Saturday, September 29, 2012


I have already made my first money in the UK...I can eat for another day!  More importantly and more happily, I had a fantastic day with the little sir.  He is pretty advanced for his twenty-two months and quite the little talker...but he is going to be very linguistically confused when he's older.  His mother is an American from the deep south (insert all y'all's drawl here...), his father is Welsh, and he has Irish grandparents.  The accents are hysterical.  Anyway, we played a magnificent game of "crawl in and out of the box," ate Chinese on a picnic for dinner, had an absurdly long bath, watched "Mary Poppins," and read before bed.  The evening was quite lovely.

The only other major accomplishment of the day is that I pre-ordered an iPhone 5...should be in sometime in mid-October.

Tomorrow, I'll be spending most of the day getting ready for my first week of formal classes.  More on my schedule for the week coming shortly!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Academic Calendar

I keep telling people that I don't really know when my breaks are.  But the campus calendar has finally been published online!
I am required by the terms of my scholarship to be in the UK (unless for academic reasons, e.g., a conference or fieldwork) for all but thirty days of the year.  During Easter break, the Marshall Commission takes us on a fabulous trip.  I may also spend some time backpacking in Scotland...they have a "right to roam" policy, meaning that I can camp wherever, so long as it isn't directly on someone's doorstep.  Fabulousness.

Autumn Semester: 24 September - 14 December
Christmas Break: 15 December - 6 January
Spring Semester: 7 January - 31 May (I'll be done before May 31st, though...that's just the time allotted for various exams)
Easter Break: 23 March - 14 April

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Yes, that needed to be in all capitals.
I have had an incredible day.
It involved walking about ten miles, playing with a twenty-two month old, and seeing a lot of the beautiful town I now live in.
Walked into Norwich from the University...not terribly far, but far enough that I can't easily do it on days I have classes or meetings.  I can bike it in about fifteen minutes, but I do not yet have a bike...
The walk itself was absolutely many beautiful houses and shops.
Went to Grapes Hill Community Garden. Sat in beauty for a little while quietly, which was rather lovely. And...ate a strawberry and several raspberries. Life is good.  They also have fresh rosemary I'm welcome to take, along with several other herbs and fruits.
Then I went to the Theatre Royal and The Garage.  The Royal brings in great shows (it's the Norwich equivalent of the Wharton Center in Lansing); The Garage hosts a lot of community theater and workshops.  I'm on their mailing list now and will very likely start working backstage...eventually, I hope to audition, but it's a rather different process here. Either way, it shall be delightful.
I then went to a local mall to explore cell phone possibilities.  I do believe I'm going to be a total sell-out and get an iPhone 5 as soon as I have my bank account and credit cards all good to go.  In the meantime, I have a very (VERY) basic phone from when Megs was here studying abroad, so I grabbed a free SIM card with a bit of credit for emergencies.
And then, Anne-Marie and I had a wonderful day with the baby.  I got a tour of Norwich shops and attractions; we played ball in the Cathedral's courtyard; I ate homemade muffins.  It really was utterly delightful.  (And I get to baby-sit Saturday!)
Tomorrow is more study skills learning with my, fun, fun!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Module=course=class.  I'll use them interchangeably.  In official terms, course=the degree program for which you are enrolled (e.g., MSc in Water Security and International Development); module=semester-long series of meetings about a specific class (e.g., "Education for International Development"); class=a specific meeting of a module.  But, as I said, I'll use them all interchangeably.
So, in basic American terms: I've chosen my classes for the year! And they are as follows:

  • Water Security for Development: Theory and Concepts
  • Water Security for Development: Tools and Policy
  • Research Techniques and Analysis
  • Advanced Qualitative Research and Analysis
  • Political Ecology of Environment and Development
  • Introduction to Education for Development
I will also probably be auditing (i.e., sitting in on but not being assessed in or receiving formal credit for) a few more science-based courses on food security issues.

