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A Year of (Grad) Life

I started my Grad Life blog this year with “Why I Chose to Do My Doctoral Work in Geography” with my comps not far off.  The Grad Life blog has been a tool for making life in grad school a bit more bearable through many hurdles, challenges and triumphs, and for that I am grateful. (more…)

Riviere Rouge Rafting

Here’s a fun idea.  Go rafting on the Riviere Rouge.  Right around the time of my comps a grad student, a prof and I drove over through Ontario then back up into Quebec to make the run down the river.  It is a great way to relieve stress, cool down and have a lot of fun.

I just did it again last weekend. (more…)

Ironies of Blogging in Academia

A story in the online Chronicle of Higher of Education (July 3, 2011) got me thinking because the story echoed some of my own experiences with absurdity in academia.  The following quote about a woman whose husband was denied tenure struck me:

“After all, most people in most jobs don’t get fired without really having messed up. Most people don’t have their employment decisions made by a group that consists of the majority of their colleagues, so that everyone knows exactly what went down except for themselves and a few other people. And, of course, most people don’t have employment decisions that come down to the two extremes of “Well, we’re either going to can you or give you employment for life.” Even lawyers going through the partnership process think tenure is nuts.” (more…)

A Decade of Education, A Decade of War

This story begins in a kitchen in Prince George, BC, where I stood in my bathrobe, jaw-dropped, already shell shocked, at the images conjured by radio commentators describing the twin towers coming down.  Far away from northern BC, we had visited NYC three years ealier and were lucky enough to have seen the twin towers that, unbeknownst to us, would vaporize an instant later in historical time. (more…)

On Fighting For Your Life

The other day I used a disease metaphor to describe what it is like to be unemployed.  You go through four stages: denial, anger, grief and acceptance.   Right now I am in the latter two stages.  At first (a year ago) I had a naive insistence about the job search I do not have now.  After that a little bit of anger pushed me through the summer (2010), made me apply for more jobs.  And I even got a few interviews (four I think). (more…)

On paying your dues

Here’s a mistake I know grad students make.  I know because I made this mistake, and if I can do it, others can too.

Some assume (I did) that being in grad school is about paying your dues.   That once you graduate, you’ve done what was expected of you.  Therefore you are entitled to what’s next (job, career, recognition).  This was a theory I accepted uncritically and now I am paying for it.  Paying doubly as it turns out. (more…)

Yes to Montreal 5! (East/West)

Until my early thirties, my identity was ineluctably western.  I had disdain for all things of the (north american) east.  This disdain was bred partly from ignorance, and partly from the opinions of eastnerners themselves.  The latter often opined (with a graciousness toward their new hosts that could be bred nowhere but in the east) that the sense of freedom and wide open space, once experienced, was addictive.  Once a westerner always a westerner.  You can take the easterner out of the east and vice-versa, but not so for the westerner, neophyte or not.



As we get close to spring convocation we get closer to closure but also to things opening up: our lives, multicoloured and variegated in all their manifold possibility. (more…)

Yes to Montreal 4! (French, or Limit as Possibility)

Come to Montreal where you can learn French.  There are many possibilities, but if you are into Montreal for the long haul, French is a must.

Quebec French is a unique beast.  I’ve been told that learning French in Quebec would be like learning English in Australia.  Accents and odd expressions add to the charm, appeal and frustration of learning Quebec French. (more…)

Yes to Montreal 3! (Starting Point for the NDP in Quebec)

It is still fresh.  The NDP won 102 seats in Canada, with 58 of those seats coming from Quebec (according to CBC online).

Before this election only Thomas Mulcair (Outremont) had a seat in Quebec.  If you are into the NDP, Quebec is the place to be.

Even if you’re not, sometimes students have a way of seeing the NDP’s way of things.  Promotion of education and lower tuition rates being prime motivators.

I live in Justin Trudeau’s riding so I did not entirely share in the orange wave that swept the province on Monday.

But at a friend’s house we talked about Quebec, and how this province tends to start movements.  Both the NDP and Harper’s conservatives have strong roots in the west.  Is this newfound support of all things western simply a form of exoticization of the western Canadian ‘other’?  This is perhaps a stretch, but perhaps not.

There was a core group of ridings around Quebec City in the election before this one that voted conservative.  Within one election they’ve mostly gone back on that, this time doing a 180 and voting NDP.

Welcome to the adventure of Quebec!  When you live here, you never know what’s next!

