Each episode is a snapshop, a moment, a sneak inside the minds of our graduates. Season one talks to our 2020 graduates about how things are going, or not going, for them. In episode twenty one we meet Religious Studies graduate Joanna.
Each month we meet five more graduates. Subscribe now and find out what everyone is up to and how they feel about this weird and unpredictable time.
All opinions expressed are those of the individual and do not necessarily reflect those of the University of Edinburgh.
Multi Story Edinburgh has been created and produced by the Alumni Relations team at the University of Edinburgh. If you are interested in telling your story, please get in touch and let's talk.
Music: Since When by Mise Darling.
Sonia Mullineux (host) 0:07
This is a snapshot, a moment, a sneak inside the minds of our graduates. This is season one, class of 2020.
Yeah, so my name is Joanna, or Jo, um, I studied Religious Studies at the University of Edinburgh and at New College, the School of Divinity. So I am currently in Totnes, in the south of England, um, in Devon. There's this organisation called Buddhafield that I'm quite involved with, and it's a Buddhist organisation that runs retreats and festivals, like camping retreats and festivals in the south of England. I'm very involved with this group and in 2019, I spent the season working with them. And then I was planning to move into a community of Buddhafield people in in Devon, near Crediton. But because of Covid that didn't work out, the community kind of disbanded mainly, and and so I was still quite attached to the idea of moving to, um, Devon, so I moved to Totness with some with some people from Buddhafield so I'm living in that house now. Um, so I'm doing quite a lot of different things. Not many of them are actually making me any money, which is quite annoying.
So for money, I'm doing some tutoring, there's this, this website called Mytutor. It's part of a government scheme to offer tutoring to children whose parents can't afford it, been doing that with it. So English GCSE tutoring, which is quite nice. I'm enjoying it. It's quite frustrating because it's obviously it's online, and the platform's not very good. And so like, it's like, there's like lots of problems with it. So the children don't switch on their microphones and don't switch on their videos, you kind of tutoring and then and then they're like typing back. And it's just quite frustrating, but it's nice. Anyway, I enjoy working with teenagers. And so that's like a little bit of work and a little bit of money.
And then I'm also working for Buddhafield at the moment. In fact, I've actually had a really delightful morning this morning, because um, we've been so I'm running - helping to organise - a an online festival slash retreat, we're not really calling it a festival or retreat, it's like a, a journey that runs through the month of February, called "At Home with the Elements". And so we have a teacher like a Buddhist teacher that goes through each element in turn, and, and runs meditations classes and workshops on that particular element. So at the moment, we're in the fire element. So this morning, it was such a treat, we made a fire this morning. So you might've meditated by the fire, um, which was really, really nice. I struggled with the online medium a little bit to start off with so this coming summer was gonna be like working with them on their like, face to face retreats and festivals and things. But obviously, it's all had to move online. So I've been quite involved with their online programme of things. And like it was initially quite a challenge to, to get used to doing this stuff through Zoom. Because a lot of what makes this organisation what it is, is practising outside in the elements, um, in tents, in fields in Devon. And so like we've had to adapt to doing this online, which has been quite challenging, um, but also really fulfilling. And I've been surprised by how much I've actually enjoyed the online events like how much you can really feel part of things by seeing people on screen and me and my housemate organised and ran the opening ceremony like the opening ritual for this event that we're doing at the moment, kind of have to get quite creative with it when you're like running rituals over Zoom. So I wrote and recorded like a mantra, and like recorded all the different parts and layered them on top of each other and then played this and then where everyone sang it together over zoom.
It has a real bittersweet quality to it, I think. Um, we did we did an online actual festival over the summer last summer in in in July, which I was involved with. I cried after most sessions, like it was really painful because it was beautiful - we were, like, I was in my bedroom dancing, and someone was drumming and we were all kind of together in this digital space. And then the screen would switch off and I would be on my own in my bedroom. You kind of have parts of it like you have, you have some really beautiful parts of togetherness. But then there's also so much that's missing - something about being together in the physical space and being able to touch each other and hug is just like, it just is so painful to like, have parts of the togetherness but like not all of it.
