Tuesday, June 7, 2022

British Studies

As some know, I began studying for an MLIS in August 2019 at the University of Southern Mississippi in an ALA-accredited, completely online graduate school program. What, don’t you have enough degrees already, Constance? Well, there is no doubt about that! My original intention was simply to take a children’s literature class for some mental stimulation.
Sherlock Holmes
Then I spoke by phone to Dr. Teresa Welsh, then director of the program. It turned out she was also the enthusiastic leader of a British Studies month-long immersive library studies in London offered by USM. Having studied English History and Literature at a college that did not have a study abroad program, I was intrigued. Within an hour, she had persuaded me an MLIS was in my future and then I coaxed my coworker Katie into joining me. Less than a month later, we had enrolled in three classes for seven credits: Introduction to Librarianship, History of Children’s Literature, and Cataloging. It is lucky that I had thoughtful and interesting Dr. Welsh for two of these classes because Cataloging was a nightmare – boring, archaic, incomprehensible, and time-consuming. If that had been my only class, I probably would have dropped out at Christmas.  After all, I have a real job in the daytime!
Elizabeth Barrett Browning's window
The pandemic began halfway through my second semester when I was taking Reference, my favorite class. Luckily, I was able to go to libraries in person (mostly Boston College or the Newton Free Library) to do the homework before everything closed. The rest of the assignments could be done online. In December of 2020, one hoped things would go back to normal by summer so I applied to the British Studies program and was accepted. I started saving my vacation so I could take a month off. However, first it got postponed to July 2021 and then canceled altogether. While not unexpected, it was still disappointing and I realized June 2022 would be my last chance before I graduated. When I applied again in December 2021, I was pessimistic. Even the software was against me – you got $50 off if you applied by a certain date. I pressed submit but found out in January my application had gone into a black hole (luckily, they admitted me in due time).
Lord's Cricket Grounds (credit, Wikipedia)
I arrived in London on June 4! The only disappointment is that we were meant to be three weeks in London and one week in Edinburgh but the organizers decided to stay in London the whole time; of course, there is plenty to do in London! I missed all the Jubilee and the organized orientation but we are in an appealing part of the city near Regent’s Park and Daunt Books, staying at a University of Westminster dormitory. I looked at the map and headed to Lord’s where a cricket test match was going on between England and New Zealand. It had ended as I arrived but I enjoyed seeing the famous venue. Later, one of my new classmates, Erin from Virginia, joined me for dinner at a restaurant called Bill’s on Baker Street. Yes, we are right around the corner from Sherlock Holmes, so to speak.
I like the cricket bats in the image!


Jeanne said...

Wow! The best part of some graduate degrees is the access to interesting libraries, but you got a trip overseas, too, even around the pandemic!

Cath said...

It's a real shame you missed the Jubilee celebrations but it looks like you're doing some interesting things up there. If you have free time The Museum of the Docklands is one of our favourite London museums. It's a little out of the centre but worth the trip we thought.

CLM said...

So far, Jeanne, it has been very fun and the other nine students are congenial.

Cath, I hadn't heard of that museum but am adding it to my list. Maybe I can go there on Friday afternoon. My new friends are going to the Harry Potter Studios which I have already been to so I bought a ticket to a musical for that night.

TracyK said...

What a wonderful opportunity, and a great place to study. But so many temptations and distractions?

Katrina said...

What a shame that the Edinburgh part was cancelled, maybe you can manage that at some point in the fututre.

LyzzyBee said...

How exciting! The Museum of London is very good, too. Have a super time!

JaneGS said...

I've been AWOL from the blogging world lately, so I am thrilled to see another travelogue from you, with a scholarly adventure twist. I had to look up what an MLIS was, but good for you! I am thinking about retiring before too long and am thinking about doing an online Master's Course in something.

Best wishes and I am eager to get caught up with your blog.