Friday, August 26, 2011

August in Stirling

It was a hectic time getting prepared to return to U of Stirling for the period August to December 2011. I have documented some of my activities earlier in my other blogs, and even in my FB status messages.

I arrived here in the afternoon of 8th August. What remained of the afternoon was spent settling down in my rented room, which is one of 4 rooms in a flat managed by the university. That included setting up my internet connection in my room, grocery shopping, buying a pay-as-you-go sim card with internet, and obtaining bus schedules. The following day, Tuesday, was scheduled for a meeting with my supervisor, as well as with two other PhD students in the same project, who are from China and Vietnam. That meeting went ok, we agreed to have a weekly 1-hour progress meeting every Monday. There were some soft and hard targets set as well.

The main purpose to be here for four months is to finalise my first two papers which are outputs of the first two years of research. These papers should be in a format which could be submitted to a journal. So with all the field data collected during scoping and integrated surveys, as well as the nth drafts of my first and second papers, I have to condition myself to be a research student again, a learner in a university setting. The more than 1 year in the field out there in Thailand doing both field research and project management has somehow eclipsed my being a student. Of course, we keep learning, wherever we are.

So the days are filled with searching for published papers and reading them, updating the Mendeley reference database, exchanging information and ideas with project team mates and other students, and writing as well. But I still can't get away with being involved in the work back in the field. I still have to help out at least in terms of facilitating more of the field work that is still to be done.

It's great that the university has very good library and information facilities. They are really supportive of research being done and giving assistance to researchers. So we can find lots of new publications, and if can not be found, we can request from the Library through their Document Delivery Service. They will procure the papers for us, from the British Library.

In addition, the housework, the marketing, the cooking. Important about the meals. Keep planning for a variety of meals so food does not get boring. And that takes a lot of time. I've never cooked this much back home. This is part of student life here. The supermarket is one of the main features of student life in this university town. The other is the bus. Another is adjusting to the weather. I will talk about these later.

Now it is Friday, the end of the working week for most, but for us students I guess there are really no weekends. Just keep working, reading, writing. But don't forget the laundry...