My name is Liselle and I am a second year PhD student in the Department of Recreation, Sport, and Tourism. My research interest is on film-tourism, specifically looking at sites of imagination (think Harry Potter World and Hogwarts!), in order to investigate culture, commodification, and meaning. This summer, I'm preparing for prelims and wrestling with big ideas related to theory and methodology for my work. It feels like everday I read something inspiring and thought-provoking!
In my department, the Prelim exam takes place before you can begin work on your dissertation proposal. I’m planning to take my prelim exam this fall, so I’m dedicating my summer to preparing for the exam. Here’s a look at a pretty typical day of prelim prep for this social sciences PhD student!
6:30 a.m.: Rise and shine! First is to make coffee! When I started my MA, I started drinking coffee. My grad career might as well be hashtagged #poweredbycaffeine. Before the heat of the day sets in and while the coffee is brewing, I also water my plants. I’m determined to have a flower and herb garden on my balcony. This summer there is rosemary, thyme, strawberries, and peppers. I enjoy my first cup of coffee outside rain or shine.
7:00 a.m.: Begin reading. I’m a morning person. My best work happens before 3 p.m. Unlike with the physical sciences, which demand attendance at a microscope in a lab, I can begin to untangle the mysteries of the tourism industry from my apartment. At the beginning of the summer, I set myself a schedule to prepare properly. On Mondays I review or read an article about Methodology, on Tuesday’s it’s all about theory, Wednesday’s are dedicated to Media; on Thursday I’m regaled with articles on Tourism; Friday’s are for Fandom Studies. Notice the alliteration? One hundred percent intentional.
8:30 a.m.: Break for breakfast! Most often it’s scrambled eggs and toast and more coffee. I have a general rule that I don’t do work while eating my meals.
9:00 a.m.: By this time of the morning I’m itching to stretch my legs so I head over to a local coffee shop. They have great wide tables, plenty of outlets and brilliant windows so I never have to strain my eyes. I take notes by hand because it helps me retain the concepts better.
1:00 p.m.: Break for lunch. I take a longer than typical lunch. The reason for this is two-fold. I eat at home, so I have to cook or assemble my meal, and my brain usually hurts from whatever I’ve been reading and thinking about. You need time to process sentences like: “But all such progress of individuation has been at the expense of the individuality in whose name it took place, leaving behind nothing except individuals’ determination to pursue their own purposes alone” (Horkheimer and Adorno, 2002, p. 125) in a way that it sinks in so you can begin to see the connections between it and your work.
2:00 p.m.: In the afternoons I settle into answering emails and grade. Some days one is longer than the other. Students tend to email most at the beginning and end of the term while grading is heaviest in the middle. Today I am grading reflections and discussion posts for Nature and American Culture.
3:00 p.m.: I go to pick up all of the books I have requested from the library. I sit under a tree and flip through the books to look for keywords. Today I’m looking for references to Marx, exchange-value, use-value, consumerism, commodity so I have a fresh reading list in mind for tomorrow morning.
5:00 p.m.: My roommate and I chat about our day while we cook. Dinner is usually something simple and tonight is chicken, broccoli, and rice.
6:00 p.m.: I abhor the gym… So I joined the circus. Yup, you heard me. The circus. Defy Gravity is an amazing aerial studio in town where students can learn the trapeze, lyra (shown in the picture) or aerial silks. It is a wonderful non-competitive, creative work out with good people who encourage you along your journey no matter where you are. It’s an excellent counterbalance to the stress of grad life.
8:30 p.m.:Get ready for bed and put on Anne with an E on Netflix!
Photos courtesy of Liselle Milazzo.
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Liselle Milazzo is a 2nd year PhD student in Recreation, Sport and Tourism. Originally from Connecticut, Liselle enjoys traveling the world as often as she can. Her research focuses on sites of imagination in film tourism.