Week 38

Continuing my preparation for the review meeting (coming in 10 days), I have read some crucial books for writing Chapter 2 and kept records of the summaries.

I am so stupid. I spent the whole week thinking about and trying out whether to keep a notebook (of the summaries) as handwritten materials or digitise all of them. Since I started my PhD programme, I have used Evernote to keep and manage my records of everything including papers, a reading diary, my drafts, session notes, summaries of meetings, important links, documents, cooking recipes, and whatever. At the same time, I have been using my Moleskin notebook and diary to physically write some summaries of my reading and referring to some websites to find useful formats and examples to organise information for a literature review. I was obsessed with finding a new format for five days and eventually found that the digital tool, adding a piece of note in Evernote, is the most suitable for me. This feels like I have wasted a week!

Luca’s work contract finished last week, so he has been staying at home to apply for new jobs. I am not sure if this is because he is staying at home, but I baked buttermilk scones and lemon drizzle cake this week. On Friday, I took him to a Chinese buffet restaurant for lunch and an Italian ice cream shop for dessert, and we eventually spent the afternoon eating, walking and shopping. That was a nice weekday date, for a change. We ordered from Pizza Hut for Saturday dinner, like we did during our MA programmes. I understand that thinking about the future and what you want to do for a profession while being under undue pressure from family is one of the toughest situations to be in.

Goals for Week 39:

  • Continue my preparation and practice
  • Finish some translations of my field notes
  • Celebrate a memorable date!

Week 37

My probation review was postponed to October because the panel is too busy this month (which is painful for me)! This means that I have more time to prepare for it, but my nervousness never slackens and has rather grown. My preparation includes

  • reading my documents thoroughly (research protocol, one chapter, ethics application and field notes);
  • creating a summary of my research and preliminary findings which I will give to the panel orally; and
  • preparing responses to questions ranging from general to specific questions.

I have also started reading a pile of books to write Chapter 2. My first summary of it will be due around 17th October.

My goals for Week 38:

  • Continue my preparation and practice!
  • Share transcribed conversation notes from my fieldwork with my supervisors

Week 36

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This week, I have had calm and relaxing days at home while cleaning the house, responding to accumulated emails and preparing my presentation for the probation meeting coming in 10 days.

Luca is now in an uncertain position, as his internship contract will be over in a week and any prospect of staying at his current job has not been seen. He has started applying for jobs, being under pressure from his family.

Goals for Week 37:

  • Make sure that I am ready to deliver my presentation and respond to questions from the panel

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Week 35

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I returned to the UK a week ago, having spent four weeks in Japan doing preliminary fieldwork. It was a pilot observation in my home country, but still, it was an amazing experience.

Since I had worked on literature studies on Japanese issues while living in the UK, every interaction, every event and news article, everything was significant in Japan. When I was in ‘the field’, I had a strong feeling of ‘who I am’, even though I was in a location with which I should be familiar. I often came to a point where I recognised myself as an ‘outsider’ in the field.

During my fieldwork, my sanctuary (a place away from the research site and where I can take a break!) was my family and friends. Seeing my close friends was truly the best part of my stay, and I really needed a period of time not thinking about my data and research.

The hardest part of this preliminary fieldwork was explaining the research to anyone who could be a research participant. As other researchers have often said before, this was the most unpleasant feeling I had in the field, because I could not hide my intention in speaking with each person: ‘I just want your data’. I have seen advice to ‘start doing what you do in any non-research situation, and show interest in them quite simply.’ I tried to make conversation with them on non-research topics, but it was really hard to continue with it. It was partly because they were busy and I needed to rush in order to include everything that I needed to explain, and partly due to my inadequate fieldwork skills.

Soon after I returned to England, I organised my field notes and some documents that people had given me. I also worked on my documents for the probation meeting in two weeks’ time.

On the day I left Japan, August 30th, I ate katsudon, which is a popular Japanese food. There is a tradition that Japanese students eat katsudon before an important exam, because ‘katsu’ is a homophone of the verb Katsu which means ‘to win’ or ‘to be victorious’.

My achievements in Week 35:

  • Finished writing my field notes and all my drafts for the probation review, and submitted them!

Goals for Week 36:

  • Have some proper rest
  • Prepare my presentation and questions for the probation review

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