Week 52: The last week of 2017

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I am about to leave for my four-month fieldwork in Japan. All the preparation – recruiting research participants, preparing ethics statements and consent forms, and confirming research locations – is done. But there is still some preparation to be done for the conducting of focus groups of patients, which will provide supplemental data in the later stage of fieldwork.

I like Cunliffe’s definition of ethnography: ‘Ethnography is not a quick dip into a research site using surveys and interviews, but an extended period of time in which the ethnographer immerses herself in the community she is studying: interacting with community members, observing, building relationships, and participating in community life. She then has to translate that experience so that it is meaningful to the reader’ (Cunliffe, ‘Retelling Tales of the Field’, 2010). This is true. Jumping into prompt interviews is not field research. Including literature studies on the context, I will need to make a significant effort to be a part of a community and to gain a deeper understanding of the cultural dynamics.

The first year of my PhD programme is ending. This year, I was able to keep writing my diary every week. I completed 90% of the drafts of literature review chapters, gained a better understanding of my research field, and enjoyed teaching very much. I also had a wonderful time with my partner throughout the year, and no ordinary thanks can express my gratitude to him.

I feel that the first year of research was a baby step of my PhD journey and that there are so many aspects that need to be fixed and updated. I have tons of things to learn, which will sometimes seem overwhelming. But I believe that the four-month field research will eventually bring me some confidence in research.

Goals for Week 53:

  • Update my paper to send it to an online journal (due in two weeks)
  • Edit Chapter 2

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Week 51: Our first Christmas together!

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My research workload was really small in Week 51. I spent most of the time contacting research participants, shopping for Christmas stuff and cleaning the kitchen, dining space and bathroom.

On Tuesday, my main supervisor invited me to lunch (for the first time). It was a pleasure to have a nice farewell lunch with her before my departure for fieldwork. In our regular supervision meetings, we only talk about research, and I didn’t know anything about her private life. She is very caring and professional. It was pleasant to talk about some of our private matters and her PhD experiences over panini and coffee!

On Wednesday, my friend John also asked me to a farewell lunch. He specialises in Economics but is so keen on language learning and teaching. We always have lots of topics to discuss, and it is also amusing that he uses many linguistics terms in our conversation. We both have experience of living abroad for a decent period, and we always agree about how local people tend not to change their language use (vocabulary and expressions) towards people from other countries or cultures. They (we) sometimes just forget to use a simple expression that cannot be misunderstood and that can work in intercultural communication.

The main event this week was Luca and I spending our first Christmas together at home in England. We initially planned to go to Italy or Vienna or London for the Christmas holidays, but none of it materialised due to our job circumstances and the flu. Eventually, we ended up enjoying cooking some traditional British Christmas meals. On Christmas Eve, we spent the afternoon shopping, cooking a turkey, potatoes and brussels sprouts, and decorating a table with Christmas flowers and crackers. On Christmas Day we had an early dinner at home and went to a cinema to watch Jumanji!

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Achievement in Week 51:

This is not my achievement, but Luca finally got a full-time position, working in the public sector. This is the best Christmas present to me! I really hope that he will be able to further develop his career in the field that he has a longing for.

Goals for Week 52:

  • Edit Chapter 2
  • Update my paper, to send to an online journal
  • Get ready to depart for my fieldwork

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Week 50: Christmas socials

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I attended Christmas socials at my school and enjoyed having a chat with colleagues whom I had not had an opportunity to talk to on campus. We also discussed our research methods and shared some concerns about analysis over drinks. We do not have such exchanges very often because most of my colleagues are busy teaching, and we rarely see each other in the office. It was very useful to exchange our thoughts and experiences of research life.

This week I submitted my application for a funding opportunity. This is my third try; my two applications earlier this year were not successful. My supervisors keep encouraging me to apply over and over again, saying ‘you are now in a stronger position’. Some of my colleagues got funding for the final year of their PhD studies. So, your next attempt is more likely to succeed than the previous one in the early stage of research. I really hope it will be ‘third time lucky’.

Some of the participants in my research have helped me with further recruitment, and I made contact with three more healthcare professionals. I am sincerely grateful for their support and advice. My study is going to be a co-production of knowledge from all the participants and advisers. Day by day, I look upon myself more and more as a learner, and my participants as teachers.

One more achievement from Week 50 was that I completed all the coursework for an online course. In January I started a two-year online programme of language teaching (Japanese), and have just finished the first-half course of the programme for 2017. I will take the latter course over the next year. I found the programme very useful, especially as my teaching experience helped me to understand how each method actually works in a classroom.

In my spare time, I enjoyed making a sushi roll called Salad Maki with ingredients of a salad: cucumber, lettuce (I forgot to use it), imitation crab sticks, omelette and Japanese kewpie mayonnaise. The combination of sushi rice and the salad ingredients are very compatible and popular in Japan. Many people say that Salad Maki, like California Roll, is not traditional Japanese sushi, but Salad Maki is commonly found in Japan. I grew up with it. Sushi Roll is not usually on the menu in traditional sushi restaurants in Japan, but you can still ask the chef to make it for you.

Goals for Week 51:

  • Edit and update my paper to send it to an online journal
  • Work on my proposals to apply for two conferences
  • Enjoy Christmas shopping and treats with Luca (our first Christmas together!)

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