Just Frances

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My ballooning PhD fund

This entry was posted on Monday, April 1st, 2013 by Frances Ryan.
Tags: writing, travel, silly, random, phd, crazy, budget

When I was accepted to my PhD programme, I went straight to work trying to determine how I would pay for it all. After all, the three-year journey will cost me a minimum of £75,000—and I just don’t have that kind of money. And knowing that finding PhD funding is extremely difficult these days, I decided that I would do whatever it took to get the money. (Well, as long as it was legal and fit within my moral guidelines.)

I have been scouring the Internet for weeks looking for kooky ways to find the money. And I’ll tell you, if I didn’t already have kidney disease I’d sell one of them. Yes, I’m desperate!

But then my sister-in-law mentioned game shows. She and her partner are regular viewers and are certain that I would be really good on them. I don’t actually like the idea of going on television, but I decided I needed to look into it.

And that’s when I found an application for a reality show being run by Richard Branson and Virgin Media.

Now, generally speaking, I loathe reality shows. They are far, far, far from reality and they make good people look like fools. (And we all know that the act of observation changes the observed.)

But the grand prize is £100,000, so I applied. And I have been accepted to join the cast.

Which means that, beginning June 1, 2013, I will be traipsing across the Atlantic in a hot air balloon with 15 other contestants. Yes, you read that right: I will be hot air ballooning across the Atlantic.

We start off in four balloons, with a ‘sea crew’ following us on big ships so that we can land in the evenings for a hot meal and safe bed. As balloonists are evicted, they will continue the journey to New York on the ship. Eventually, one balloon and two contestants will remain.

I don’t know what kind of elimination contests there will be or what kind of set up they’ll have for determining who/when/where evictions will take place, and I don’t imagine I will know until I get to London for the pre-take-off orientation and training.

Oh! And no phones. No Facebook. No Just Frances. Oh, the horror of it all!

But I’m desperate and desperation makes us do crazy things. And I realise I may not win the grand prize, but maybe getting my story out there will help me to connect with others who can help me pay for my social media PhD! (It can't hurt to try, right?)

Plus that, it’s a free ride to the States where I was planning on heading in June anyhow!

Stay tuned for details on broadcast dates—and my nervous preparation for what is certainly an insane little adventure!

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