A Five Pound Grant

I’ve been receiving decline letters almost every day from various academic associations and charities, since I tried to exhaust every possibility for funding to support my upcoming fieldwork.

Yet there was one unique decline, which came in as a hand written letter, together with a five pound check. I was quite confused at first, for I’m not good at reading hand writings. It turned out that I was not eligible for the grant, but the secretary of the trust thought I was “good enough to enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope”, so he would like to make a small contribution from his personal account. I was touched, and amused at the same time. Thanks to the PGR course Alternatives for Postgraduate Funding, the tutor of which reminded us kindly that we should always enclose stamped envelopes with applications.

I replied, also in a hand written letter, to say thanks, and that I would keep the check as lucky seed money, in the hope that I would succeed in future funding applications. Actually, this kind-hearted gentleman, who represented the honourable British tradition of generosity, inspired me, and I started thinking about academic sidelines. Next time I went to academic conferences, maybe I should bring a beautiful hat and raise money for my PhD fieldwork!

Postgraduate funding    http://www.kcl.ac.uk/study/pg/funding/sources/index.aspx

Alternative Funding guide    http://www.kcl.ac.uk/artshums/study/handbook/resources-links/altfund.aspx

Skill Forge (to book PGR courses)    https://training.kcl.ac.uk/kcl/index.jsf#

Venice Simulation

The amazing workshop on civil-military interaction jointly organised by King’s and the Italian Naval Staff College was more than words could express.

King’s participants discussed the tanker war and strategic choices under hypothetic U.S.-Iran conflict with Italian naval officers, and tutors from both institutions added inspiring comments. Opinions were presented in three groups, offering insights from different perspectives. It was also fruitful to communicate with Italian colleagues as they kindly shared their experiences in military service.

Italian Naval Staff College

The latter part of the 3-day event was occupied by visits to the Arsenal and the Naval History Museum. An officer from the Italian Navy, along with our tutor from King’s, led both tours and turned out to be excellent guides, without whom we wouldn’t have been able to learn in-depth knowledge and various anecdotes related to both sites.

The Arsenal

Our visit to the Naval History Museum

In terms of logistics, we did have some trouble in acquiring visa at first, but thing worked out with our tutor’s facilitation. On top of that, King’s DTC generously supported the workshop by covering the expenses of our accommodation at the Officer’s Club. I also applied to King’s Travel Award, hoping to reimburse the visa application fee and flight tickets, but unfortunately failed.

We enjoyed the workshop so much, and are sincerely grateful for our organisers and facilitators from both King’s and the Italian Naval Staff College.

Snapshots from Venice

King’s DTC   http://www.kcl.ac.uk/study/pg/school/dtc/welcome.aspx

King’s Travel Award Scheme    http://www.kcl.ac.uk/campuslife/services/grad/travelawards/index.aspx

Exams at King’s

Normally there are no exams to take for PhD students, as all methodology trainings are optional. But I got the rare chance to take an exam as I registered for the Japanese Culture course at King’s Modern Language Centre.

Unlike Chinese universities which always arrange exams on campus, this exam was scheduled at Excel London. It was far away from both Strand and where I lived, which meant I had to get up very early in the morning. The interesting thing was, after changed to DLR, the train seemed to have become a “King’s Exclusive” full of King’s exam candidates. I would feel like going on a school picnic if it was not for the serious looks on other students’ faces.

Candidates were so focused on exam preparation.

Second surprise came when I entered the exam room, which was so big that you might hear echoes (only if it was permitted to talk). Then I realised four different exams were held simultaneously, which seemed to be a creative arrangement that could maximise venue/human resources.

The third point I want to mention was not as amazing- it was so cold but coats were not allowed, and a transparent bag was required if you wanted to bring valuables with you to the exam desk.

I haven’t got the result of my Japanese exam yet, but I did enjoy the process despite the travel on tube, rainy weather, and cold exam room.

There were more happy faces after the exam.

“Events Bee” Buzzing around King’s

I recently went to an extremely inspiring lecture titled “Banker to the Poor: Lifting Millions Out of Poverty through Social Business”. The Nobel winner Muhammad Yunus shared stories about his legendary career. What impressed me most was he didn’t plan anything ambitious from the very beginning– everything started from his simple idea of helping people as he could. He emphasised that the society was not all fixed, and we should always have the courage to change.

King’s entitles its students the privilege to be an events bee, which I really appreciate. The Strand campus enjoys an ideal location, and holds many wonderful events itself—these are my first choice from the “events flora”. I also asked to be added to others departments’ mailing list, so I get information of events I’m interested in. Besides, I subscribed to various institutions including LSE, SOAS, and Daiwa Foundation, to get updates of their events. Though usually free, registration is essential. Sometimes luck plays an important role in getting tickets for popular events. Once I was refused entry, even though I got a ticket, because I was 10 minutes late.

To conclude, it’s more fun for me to go to quasi-academic events or exotic academic events out of my “research territory”.

King’s events    http://www.kcl.ac.uk/newsevents/events/index.aspx

LSE public events    http://www2.lse.ac.uk/publicEvents/eventsHome.aspx

Things to do in London    http://www.visitlondon.com/things-to-do