Perhaps none of these sound particularly interesting for you.  To me, they represent the culmination of more than a year's worth of work to get to UEA and a fabulous new range of skills and qualifications!

For those interested, the formal descriptions of each of the courses are below.

Water Security for Development: Theory and Concepts
The aim of ‘Water Security Theory and Concepts’ is to investigate the theory and conceptual frameworks that underpin research and policy work on ‘water security’. It will explore the background to rising concerns regarding the protection and use of water, and outline key problematics regarding its current treatment in research centres, in the literature and in practice. The module will examine the differences between water security and water resources security, and moreover, study the connections between water security with food, climate or energy security, and international, state and individual concerns regarding military security.

Water Security for Development: Tools and Policy
The aim of ‘Water Security Tools and Policy’ is to investigate and provide a working familiarity with established and cutting-edge analytical, decision-making, and development tools (such as water footprinting or climate impacts assessment) for effective water security policy. It will utilise case study material, physical models, computer exercises and material brought or sourced by students to audit the water security of a system of interest (e.g. city, region, country, irrigation scheme). The students will record and assess the factors that affect water security such as laws and legal frameworks; water supply and demand volumes; institutions for managing water; climate change science and models; climate risks and adaptation; and future projections regarding societal change. Actions to address security will be discussed and formulated.

Research Techniques and Analysis
The course lectures and seminars will include the following topics: • Development research & research ethics • Research design and method; sampling, questionnaire design, interviews • The role of qualitative methods in quantitative research and mixed methods • Participatory and action research • Design and implementation of household surveys on various topics, e.g. income, consumption, employment, health, nutrition, education, etc. Basic data processing and statistical analysis and presentation are taught using SPSS.

Advanced Qualitative Research and Analysis
The Advanced Qualitative Research and Analysis module (AQRA) is designed to provide a more advanced training in qualitative methods than its predecessor Research Skills for Social Analysis. It represents a progression from Research Techniques and Analysis in the first semester or an extension of previous experience/ training. Areas covered include bringing social theory into qualitative research, designing research using qualitative and mixed methods, data cleaning and management, data analysis, representing others, and applying qualitative research. There will be three lectures on core qualitative methods such as participant observation, however, the module assumes participants have previous experience or training.

Political Ecology of Environment and Development
This course seeks to provide students with a solid understanding of political ecology theory and to enable them to apply this theory for analyzing environment and development problems. After a brief introduction to key theoretical concepts in political ecology, students review key contributions to major policy fields in environment and development. They do this in a series of reading seminars, covering agriculture and biotechnology, climate change, conservation, fisheries, forestry, water management and other fields. The course ends with a workshop on the role of policy in political ecology.

Introduction to Education for Development
The aim of the module is for students to understand current debates on the principles and theories linking education to development in a range of social contexts. The module will introduce students to theories of education and development including international and comparative education. These are examined in relation to the broader challenges of development. Topics in the module may include: theories of human development and capabilities, human capital and rights based approaches, theories of equity, social justice and inclusive education. We will examine schooling in contexts of chronic poverty, models of schooling and de-schooling, formal and non-formal education, the challenges of linguistic and cultural diversity, gender inequalities, Islamic education, and the education of nomads and other migratory groups.

I will also audit a selection of the courses below:

Agri-Food in Action
During this module students will visit a range of farms, food-production companies, and research institutes. To maximise benefit from these visits, students will develop a reflective portfolio that records each visit through a variety of media, which may include a narrative, brochures, diagrams, maps, photographs etc. Students will develop an understanding of traditional and contemporary agricultural practices and several of the visits will increase understanding of the operation of selected food manufacturing and production organizations.

Sustainable Agriculture
This module examines the concept of sustainability as it applies to modern agriculture. Specific objectives are to provide a systematic understanding of methods used in contemporary agriculture, alongside a critical awareness of new insights into how to make agriculture sustainable.

