The Comfort Pursuit

3 years and 2 days…

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I guess it is clear that this post was meant to be up 2 days ago. Last Monday, like every Monday… But PhDs ‘sometimes’ consume too much of our time and concentration. Mine has already consumed 3 full years and 2 days. I am now officially counting down and have just over 4 months to submit, so I thought it is a good time to reflect on why I decided to be here in the first place.

Since my Masters (2005-2007) I dreamed about undertaking a PhD ‘overseas’. Overseas could mean many things, but the PhD itself had to be in English. I wouldn’t say I knew what I was hoping for, but it was certainly a great decision. Having a professional experience in an English speaking country helped improve my language skills and has been opening doors.

I tried once. I got the acceptance from the University I wanted, which was in England. But I didn’t get the scholarship I applied for. At that stage the government had cut a lot of the money allocated for funding postgrads overseas, unless the proposal was for something that didn’t exist in Brazil – no wonder 6 years later the country is facing problems because of the lack of internationalization of research! And I didn’t get it.

So I put the dream aside for a while, I lectured in a Federal University in Brazil – my second biggest dream by then – and waited until I felt ready to try again. And I did, 3 years later, in 2010 I started it all over again.

So I tried for the second time. This time in New Zealand, for personal reasons I changed the country, the focus and the University. But it was still ‘overseas’ and in English. So I got the acceptance again, and decided not to try the Brazilian scholarship. It seemed then that their conditions didn’t fit with my needs and possible future decisions. So I ‘sold my life’ – including even the cushions of my old home – and moved to a new country, hoping to get a local scholarship or a job. And I got both.

Time flies when we are having fun. And there goes 3 years of a PhD research and teaching fellowship at Lincoln University. I arrived in New Zealand on 15 February 2011, enrolled in the PhD on 17 February and 5 days after an earthquake struck Christchurch and closed the University for a month. Right, so (un)officially it might mean that I am still under 3 years (yay!).

The PhD candidature at Lincoln University requires some presentations, progress reviews and other extra formalities depending on the research you intend to undertake. This has been my path so far:

  • PhD proposal Presentation (August 2011)
  • Ethics approval for the field work (September 2011)
  • Pilot of field work (October – November 2011)
  • 88 in-depth interviews (November 2011 – May 2013)
  • Progress Review Meeting (May 2012)
  • Transcription of all interviews (March 2012 – June 2013)
  • Coding and memoing of all interviews (May – July 2013)
  • Writing (June 2013 – present)

I still have one more seminar (the results seminar) and the viva. Besides these formal requirements I have published two conference papers and given some presentations. Apart from a conference presentation, the rest wasn’t compulsory. I did them because I wanted to.

I am convinced that I found my passion and the type of work that keeps me motivated. The right ‘place’ for me. There are better times and others not so easy. Ups and downs are normal in any type of work, but the balance has definitely been positive. Months ago I read a post about the PhD lifestyle guilt with which I totally identified myself.

It is getting to the end now… 30 June 2014 is the official deadline, it is when the scholarship and the teaching fellowship finish. As we say in my home country… “Everything that is good does not last enough”.

How has your journey been? What is different in your country or university?

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