I have spent the last week thinking of what to write for this blog. My first idea was about my experience of being a non-English native speaker PhD student in Ireland. Then I changed my mind to writing a blog on being a PhD student in Sport Pedagogy or why I was doing a PhD in primary Physical Education. Two days later I changed my mind again and I was 100% sure that I was going to talk about my first presentation at Annual BERA (British Education Research Association). But this morning drinking my first coffee of the day I changed my mind yet again and I have decided to write about my journey as an undergraduate student in Italy to becoming a PhD student in Ireland.
So let’s start from the beginning. My name is Jessica Mangione, a third year PhD student in PESS supervised by Dr Melissa Parker and Professor Mary O’Sullivan. I was fully educated in Italy at the Kore University of Enna (Sicily). My adventure in the research field started in 2010, during my third undergraduate year when my Italian supervisor invited me to join her in a research project. Three years later I had finished my undergraduate degree and my masters in “Scienze e tecniche dell’attività motoria e sportiva per la tutela della salute” (Physical Activity and Sport Sciences for Health) and I was still involved in the same research team in several projects.
In December 2013, I started my first job as Physical Education external provider in an Italian primary school. A year later I knew that Physical Education external provision was going to be my field of work. I started looking for a PhD in sport pedagogy in Italy but nothing came out, so I expanded my search to Europe. In March 2015 I received an email from my Italian supervisor about a post on the International Association for Physical Education in Higher Education (AIESEP) webpage, advertising a PhD student position in sport pedagogy at the University of Limerick in the Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences (PESS). I had less than a month to complete my application. I knew it was going to be difficult but why shouldn’t I try?
Next came finding a supervisor. But who would be the right one for me? The same week I contacted the Head of Department of PESS, who put me in contact with my supervisors. I knew some of their papers, research and expertise in the Physical Education field.
Finally, on the 20th of May 2015, my research project was accepted and I was successful with my application. I was going to be a PhD student in the UL. PANIC. What to do now? I was overwhelmed with emotion; both happiness and fear. I was going to start a PhD, I was leaving my job and I was moving to another country, and my English was really poor (I’m still struggling with this).
August 2015 a new chapter of my life started: I moved to Ireland and started my journey as a postgraduate student. I have spent the last two years studying the nature and the scope of Physical Education external provision in Irish primary schools. Seven years later from my first step into the research world I went to Brighton (UK) for the annual BERA conference and I gave my first oral presentation. I presented my first findings about the three most common forms of Physical Education external provision in Irish primary schools.
Looking back I didn’t know the ups and downs of the PhD but I’m delighted about my decision and my experience in Ireland. It has been a 7 year old journey to date but this is just the beginning (hopefully!).