2016 came before I was ready for it and it is ending before I am ready for 2017. A year seems long and there is so much one can do but I have not really felt like I have accomplished a lot. It is the year where my life changed from working to studying. If I am honest to myself, work has been more fulfilling than doing a PhD. Nonetheless, it has been a unique experience, and most of the time, a learning process.
First is attending conferences, which is something fun, especially meeting people. It’s a great way to get more exposure, learn about what other people do and gain new perspectives. It also provides a valid reason to travel!
Second is writing. It probably comes naturally to some but not so much for me. It requires intense thinking to do good writing. It takes me so long to figure out how to structure what I want to write so that the story flows. Sometimes I can’t find the right vocabulary and sometimes the grammar just doesn’t sound right. I find reading other people’s work particularly helpful, such as the way the authors present their arguments in a way that flows nicely.
Third is reading. I enjoy reading to know the content. Now, that’s not enough. I start to pay notice of how the authors write. The vocabularies they use and the way they phrase their sentences. I also start taking notes as I will never know if what I read could be useful when I write. I might need to cite their work, and if I don’t take note, I usually end up reading it again. Of course, nothing wrong with that but it just takes time to read and process.
Fourth is learning to be a social scientists. Many, including me, probably thought what’s so hard about interviewing people. In natural science research, designing the methods is important. And doing social science research is the same. How interviews are conducted requires careful design too! Plus interviewing people itself is a skill, especially for research. It is a lot about talking to people, just that non-research related talking can be random and full of crap.
Since I am living a postgraduate’s life, it is not surprising that my learning process revolves around the academic world. From times to times, I do other stuff, but not much. That is because every time I do stuff that is not related to my study, I feel guilty. Every time I think of the vacation I want to make, it remains a dream, and I tell myself, after I finish my study. PhD is really like a marathon. From where I am now, I can’t see the end. I just keep moving or stay put. I dare not do other stuff as I am afraid I will go off track, which may lead me further from the end destination. Therefore, my life in 2017 would most likely be similar to 2016, but let’s see as one never knows what lies ahead in life!