Tag Archives: travelling

Mummy, Mortgage and Mature (ish) Student – Gemma Harrison-Thornton

I’ve been thinking about writing a “blog” for a while, but finding time to even go to the toilet is difficult in my situation, so sitting down to type something pleasurable became a sort of fantasy; a nice thing to think about on my commute to university. Yet, the urgency to write about my experiences has been increasing and I vowed to myself I would do it! I was then reminded by my partner of six years ( I thought it was five years but after some careful memory recall and calculation it’s actually six years in May that we met!) that there is a certain irony to writing a blog about the intricacies of juggling being a mum, having a house and being a student. Unfortunately he is right…. Firstly, because the purpose of this spiel is to highlight how being a working mum is an extremely busy role with “downtime” being a thing of the past.

IMG_0001By the end of the day there is little fuel left in the hypothetical tank,   other than to crawl into bed with the intention of watching a happy, ‘don’t have to think about anything’ programme with my partner, yet usually falling asleep within about three minutes. The good thing about my situation is that I usually sleep very well – the kind of sleep I associate with being dead. I feel this may need a little more explanation…you sleep without dreaming, without remembering falling asleep without stirring, until you wake up and wonder where the time has gone. That kind of sleep. When I get the chance, I’m pretty good at that (thank goodness!) Needless to say the opportunity to sleep like I’m dead is rare with our four year old (soon to be five…where has the time gone?!) son. We had a pretty good routine going with regards to bedtime, until we went on holiday and I wanted him to sleep in with us for safety reasons. Since that holiday in 2013 He has slept in our bed every night. The routine is rather hilarious when I think about it/ write it down. Noah has to start his sleep journey in our bed. When he falls asleep we have to wait for a little while to move him into his own bed, because if he wakes up then we have no chance of getting him there. Once he’s in his own bed, I quickly jump into my own bed to enjoy a couple of hours of space…because Noah then comes back into our bed for the remainder of the night. This means that I spend the rest of night dangling off the edge of the bed with a small corner of the duvet for warmth! On these occasions, when sleep is off the cards, I often think back to the days when I was first at Uni and would come home for about 4pm and get straight into bed to watch countdown. I would fall in and out of sleep as I when I felt like it…often staying up late because I didn’t have to worry about lack of sleep. Nowadays, I’m preoccupied with getting to bed as quick as I can to get as much interrupted sleep as possible before the nightly ‘routine’ commences.

So, some contextual background (forgive the academic terminology). I am a twenty-eight year old woman; I have a four year old son, a partner, a cat and a sausage dog. I am also a full-time PhD student. I feel extremely privileged to have been awarded funding to undertake my research and having the opportunity to do something that I am passionate about. Of course, everyone who has done or is doing any form of study will know, there are always peaks and troughs in the journey, times of high stress and overwhelming guilt. Guilt which is not only associated with being a working mum but also guilt about not getting enough words on paper (or rather word document)! As I’m sure will resonate with many of you, the prevailing feeling in my emotional bank is guilt. Added to this is a dollop of worry, flavoured with relief (at making it through the day) happiness (that I’m managing being mum and student at the same time and most of the time do it well) and contentment at the end of that long day when the house is calm (but always untidy!!! NOT DIRTY)

