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Academic in Progress was gone for a quite while, immersed in the new experiences of the second PhD year.

This year I have finally started teaching. 4 tutorials every week that have been a true learning experience for me, despite having taught in a non-university setting for a couple of years during my undergraduate years. I remember how, the night before my first taught set of tutorials, I could hardly sleep, thinking how will my students be, will they understand me or will I be a good teacher.

Come the last tutorial, and my students asked whether I will be their tutor next semester. Aww. I will not, but I sincerely wish them all the best in their studies and lives. And I now know what it feels like to say goodbye to your first cohort of students. Teaching came with its challenges, but as a result I have grown a lot and gained more confidence in myself and in my academic judgement. The time that I could dedicate to my research shrank noticeably, but it was worth it. I got useful experience and intrinsic rewards out of it, even if it is hard now to get back into the research routine.

The new thing of the last couple of months is that I have also started doing my fieldwork. And holy bananas, I did not expect it to be so stressful. Well done, Academic in Progress, for being a control freak. My study relies as much as possible on snowball sampling, and it just takes longer than I would think. I had a good laugh at myself this week, thinking about how unrealistic my initial empirical research time frame was. I clearly forgot how long it took to recruit participants for my Master’s, or how long I needed to wait to receive an email back in my undergraduate institution. Also, it makes me feel bad to ask people whether they would know someone who I could also contact, or to chase people up. But when I’m doing that, I try to imagine the reverse situation: what would I do if I was being interviewed, and the researcher asked me the same questions, or chased me up for an email that I forgot to answer? Honestly, I wouldn’t mind at all. So with this approach in mind, I’m moving on. I have to make a leap of faith hoping that everything is going to be alright in the end. It’s starting to grow a thick skin, isn’t it? At least I made sure I had two things in place: my university and LinkedIn profiles updated. If potential interviewees google me, I want to be certain that they see me as a credible individual.

Among that and interview transcriptions, I also have quite a lot of writing to do. I am excited about the idea of being able to have a substantial amount of time mainly for writing and figuring things out, writing does make me happy. Research-wise it feels like I’m wandering in a thick forest, but my Supervisor told me recently ‘But you are still smiling!’ It was meant as a compliment, which is now the ray of sunshine in my explorations of the Dark Unknown. Just need to keep paddling.

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