January 2007

This was too funny: How To Prank a Telemarketer

I had my first experience of the medical system here in the UK. Seeing the doctor in a local practice was basically the same as in the US. The differences…no copay…when scheduling, you have to tell them whether you need to see a doctor or a nurse…they only call you back once the doctor will see you. Prescriptions just cost £6.50 each, no matter what.

If you have a visa that allows you in the country longer than 6 months, then you automatically get covered by the medical system here. Since it is socialized medicine, you don’t pay any insurance premiums. When you get to town, you have to register with a surgery (that is, a doctors office). The NHS then sends you a number a few weeks later, which is similar to a SSN. One other difference, pediatricians are considered specialists, so your kids just go to the GP (general practitioner) unless they are referred.

The dental system is not as responsive. If you are covered by the NHS, then you may wait a year or more to get accepted by a dental surgery (if the closest one is even accepting NHS patients). You can get seen right off if you pay for it yourself or if you have some type of private insurance. We signed up with one in early September that had openings for NHS patients and have not heard anything yet.


Well, maybe not all things, but a friend here (Nijay Gupta, who is another Paulinist) has pulled together a ton of info about PhD issues. He weighs in on the US vs UK, strength of programs, preparation, and tons of other things. Check this out…

Interested in a NT PhD?

Got a question about this, so thought I’d do a proper post.

So the first issue is the cost. Tuition seems to be about £10k, give or take. (See my post on tuition fees.) Our annual living expense budget is about £25k/yr–housing, food, limited travel, etc.–based on a family of 4.  We’ve not budgeted to go home over our time here. We found that we spent more settling in than expected, so I’ve gone with a conservative estimate to help one be realistic. That produces a total 3 year cost of ~£90k-100k or ~$160k-180k (based on a 1.6-1.8 exchange rate, which is now much lower). Don’t let this scare you off, but it is real money.

Financing It
Here are the options that I’ve seen, most with some combination:

  • Borrowing money–student loans and from family.
  • Spouse working. It seems that ~£15-20k/yr is a basic full-time salary. If one has other skills, etc., it would be more. Most seem to start out using a temp agency. (Spouses can work full-time on a dependant-of-a-student visa.)
  • Working yourself. Most don’t have a regular job, but it’s common in the 2nd or 3rd year to tutor and get paid. A friend in Aberdeen made ~£5k/yr on a bursary (part scholarship, part wages) doing this.  At Durham bursaries (scholarships) are separate from teaching.  For a standard TA position for a course you’d get about £300/yr.  (A student can work up to 20 hrs during term and full-time off term, on or off campus.)
  • Donations. Quite a few people solicit donations from family, churches, etc. to help fund their studies. I know a few who are doing ministry here in one form or another, and have worked out for peoples’ donations to be tax deductible in the states.
  • Scholarships. Unfortunately the UK gov’t fazed out ORS, and it seems that about one or two new students get the  Durham Doctoral Fellowship, so competition is fairly tight.  John Barclay offered these criteria for a strong fellowship (and admittance) application.  Durham also offers a handful of £1k-£2k scholarships that are decided upon by application in October for that current year.
  • Spending savings. N.B. I know at least one couple here whose visa initially got delayed because they couldn’t show adequate funds to the UK gov’t. They had to secure a letter of intent from a family member that they would loan them money. So it’s wise to send off the visa application early in case there are any snags like that that need to be ironed out.

Here are some quick thoughts I had. I just added one other benefit for the US being a longer time period–allowing for more time to have get out a publication before graduation.

  • B: 3 years (give or take); A: 5+ years (while longer, the US does make it a little easier to have time to get at least one publication b4 graduation)
  • B: “focused”; A: “broader” (stereotypical answers). American system is broader at first through seminars, but then focused. But you are regularly exposed to different topics along the way thru the NT seminar and sitting in on MA modules. American is supposedly better preparation for teaching b/c broader, but I think it is not as either/or as it is sometimes made out to be.
  • B: Regular contact with others through the whole process through the NT seminar; A: Not sure, but once you get to writing it seems you are more on your own b/c no more course work. But not sure on that.
  • B: Uni based; A: choice of Uni or seminary. (I wanted uni based so more diversity in my education.)
  • B: international experience; A: not. (Though this depends on where you start from…)
  • Cost may be much more or may be equivalent for US person going to UK (b/c of exchange rate, and international student fees) and moving/travel costs. About = for UK to US?What have I missed?
  • See also my UK vs US Redivivus

    The UK gov’t takes a helpful role in training postgrads to prepare them for the successful completion of the PhD process and even more of the life post-graduation. The Arts and Humanities Research Council hosted a funded, two day seminar giving ideas about issues–primarily, thoughts on making you more appealing to future employers. None of the sessions themselves were outstanding, but the combination of them all and the group discussions were very good. Overall, they didn’t tell you much you didn’t know, but it was great to remind you of those things that also really matter beyond the thesis. The thesis is the sine qua non but you have to be proacitve about these other things that determine your employment afterwards.

