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2nd year, so what stage should I be at?

Hey Argh! I think since you are humanities and are not conducting experiments, that you need to get writing asap!! I think the sooner you get into writing drafts the better, as otherwise it will seem like an insurmountable obstacle to overcome!! As for balancing the thesis with teaching and other committments, I think a good way to ensure the thesis gets time, is to allocate specifc times to the other committments, say like spend all day Sunday preparing for classes and then concentrate on your thesis on weekdays except for the teaching contact hours. Also its very easy to overprepare, which I have found eats into your research time, so only prepare what you need to, as the research should always come first.

I'm in upgrade hell

Hey sillybilly, First of all, if the upgrade decision date cannot be changed- and sometimes they cant, as maybe the faculty board meeting is fixed, then would it be worth contacting your internal examiner to explain the situation? In saying this, at the risk of maybe coming accross as a little harsh, maybe you could have written the report already if you have had a year to think about it? (sorry, I am just trying to imagine the view the board will take). Regardless of this, you cannot do anything about it now and sometimes its better just to motor on with it and get the report done, rather than making excuses about it. You still have a good 2 days of work left, so I'm sure you can get it done to an acceptable standard in that time with a first draft already, if you were able to churn an article out from scratch in 3 weeks!!
Finally, regarding your abilities, be confident, you can do it! You have demonstrated this by being accepted in the first place, and this is evident from the supervisors asking you to write the paper with them! Anyway, my view is not to care what they think, at the end of the day its about having the belief in yourself and in that regard, it doesn't really matter what others think!! So just listen to what they say and ignore it! Then make sure and blow everyone away at the presentation and watch the surprise on their faces-so prepapre prepare preapre! good luck!

Workshops and Conferences

Hey Rockstar! I think I would describe the difference in terms of the workshop being more centred on mutual learning and more participative. Usually for a workshop it is a roundtable discussion where everyone contributes in order to get a discussion going on the subject. However with a conference (just my opinion) I think it is more about the self recognition or self gratification of the presenters where they give their paper in their own specific topic and this is for the rewards they get. Don't get me wrong, I give papers too, but what I am saying is that, often if I just 'attend' a conference I don't get much out of them work wise often (if your interested in the business of net working that would be a different matter) whereas you can potentially gain a lot in terms of ideas from a workshop. So I would say if your going to present a paper go to the conferences but as for just attending them, often I would give them a miss in favour of a workshop. In saying that, it depends on the nature of the conference and also the availability of workshops in your field and area as often conferences may be the only option. I hope that helps!

First meeting with supervisor

The best advice I can give, is to be assertive and pro active from the first meeting. I would establish from the outset the frequency of the meetings and discuss the roles and expectactions of both of you...I like my supervisor as a person but the meetings have turned out to be on a very ad hoc basis and I am basically on my own when it comes to publications/papers etc as he is not interested at all in anything apart from the PhD drafts (unless I beg!). So I would say its a good idea to establish all of these factors from the start, so you know the score...

Do any of you use this forum?

Nabugh, seriously, if you have nothing constructive to say, then what are you doing here? Your contribution is not helpful and I just hope you don't ever have anything you want to ask a question about...

Woe, or, usually I am not this unhappy.

Hello Aliceplace!! shit it sounds like you have had all your bad luck at once, so I'm sure it can only go up from here on in! ok so from my own experience:
1. regarding the laptop, most Uni's will have a laptop lending service available from the library services/- I know they don't really advertise it well at my Uni and I only found out about it through a friend which really saved me when my PC blew up in the middle of my masters course (that will teach me to overload the adapter with hair straighters etc).
2.The books for your teaching classes- all the publishers like oxford press and cambridge press give free copies (called inspection copies) of all their texts to teaching staff even if you are only a graduate tutor and not a proper lecturer, as in return I think you are supposed to recommend to your students to purchase it-you simply need to go to the 'inspection copies' part of the website and fill in the online form saying the module and Uni you are working at and you can then order free copies of any books related to the module subject- they post them out really quick within a few days.
3. If money is tight and/or your stressed then go speak to the financial and advice centre offered by student services- they usually have funds available for unforeseen circumstance so they may be able to give you some money to get you by in the short term if you cant work/not sleeping well/to buy the new laptop- even if they cant give you a grant they may give you a loan to buy the computer which you can pay back at a later date when you can afford it.
4. Finally, regarding the lack of sleep re housemate. To be honest if it was bothering me that much, I would probably move out. Proper sleep is sooooo important to your productivity/stress levels/motivation and you should not have to put up with it and be forced to wear ear plugs etc.
5. When Im miserable I dancy like crazy to uplifting songs- at the mo im liking september (earth wind and fire) although i dont feel like dancing (scissor sisters) is always a sure fire way to uplift my spirits!:p

examination forms nightmare!

Look I have to say, that well Lara you sound a bit unstable to be honest and well you can kind of see your supervisors point of view. It seems like your up and down like a yoyo one day you say you can do it and then the next minute you are like oh no i cant. Seriously I think you just need to get your head down, stop hanging around these forums posting incessantly and then let the work speak for itself! I think you just need to totally focus and then your supervisors and dept will totally be on your side and you can have the last laugh! good luck!