Laina Southgate

 
Faculty of Arts
Port Hardy
Canada
SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships
 

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I decided to pursue a graduate degree because I am passionate about my area of research and I also love being in school. I felt after my undergrad that I wasn't finished yet and wanted to learn more!

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I decided to study at UBC because I was awarded a SSHRC here, and so it was the best option to pursue my research. This decision was made easier because I am from Port Hardy BC, and I have family all over BC so coming to UBC was also coming home for me.

What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?

The research opportunities at UBC are attractive, especially the thesis option. It was and still is, attractive that graduate students in English have the opportunity to TA in their second year. This doesn't happen at a lot of schools, and so it is an exciting option.

What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?

The best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver was how accessible biking is in the city. There are bike lanes everywhere, so it is really easy to get outside and explore.

What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?

I love that my graduate program has done such an excellent job of connecting all the grad students together. We are encouraged to make friends, and so the atmosphere has been welcoming and really fun. I always look forward to meeting new people! I also really love the emphasis the English department has on self-care. It is made clear from the beginning that our mental health is paramount.

What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?

I think the biggest challenge in my future career is how hireable I am. My research is Shakespeare in Finland, and so with such a niche subject, I need to always keep in mind more general areas of study that are easier to translate into teaching.

How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?

I feel that my program is doing an excellent job. I have taken a variety of courses, and through each, I have had the opportunity to tailor the final paper to what is most useful for my research or areas of interest.

What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?

I think the best preparation was doing my undergrad at the University of Toronto. It took me five years to complete the degree, and so I am used to the fact that sometimes in school things don't always go as planned or in the order you first expect them to. Additionally, living so far away from home for so long ensured that I am able to be happy wherever I am and that no matter how far from home I go I can always visit!

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

I am a competitive highland dancer, so when I'm not dancing I love to hike, run, or do yoga! UBC is great for anything outside, especially since the Pacific Spirit Park is right on campus.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

I learned that graduate school is difficult and the expectations of your work are significantly higher than undergrad. That being said, however, don't be afraid to push yourself. Take an extra class, do a directed reading, explore a thesis option. These are only a few examples, but taking a few risks and figuring out what you can and can't handle is always worth it. Also, do not be afraid to drop courses! This isn't undergrad where maybe you might have to take a course just for credit. Graduate school is all about exploring your area of interest. If a class isn't working for you, just let it go.