You could say I’m a planner. Planning is one of my favorite things to do. When I was in high school and college my favorite day of the school year was the first day of each new semester when I would get the class syllabus. When I’d get back to my dorm, apartment, whatever, I would meticulously (color coded and everything) add assignment due dates, test dates, and class activities to my planner (still paper then). Pure joy.

While I’m still looking forward to that with the start of my PhD program, I know things will be a little different, a lot more fluid, and much more up to me to keep myself on task. So, over the past month or so, I’ve been trying to get myself ready and organized for the years (yes, years) ahead.

I’ve been looking up information on grants and fellowships for which I could apply, from language study to research, to post-doctoral opportunities. I’ve joined several H-Net groups and actively peruse the daily and weekly emails for relevant information. I’ve started looking into citation managers (I didn’t use one when I did my master’s but was told that they are a great help). For now, I’ve organized for myself a single Word document with all of the relevant information I’m collecting: fellowships and grants, conference opportunities, journals and other publications, books to look into that seem relevant, as well as some new research ideas I’ve come across just from what I’ve looked at so far.

What I want to know is: are there better options out there (than my current Word document solution) for organizing the to-dos for grad life? Is there a single, magical, constantly updated website or blog out there with all of the information I could ever want as a graduate student and someday professional? Or something like it? What have you used to organize your life, research, and fellowship and grant information?

Oh, and I still use a planner. A real paper planner.

A Little Bit of Background

If you’ve read the “About” section on this blog, you’ll have a general idea about who I am and why I’m writing this blog. Today, I want to provide a little more background than the “About” provides.

The area of concentration for my PhD studies is in the modern Middle East. “What does this mean?” you might ask. For me, it means that I’m looking at the post-Ottoman Empire Middle East, 1918, on.

I wasn’t always a historian of Middle Eastern bent. I started off life as an Americanist, a colonial Americanist to be exact, looking at the colonial and early Republic years of the United States. I wanted to study gender and the family. During my third year as an undergraduate, however, I took a survey course on the history and politics of the modern Middle East. I was pretty much sold on it after that.

I took my interest in the Middle East with me to a master’s program at Cal State Fullerton, where I focused on gender, the nation, and identity formation among Middle Eastern immigrants in the United States between WWI and WWII. For my PhD research, I hope to look at the ways in which a national identity/nationalism developed in Lebanon while it was under the French mandate between WWI and WWII, using gender as my analytical framework. I might also throw a little transnational examination of national identity formation into the mix, looking at Middle Eastern immigrants in the United States during the same period. We’ll see what I get.

Anyone else doing work on gender, nationalism, and the Middle East in the mandate period? Or in the post-colonial period? Feel free to leave any questions, comments, or thoughts in the comments section.

Hi there!

Thanks for stopping by!

Well, here’s my first post. Over the years, as the number of blogs has flourished, I’ve considered starting my own, dealing with topics have to do with everything from politics to clean and whole eating. Upon learning of my acceptance to UCSD, I thought that I might actually start one which not only chronicles my experiences in a PhD program and is a receptacle for my note taking, but also a place where research ideas could be fleshed out and discussed (and maybe help keep me accountable for doing these things, too).

With that in mind, there are many things I hope to do with this blog. In addition to posts on how PhD life, research, and professional development, I hope to create various series about class and research-related readings, applying for fellowships and grants, and conference experiences.

Of course, I’m not sure exactly how all this will come into fruition. Being quite new at this, I’m going to have a play-it-by-ear kind of attitude, so it’ll be as much a surprise to you as it is to me!

So, follow along and journey with me as I develop my blogging voice, research interests, and historical knowledge and reflect on the world of advanced degrees.