Well I have like a quite a nomadic part of me, I'm quite I tend to someone once called it like a butterfly existence kind of like flitting from place to place to place and kind of skating on surfaces, having lovely lovely times but like never really going deep enough to become part of the community. And so like for the for two years after I finished my undergraduate degree I, I travelled and it was wonderful. It was really, really wonderful. But I also felt this thing of like, ah, like I've created all of these connections in India and Australia and it can't really last. It's not the same as being part of a community and I really felt the absence of that in my life, but then once I got back, I spoke to my brother. So he's he's lived in Devon for quite a while, so he's quite involved with the community down here. And, and I've had this kind of yearning that I wanted to like, not necessarily put down some roots, but at least to feel a bit more rooted and to feel a bit more part of something that was wider and a little bit longer term. So I ended up going and living at this community called Embacombe and going through this. Yeah, just going through this like big process with - a lot of it was to do with connecting with trees. So there was this like one tree, there's this big old oak tree, and it was all like, covered in moss, so beautiful. And something about this tree kind of like held and encapsulated everything that I felt like I wanted and needed, and it yeah, it spoke to me very deeply. And I realised that it was something that I really wanted. And so like the last few years have been about, like finding my place and community and, and feeling more part of things.
I still have these yearnings for travel and exploration, like there is still a part of me that feels like perhaps if if it wasn't for Covid, I might have had inclinations to fly away again. So I have some, they're not necessarily fully formed plans yet, but they're intentions and maybe dreamings. I - so, singing is a really important part of my life. And I really want to find a way of making song and music and singing into more of a central part of my life. Um, I had a plan that I wanted to train as a choral leader for leading groups of people in song and maybe to with a focus on song therapy, and like music therapy generally. Um, so that's kind of like a dream, which I would love to do. But it's not really possible at the moment because none of the vocal like choral trainings are happening at the moment. So I've had to really put that on hold. But yeah, it's like finding a way of making song and music more a central part of my life would be really like that's what I dream about, I think.
I've absolutely had some really, really down times, like I've been quite depressed at times. And I've found ways to keep on singing. And that has been really, really important. So we've been doing, at our house with with my housemates, we've been doing Sunday singing sessions. Most mornings we meditate together. And then on Sundays, we we all get instruments and then them and sing sing together. And so that's it's just been kind of like being able to maintain, maintain it in some way has been quite important to me. So finding ways of singing, which just really helps my mental health, like so, so, so much. And like I noticed it straight away, like I just feel better. Like I just feel more joyful, and I feel like more able to connect with joy and myself, um, when I'm able to sing.
There's a part of me that is still in Scotland. And I think that like I've talked a bit about like home and community and stuff. I feel like I really felt that sense of home there for that period of time and particular part of Edinburgh - Polwarth - that is like so so dear in my heart and spending lockdown in the flat there and doing a walk along the canal every day. And like seeing that change with the season was just like a very, very beautiful experience. And yeah, and the people that I lived with there are so so dear in my heart. And yeah, and I miss it deeply. And it makes me so sad that I have not been able to go back to visit. And when I think of New College and just it was so sad not being able to like properly say goodbye, it just sort of finished. I was like, ah, like it really hurt my heart. But I hope to get back there sometime.
Sonia Mullineux (host) 8:39
We also ask our graduates to share a place somewhere special, somewhere we can get together when all this has finished.
So it would be another part of the Southwest, a place in Cornwall, um, which is so special to me. So it's a place in Cornwall, which you might know which is it's called the Lizard Point and it's the most southerly point of the UK. And we've been going there as a family for like probably almost my whole life from when I was four, I think it was four years old was the first time that we went there. And we stayed in the same holiday cottage. It's, I feel like I've grown up there. It's such a special place like it has this lighthouse at the point which... Yeah, it just has such significance for me. And obviously we haven't been able to go there for obviously for this year. I often I often think of that place. I often imagine that place I often imagine there's this walk that goes from from the village to the lighthouse that kind of runs like along to the coast. And it has a real magical quality to it for me.
And it's this kind of feeling of, you know how Christmas is like this kind of anchor point some somehow I like it's kind of the same each year but then also different? And so yeah, and so it kind of like becomes a bit of a reference point. And it's just it's it's a it's a very magical beautiful place. There's a rock that I often think about and that I often like go to and I'm feeling like particularly stressed, it's so it's a rock that juts out to sea and like, all round apart from like a tiny, tiny part behind his land and then all around is sea and it juts out and you can just like sit on the end of this rock. And it's, um, it's just open and vast and clear. And it's just this feeling of like being so so, so free there, I think, so free and yeah, a wonderful, wonderful place.
Sonia Mullineux (host) 10:33
Thank you for listening. Join us next time for another graduate and another story.
Kirsten Roche 10:47
If this conversation has raised more questions than answers, then you might find it helpful to speak to someone. Speaking with a careers consultant can be a great way to get some answers. Simply log on to My Career Hub to make an appointment. And don't forget that you can still use everything on offer from the Careers Service as a recent graduate
Transcribed by https://otter.ai