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Tigla

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Everything posted by Tigla

  1. Tigla

    Applications 2019

    I may have crossed this line, which started this problematic exercise. @historygeek As you have seen from my earlier post to this one, there are many differing opinions on how to write an SOP and what is necessary content for one. You have put a lot of effort into writing SOPs this early in the process, which is very helpful and will limit the stress later in the process. I, however, highly recommend taking a step back at this moment. Deadlines are not for another 5 months (roughly). Take a couple weeks and get away from the application material before you start making major changes and adjustments. When I edit and proofread, I try to give myself at least 3 days away from my work before I begin to edit. A small amount of time away refreshes your eyes, but also gives you a moment to critically think about your work.
  2. Tigla

    Applications 2019

    As @OHSP said above, go for a research hook. In my case, my opening paragraph uses my experiences in Cambodia as an English teacher to question binaries in the historical literature on development aid programs and human rights. It is less formal, but it grasps the committee's attention (at least I hope it does) and shows that I have thought about my research questions despite being out of university for a year. In general, you do not want to write a literary and fictional hook, but you need to grab the attention of the committee within the first paragraph. Otherwise, your application will be going in the bin; especially, since you are applying to some of the most selective programs in the US.
  3. Tigla

    Applications 2019

    I might fall into a minority here, but I was bored by the end of your first paragraphs. There was no hook that drew me to your SOP. You hit all the necessary points (fit, research, questions, etc), but there has to still be a bit of you and your style. If you apply to all of the programs listed, then you need to draw the committee in and keep their attention because most committees will be looking for a reason to drop your application, not accept it. Right now, I suggest taking a break from writing SOPs and getting some distance. Your statements are great starting points, but need to be refined (in my opinion) for style. In 3-4 weeks, come back to your SOPs and re-read them with a very critical eye.
  4. These two posts worry me a bit. If you want to do an MA, then you should be fine to go ahead and apply to Oxford or Cambridge. However, a Ph.D. at both institutions without at least one foreign language is unacceptable. In your time period and topic, you could use French, German, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Hindi, Chinese, etc. as possible second and third languages. The 'global' turn requires scholars to branch their language skills outside of the norms in order to ask unique and new questions. In your specific case, British Imperial History was dominated by men who only spoke English for decades (could still be argued today) which caused the historiography to be fairly biased and reinforced a lot of colonial attitudes. In order to mediate and alleviate these caveats, I suggest working on your French starting tomorrow and looking into either an Asian or African language. You could also, in theory, pick up Spanish, but I think a 'non-Western' language will be more beneficial and nuanced for your field.
  5. Tigla

    Writing sample?

    For my MA, my advisors gave me a handful of tips for writing the historiography section, which may or may not apply to you. First, keep the arguments broad and concise. The smaller and finer arguments will be fleshed out in the body of your work as you place yourself directly and indirectly against specific ideas and phrases. The introduction is meant to give a broad overview of your work, not a blow by blow account. Second, do not write another introduction in the footnotes. Footnotes are meant to explain your ideas, but also provide further resources for the reader, not to explain finite points in depth. If these finite points are important, then put them in your body, not the footnotes. Lastly, do not fall into the trap of painting a hole in the literature that your work fills. It is a trope that a lot of students use, but rarely applies in practice. Instead, focus on the ways your work expands the literature and our understanding of your topic. Best of luck with your writing!
  6. Tigla

    Applications 2019

    I talked with him when he came to my university 2 weeks ago and he told me that too, but he also said that he may take on one last student. At most, Maier would be a third reader, but more than likely a person to bounce ideas off of if he remains around a bit (A stretch I know but one can hope). I'm mainly interested in working with Manela and Westad as advisors, and the two centers for international/global history at Harvard. I had Mazower on my list, but then took him off for some reason. I will take a second look. Thanks for the reminder! One of my recommenders just said this today! Thanks for the heads up, though.
  7. Tigla