Gwilym Lucas Eades, PhD Site

Image source:


On Postdocs (If you’re in for the long long haul)

If you’re the kind of person who can go the distance and you like the long long haul, you’ll want to do a PhD.  Take me, for instance, I thought I wanted to do a PhD, so I did it.  But the haul is turning out to be much much longer than I’d bargained for. (more…)

Yes to Montreal 2! (Speaking of Food)

Don’t forget Meli-Melo Haitian food on Jarry, two blocks east of the Jarry metro.  All the taxi drivers go there so it must be good.

Or The Pushap, on Pare and Mountain Sights (near Decarie).

Le Coin G is a beautiful little french bistro a block from my house (it is on St. Dominique and Guizot I think).

L’Oeufrier is a cool place to have breakfast, with locations all around Montreal.

These are just a few of the unique places to eat in Montreal, and why you should come here to live and/or be a grad student.

Gwilym Lucas Eades, PhD Site

TA and RA work and dependency in grad school

This type of work is good where it can be had. I worked 12 TA positions during my 40 months at McGill. I was also a fully funded PhD student for three years.


Yes To Montreal 1!

Today I said yes to Montreal by wandering around Parc Ex and Mount Royal psychogeographically.

I hit the bricks, pounded the pavement for about two hours, came home and had a lunch of two grilled cheese sandwiches and a cup of coffee, then headed straight back out to chase down a job lead from the internet.

Saying yes by getting out into the city, by committing to a life here beyond McGill.

F. Scott Fitzgerald said (paraphrasing) if you want to marry for money, go where the money is, then marry for love.

Montreal is where the love is, which is why I came here and now I’m looking for the money!  Ass-backwards, but that’s the plan.
Gwilym Lucas Eades, PhD Site


Just to toot our own horn one more time, here’s why I love Montreal, and why you should really seriously consider moving here, especially if you get accepted at McGill.



80 nos so far.  How many more will it take before I get a yes?

I have been searching for a job for a year, since April 2010 when I first turned in my dissertation.

It took eight months more before I got to defend that disseration (successfully!).

My plan had been to get started early on the job search and then move on to some kind of job without interruption.



Sea-Tac airport, post AAG annual meeting (Association of American Geographers), waiting for the redeye to suck me into the sky, take me safely home to Montreal, my two cats, my lovely future wife, my life.

During the AAG conference here in Seattle I made a breakthrough. I got an interview, and I learned the value of relationships. I’ve never been much of a people person. A bit like Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory, I sometimes make human interaction out to be a necessary evil. (more…)

Snowboarding V: Fernie

The struggle is over.  I floated down the mountain powder on my snowboard front edge to back edge to front edge.  It was working.  I finally got the hang of snowboarding.

All that work in January and February learning the techniques paid off in one single spectucular day in Fernie.

I’m here for a conference on Spatial Knowledge and Information (SKI), which runs from 3 to 10 pm.  This way we can ski in the morning before an evening of presentations and ‘networking.’

The networking is going well too.  I’ve never felt more outgoing or confident.  It still feels strange to be an ‘independent researcher’ and consultant.  It will take some time to get into these roles.  There was a lot of security and safety in being a student.

But I’m glad those days are over.  I took a risk signing up for a PhD, but I finished.  I took a risk taking on snowboarding as a hobby, but it too has paid off.  More risks, more payoffs, but also more uncertainty are in store.  It is the price of freedom.  It is worth it.

Follow my progress here:

Gwilym Lucas Eades, Phd Web Site

Image Source: Fernie.com

Snowboarding IV

My third full day of snowboarding was almost as exhausting as my first.  I got my second lesson, which will probably take me all the way to becoming a ‘real’ snowboarder, one who can make turns.

The day after my second lesson and my third real day of snowboarding, I felt broken.  I felt like I had been run over by a tractor, but in a good way.

I spent almost the whole day on a green slope (not the ‘bunny’ hill).  It was nice to have some distance and slope variation for practicing, but sometimes the slope was too much, and I retreated to the ‘bunny’ hill for a while just to practice.  Good thing too, because once I got tired my legs started to give out and even though I was starting to make turns because I was tired I caught my back edge after a turn and got slammed into the mountain backwards. (more…)

Snowboarding III

St. Bruno has a nice mountain.  I went there today for my second real day of snowboarding.  Day 2 was much much better than day 1.  By the end of this day (2) I was actually relaxing a bit, enjoying the scenery and not fighting the hill so much.

So it is really worth it after all to stick it out for more than a day.

I can’t wait for Day 3!

Image Source: http://img73.imageshack.us/i/snowboarding534iw0.jpg/

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