Monday, August 18, 2008


Last week I really got in a slump about my review paper but I didn't write about it. I'm looking forward to classes starting so that I have other projects to work on.

This week we're visiting Jon's Hometown. We've got to figure out a date for the wedding.

Here's a brief recap of the difficulty:
  • We'd like to have the reception at Jon's sister's house. I'm having a hard time imagining it in another space. Renting a space also significantly increases the cost of the wedding. To have it at her house, the date absolutely has to work for her. All but the end of May is out.
  • Due to class constraints, I will only be able to go to Ukenzagapia and begin collecting data from mid-May to mid-late-August. I'm concerned that if the wedding is too late in May that I won't have a long enough field season.
So, readers, here are my questions for you.
  1. How heavily do I weigh my desired departure date for Ukenzagapia versus having the wedding at Jon's sister's house?
  2. How should I bring this up with my advisors?


sarcozona said...

I'm afraid I don't have any good advice for you, but I hope it works out!

Kent said...

I'll tell you what I'd tell one of my students if (s)he came to me with this dilemma.

1) I can discuss consequences of different choices with you, but only you can decide which things are the most important.

2) Preparing for your career is an important part of your life, but it is only part of your life.

Having shared those bits of wisdom I'd ask some or all of the following questions:

1) What is your overall goal for your dissertation? Your overall goal. Not mine. Not your advisors'.

2) What data do you absolutely need to have in order to accomplish your overall goal?

3) What data would you like to have to enhance your dissertation if you can get it?

4) How would getting to your field site later than you originally planned affect your data collection? Would it prevent you from collecting data that's essential, or would it prevent you from collecting data that's enhancing?

5) If getting there late would prevent you from getting data that's essential, are you sure there isn't another way to attack the question? There almost always is.

6) If getting there late would prevent you from getting data that's enhancing, are you sure there isn't another way to attack the question?

6) If there isn't another way to attack the question and you can't get the data if you get there late, would you be willing to redefine the goals of your dissertation so that the "essential" data are no longer essential or to drop the "enhancement"?

As for how to approach your advisors, all I can say is how I'd want my students to approach me. I can't guarantee that your advisors will react in the same way, since I don't know them (or at least I don't think I know them). If you were my student, I'd want you to be direct and honest, I'd want you to be ready to accept responsibility for whatever choices you make, and I'd want you to think as creatively as you possibly can about how to accomplish all of your goals.

Having said that, I also know that some advisors think their students should commit everything to their research and let the consequences for their personal life be damned. Not knowing your advisors, I don't know whether they'll fall into that category. But whether they do or not, I'd advise you to be direct and honest with them about the choices you're facing. And I'd suggest that you approach them by asking for their advice, even if you already have a pretty good idea of what you're going to do. Who knows? Because of their experience with answering questions like those you're posing they may see a way out of your dilemma that you haven't thought of.

Good luck, and feel free to e-mail me privately if you'd like to "talk" further.

Paulina said...

I am sure there must be another spot you can have the reception. If not, why not get married after you come back?

Karina said...

Thanks for the great advice, Kent. I've emailed them. I was really hoping we could avoid this dilemma by having the wedding in April, but it sounds like that's not an option.

I'm still not 100% what I'll be doing next summer so it's difficult to answer some of those questions now, but they are great things for me to be thinking about, regardless of when we have the wedding.

Paulina, another space isn't totally out of the question, but we're much more excited about having it at a house rather than rented hall. We're still looking around.