At the start of the year seems a good time for reflection (plus a few links back to previous posts!). For the past few months it has been dawning on me how much life has changed since starting the PhD 15 months ago. Back then, I was struggling to retain a semblance of ‘normality’ despite transitioning from part-time work to full-time study. Learning languages and how to shoot a rifle were distant prospects of excitement/dread. Now they have become part of my weekly routine, and sadly the garden and sewing projects that used to slot in nicely in the old part-time life, are left 95% neglected.
Now that I’ve been to Svalbard once and am planning my next trip for this year, learning Russian, Norwegian and shooting seems far from abstract, but genuinely useful skills to help my research along.
I’ve always enjoyed learning languages and it’s pretty exciting as I am beginning to grasp the meaning of some of the things I was taking pictures of in Svalbard last year now I can read Russian script. Norwegian, well progress is slower without weekly classes as a stimulus, but I’m determined to expand my vocab from last year’s one-word wonder ‘thanks’!
The shooting has been an interesting tale of challenged stereotypes so far – certainly it’s the last thing people expect me (member of a peace choir, self-confessed hippy) to admit to filling a Thursday evening with. On the other hand, I didn’t expect to be so warmly welcomed to the shooting club, or to well, dare I say it, find shooting paper targets to be actually quite fun.
I’ve been meeting all sorts of interesting and inspiring people at conferences, training events and departmental seminars as well as on fieldwork, all of which have the potential to lead in exciting directions. Finally it should be noted the prevalence of polar bears in my life has increased somewhat, from being a potential flagship species for climate change campaigns to asserting an impressive amount of agency on my life at a distance: being the impetus to learning to shoot, a key logistical factor in research trip plans and fieldwork mobilities, regular appearances in nightmares and a keen point of interest for friends and indeed Arctic researchers and tourists.
Change is as good as a rest, so they say, on that note – Happy New Year everyone, hope 2014 rings the changes in fruitful and fun ways.