Climate Change: Physical Science Basis
Climate change and variability have played a major role in shaping human history and the prospect of a warming world as a result of human activities (global warming) presents society with an increasing challenge over the coming decades. This module covers the science of climate change and our current understanding of anthropogenic effects on climate. It provides details about the approaches, methods and techniques for understanding the history of climate change and for developing climate projections for the next 100 years, supporting further study of the scientific or policy aspects of the subject in either an academic or applied context.

Narratives of Environmental Change
The aim of this Module is to introduce students to a range of different narratives of environmental change which have been influential in Western thought and action over the last 200 years and especially the last 50 years. It also aims to show how different narratives of past changes can be used to shape different environmental policy futures. The Module draws upon the sub-disciplines of environmental history, cultural geography, futures studies and systems theory and is taught by three experts in these fields. The Module is divided into three parts. In Part 1, through lectures and seminars we introduce students to seven different narratives of environmental change: for example, limits to growth, planetary boundaries, social-ecological resilience. In Part 2, through lectures we introduce four different arenas where environmental policy-making is currently active and show how different narratives of environmental change shape, constrain or inflect the development of environmental policy and the engagement of citizens. In Part 3, the students working in pairs lead a series of assessed seminars on allocated topics which bring together the historical narratives with areas of live policy debate.

Globalised Agriculture and Food Systems
The aim of this module is to understand how food security is affected by policies, environmental processes, and actions that occur at the international level. Food security is a central theme, and how it is constructed and contested at international level, involving global institutions, interest groups, and diverse policy agendas. This exploration does not confine itself exclusively to production, but also considers other areas of concern, including: global environmental change, dietary shifts, ‘post-production’ concerns with food quality or ecosystem integrity, agribusiness, public versus private agricultural innovation, intellectual property rights, and strategies for technological development. Students will gain critical understanding of these debates and how different policy actors engage with them at both the local and the global level. These actors include firms, public R&D institutions, civil society, farmers’ movements, consumers’ groups, and major donors and philanthropic organizations. The module will help students develop a critical and inter-disciplinary understanding of key international policy debates that have relevance to agriculture. Additionally, students will gain a better understanding of how trends in globalised agriculture affect poor people, particularly smallholder farmers, but also consumers and those involved in value chains.

An Attempt at Videoblogging

I thought I would say "hi" to you all in a way other than the typed word.  Please let me know if you would like to see more "vlogging" or if I should just stick to the typing.
: )

Oh, happy day!

Today has been a delightful day of productivity and settling in.

I have now:
  • Actually registered!  I'm all set with the university.  It required quite a bit of back-and-forth in life, but I am now good to go.  It's a bit of a relief to no longer feel as though I am here partially illegally.  :)
  • Met the Vice Chancellor (the equivalent of the University President).  The international scholarship advisor walked me over to say "hi."  He has the world's sweetest assistant.  (Seriously.  She's fantastic.)
  • Learned how to use the UEA library services...most importantly, I can now print!
  • Registered with the National Health Service.
  • Enrolled for my modules (courses).  More on those in a bit.
  • Chatted with Mark a good deal about course selection and life in general.  Way too much fun.
  • Had tea with the scholarship advisor and met her husband and toddler son.  Baby-sitting is coming my way!!
  • Explored phone options.  I think I'm going to become a total sell-out and get an iPhone...
  • Changed my room swap form in the Accommodation Office in an attempt to move into the City.
  • Explored bicycle options.  I should have one by the end of the week.
  • Explored the possibility of a trip to Stanford in April...see
  • Considered becoming a Global Voice.  International students at UEA are placed on panels and put into classrooms to chat about life, the universe, and everything from the perspective of their home country.  Not sure how many folks will be interested in an American, so I'm going back and forth about actually applying.  We'll see.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Mark! At last!