IMG_2866So a day in the life of being mum, partner and student goes something like this…. I always feel like I’ve done a day’s work before I get to university, resulting in the need to lie down in the common room with a cup of tea before any creativity can begin! A morning alarm clock is never needed; Noah is up in plenty of time. I negotiate breakfast for Noah (and Bunty and Vegas), while pulling washing out of machine, re loading it, emptying and re filling the tumble dryer. I do make myself a cup of tea and carry it from room to room taking sips when I can, although it usually ends up cold. I have a shower, get myself ready and then negotiate getting Noah ready. Now this is not an easy task. Noah, although a very bright young chap, is not a big fan of school. I don’t think that it has anything to do with the education side; he just wants to be with me at home. He is very good at making my heart strings pang and the guilt gates open. “Mummy why do you have to go work?”, “Mummy can I come to work with you?”, “Mummy don’t go to work I’ll miss you too much and my heart will hurt”, “Is it the weekend yet?” …just some of the statements my son says to me on a morning. My standard response to this is you know mummy has to go to work so that I can pay for nice things for us”, “If I go to work we can afford to go on holiday”, ” mummy can afford to buy you birthday presents and pay for swimming”. This final statement usually does the trick. So I drop Noah off to school, and then drop Bunty off at my Bampis (Welsh for grandfather). It is at this time, I take a deep breath, a sip of my tea in my travelling mug and a long drag on my e cigarette. This is one of the nicest feelings in the world. I begin my journey to Uni. Now this is a very interesting part of the day. I do a lot of my thinking in the car. I start writing paragraphs In my head, and if I think of something good I record myself or if I hear an interesting word on the radio I record it! I always wonder if anyone does this…I know I’ll forget it by the time I get to Cardiff otherwise. I wish these thoughts would come to me when I’m sitting at my desk trying to write!!

Now driving back and fore to Uni has its ups and downs. It’s been great for getting some down time before and after Uni; an opportunity to have an hour with myself uninterrupted and a chance to catch up on Radio’s 4 Woman’s Hour (yes since starting my PhD I have become a self confessed Radio 4 addict). However, I have witnessed some of the most extraordinary driving. As the months have passed doing this commute and negotiating the M4 I have decided to take a more laid back approach to other drivers. They were driving me nuts (no pun intended!), so much so that the commute to work was putting me in a bad mood – I was having to de brief with colleagues in the office before I could get down to any work. On a daily basis I gave myself a pat on the back for making it to work in one piece!

IMG_2205

So, how do I negotiate my time to ensure that I am first and foremost mum to my little boy while keeping the house in a habitable state and getting down to studying? The answer to this question is easy for me! I have a rock solid support network and parents and in laws who adore our son and love to spend time with him. My mum is my wing man. Not one day has gone by where my mum has not helped me – practically and emotionally.   There is not enough space to write down the things she has done for me and my family and I am eternally grateful to her for supporting me to pursue my dreams (I can’t help but be soppy when writing about my mum!). I am also extremely lucky that I get most of our ironing done by my mum and my partners mum! In my defense I am useless at ironing – I have ruined many clothes in the process! So for the sake of my partner and sons appearance (in school and work) this arrangement is helpful for all involved! I don’t want readers to think that the only way to negotiate this situation is by having amazing support…because I know for a fact that there are many students who do all these jobs by themselves and do it well. I have tremendous appreciation for those who pursue their dreams whatever their circumstances, and it is this point I want to finish on. There have been a few people who have said to me things like “I don’t know how you do it!”, “when do you find the time?” and “maybe you should have waited until your son was older! I just laugh out loud (literally lol) and say “It’s easy!!!!!”…The look on their faces is priceless!

Gemma Harrison-Thornton,

PhD student, Cardiff University

A Reflection – by Jane Davies

Reflection – Year two, Term two

Having just returned from the Easter weekend to begin the final term of year two, I realise how quickly time is moving. I am now half way through the study with writing, data collection and analysis ahead of me. In many ways this has felt like one of the most productive phases of the work to date.

It began in January when I returned after the Christmas break to finalise the R and D approval from the main site for my research. This had been in the only word I can think of a tortuous process, which became more and more frustrating leading up to the Christmas break. I was fully aware that it was going to be difficult but I think I underestimated my ability to cope with just how much energy it takes to get to the data collection stage. I was well supported throughout the process and many people gave advice and helped.

Nevertheless I was given approval at the main site and my research passport was issued, which meant that I could begin the work at the main site. I still had to wait for approval at the subsidiary site, which did not come until April. I met with my contact for recruitment in mid-January who as always was extremely encouraging and helpful. She offered to have a look through the current patient list and then we could discuss who might be a suitable case, taking into account the inclusion exclusion criteria. She soon contacted me saying that she had two possibly three young people who might be suitable for the study. She offered to give an information sheet to those selected and I waited for her to contact me.

