Thursday, July 31, 2008

petty bourgeois counterrevolutionary imperialism

So, in the last few weeks there have been pretty little fliers pinned up around campus for the Workers' Party of New Zealand, with good old Che Guevara's image (because he's so much trendier than Stalin or Mao and ever so slightly less notorious) which invite students to join in the fun of creating a Communist future.

Not that I have any desire to impinge anyone else's freedom of speech (after all, I am not a Communist) or to protest anyone's fundamental human right to be an idiot ...

... but which bright spark thought it would be a good idea to pin one on the History building's notice board? History, you know? The discipline that remembers things that happened, especially the things that went badly wrong?

Sunday, July 20, 2008


... or, in this case, Allie needs YOU. [See poll on the right hand side of webpage.]

Despite having had two of the most horrible weeks yet this year (feeling completely overworked, as well as dealing with family worries, annoying people whom I have to persuade to work together, and sickness), a persistent problem has been ringing in my head.

What am I going to do next year?

It's not just that. It's more like, What am I going to do with my future?

Here are the options. I could:

a) do a Masters (in History, of course). This has the bonus that I am almost definitely, barring death/destruction, intending to do a masters degree in History sometime in the next five years. A Masters will give me much more of an edge if I end up wanting to get into a government department such as Foreign Affairs. And I just really want to do one! I love History!
On the other hand, if I do a Masters next year, I will be pretty much limited to studying something in the English-speaking world. I'm doing Russian history at the moment; it's okay not to know Russian at Honours level, but at Masters and beyond, it's a must to be able to understand the language of the society you're looking at.
But if I'm simply doing a Masters to give me a edge in careers outside History, there's not a whole lot of point in spending all that time on a language just so I can do a Masters in it.

b) go to Russia. Teach English for a living and try and immerse myself in Russian. Bonuses: an adventure! And useful for my History in the long run.
On the other hand: scary, and apparently not an easy destination. Culture shock, et al. As above, unnecessary if I'm not going forward with History as a career.

c) go to France. Teach English in French high schools and immerse myself in French. Bonuses: a very easy way to travel, and good for furthering my French language skills. A good gap year experience.
On the other hand: Unnecessary for History. Of course, learning another language is never pointless - still, this would be simply a gap year and nothing more.

d) do some other thing that hasn't occurred to me yet (suggestions welcomed).

Basically, it comes down to this: Do I want to do a PhD in History? Do I want to go on to be a historian? If so, I'm going to Russia next year. If not... I don't know.

Help me! Make up my mind for me by voting on my poll!

Oh, and by the way: family worries culminated in a new nephew on Friday night. :) He's called Daniel and he was very, very stubborn about the eviction date.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

what happens in Vegas...

The supervisor of one of my classmates at university is a rather brilliant man who specialises in medieval French history. He went down to Dunedin for a holiday over, I think, the last weekend, and when he got back, my classmate asked him if he had a fun holiday.

"Oh yeah," he replied. "It was great. Dunedin has a really good medieval collection."

Please, please, God - let me be a historian when I grow up!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

walking in a winter wonderland

Late on Friday night I was asked if I wanted to go to Hanmer Springs the next day with a couple of my good friends. I love spur of the moment things! Hanmer Springs is the obligatory winter day-trip/weekend thing to do if you live in Christchurch - I must have talked about going there many times before on this blog. But this time was a little different, because storms were expected and it was expected to snow in Hanmer... and it's been a while since I've been in Hanmer when it snowed.

So we set out on Saturday morning... It started off looking like this:

but by the time we got close to Hanmer it looked like this:
It was coooold! But the weather was fine and the snow was beautiful, powdery and dry, and we decided to start by climbing Conical Hill:
It was rather nice walking up through the forest:
and taking silly pictures:
At the top, we had a snowfight! Hooray! :

Afterwards (of course), we went to the hot springs the town is named for, and soaked in semi-natural thermal pools while it started to snow around us. If you ignore the part where you dash between pools, barefoot, and dressed only in wet lycra, this could be heaven. Unfortunately, as it started to snow more thickly, we decided we should leave, just in case we got snowed in.

Back to Christchurch, where it was ghastly weather and even colder, with the added factor of wind chill. Earplugs at night couldn't dim the howling wind and rain/sleet/hail pounding on the roof... but that's not so bad when you're cuddled up in bed with several layers of bedding and an electric blanket!