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Down the Rabbit Hole | Into Postgrad Life

‘But I don’t want to go among mad people,’ Alice remarked.

‘Oh, you can’t help that,’ said the Cat: ‘we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.’

‘How do you know I’m mad?’ said Alice.

‘You must be,’ said the Cat, ‘or you wouldn’t have come here.’

Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

I was thinking about this quote to sum up my feelings of these crazy times of staying home, but things have gotten so much better since Phase 2 began in Singapore, and I’m able to venture out again! Then, I realised this quote is perfect (as a joke, or maybe quite real) for talking about what I’m up to doing my master’s degree!

This post is a kind of follow-up to my May 2018 post, Prospect and Refuge | In Architecture, Art, and In Life, which I wrote to ground myself among all the things in my life that were happening. What’s happened since then? In the same month, I was rejected from the master’s programme I’d applied to, and continued on my job-hunting process as I was between jobs. In June 2018, I decided to apply for a master’s again — this time round, with a better sense of preparedness, since my first application was a bit of a spontaneous decision. Somehow through the months, I managed to land my next job after many applications, apply for three master’s programmes… and then, had to make my decision on where I wanted to go.

So, here I am now — I’m almost a year into my master’s by research (research-based master’s / MPhil / whatever term exists for this) in art history at the very beautiful architectural marvel that is the School of Art, Design and Media, at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. To be honest, this was the most unexpected option that I would have thought to have gone on, for so many reasons.

As my academic study increasingly consumes my life, I’ve been wanting to share more about the process of applying for postgraduate programmes, and in actually doing one. This blog has always been a great outlet for me to talk about anything art-related that interests me, but I’ve never talked much about academia on this space. How is it like studying art history in Asia? How is it like doing a master’s in Singapore? How did I go into research? These are questions that I’ve been reflecting on, and I think writing about it is a good way to balance out my academic work.

I want to give a more personal view into the course of doing postgraduate studies, specifically in art history. There’s a lot that I want to talk about, and I will be sharing more in upcoming posts — see the new ‘Academia’ category! If you’re an art history student, and looking to go into this rabbit hole of postgrad life, or you’re already in it (!), I hope that these posts will be helpful or insightful to you in some way.

And since a large part of postgraduate life is about reading, the cover picture is a candid picture taken by my sister of me at The Moon, a bookstore-cum-cafe, back in November 2019 when they dedicated their front display to art books, and I happened to be engrossed in a book about methods in art history, I kid you not. More to come!

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