I have to say I have been heartened by the fact that the young people approached so far have been keen to take part. I was of the view that this wouldn’t be the case and that I would have trouble recruiting. I undertook my first interview on 3rd February 2014. I felt nervous and unsure of my ability to conduct the interview successfully. I checked and re checked my tape recorder for fear that it would not work to an almost ridiculous extent. I think this was that I realised how precious these conversations were and that I would be unable to recapture them a second time. It went quite well but I am not sure if I probed enough and felt that I probably could have learned more.

Jane blog 2Even though it was only the beginning of February I was already feeling tired. It was good that I had booked a holiday in February and a short break with friends in March as these trips have since re-energised me particularly with reference to data collection. I was advised that data collection would be tiring and that my sample would probably have some stories that I found upsetting. This indeed was the case. I have spent many quiet moments especially when out walking when I have reflected on the difficulties and challenges which face these young people. This was brought to life more than ever very recently. I was on my way to attend an outpatient appointment for a young man with an osteosarcoma who before his cancer had been a keen sportsman. He had required an amputation just above his knee. As I was walking, I saw a young man in the distance who I recognised I had watched playing school age rugby. He is now a professional player who has an international cap and is a first year student at medical school. The contrast in the two situations really struck me and I thought about how their two lives were so different for young men of the same age.

I have continued to recruit cases and now have three young people in the study. My interviewing is improving as I gain confidence. I have also interviewed family and friends of each case which has provided a different but very worthwhile perspective. I still swing between absolute terror and a feeling that I am coping better and understanding more. It is very uncomfortable (the terror aspect) however I am reassured that this is a normal part of this type of study. I am beginning to write reflexive accounts following the interviews and to try and look for key messages in the transcripts. I have used a small number of codes, which are enabling me to identify specific decision making events within each interview. I have no idea what a lot of it means yet but hope it will start to fit together at some point. It certainly occupies a lot of my thinking time!

I have continued to access training throughout this term and have been to some writing clubs, a rapid reading programme and some seminars in SOCSI. I have also made progress in disseminating my work with a poster accepted at a local and international conference. I have also secured a residency in Geneva next year in July, which will provide an opportunity for writing and sharing my work and ideas with others who are also writing for various purposes. This is something that I am looking forward to enormously. I need to stay focused and ensure that when I go to the residency I am at the right stage to really do justice to the writing that I will undertake there.

I am looking forward to the summer term and the experience of meeting with more young people and their families and to developing some more skills in research data collection. I am also going to try and write alongside this when I can, which will include the submission of a paper which I am currently working on.

Ever wonder what you might do after your PhD?

Vicky was a PhD student at the School of Nursing and Midwifery nearly two years ago and has kindly written a blog piece for us, telling us a little bit about what her life has been like post – PhD…

Following a BSc and MSc in psychology, I completed my PhD at Cardiff University in the department of Nursing and Midwifery in 2010. My research focused in the area of health psychology and addressed psychosocial predictors of PTSD, anxiety and depression in first admission acute coronary syndrome (ACS) patients. This research involved developing a cardiac specific threat and coping questionnaire and working hands on, in a hospital environment, with acute cardiac patients. I discovered through out this research that the part of the PhD I found particularly rewarding was working within a clinical environment and having face-to-face contact with patients. This confirmed my long-term goal to pursue a career in clinical psychology.

Life can sometimes feel as if it is on hold towards the end of your PhD but I have found that it soon picks up pace after hand in! Following completion of my viva in early 2011, I married my then boyfriend of four years James. We decided to take an extended honeymoon by travelling to New Zealand for a year in order to work and explore. We settled in the Northland of New Zealand and I worked as part of nation wide research team for Otago University. This research was a Multi-level Intervention for Suicide Prevention (MISP) project. I worked as the northland representative looking at the efficacy of a series of intervention upon ED presentations for suicide, suicide ideation and self-harm. 