Finally and at last, I have actually met Mark Zeitoun, the course director for the MSc in Water Policy and International Development. I have been emailing with Mark for nearly a year and a half about this program and the possibility of my studying at UEA; it was really cool to finally meet him.
I also got to meet the six other students in my program.  It's a really fun blend of folks.  Two older adults: one Canadian coming from a background in development and work on climate change adaptation and one native Norfolker who has been in the UK military.  Three young professionals who have done a blend of development, water surveying, and research assistance for 4-8 years before coming for a Masters, and one student who did her undergrad at UEA and came straight into the Masters.  A fun blend of nationalities (Canadian, two British, Swedish, Korean, two Americans) and experiences going should be a grand time!
Several of the days involve hearing an introduction to the many modules (courses) we can take.  This, happily, also involves hearing from most of the Development School's teaching faculty.  It's a fantastic group of people...can't wait to dig in more surely!
I am already nostalgic about only being here for a year...sadness...better make the most of it!!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Induction Week

I ended my last post by mentioning that small part of life "classes."  I have Induction Week this week, an introduction to my module and the entire DEV (Development) School here at UEA.  The good news is that I don't have a great deal of actual work during this time.  The bad news is that I'm very, very scheduled.

Because of when I came in, I've already missed the introductory part of this, which they did Friday afternoon.  Sadness.  But it begins in earnest tomorrow, and I will be there for all of this.

So, my week, with my intended schedule of errands also built in:
Sunday, 23 September:
Today at 8:50 pm, I have a flat meeting in the kitchen with our Senior Resident and my neighbors.  I haven't actually met any of them yet, so that will be nice!  Of course, it will also be a bit strange, since I'm not really planning to live here for more than two weeks.  Hopefully, though, I will simply have lots of friends scattered about campus this way.  :)

Monday, 24 September:
(Notice the UK dating system?  I've also switched my computers to the 24-hour method of telling time. But I'll use am and pm here, just to interpret for the Americans.)
8 am: Fill out room swap form.
Register. (Because I arrived after hours, I'm still not technically here...)
9 am-noon: Study Skills Session with my coursemates
1 pm-5:30 pm: Presentation of Module Options (overviews of the classes I can sign up for as my electives)
5:30 pm: At this point, most offices on campus will be shut down.  I will also probably be completely exhausted.  I may, however, attempt to go into town to look at phones, do some shopping, etc.  Letting this time be flexible, though, since I may be dead.

Tuesday, 25 September:
9 am-10:30 am: Library Session.  (Hurray!  Let's learn to use the library!  They've already been incredibly helpful in getting me internet and UEA email access...)
11 am: Go visit the North Americas Scholarship/Study Abroad Advisor, whom I met at the Thursday night Marshall reception.  We'll be chatting about life in general, but also probably the easiest way to do that long list of errands I have.
1 pm-5 pm: More Presentation of Module Options
5:30 pm: I have to sign up for which modules I would like to take Tuesday night.
I also have some hope that perhaps someone will take pity on me and take me out shopping, etc. with a car...
Also, noon-7 pm is "SOCMART," an open house of all the UEA Student Societies we may join.  Time to go see all of the activities I could distract myself with!

Wednesday, 26 September:
It's break day!  Or, in my case, run around campus doing everything else that needs to happen day!
Formally, I have:
11 am-noon: Information Session for International Studies (reading through the description, I may not actually need to attend looks like it's geared mostly at students for whom English is not their first language.  That being said, I may still go in order to meet people.)
1 pm-2 pm: Careers/Professional Skills Information Session (again, I think this could be a bit optional if I end up getting distracted somewhere else, seeing as how I won't be going directly into a career upon finishing this Masters.)
Informally, this will probably be the day of the bike, bus pass, phone, etc. acquisition.
1 pm-5 pm: I could go to SPORTSMART to see all of the UEA sports groups I could join.  This I might skip out on.

Thursday, 27 September:
9 am-1 pm: Study Skills Session I
2 pm-5 pm: Study Skills Session II
(These study skills sessions involve things like learning about UEA assessment methods, how to write papers for UK academic settings, etc.  They will be partially repetitive but also probably incredibly helpful as I begin a new kind of learning.)

