This was too funny: How To Prank a Telemarketer
Tuesday, 30 January 2007
Monday, 29 January 2007
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.
Sunday, 28 January 2007
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…
Sunday, 28 January 2007
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 and also my work on tuition fees per school.) 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 (see my post on exchange rates). Don’t let this scare you off, but it is real money.
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.
Sunday, 21 January 2007
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.
See also my UK vs US Redivivus
Saturday, 20 January 2007
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.
Tuesday, 16 January 2007
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.