As this research contract draws to a close, my husband and I are currently in the process of applying for residency in New Zealand so that we have the option to stay a bit longer and I am applying for clinical psychology training both in the UK and in Wellington, NZ. Coming to the end of a PhD was a scary transition in to ‘real life’ but the gap left in my life by the PhD was soon be filled with numerous other opportunities and I look back fondly on my student days.

 

The King and I

Recently, I received an invitation letter from the Saudi Embassy Cultural Bureau in London. On behalf of the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, the Ambassador HRH Prince Mohamed bin Nawaf bin Al-Saud invited me along with a group of other postgraduate students across a range of disciplines, who are studying in the UK. We have been selected because we have been deemed to have achieved excellence during our studies and we are held as an example of distinguished post graduate students. The Ambassador HRH Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Al-Saud celebrated with us, together with the celebrations of Saudi National Day on 24th September in London.  We are celebrating our 82nd Saudi National Day this year, which is a very important event that is in memory of the final reunification of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by King Abdulaziz in 1932. King Abdulaziz’ mission was to bring peace to region and to restore Islam.

At the time I found out, I was so happy that the first thing I did was call my husband and children to inform them. I then attached the invitation letter and forwarded it to my supervisors, friends and colleagues to share my happiness. I was so excited each time when I thought about the celebration day. I prepared my bag and the first thing I put in was my camera! I wanted to take some photos to never forget this valuable event.

Celebration started with a reading from the Quran and welcoming speeches. Then Dr. Faisal Al-Abukhail (director of the Saudi Cultural Bureau) spoke about the progress of achievement in Saudi Arabia. He said that the Kingdom’s has allocated more than 25 % of the State’s total expenditures and more than 100,000 students study overseas in 2012.

Following this, the Ambassador addressed and congratulated all of us. He described how he was delighted and proud of our achievements. After that he also expressed his hopes that all Saudi students with overseas scholarships would be able to utilize their distinct experiences and transform the Kingdom into a knowledge based society on their return. After his speech we were presented with certificates. In terms of my selection as the distinguished student, it was due to a number of achievements. I graduated in 1997 with a first class honors degree in Nursing from the King Abdulaziz University, and then achieved a first class Master’s degree in Nursing from the King Saud University in 2005. Recently, I presented my at an international Conference in Egypt in 2007, and last academic year (2011) I was the winner of my research poster during the SONMS Annual Postgraduate Symposium. Since then, my poster has been accepted to be presented at the 38th Annual Meeting of the International Society for Paediatric and adolescents Diabetes (ISPAD), to be held Istanbul, Turkey from 10-13 October, 2012.

I think it is difficult to express my feelings and I will never ever forget this spectacular ceremony and celebration. Really it was like a dream and the opportunity of a lifetime. I am currently collecting and analysing my project data. I hope my achievements will continue with my project and I will have good results, be able to achieve my research project aims, and will be able to introduce new strategies for diabetes education in Saudi Arabia.

I’d like to express my special thanks to Dr. Katie, my supervisors and my colleagues for their advice, support, guidance and encouragement, which is always timely throughout my PhD study. Last, but not least, I wish to thank my husband and my children for their everlasting patience and their encouragement. Without their support maybe I will never be one of the outstanding students and achieve excellence during my studies.

 

 

 

 

 

I Won!!!!!

I received information recently from Mina Kerai (who is the research administration support assistant at SONMS) sent on behalf of Dr. Katie Featherstone. She has informed all the second year research students about our Annual PGR Symposium, which will be held on Tuesday 13th November 2012. We are required to attend this event and to give a 25 minute presentation outlining some of our preliminary findings from our data analysis.

Last year, when we celebrated the SONMS Annual PGR Symposium at our University, all research students attended and presented information about their research project in the form of a poster or a presentation. I was so excited at that time, but I was not sure whether I would have enough time to do my research poster due to my busy schedule. But I decided to spend all my free time at the weekend and made a research poster.

