Monday, 29 November 2010

Stepping back...

I've had a major blow this week, both personally and academically. My beloved mentor is seriously ill, and it's such a shock. When I read his e-mail, I just broke down in tears. Now I'm in slightly better shape--numb but still depressed, of course. I've had to face the fact that the man who inspired me to do the PhD won't be supervising it through to completion. It's made me question everything and reflect on life...and with all this philosophising, I haven't been able to concentrate on my reading.
But I know that this is what I'm supposed to be doing. He wants me to succeed in this project we designed together. And dedicating my dissertation to him means I'll have to work hard and make it the best piece of writing I can possibly produce.

This week, I've been stepping back and looking at my project. On Friday I'm going to discuss my lit review with my co-supervisor (now my main supervisor), so right now I'm just putting together a few ideas about what it is exactly that I want this project to accomplish...

--I know what I don't want it to be: another redundant Fulbright study that doesn't say anything new. They all have the same findings--exchange students act as effective cultural mediators, friendship networks are valuable PD tools, etc.
--I know I still want to focus on Americans abroad. It's original (research usually looks at foreign Fulbrighters coming to America), and I'm an American abroad so I know what to ask from my own experience.
--I know I want a political/IR angle, because that's my background and that's what I'm into.
--I think Turkey would be interesting for a comparative case because of the religion/culture aspect and the possibility of EU accession in coming years (relates to Trans-Atlantic relations, US-EU), as well as their political/cultural anti-Americanism.
--I think Belgium would also be a good one because of their cultural anti-Americanism--this would help isolate causes/perceptions of anti-Americanism and cultural/political effects of PD in the other 2 cases.
--I think it's all about triangulation. More methods and more aspects of the PD/student exchange phenomenon means more interesting/accurate results.

But, having said all of that, I'm still not entirely sure what's going to happen with the direction of my project. And I think that's ok for now...

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