    Applications 2019

    @TMP Thanks for the article! I must have missed it through my literature review. @OHSP Thank you for the possible advisors. It is a shame Nolan is retiring; I really enjoyed reading her insights into post-WWII Germany.
  8. Tigla

    Applications 2019

    It is time to throw my hat back into the ring. Last year, I was accepted into two UK universities (one of which I deferred for a year) and was waitlisted on my three US applications. Hopefully, this round will be the one! In a broad sense, I focus on global development programs during the Cold War. A lot of work has been done on American and Soviet programs, the role of international organizations, and the effects of 'development' on the 'Third World.' Following the literature from the Global Cold War, my plan is to attempt to look at how European countries, specifically the Germanys, justified their programs and the decision-making process once the decision was made to aid a country. Through my work, I hope to be able to combine the growing political and international histories of the Global Cold War with the economic and intellectual histories of development aid programs. Then, apply these frameworks back into Europe to figure out why European countries actively engaged in these programs. UNC-Chapel Hill: Klaus Larres and Karen Hagemann (Need to go through the faculty again) Princeton: Harold James, Christina Davis, Helen Miller, Andrew Moravcsik Northwestern: Daniel Immerwahr, Lauren Stokes, Kyle Burke Brandeis: David Engermann and Shameel Ahmad Columbia: Matthew Connelly, Anders Stephanson, Adam Tooze, and Paul Thomas Chamberlin NYU: Stephen Gross and Mary Nolan (still a maybe) TAM: Hoi-eun Kim, Jason Parker, and Adam Seipp Stony Brook: Young-Sun Hong, Larry Fordham, Michael Barnhart (another maybe) Harvard: Erez Manela, Charles S Maier, Arne Westad Indiana: Nick Cullather and Stephen Macekura I'm still expanding my list and trying to cast my net fairly wide before starting to cut universities. The rest of my application will be mostly edited from last year's one. My writing sample, however, will be a chapter from my MA thesis which used exclusively German sources. As for my recommendations, they will change because 2 of my writers are leaving academia for the private sector.
  9. Thank you everyone for your comments. It is a fairly tricky and less than ideal situation to be in, but it is always good to hear other people's ideas and solutions. After some unpleasant discussion, it seems like I will be deferring and moving back to the States for a year.
  10. @rising_star I'm trying to get other postgraduates takes on the matter. I tend to forget looking at aspects of an issue, especially, in a short timeframe and need to talk it out with people. I have had my professors here in Berlin tell me to take the offer. They all agreed that loans suck and I'm in a far from ideal situation, but PhD positions "do not grow on trees" and I need to find a way to make this position work. In contrast, my family has multiple issues related to the financial aspects and wants me to move back to the States for a year before making a decision. I think you hit the nail on the head with your last sentence. Luckily, the department offered me a lecturer position, which is still available, in order to offset my living expenses. In conjunction with my wife's income, we would have enough money to cover our yearly expenses and still save a bit. However, there is always a chance that I do not receive any funding for my program which means I need to cover the study costs by loans. When I compare the total UK amount to the US system, 3 years in the UK costs roughly the same as 1 year in the US. Regardless of the numbers, you still touch my biggest fear/worry, which is self-financing a PhD in History through loans.
  11. I knew I left something out of my initial post. If I defer a year, my loans will activate and I have a month (I used 5 months already) before my first payment would be due. I cannot deactivate them in 2 years because I will be married and have a household income based on my wife's yearly income. The current rules of the Department Education determine my eligibility for a deferral based on household income, not individual income. Also, my UK loan would be equivalent to a year's worth of my state's undergraduate tuition. Since I worked full-time and studied full-time during my undergrad, I was able to pay for 2 years of my undergraduate tuition myself, which would leave my total loan amount at 3 year's worth of undergraduate tuition (still well below the national average). In terms of the total amount of the loan and tuition, I agree that loans in the American system are god awful and should never be taken out. In the UK system, a lot of postgraduates pay at least a year of tuition with some sort of loan, which is manageable because the cost is dramatically lower in the UK compared to the US.
  12. Over the past couple of weeks, my plan to attend a UK PhD program in October has become more and more complicated for numerous reasons. Most important, my funding was pulled by the College because of visa issues and the changing immigration policies of the UK that hinder an American receiving a visa. After speaking with both of my advisors and the department (everyone was surprised my funding was pulled), they suggested applying to the US-UK Fulbright Program and Marshall Scholarship or taking out a year's worth of loans then reapplying for funding during my second and third years. With their advice in mind, I have created a handful of options for myself that I would like to run-by this forum. First, I can take out the year's worth of loans in order to enter the UK, start the program, and begin building the necessary relationships for my future funding applications. Luckily (I guess), I can use federal loans from the US in the UK education system. This would allow me to have a single loan payment after my studies; rather than one valued in USD and another in pounds. One year of loans will not break the bank, but it also is not ideal for the obvious reasons. Crucially, this option gets me into the UK and provides me the opportunity to start personally lobbying for funding. Second, I defer my offer for a year and apply to the US-UK Fulbright Program and Marshall Scholarship. I need to defer for one year, which my university and advisors said was possible, in order to be eligible for both programs. Once I enter the UK at a university, I become ineligible for any study related grants and scholarships. It is possible (and very likely) that I would not receive either scholarship, thus, I am back in my current situation, but a year later. Third, I reapply to American universities and restart the process all over again. Unlike last year, I will have a completed MA in a foreign language, published several book reviews, and worked as a research assistant translating documents for a professor. It would still be a crapshoot, but I hope it would be enough to lift me off the wait-lists and into at least one acceptance. I have talked with a couple of my professors and my family, but now I want to see what fellow graduate and postgraduate students think. What are your comments/ideas on the above options?
