I’m not quite sure if this is reflective writing so much as ranting…

Time to celebrate?

I have not allowed myself to be happy or relax. Perhaps because I know there are still many hurdles to go and this is not the final victory. But it is a victory. Skyped my potential supervisor and she seems very on board! This is very cool. There is a lot to do. A LOT. Trying to not get overwhelmed by the mountain and look at each step. Trying. Honestly I feel exhaustion behind my eyes and I ate like an hour ago and I am hungry again. My body is a freakin’ steam train.

And, flip me, I am SO easily side-tracked. I open my laptop to write a schedule for the next month, start writing this, and then suddenly I am doing my references for a PhD application. I am wired. Wired wrong maybe. Never give me drugs.

Oh, and it’s refusing to save my changes.


So, yes, back to the victory! I need to make note of this occasion before it is a faint memory.


Nope, sorry, got distracted by Guy Jones. My bad. Okay, right, I got this. (I am too hungry, really). So it gets to past 2pm and I have been freaking out but thankfully the distraction of her being late to our Skype meeting means I momentarily forget to panic and suddeny we’re using Google Hangouts (??!) and she’s there and she’s ill, bless her. We chat for about an hour, about my CV and their research and who’s hot right now and what I want to do and how we can merge our worlds into a beautiful something. Then she seemed very freaked out by the ESRC application and if she’s freaked, what am I supposed to be!? (One step at a time, baby). But then it’s the typical, do you have any other questions and have a nice Christmas, bon voyage!


Oh wait, did I just sign myself up to writing a research proposal by the end of next week?


Little high, little low

Hi there, me again.


You know when you get news but it just feels you with dread? That’s social anxiety for you.


I’ve got papers on dementia and dance interventions to my left, with my philosophy lecture notes under that, and make up, perfume, a notebook, a to-do list or three and highlighter pens spread out over the rest of my desk. My desk isn’t even that big. Reflects my cluttered mind perfectly though. I have a potential university and supervisor. Now I just need a cracking research idea by next Thursday. *Gulp* Feeling particularly paralysed.

Funnily enough though, at the weekend, I was the complete opposite. I was visiting family in the Lake District and halfway up a hill-mountain in Grasmere when I had this quite hilarious thought, “I am sure I am supposed to feel stressed about something.” I racked my brains for a while and nothing came. “Hmm, are you sure, brain? There isn’t anything?” Nope. Very strange. Haven’t felt that in-the-moment peacefulness for a long time, I realised.

So where do I go from here? I definitely need some more organisation over here but my brain feels foggy. Maybe I just need to relax a tad more, ha. And then the thoughts will come…

Getting a research project supervisor

This week has felt unnecessarily stressful in my hunt for a summer supervisor. Whilst meeting ET was a walk in the park, meeting RN took it out of me. Bear in mind, we’re in deadline week for submitting our preferences. We arrange to meet on Tuesday and he forgets, so I am standing in the corridor waiting and then go back to my tutorial. We rearrange for Thursday and I tell him I finish my lectures at 11. He doesn’t respond. I email again on Thursday and he says he has meetings but he doesn’t know when – could I turn up at 9.30? I feel frustrated and ignored by this point but I give it one final shot. We meet, it’s easy, he shows me the MIRAGE gismo and it’s entertaining. Go back back to lecture. He’s somehow talking about the politics of science which helps me choose a question for my philosophy module (the one on the politics of science, no doubt). I feel whiped out again, though, and have done all week. I get home and sleep.