Viktor Valgardsson is an SCDTP-funded PhD candidate in the Department of Politics and International Relations in the University of Southampton. His PhD research focuses on turnout decline in Western Europe and his other research interests relate to democratic developments, reforms and theory more broadly.
On the weekend of June 22nd-24th, ten PhD students funded by the ESRC South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership (SCDTP) went away for a Writing Bootcamp in Cumberland Lodge – a lovely countryside resort and educational charity in Windsor.
The weekend was devoted to allowing us good space and time to work on writing up our PhDs (or related work) together. Housed in a well-equipped room in a beautiful environment, we had no formal schedule but the support and motivation of being there together with a common purpose.
We arrived on Friday afternoon, and after an informal session about the lodge, settled into our rooms and enjoyed a delicious dinner. After dinner, we introduced ourselves, our work, our main issues and goals for the weekend. We had a bit of a discussion and Dana, a fellow PhD student, gave a very helpful presentation with general guidelines on writing academic work.
The rest of the evening was relaxed, but early Saturday we were in our mission room, with plenty of complementary coffee (and sparkling water), ploughing away on our laptops. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were provided the whole weekend and it didn‘t hurt that the Queen herself payed us a visit that afternoon, ceremonially changing carriages for the races happening that week. It is apparent that our caregivers at the SCDTP have some excellent connections that really came through when organising the bootcamp.
Aside from watching some football and competing in our own World Cup (playing Jenga) in the evening, we managed to write for hours and hours on end both days, being motivated by each other, the coffee and the sun we could re-energize with during breaks. We even had some good collaborative sessions discussing our issues with writing and structuring, using the white-board in our room to great effect!
Some serious white-board collaboration on thesis structure (Olly and Nick).
Overall, the writing bootcamp was a lovely experience in a great environment that enabled us to do a lot of work, get to know each other better and spend some quality time together. It was especially helpful to share our experiences and issues with our PhDs and talk about them, realising that we are not alone on this journey.
The Jenga World Cup! (Natalia and Nick)
Thank you to the SCDTP for offering and organizing this great trip for us!