  13. And competing with over 400 applicants per round and probably 10-15 who applied to work with the same professor as you. If the professor took on an applicant in the last 2 years, then more than likely you will not be accepted regardless of how well you fit into a school. Of course, pick a handful of top programs to apply to, but don't fill your entire portfolio with only top tier programs; that is a recipe to never be accepted and never be allowed to put your own ideas forward.
  14. Yes and no. Funding will be the biggest issue for going abroad because of the UK immigration system. Interestingly, most UK universities offer the chance to teach your own classes after your first year. In fact, some programs provide a series of seminars in your first year to prepare PhD students to teach their classes. The issue comes about because the UK pushes research over teaching to the point of neglecting the teaching aspect. Without a doubt, teaching remains the largest question mark (in my mind) about UK programs, but can easily be mitigated if the student is prepared to take the extra workload. @historygeek, I suggest finding some mid-level universities. You are focusing on most of the top universities that are going to receive hundreds of applications. I would start looking at the PhD programs your potential advisers attended. Also, start branching out from Italian history and focus on your secondary interests. These universities may not be ideal, but engaging with historians who are broadly interested in your area can stimulate your work and ideas. You may also change your entire research project. In short, spread the word and engage with a broader field.
  15. In general, your GPA and achievements don't mean much. More important is your fit into the university and department. The professors may have said you are a "good fit," but you need to be honest with yourself. How does your research fit into the recently accepted and finished PhD students? Is your language sufficient to cover your field of study? (Here, I mean whether there are unwritten rules that your program has about the "necessary" languages to complete your PhD in your proposed field of study. For example, a colleague of mine with a "first-rate application" was denied because of her basic language skills in Korean, despite her language abilities in several European languages, including Russian. She applied with a project centered on Communist music and nationalism.) Are the recent graduates from the university highly respected and prepared to enter the field? I understand that you are in the beginning phases of preparing your application, but there are a lot of unwritten rules in academia. The sooner you can answer the unwritten questions, the quicker you can focus on a handful of applications (5-7, at most). Quality over quantity will put you in a better position to be accepted by more schools, which will give you options.
  16. Bluntly, long distance relationships suck! However, that does not mean they are impossible. My fiancee is currently working in the Arctic Circle in Alaska while I am finishing my MA in Berlin. The last two years have been extremely difficult and stressful for the relationship, but we worked at it. We both were dedicated and determined to make the relationship work, which helped ease the pain/discomfort a bit. From my experience, the first couple months are not the most difficult. They will be stressful because the both of you will have to (re)learn how to communicate and support one another. The most stressful period, in my opinion, comes around the six-month mark. At this point, you will settle into a routine with calling, skyping, texting, etc. one another. It is at this point where you start to question yourself. "Can I do this? Do I want to do this?" I believe the surest way to jump this hurdle is by being open with your partner. Express your feelings and emotions when these questions arise. Hiding behind the distance will only force you both apart. Openness, honesty, and maturity are key to a long distance relationship succeeding and growing.
  17. I'm currently abroad doing my MA and I think it is odd to assume that non-native English professors cannot teach someone how to write in English. Of course, some people will be better than others because of their grasp of the English language. However, our entire field needs to publish in English at some point in their career and must actively engage with the English literature. Also, most countries in Europe have been teaching English (or French) to their children since the age of 8, as well as a second foreign language at 12. As much as I agree that a native-English speaker helps teach the small intricacies of English, a non-native professor will typically have a better grasp of English than perceived and be able to help structure and guide a graduate student's writing (especially an MA student) as much as a native-English speaker. After all, language is typically not the issue with writing samples, but rather a lack of structure, clarity and overall narrative. @TheHessianHistorian thanks for complying the data. More information is never a bad thing.
  18. Europe is a bit different than the US when it comes to graduate admissions. The first thing that is looked at and weighed is your GPA. From there, the committee goes down their list and narrows it by looking at the rest of the package. If your GPA is above 3.5 (a 3.7 would be better) then you are going to be in a good position to get past the first round of cuts. After this round, the decision process becomes closer to the American-style and begins by looking at research fit, interest in the program, ability to do graduate work, etc. As for your specific field, African history has become more popular in Germany, however, your research still needs to look at German colonies and German experiences on the continent. This speaks to a larger issue with history in Europe. Most countries are focused on their national experience and history, thus, your research will need to somehow accommodate this political/funding trend.
  19. Tigla