Friday, 28 September:
Freedom!  I am pretty much wide open, which means either sleeping forever in total exhaustion or getting up and doing all of the errands I should have been doing all week.
7:30 pm: DEV Masters Students Party.  That seems like it could be dangerous...  ;)

BUT WAIT!  I have just read some of the fine type in my Induction Week Schedule, and it turns out I am not expected to attend all of the Module Info Sessions...I can just go to the ones that are interesting for me.  Well, hmm...this may change things a bit.  Or I may just be that goody two-shoes that I so enjoy being and listen to all of them in the hopes of learning as many faces of instructors as possible...
Yeah.  Reading through the schedule of which modules are presented when...I'm totally listening to all of them.  You never know when an epic instructor is teaching something that might otherwise not be your favorite choice...


I have a giant list of errands.  They are getting a bit out of hand...I thought that if I were to write them all on the blog, I might feel a bit more obliged to actually do them before people start reminding me that I haven't.  So, in no particularly order, I need to:

  • Acquire a phone.  I had to mail my phone back in the United States in order to get out of Sprint's contract, so I am entirely without a device.  Though I actually have a cheap phone courtesy of my friend Megan, who studied abroad here last year.  She thinks there might even be some minutes left on it...I haven't actually touched it, other than to carry it around in my purse in case there is an epic emergency.  I think that I might be making the dangerous leap to an iPhone.  I'll be in England for two years, so could easily have the standard two-year contract and then own the phone outright, at which point I will have a device and can simply get a new SIM card when I go to different countries.  There is also an incredibly cheap plan involving SIM cards only, if it turns out it makes sense for me to buy a phone outright (now that the iPhone 5 has come out, iPhone 4s may be relatively cheap).  I'll have to price things out...
  • Acquire a bike.  Norwich is beautiful, but I know that I will not go in nearly often enough unless I get a bike.
  • Acquire a bus pass.  Ditto, more or less, on the above.  The Marshall very nicely pays for a bus pass for me, so I'll be able to get around happily even when it's pouring.  (Which it actually won't do all that much here...we're in the flattest and driest part of the country.)
  • Fill out a room swap form.  I am currently in a very lovely room that has its own shower and toilet.  And while that's lovely, it also costs quite a bit more than I really want to pay.  I will be attempting to find something cheaper, but swaps won't be considered for at least two weeks.
  • Register for the National Health Service.  I am covered, since I will be here for quite a while, but I need to sign up and get myself an NHS number.
  • Register for the Norwich Library.  I've actually already done this, but I needed to mention.  My library card will be on its way in the mail shortly!
  • Find the post room.  Speaking of my library card in the mail...I need to find the post room at UEA and figure out how picking up packages works.  I will be sharing my postal address on the blog, but I am waiting for my final room allocation so I don't change it in two weeks and get everyone confused.
  • Look for a job.  I now have access to UEA's Employability system, an online listing of job openings.  I am hoping that I will find something research-based in my department, but we won't know about that for several weeks yet.  It would be interesting to work in a shop in Norwich or something, just to get a greater awareness of the local scene.  We will see!  It is lovely that, given my Marshall stipend, I do not strictly need a job for basic life.  It would be helpful mostly for flights back and forth from the US.  But this one is, in some ways, the least urgent of my to do list.
  • Do laundry.  Here's another one I've actually already taken care of.  There is a laundromat on campus, but I have successfully navigated my way through the British tradition of not using a dryer and simply hanging up clothes to dry.  I washed clothes in my shower and had them hanging all around my dorm room.  It looks a bit ridiculous, since I haven't really unpacked or moved in all that much.  There are random articles of clothing on every surface...but it seems to have worked!
  • Paperwork.  I still have a great deal of paperwork to read through and complete, both from the Marshall Commission and UEA.  Someday, I will no longer have my life depending on a three-inch stack of information.  Maybe.
  • Marshall Class Service Project Write-Up.  Oftentimes, Marshall classes participate in a service project together to give back to the United Kingdom a bit.  I volunteered to write up a few ideas and circulate them to our group.  (Someday, maybe (though probably not), I will learn not to open my mouth in these situations.)
  • Class.  Oh, yeah.  There's that thing called study.  At some point, I should probably pay attention to my classes as well.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

I'm here!!

