Friday, October 2, 2009

The road I'm taking

When I applied to grad school, my goal was to find an advisor with whom I could do research in Africa. I ended up with a co-advisor situation with one advisor who worked in Africa and one advisor who asked the kinds of questions I was interested in answering. Now I have a committee member who is immensely helpful in the logistics of my research (and in some ways feels more like my advisor). Still, I have no expectations that any of them will visit my field site during my research. I also know that none of them have any funding to support my research, so it's up to me to get grants.

My main advisor, Herb, has had many highly independent Ph.D. students who have done projects in distant locations. In that respect I am like them. However, he pointed out to me that in every other case, the distant locations were actually "home" to those students. They were pursuing their own projects in challenging and remote locations, but they were always somewhat familiar with the language, culture, and area. I certainly didn't choose an easy path, and I probably underestimated just how hard it would be.

I have chosen a muddy road riddled with potholes and I've got to navigate it mostly by myself with a map written in a different language. It will probably take me 6 years or more to navigate this road. Some sections will be painfully slow, I'll have to pass by some places more than once, I'll make some decisions when the road forks, and maybe I'll find a few smooth sections. I have no idea where I'll end up at the end of my Ph.D., but the decisions I make along the way will lead me there. I just hope I'll be better and more confident at navigating my research road.


Fia said...


I am convince that in the end it will make you a better scientist! I've been there, too (actually, it was also Africa), and I like your blog partly because it reminds me of my time there, - it makes me melanchonic.
Good luck and enjoy the wonderful privilege to work there and learn how to care for yourself in Africa and in science. Although your blog sounds like you know well enough already!

Clarissa said...

I am actually also looking into "finding" an Advisor from a foreign school so that I can work on my research in my home country, but graduate with a degree from that school.

I am not sure how easy or difficult this chosen path of mine will be, but like you, I will just have to trust that the little decisions I make will one day take me there :)

All the best to you, Karina!