This was my first experience of producing a research poster. However, I got some ideas from Jessica and Catherine (my office mates) and from their posters that are placed on our office wall, as well as some ideas from both my supervisors. I designed several sections including the background of the study, study aims, methodology and research impact (outcome continuum and expected outcomes). You can see the results of my work below.

Although making a research poster was a challenging task – presenting my project on a single sheet of paper – in general I found that this task helped me to focus more my ideas about my project. I stood next to my poster during the lunch break on the day of the symposium and answered some questions of each delegate and other visitors. At the end of the symposium day, the Dean and Head of School announced me as the winner of the poster presentation that I had titled “Teaching self-care behaviour to adolescents with type 1 diabetes in Saudi Arabia’’.

Yes! I Did !!  🙂

I won first prize and a voucher for simply presenting my research poster at the SONMS Annual Postgraduate Symposium 2011.  I can hardly believe it. The competition took place as a part of the celebration of SONMS annual post graduate research symposium day. The decision was based on quality of content and design. So, the committee judged my poster as excellent. Incredible!!!  In addition, I was also very happy to talk to people about my research project. I think it can be really inspiring to see that people are really interested in your research. For me it is even more inspiring to see the impact that my research can have on people. After that I also presented my research poster two more times at Graduate School activities in 2012 – Spotlight on Social Sciences and The Voice of Humanities Conference.

I have new good news about my research poster. I had submitted an abstract to the Annual Meeting of the International Society for Paediatric and Adolescent Diabetes (ISPAD). The abstract review committee has informed me that my research poster has been accepted as a poster presentation :))

So soon I’ll be presenting my research poster again at the 38th Annual Meeting of ISPAD, to be held in Istanbul, Turkey from October 10th –13th, 2012. I look forward to it!!!

My Familiar Strange Day

Since beginning my PhD I seem to be viewing life through a different lens.  With my new awakening of curiosity, inquisitiveness and uncertainty (which I am told is normal!) Nothing is as it seems and the ‘familiar’ has become ‘strange.’

Today (Sunday) I woke up at 6am….and got up!! This is definitely not a familiar time for me and for those of you that know me well, I am not a morning person, so this was very strange.

I decided to book a holiday to Seville,

Reasons for holiday:

  • To provide myself with an incentive to work very hard over the next few weeks, to do lots of writing and then be rewarded with the holiday.
  • Seville I am told is an amazing place – lots of history and Tapas!
  • I want a holiday filled with discovery and to connect with part of my Spanish Ancestry because grandfather was part Spanish.

By 10 am the flights and hotel are all booked and I am feeling very excited and then curiosity seemed to take a hold of me.

My grandfather was called – Santiago Patricio Cubillo….I decided I would look up the family name Cubillo…I followed on with typing in my grandfather’s name into google search, to discover some familiar names staring at me on the screen.

Trinidad, Teresa, Maria and Ramona.  I recognised these as being the names my grandfather used to sing to me ….they were his sisters names!!

I always had a vision of his sisters living in Spain and I was not really sure when granddad moved to the UK, he had lived in Scotland before moving to Worsely near Manchester.  He would often talk about his sister’s.  I had never met them and as far as I was aware he had lost contact and just got on with his own life.

As I clicked on the names on the screen my world was opened, there it was staring me in the face – my family tree  – OMG! there are 1,186 people on the tree!

I clicked straight onto granddad – Santiago – to discover his parent’s names:

Gregorio Cubillo 1875 – 1938 born in Spain

Mary Walsh 1890 – 1973 born in Ayshire, Scotland.

They had 5 children

Maria De los Angeles Cubillo 1911-1984

Trinidad Jobita Cubillo 1914 – 1989

Teresa Ana Cubillo 1918 – 1991

Santiago Patricio Cubillo (my granddad) 1918 – 1996

Ramona Sepia Cubillo 1919 – 1937 (she had been a shop worker, she died of Pulmonary Tuberculosis age 18)

They were all born and brought up in Ayshire!  Trinidad moved to East Sussex.

I really did not know this!! All that time they were all in the UK and I never had the opportunity to meet them.

