My whistle stop tour of Loughborough

On the Wednesday just passed, I finally had my interview to study on the MA Information and Library Management course at Loughborough. I would love to say that this was a stress-free and exciting experience, but a lot of the day went frightfully wrong!

Upon leaving my apartment  at around 9am, the snow started. Granted, there wasn’t very much of it, but it was absolutely freezing! Alas, I still managed to catch my first train of six for the day on time (and this was the only train that was on time!). Journey journey journey, train train train, I was relieved when I still made it to Loughborough station on time, despite my middle train running nearly half an hour behind (Cross Country. I’m fairly sure they are always late.), which made catching my connecting train a very stress-enducing experience – good job I’d planned for delays! Anywho, I then walked from Loughborough train station to the university, in the snow, which took about half an hour.

Upon arriving on campus, I had quite a thick layer of snow settled on my hood – I like to think I looked like someone out of a greeting card! So. Fantastic. I had arrived on campus 15-20 minutes before my interview time. Perfect. If only! I had been instructed to find the department in the Bridgeman Building. Not having been to this campus before, I asked the first nice gentleman that I saw for directions, and he was very happy to help me out – he pointed along the road, told me to turn left and keep walking. So I did this, and walked past a lot of buildings and departments, but couldn’t for the life of me find the one I was looking for. I walked up and down this road, and round some corners, and into some buildings, for around 10 minutes. It was now nearly half past 2 and, being someone who cannot stand to be late, I was starting to get pretty flustered. I asked a couple of passers-by if they knew where the building was, and neither of them knew. Next I bumped into an extremely friendly young man (don’t I sound like a grandma?!), who also didn’t know the whereabouts of said building, but was very keen to help me find it. We bumped into some professors in a building that he thought we had to go through, who told us that they were fairly sure that the Bridgeman Building had been knocked down. Fantastic! But they pointed out where they thought it would be if it did still existed, and also pointed out a campus map. So we headed towards the map, and indeed we did see ‘Bridgeman Centre’ in the place where the professors had pointed to. I thanked my new friend, he wished me luck in my interview, and we went our separate ways. It was now slightly past 2:30, so I was late. Great. I walked as quickly as I could on the icy pavements to the Bridgeman Centre, only to find a bunch of sports facilities, and a building site. It was at this point that I knew I had failed epically at getting to my interview, and I had no other option than to call the department (and yes, I have an extreme fear of making or receiving phonecalls). I told them who I was and that I was on campus but lost, so I’d be there as soon as I could. The lady on the other end of the phone looked on a map at where I was, and told me that I was on the opposite side of campus to where I needed to be. Marvellous! Great! Brilliant! Bloody fantastic! Fortunately, she said that she would come and pick me up in her car. What an angel! So I stayed put, as told, and waited for her. It took probably about ten minutes for her to arrive, in which time I continued to panic and stress and couldn’t help but shed a few tears. This was not how I had planned my day to go!

Finally, I made it to my interview, and only 20 minutes late (!). The lady interviewing me, Adrienne, was very understanding, and said that she’d expected I might be late anyway due to catching trains in the bad weather. She then told me that she probably should have mentioned beforehand that the Bridgeman Building  had only very recently been named so, and the old Bridgeman Centre had indeed been demolished, so it was a bit of a building name cock-up and no one ever knew where it was.

ANYWAY. The actual interview. I was given a moment to de-fluster myself, and then it was serious business. I’d prepared in my mind a few answers to some questions that I thought would come up, but, like with all of these things, most of those questions didn’t come up. Adrienne started by asking me about my first degree – something I haven’t really thought much about since graduating over a year and a half ago, so I’m fairly sure I looked like there was a tumbleweed rolling about up there! She asked about the structure of it and my modules, and my dissertation. Oh, my dissertation! I get weirdly embarrassed when people I don’t know ask me about it, because in my mind I’m essentially outing myself as queer right there on the spot. “What was your dissertation on?” “The invisibility of lesbians in the Italian women’s movement in the 1970s and reasons for this.” Yeah. Granted, it’s nowhere near as bad as the many moments I’ve had in job interviews when I’ve mentioned that I was president of a student society, and they ask me which one. When I say ‘LGBT’, it’s usually followed by a completely blank stare, to which I literally have to spell it out. Whenever that happens, I basically die on the spot and wish the ground would swallow me up. Which I’m aware is a bit silly really, given the entire point of the queer activism that I’ve been involved in is to be out there and loud about it. But I guess it’s a bit different when you’re alone and cornered and you know that the person on the other side of the table is trying to make a decision about you. Anyway, I digress.

She asked me about my current job, and what I do here at Bradford. I was able to answer that one pretty easily, so no problems there. She also asked if there was anything about the management of the library here that I could comment on. Thinking back, I’m not sure if she meant management of the space, the people, the resources, or what. But I went into a monologue about how the management of the teams here in up in arms at the moment, as Customer Services and ASG have previously been run separately but would all like the opportunity to work more closely together so that they can provide an all-round better service. I hope that my answer was relevant! I was also asked if I’m a member of CILIP, and I’m fairly sure my response of “No, but my line manager passes me down the magazines to read and I’m on a few mailing lists” was a really stupid answer, but it’s all my brain could come up with at the time.

Other questions I was asked were why I wanted to go to Loughborough, which modules I’m particularly looking forward to, and if I had any ideas of what I want to do for my dissertation. I had some answers prepared for these questions already, so I don’t think I went too far wrong. And that was pretty much it, I think, although my memory does massively fail me when I’m under pressure. The final question was whether or not I’ve applied to any other universities – this was purely to gauge commitment to Loughborough because I’ve asked to be considered for funding, as apparently one of the students who was awarded funding a couple of years ago dropped out before the course started, meaning that no one else could receive the funding.

The final thing was that they needed my degree transcript from my first degree before any official offer could be made (although she said that once she’s received that, I’m in, basically). This was a whole new hurdle, because I didn’t have a copy of my transcript. Nor had I ever had one. So I said I’d get on it and have a copy sent to her ASAP (deadline for funding applications is 1st March!). It turns out that I should have received it in the post shortly after my graduation – all of my coursemates have got theirs – but I’d never realised mine was missing because I’d never been asked for it before. I got on to Warwick to send me a copy but the request form said it would cost £25 and take up to six weeks!! So my return journey back to Bradford wasn’t much calmer than my journey down had been, as I had new things to stress about. Fortunately, Warwick were very nice about it, and sent me a copy free of charge which arrived yesterday.

So that was my interview. The trains getting back home were considerably more delayed than my trains out had been, due to a whole bunch of engineering trouble and overhead line problems all over the shop. What should have taken around 3 hours took over 6, as I was stranded at Leeds for 2 hours while no trains could enter or leave the station. And in the freezing cold! I didn’t get home til about 10pm, after having left my place at 9am, and all for a half hour conversation in the middle of the day! Not something I’d be keen to repeat!

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