I also became really sick during the entire process. Yup- sick as a dog. I ended up with RSV. Its something that kids and old people get and because I had turned 30 my body decided it wanted to play along. So while writing this report, I also got to lay in bed, coughing, sneezing, wheezing, crying at times and being miserable! I am so American too because when I was filing my sick leave I was saying, "YES, I was at home.. but I was working, so no I don't want it to look like I took the month off"- come to find out I should have just accepted the month because I would have had a month of sick leave added to my scholarship and my argument now got me a 12 day extension instead. Heck, I should have actually stopped working and rested because then maybe I wouldn't have been sick so long. However, if you know me, you will know that I will never learn.
Back in December I passed my major review. It wasn't a positive experience on a whole- but I passed and that is all that matters. So I am allowed to continue my research and I can only hope that I can get this PhD knocked out in the 3 year time frame. However, I have to admit, I do like being a student. In the UK we get major discounts (No council tax and a really great student rail card that lets you take the train for a third of the cost).
My folks came out for Christmas and New Year. We spent Christmas in England with Sandy and Phil and it was a nice time. Mr. Tyke moved back to England around this time which was a bit hard and has been an adjustment but all in all its been good. Just adds a new dynamic to the mix. He came up for New Years and we had a good couple of days. We watched the torch processional which if it happened in the US would have been an incredibly different experience. People in the UK really like to queue (be in a line). It is like their favorite thing ever! I think it was 7000 people in this queue and they all had torches of fire. They walked happily through the city holding fire, without torching trashcans, each other, having a riot and there really was no monitoring from firefighters during the walk. It was mind boggling. I imagine we Americans wouldn't be in such a straight line and there would be an increase of patients in the emergency room. There would also probably be a few lawsuits here and there. Just a different world :)
The last few months I have been busy continuing on with this research. I have been creating a questionnaire and actually just launched it. You probably have seen me posting constantly on twitter and Facebook about it. Its just hard to think that you dedicate 15 months to figuring out what you are going to do and then you collect data for like what? 3-weeks? So the next steps for my research really are dependent on people accessing and completing this survey. I know its long, but I really hope that people are passionate about being an interpreter educator and will take the time to fill it out. We really don't have that much information about our experiences and this questionnaire is going to bring back so much information that I personally believe it will be beneficial. So I can only hope that the questionnaire makes it out there and people schedule some time to complete it. If you are an interpreter educator: https://hw.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/jdrslie You can take the survey here :)
You know, recently I read this article that went viral on Facebook about how parenting can make you stupid. Well, I have news for you- you don't have to become a parent to feel stupid. Just enter a PhD program. Its a process where you question your intelligence every single day. You also realize how much you don't know. You think, well I used to think I was smart… and now.. I just am trying to get by. If you are a parent your house may be filled with toys and clutter… well, if you are an academic its filled with sticky notes, journal articles and books. You constantly are needing to read something else, but being distracted by someone, something, some email, some other project and you always feel like you are just keeping your head above water. However, some how you manage. Thats at least how I feel. I am moving along and some how managing.. but I don't feel any smarter :)
In addition to all this, I have continued to teach. Not only at Heriot-Watt as a part of my research hours but also in the US through distance education. Giving up teaching was not something I was completely comfortable doing. I love to teach and although I am loving the UK and learning BSL and immersing myself here. I also want to hold on to my roots. They are important to me. I invested so many years into learning ASL, becoming a professional in the US that I won't completely give that up. I want to continue to be connected to my community and continue to give back. So here I am juggling it all and at the end of the day, I may not feel smarter, I may be exhausted but I am happy.
I love that in just a year and a half I feel my British Sign Language skills are improving quickly. I continue to notice that I am getting better and better and my communication access has improved. When I first joined the department we always had interpreters at the meetings.. some how they have disappeared and I am realizing that I don't actually need an interpreter to keep up with the rapid staff meetings. I don't always feel I can express just what I want and how I want it, but my colleagues are patient and understanding so I can usually make it work.
In February I went the States. It wasn't as great as a trip as I had hoped. It was cold and icy in two of the places I was at. I went to a conference which I didn't find too beneficial. No one showed up to my presentation and they didn't schedule a lunch break or have any tea and coffee breaks. However, I did get to spend some quality time with my niece and nephew, saw my sister, grandma, best friend, mom and dad and some other good friends while I was there. I am sorry if I missed you while I was home. The weather wasn't great and I was really in each place for a short amount of time. I hope you are saving your pennies though and can make it out to this side of the world sometime soon. I just moved.. and have a nice big couch and better space for visitors so come on over :)
I am heading to Leeds next week to see Mr. Tyke in his small little village outside the city. I am really looking forward to going down there. I have to say the one thing that has been amazing his his family. Even though they are not my own family, when you don't have family close by it is really nice to be able to just jump into someone else's- to sit down for a sunday roast, watch a movie with the entire family and play scrabble by the fire does more for my soul than they probably realize. When I go I hope to see Sandy and Phil as well because they are like my adopted UK parents and I am always so grateful for my time with them. When you have opportunities like this, it doesn't make you so homesick.
So there you have an update. I hope you are all well. I am continuing to live the adventure and think of you all often. Please do keep in touch. I have also moved as I mentioned above so if you need my new address, please send me an email. I still do love getting snail mail.