    Buffalo, NY

    It is great that you know the winter will be a pain! A lot of graduate students (mostly international) are surprised by it. As for the West/East divide, the university will tell you that, however, the UB North student living has been known to be a touch different than the advertised. I didn't mean to come off as negative and attacking towards North housing. My apologies if I did. Best of luck in your studies!
  20. Tigla

    Buffalo, NY

    It is a long walk into UB North (about 20-25 min). During the summer/spring, the walk is not a problem and fairly pleasant. Winter and late-Fall is a completely different story. The wind and snow tend to make the walk miserable and some days impossible. If you are lucky, you can grab the bus and ride into campus, however, most students tend to do this during the winter months which makes the bus rides not a guarantee. Lastly, most undergraduates stay on North Campus and have begun to party on North, rather than going to South/City since the "Drunk Bus" was canceled a couple semesters ago. Fortunately, the university changed its mind and is starting to run the "Drunk Bus," again, which may make a difference in the coming semesters. In short, North is where the undergrads live and party which may make living in student accommodation a bit problematic for a graduate student. Although, it could be a great way to break the monotony of grad school life.
  21. Tigla

    UK vs US PhDs

    Yes, that is correct. However, the blanket statement/idea that the UK is far behind American programs is starting to become harder to defend. I have been offered research assistantships for my first year which is followed by teaching responsibilities for the next two years at both Oxford and University of Birmingham. Also, conference and travel funding has been moved from a university-level decision to the department. From my experience, the UK system is realizing its deficiencies and attempting to mitigate them in order to become more competitive with American PhDs. However, the UK system is still geared towards crafting a dissertation within a defined topic/area (and probably will remain so regardless of the changes).
  22. Tigla

