With the start of the new academic year here at LSE, I’m officially a third-year PhD candidate now. It’s honestly bizarre to write that, let alone say it out loud. It feels like just yesterday I was starting my PhD in September 2019, but that was two years ago, but honestly more like a lifetime ago because of the pandemic. We’ve all experienced this in one way or another, but my sense of time has been completely warped over the last 18 months. What feels like months ago might have been earlier this week. Conversely, what feels like yesterday might have been months or even years ago.
That all said, the third year of the PhD is going to be a big one. At most UK universities, the PhD normally only last three years, so it would be the final year and one of having your foot constantly on the throttle. Thankfully at LSE, we have more breathing room because we have an extra year to complete the PhD – in other words, what is usually a three year programme becomes a four year one. It is an extraordinary opportunity that I am always very thankful to have.
But even though it’s not my final year, it’s one I’m planning to do a lot with as I move into the second half of my doctoral degree. In addition to continuing to research and write my dissertation, I’m teaching two sections of an advanced history course on the United States and the world since 1776. We just had our first seminar this week, and it was a smashing success. We had an excellent conversation about what we should think about when we think of “the United States.” I’m really looking forward to teaching this class and embarking on this journey with my students.
I’m also planning a conference for postgraduate and early career researchers on US foreign policy with the British International Studies Association. It’s slated to happen in November and it’s going to be a two-day conference featuring some of the exciting work being done by the next generation of scholars on American foreign relations. We have folks attending virtually from all over the world with exciting papers that will be thought-provoking and incredibly interesting. It’s been a lot of work so far and will continue to be over the next six weeks, but I’m hopeful it will be successful and rewarding for everyone who participates.
I’m also starting to think more seriously about life after the PhD and what I’d like to do with my career. I won’t go into all that right now, but suffice it to say, it’s going to be an incredibly busy year for me and all those in similar positions. As we enter a new phase of the pandemic, I’m looking forward to meeting and overcoming the challenges that lie ahead.