(I promise its not what you think)
I've been rather distracted the past week, I must admit. But I have a pretty good reason as I've been considering heading back to school. Initially, I figured if I was going to undertake a Masters degree it would be later in life, "just for the heck of it", as I'd say. I've been out of academia and any serious research work for a dozen years now. Once I graduated for the 3rd (and what I thought was the final) time I needed to get out into the workforce to start paying off all those student loans (which I can proudly say I did back in 2009.)
Lately, I've been mulling over going back to school sooner. The advantage I now have is much more life experience than when I walked out of convocation with that diploma in my hand 13 years ago. That, plus my interests have also filled out and broadened considerably. The biggest challenge (but what is life without them?) is in trying to draw together all the documentation I need for applications, particularly when it comes to academic references but we'll see how it goes. Most of the professors from my senior courses have moved on, though I've managed to contact a couple of them, one at the University of Western Ontario and another at Missouri State.
I recall in my final year of my history degree venturing into the section of the Leddy Library at the University of Windsor to peruse a few theses just to get a taste of what they involved. Oh the topics were vast. I recall finding one (in sociology I believe) that had to do with strippers (no, I'm not kidding), which I'm sure would have been quite interesting though what I was really interested in were ones pertaining more to history. One that I did find had to do with the training and deployment of snipers in the Canadian Forces during the Great War and this one I actually did read cover to cover. Other than blogging, journaling and a few abortive attempts at writing some chapters for a possible future book, my writing endeavours tailed off after graduation.
A few weeks ago, through random chance, the idea of pursuing more writing and research in the form of graduate studies came back to me in a rush. I was actually looking up random photos of waterfalls online (hey, I find them relaxing) in an area of northern BC, when I came across a photo of a WWII bunker...in northern BC. Now, I've read quite a bit on Canada's contributions to both world wars, but this photo had me stymied. Why exactly was there a crumbling bunker near the airport in Terrace, BC of all places? I figured there must have been a military training camp there at one time and indeed there was. It was then that I came across information about a military mutiny in Terrace in the dying months of the war. What? A mutiny? I thought history was supposed to be boring?! More importantly, I was surprised why I had never heard about it, read about or been told about it before. It was like it never happened, which for the government of the day would have been just fine.
Anyhow, I randomly contacted a professor I thought might know more about this incident and also to bounce a few more ideas off him. He gave me a couple other names to contact and things just snowballed from there. A couple even sent me short reading lists and I received a course syllabus back from a professor at Queen's. Since then I've gotten back quite a few responses and its been encouraging. Turns out professors are very eager to discuss their research interests. As I mentioned, my interests in history are vast but I've managed to narrow things down somewhat to 3 or 4 areas. It is kind of cool, I must say, to mention to an Arctic researcher that I lived in Nunavut for 6 years , visited two DEW Line sites, travelled across the sea ice and visited a future and former site among other things. I'm not sure too many applicants would be able to mention that in a research proposal if I decided to focus on Arctic issues. Other than my interests in WWI and WWII, there are also a few topics of local history focused on Windsor, that I've always been interested in, which would be a good way of getting back to Windsor since I loved the time I spent there back in the '90's. I also haven't ruled out doing a thesis on a musical topic of the history of one of Ontario's wine regions (because I'll take any reason to visit a winery or three).
So plenty to mull over for sure. Deciding on an area of research and a school is a nice little task to set my mind to. I'm looking at a 2014 start date at the absolute earliest to plenty of time to get the ball rolling.