Wednesday, August 19, 2009

If I could do my first field season over... are some of the things that I would change.

1) Maps. I came with terrible maps. I really, really should've sat down with Sam with a better map and talked with him about which sites to use, how to get there, and how long it would take. I probably spent two weeks just getting my bearings, mostly on foot. Also, the slow internet meant that using Google Earth was virtually impossible, though I realized after finally seeing my sites in GE that I could've cached images and that would've been very useful.

2) Data. I would've entered data as soon as possible after collecting it. If I'd done this, then I would not have had to go back and collect data that went missing for 2 months in the bottom of my backpack. Once I caught up on data entry (with Jon's help) it wasn't too difficult to keep up on it.

3) Equipment. I should've tested all of my important equipment before leaving. Of course I knew this, but instead relied on "hope" (which as I said earlier is about as effective in the field as it is a method of birth control) because the weeks leading up to my departure were so chaotic. Some equipment that I was using on a pilot-testing basis needs further adjustments, so I've hauled it back even though it's heavy and cumbersome and I really would've preferred to leave it in Ukenzagapia.

4) Language. I really, really need to find a way to make myself continue independent language study when I'm in the field. I just kind of got stuck with my level of proficiency. For a while I was meeting in the evenings with someone, but I wasn't impressed with him as a teacher and I'm not sure how to find a good one. I have two different language instruction books that I could easily work on by myself, but it's hard to get the motivation to do that after a long day in the field.

5) Advice and advisors. When I encountered problems I think I should've contacted them sooner, especially Sam. Sam knows so much but he doesn't always offer it unless prompted.

All in all, I'm satisfied with my first field season. I wish I'd been able to do more, but I can't beat myself up over and there's still more field seasons to come. I'm looking forward to having time back in Big City to mull things over and plan for next time.

1 comment:

Fia said...

Hi, good you are safe back! It's my rule number 1, and I *always* obey it: Keep back-ups of your data. Preferably one on paper and one on the laptop and one on an external back-up disc, - the latter preferable on the web. I'm highly paranoid when it comes to daata.