I am officially official:

This card gets me into my flat, the library, etc.
DEV=Development, my school
PGT=postgraduate (hurrah! I'm a grad student now!)

I arrived at UEA Friday just after 5...aka, just after everything closed.  I had the opportunity to explore campus a fair bit while tracking down where things like keys and my username were.  (I must admit, I probably would have preferred if I did not trek around with my baggage.  Nonetheless, it was nice to see campus...definitely everything I dreamed of and more!)  Everyone was incredibly helpful and friendly.
The campus is absolutely gorgeous.  I was able to share a taxi from the train station to the campus, meaning I went through several back streets of Norwich and got a good feel for the city.  I also thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with my taxi buddy, a girl traveling to UEA from the coast to visit her boyfriend.  Of course, I thought when I asked if she would like to share that I might have just made my first British study buddy at UEA...but it was not to be!  I have met several other international students through orientation, etc., but the British students are mostly moving in today.  Campus is likely to be much more lively tomorrow!
Today has involved lots of helpful information for international students, the meeting of many friends, and the acquisition of groceries.  This evening's entertainment agenda includes looking for a job, reading a great deal of paperwork, and "Doctor Who."  It's possible I didn't mention those in the order they're most likely to occur...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

UEA Arrival

Just in case two orientations weren’t enough, here’s one more!
Most international students actually arrived earlier this week; I think I’m one of the last to trickle in. Friday, UEA is repeating sessions in the morning and afternoon on managing money, library services, safety and security, residence living, that kind of thing. I don’t think I’m going to make it to Norwich in time for either of those sessions. So I will likely spend Friday settling into my room and start official activities on Saturday.
Saturday includes a session on “Studying in the UK” with a “learning enhancement tutor,” a briefing on how the international students advisory team can be useful for us, and a “quiz around campus,” which I’m assuming means a scavenger hunt. We also have a postgraduate studies introduction and a presentation from the students’ union.
Sunday we have a treasure hunt around Norwich, which should be a fabulous way to get to know my new home a bit more!

Oh…hi, England!

Hello! I am now posting from England. Prepare for a flurry of posts such that you all will get sick of me, and anyone who has signed up to receive these posts via email (which you can do in the sign-up form on the right of this page) will immediately unsubscribe. This week has many delights left in store…
Wednesday, the plane landed at Heathrow at 7 am local time (that was 2 am Eastern Standard Time). We were dropped off briefly at the hotel, and then had a briefing and planning meeting there with our wonderful staff from the Marshall Commission.
Wednesday’s delights involved a trip on the London Eye (a large enclosed Ferris Wheel-esque sight-seeing tour) and dinner with current Marshall Scholars (including those in their second year of Marshall study). Most excitingly, Wednesday=SLEEP. All of the sleep. Bed at 9; awake around 7 to shower and eat breakfast at the hotel. Events began at 8:30 am on Thursday…
…including a visit to the Houses of Parliament, a Q&A briefing with current Marshalls to discuss life in the UK, the prepping of our bank accounts (perhaps the most exciting thing all week), and numerous briefings with Commission Staff. The evening culminated in a reception sponsored by Her Majesty’s Government, which involved many delightful people (including the international scholarship advisor from UEA – hurrah! someone from my school!), a wonderful discussion with our Marshall-Sherfield Scholar (doing postdoctoral research work), and…bed!
Friday we will be extensively briefed at the US Embassy and then be shipped off to our universities! It’s really beginning, folks.