Who am I?
Hiya! I am Paulien and you might remember my face from my entirely cringe-worthy vlogs about SOAS from 2 years ago. I would like to think I am way less cringe-inflicting than I was back then, yet my love for SOAS has remained the same! After finishing a BA and MA in African Studies back in Belgium (including an exchange program at SOAS), I decided to come back to this wonderful place with its incredibly fascinating people and start a research master in Social Anthropology with a continued scope on East-Africa and gendered notions.
I was a student representative for a year (2018 – 2019) back at my home institution in Belgium and I attended an amazing amount of meetings about literally anything and everything with the academic staff of my department. Voicing the opinions of the students directly in the faces of professors can be really scary, but it has prepared me perfectly for the position of Postgraduate Research Officer.
What will I do when elected?
- Being a research student can be incredibly lonely, especially when you are doing a PhD. Sometimes you literally feel like you are going to metamorphose into a book. I want to be here to prevent that: connecting with people who are going through the same struggle as you is so inherently important and I want to see more of this being done for research students.
- Not only is it valuable to connect with people living the same struggles as you, it is really important for all kinds of research students (think: MRES, Mphil, PhD) to come together and exchange thoughts. We all have our own ideas about what it’s like to be a PhD student and what it takes to really get there, but why not just talk about it? I want to help facilitate these opportunities to meet others.
- Finally, research students can sometimes be the odd one out (especially if you are doing the MRES Social Anthropology like me, which to a lot of people’s surprise does not actually involve doing research?!). But I want Postgrad research students to feel connected to the rest of the university and not in some kind of liminal space in-between student and staff.
- Welcome week is usually a real chaos for all involved. But boy oh boy did I have no idea which introduction talks to take as a Postgrad Research student! Am I part of the doctoral school? Am I a fresher? Am I an international student? Should I be taking a language test? Long story short: identity crisis. I want to make sure that the Welcome Week is way more clear and hands-on for all research students!
- My desire is to be approachable for everyone and make sure that it is clear that I have the best intentions in listening to all of the latest Postgrad Research problems and that these are communicated to the correct people. Do you need help with anything specific? Did something totally unacceptable happen that we need to take up with others? Let me know!
- And last but not least, in true SOAS style: I have an absolute zero tolerance policy for racism, Islamophobia, homophobia or any other form of prejudice and will strive for inclusivity and representation within and outside of the Student Union.