    One article that they gave us to read (Matthew Eddy, “Academic Capital, Postgraduate Research and British Universities”, Discourse, Autumn 2006), spoke about the need for these three things in particular: 1) publications, 2) teaching experience, and 3) networking.

    Publications. While those that really count would be those in peer-reviewed journals, we were encouraged to start with book reviews to build relationships with journal editors (and get free books). Doing conference presentations are also good ways to get feedback on your position in order to have a better honed argument for a journal. These are important in US and UK, but especially so for the UK*.

    Teaching experience. This is relatively straight forward, but additional things noted are integrating technology (particularly, a class website, etc.). It was recommended that you keep a portfolio of syllabi, student feedback, etc. for the classes/modules that you work with, to give to potential employers.

    Networking. Get out there and meet faculty and other students in your area. Attending conferences and doing presentations there are one of the best ways to do this. Personal relationships are the key to so many things, so go make them.

    * Each 5 years each academic program is rated by the UK government in the RAE (Research Assessment Exercise). Each department faculty is rated, primarily on publications, and this in turn determines their funding for the next 5 yr cycle. So obviously, it behooves them to hire people that can boost their rating.

    Here’s a quick Tom Wright summary. Mike Bird provides some helpful comments to this blog (below the post) that clarify a few key points.

    When I started thinking about PhD studies, particularly in the UK, a friend of mine recommended this book: How to Get a PhD. It focuses on the UK system, but it also provides good general throughts on either US or UK. (It doesn’t only focus on the humanities, so you also get a bit of natural and social science recommendations as well.)

    In our NT Seminar today Professor Loren Stuckenbruck discussed chapters 106-108, which gives a birth narrative of Noah. (1 Enoch is a intertestamental-psuedopigraphal writing.) The narrative has Noah being born with the characteristics of one of the Nephilim children–the giants who have an angelic father and human mother. Lamech is worried that Noah is not his own child because he is big like the giants, but more importantly he has shining eyes, white hair, and extols God’s praise from birth. Lamech asks Methuselah, and Methuselah goes to Enoch to get his opinion. Enoch tells Methuselah that Noah really is Lamech’s own child. He then tells how God will judge the world through the deluge, but save humanity through Noah. However, later the evil will be even greater than before the deluge and God will judge again. The story ends with Enoch telling Methuselah that the boy should be named “Noah”, noting the connection to comforting his people.

    Here are just a few quotes from his The Climax of the Covenant that show that he is definitely looking at justification differently than the traditional reformed view (but I think it is a far stretch for Waters to say he is Semi-Pelagian)…

    Justification by faith is “covenant membership demarcated by that which is believed.” (2) In other words it’s about Gentiles not needing to follow the Torah and it’s boundary markers (circumcision, kosher food, and Sabbath) to be a member of the covenant (3).

    Paul’s purpose is missed when Romans is understood as about “individual salvation rather than as a treatise on the nature of the people of God.” (252)

    “Here is the doctrine of justification, as it appears in Romans 9-11: Christian faith alone is the index of membership (10.4ff; 11.23).” (255)

    With monotheism (God) and election (people of God) the core beliefs in the Jewish worldview, Paul inherits these and reinterprets them in light of Christ. Such that Wright states: “I have argued that christology is, for Paul, a means of redefining the people of God, and also a means of redifining God himself.” (266)

    …but I didn’t come across (yet) any of his statements about the role of works in a christian’s life.

    However, Wright definitely thinks that Christ came to deal with sins that we couldn’t. Referring to Rom 5.12-21, he writes: Christ “had to deal with the ‘many trespasses,’ and the consequent judgment, which had resulted from the sin of Adam. Thus there comes about also in v.16 the further contrast of judgment and justification. The work of Christ does not merely inaugurate a new race of humanity, as though starting from scratch. It effects a favourable verdict for those who, left to themselves, would be in the dock, unable to find a defence (3.19f.)” (37)

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