I searched further… I wanted to know more about the Spanish connection:

Gregorio’s father was called Santiago Cubillo born in Spain (?Seville) 1850 and his mother was Trinidad Contreras also born in 1850 in Spain, where they married in 1870, So my granddad was named after his grandfather.

Gregorio Cubillo moved to Scotland from Spain when he was 26 years old in 1901, he worked as an iron works labourer 1911, fireman at pit 1916 and a boiler fireman in 1919.  Gregorio and Mary Married in 1911 at St John’s church old Cumnock in Scotland.

I realised that my mum was named after Mary Walsh.

I then discovered that the 1911 census that took place in the year that Gregorio married Mary Walsh, was only released in 2011.  This additionally provided a snapshot of life in Scotland that was referred to as ‘an era of mass migration and urban overcrowding’.

I also found my grandmother’s family background on the tree of information. Wow, this was different from my normal have a cup of tea in bed, (brought by my lovely husband) and then get up!

The familiar was made strange today.   It made be think about many issues including communication and silence in families, the known and the unknown.

I now know I still do have the Spanish connection, a stronger Scottish connection than I realised and further connections in Cheshire!

Now I am left with many further wonderings and thirst for discovery surrounding the past, present and future.

…. The family research will go on…. Just like the curiosities surrounding family voice and siblings in my PhD study.

But there is one thing I know for sure..I will not be getting up at 6 am ever again, and I will definitely be going to Seville…. I need a holiday!!

A (slightly belated) welcome to Ahmed Al-Ghamdi

I am Ahmed Al-Ghamdi, from Saudi Arabia. My country is located in the Middle East between the Arabic Gulf and the Red Sea, with a population of 26,131,703 (2011), which includes 5,576,076 non-nationals. The religion is Islam and the language is Arabic.

I was born in Baha which is located in the South-western part of the Kingdom. Al Baha is a beautiful city and suitable for tourism with an often old climate.

 

 

 

 

 

In 2002 I moved to work in Makkah city. Makkah is the holy city of Islam and the direction in which all Muslims in the world should offer their prayers. The interesting thing in this city is that during the year we have two Islamic occasions, so we receive from three to four million people from different countries. And they all wear the same dress, doing the same procedures, in the same time and the same places.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Therefore, as nursing staff I participate with other health workers to offer good health care during these occasions, including; first aid, clinical, hospital admissions, operations etc. I found it very rewarding and a great experience.

Now we go back to my life story. I worked as a nurse for eighteen years in different departments. Most of my experience was in primary health care services. I tried my best to get a scholarship from the Ministry of Health to study for a masters degree in nursing but unfortunately, the Ministry of Health informed me that at that time they support nurses to study bachelor degrees only. So I decided to study a masters degree by funding myself. It was a difficult stage as I am a father of four and I have a lot of money commitments. But with good planning and the support of my (great) wife I was able to schedule things. So I travelled to Australia and completed a master’s degree in Nursing Administration. After completion of the study I went back to work again.

Then I thought that the masters degree is a way to get a PhD and I felt that if I got a PhD I will reach the levels of a good researcher. I believe researches can contribute to the development of Saudi nursing. I tried again to get a scholarship, but unfortunately I failed due to the same reasons as before. So I decided to resign from my job in Ministry of Health. I had two acceptances to study a PhD from two universities in Australia, but I decided to join Cardiff University to study my PhD for several reasons. The first reason is that I like change because I hold a bachelor degree and masters from Australia. The second reason is that the strength of the Cardiff University system in Saudi society. The third reason is that British education has very good researches, and this is what I want to learn. Now I have got a job in Taif University as a lecturer, so I am a full-time PhD student fully funded from Taif University.

In fact, life here in Cardiff is enjoyable and beautiful. People here are very friendly and they appreciate and respect the different cultures. In additional to that, the beauty of nature that contains the green mountains, rivers, and wonderful beaches.

Finally, I recommend every nurse who wants to study nursing fields to join us in Cardiff School of Nursing and Midwifery Studies, and we welcome you and your questions.