PhD serie

The PhD Application Process: Why the Spanish Civil War

Now that I am free to scream to the wind that I have been accepted into a PhD program for Modern Languages and Cultures, I can say what I am specializing about without going to into my research ideas. 

So, lets start off by saying that I have changed my mind about what I wanted to focus on more times than I changed my major during undergrad, and I changed my major 5 times. I started with wanting to study Robin Hood, then Russian royal history, then moved onto the War of Spanish Succession and the Hapsburg, to the Spanish Armada, to finally end with the Spanish Civil War. And then when I was studying the Spanish Civil War during my masters I changed my mind about what aspect about the SCW I wanted to study. Thankfully all the changing came to an end when I encountered the greatest term ever: Historiography, the history of history. 

History is a passion of mine. Always has been. I just cared too much about what people thought of my studies than anything else, that is why I changed my major way too many times. Once I finally decided that history was it for me. I started planning for a PhD in the future. I tried to figure out what I wanted to start focusing on instead of just jumping around. However, as my earlier explanation of my change of topics shows, I changed my mind several more times. Once I discovered my passion for learning about Spain, the land of my ancestors and the birthplace of my native language, I decided that was where I was going to stay at. However, that did not mean I was not going to change my mind regarding what exactly about Spain I was to study. I went from being in love with Early modern Spanish History to becoming obsessed with Modern Spanish History in 6 months. On the second semester of  my Master’s degree, after a seminar on Francoist repression after the Spanish Civil War by who was later ended up supervising my dissertation,  I completely changed gears and started reading up on the SCW (short for Spanish Civil War). 

My fascination with the SCW started by my interest in war, religion and repression. Later, my focus moved to historiography, memory and commemoration of the SCW. The historiography of the SCW is a tumultuous area that needed to be addressed, therefore I wrote by Master’s dissertation on it and earned a high merit. It would have been higher if I was better with my grammar, something I am still working on, and why I am trying to write more often in this blog. Now, I am focusing on the commemoration and memory of the Spanish Civil War. This is a topic that  feel very passionate about, and I can’t wait to be about to further research the topic and dive deeper into the memory and commemoration of Spanish Civil War. 

So that is how I made it to study the Spanish Civil War and what I will be studying for the next 3 to 4 years of my life. I cannot wait until I get to the UK and start digging into my studies. For now, all I can do is search for sources and start getting some reading done.

PhD serie

The PhD A​pplication Process: The Research Proposal

Hey y’all!

As I promised before, am will be weekly updating y’all on the application process for a PhD in the UK. So far, I have placed my application and gotten a response back from the University. I will let y’all know later if I got in or not, as this post will be all about the research proposal.

To me, the research proposal was second most stressful part of the PhD application process. The first being the waiting game after the application is submitted as I have almost no patience.  Starting out with an outline, and finishing up 5 months later with 14 pages including my bibliography show how much I wanted my proposal to be perfect. I wanted the quality of my proposal to impact whoever was reading it. I wrote the first rough draft within a few weeks. It was far from perfect I have several people look over it to make sure it was good in the sense of context and information. My grammar is where my issues lie. I was born in Puerto Rico and English is technically not my first language, Spanish is. While I have been speaking, reading and understanding English since I was 14, I still struggle with some grammatical things. I tend to go on and on about things, and that leads to run-on sentences or clauses being defied. That is why it took so long for my proposal to get do, but it does not have to be an issue you struggle with. Always re-read your work out loud to hear if it makes sense when you speak it. There is a big difference between reading it in your mind and out loud.

Once you have a rough draft done, get people to read it for you and give your constructive criticism. I asked one of my former professors to read over my proposal, as well as the prospective supervisor that I wanted to work with. Both of them helped me get to a point where my proposal was ready to submit. Submitting my proposal was one of the most nerve-raking things I have ever experience. Not even when I submitted my Master’s research proposal was I this nervous.  But then I realized that this proposal was the one that was going to change my life and it was going to allow me to fulfill my dream of becoming an academic doctor. That is why this proposal took so long: my future depended on it.

Now 4 months after everything I got a response to my application, I can finally breath or cry. One of the other,  my life path has forever changed.

On my next post, you will get to know if I got in or not, and the emotional roller coaster that the PhD application process is.

Till next time! All the love!

Ascenett Stefanie, your freelance unicorn!

PhD serie

The PhD application process: Introduction

Howdy!

Today, we will be starting a new series of post. These post will be all about the process of applying for a PhD or doctorate degree. While I have not been accepted (yet) and my application is in process, I want to start documenting my adventure and some points and mistakes I have made that you can avoid.

Applying for a PhD is actually more stressful than I thought, specially when you want to specialise on a topic not that popular in terms of how many professors are out there in the UK for my field. I specialise in the memory and history of the Spanish Civil War and how it was and is commemorated throughout Spain. On top of not finding many supervisor on my field, I also have another criteria: there has to be a International Christian Church in the town that I go. For my masters, I went to Newcastle University, and the closest church was 6 hours away by bus (which was the cheapest mean of transportation). And while I got a merit in both my dissertation and on my degree, I believe I could have done much better if I had a church in my university town. So, this time I will make sure to be as close to a church as I can. Meaning finding a supervisor in a very small pool of supervisors.

I send emails to about 7 supervisors who specialise in Spanish history of some sort. It has taken me months between researching schools and looking for supervisors that are first in my field, and secondly, that are willing to supervise me. After months of searches, I found a supervisor at a university where there is one of my churches. I praise God that he made this possible, for without Him it would not be possible. God also made possible for me to be able to write a good research proposal in a good amount of time.

Writing a research proposal deserves its own post, so I will make a video blog and a post about it. It will be it’s own post because it is so critical for you to have a plan on a thesis statements that you will develop into a proposal, and later project.

So, in conclusion, what you can take from this post is to PLAN AHEAD OF TIME! Always plan everything make timelines, keep a journal with notes, keep a calendar, and always flag emails from professors and universities you are interested in.

So I hope you look forward to this blog series!

All the love!!