    UK vs US PhDs

    I will more than likely be going to a UK university this upcoming semester. After doing quite a bit of research and talking to UK postgraduates and PhD candidates, the differences disappear quite quickly. Most UK universities offer PhD candidates the ability to teach, take classes, and extend your dissertation to 4 years (but not any further). On top of that, the UK has more funding options for European research trips (at least the universities I applied to) because the cost of travel is cut by 80% in comparison to the USA. However, the real issue comes down to finances. American universities tend to offer funding for all candidates, while the UK makes you compete with the rest of the graduate school. In short, most UK universities have started to realize that the rigidity within the 3-year system has made them less attractive to international students, therefore, the universities are beginning to change and adopt some of the perks from the American system.
  23. Tigla

    Buffalo, NY

    If any of you have questions about the city and general area, feel free to reach out to me. I was born and raised in the city. Also, I did my undergraduate at SUNY College at Buffalo. Congrats to all!
  24. @costigan95 I was in a similar boat as you about two years ago. First, I suggest getting to Germany ASAP. You need to show that you are not only capable of doing research (reading, listening, and basic writing) in German, but also that you have shown a willingness to experience Germany, rather than merely reading about Germany. Therefore, I suggest the following language schools/programs for this upcoming summer. https://www.daad.de/deutschland/studienangebote/sommerkurse/en http://www.auslandsgesellschaft-ggmbh.de/ http://www.gls-german-courses.de/learn_german_in_germany.html http://www.ssk-misu.de/en/ https://www.goethe.de/ins/de/en/index.html I highly suggest applying for the DAAD summer school since it will be a major boost to your CV, but also look at the other ones from different cities in Germany. Next, start thinking about what exactly you want to research. 20th Century and Contemporary Germany are full of historians who study the cultural and ideological differences between East and West, as well as the respective political movements. Get acquainted with the research in the field and start asking yourself what interests you most. From there, expand it to include another world region, as well as Europe. Understanding Germany within Europe and then the world will make you more attractive and nuanced within the current literature. Another suggestion would be to start with an idea, such as development aid programs, humanitarianism, nationalism (it has been done to death), etc., then use Germany as a case-study. This will cause you to work from a global view and then either critique or explain its relevance from a German perspective.
  25. One of the biggest issues/things I needed to learn was how to read. During your undergraduate work, you learn a lot of useful skills that prepare you, in a very broad sense, for graduate school or the workforce. Learning to read is probably the hardest skill I had to learn while in graduate school. You will be given an enormous amount of material to read per week and expected to be actively contributing to the seminar. My reading load per week was roughly a book a week per seminar. On top of the reading, I highly suggest learning another language, polishing a current one, or actively engaging with a current language. Grasping a second or third language will not only help you with your research and reading skills but also you will be able to communicate with an even wider range of material and people. Besides the academic angle, graduate school tends to be a student's first experience away from home or in an unfamiliar environment/city. It is likely that you will get stressed out over the laundry, cooking meals, or forgetting to buy something at the supermarket. Luckily, these battles will occur once then you know how to handle them and what solutions work. Personally, I found this part of graduate school to be more stressful and nerve-wracking than the actual coursework. Buckle down and get through it, but also don't be afraid to say you are lost. Although graduate school is a pain, I loved it. I was able to polish my German and start Russian and French; mostly because I was around those native speakers on a daily basis. My writing has improved an unbelievable amount; after reading a handful of my undergraduate works, it is clear to me why I was rejected for a PhD two years ago. Most importantly, you are going to meet amazing people and make new friends that transcend the university setting. In short, graduate school is hell but it is what you make of it, so make the best of it.
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