Thursday, March 27, 2014

OF BUMPY ROADS AND BRIGHT LIGHTS

It's 2014. It's already March. Actually, it will be April next week. Come to think of it, this will be my first blog entry for this year. Forgive my blogging hiatus. It wasn't intentional. I was just so busy with juggling research, social life, academic engagements, and getting fit.

The past three months have been a rollercoaster ride. Before we head on to this year, let me just recall some activities in the latter part of December 2013. December was a beautiful month to begin with. It was the month that my ethics clearance was approved and I started recruiting respondents for my research. It was also the month that I began interviewing a few individuals. As I interviewed, transcribing took place. Along with transcribing, continuous recruitment of respondents took place. I was anxious not to get respondents. Hence, that anxiety compelled me to religiously scout interviewees. As a result, I didn't have a vacation. I only took December 25 and January 1 as days off to recuperate from a stressful and demanding PhD research. I don't regret it. Although I didn't have much rest, at least, the time spent with friends and reconnecting with my family and friends in the Philippines via Skype was glorious.

When 2014 came in I had only one thing in mind. That is to be healthy so I can deliver in my PhD journey. Last year, stress manifested in my body. I got headaches and tummy pains. Apart from school work that put me to a "zombie" self (lack of sleep, yeah?), the stress was aggravated by adjustments to the weather. Up to now, my body adjusts itself especially on cool change. So when this year walks in, I've promised myself to look after my health. And that is achieved through constant exercise, a healthy diet, and relaxing myself if needed. As of writing, I think, stress is saying hello again. I can feel it. On a positive note, I've been coping with it, uhm, hopefully, okay. I just need some good rest and some activities to ward off back, tummy and head aches. Gosh! I feel so old. And as of writing, the doctor told me that I'm "lactose intolerant!" So he recommended a lactose-free milk that I just purchased a while ago.

January was a promising month for me. Well, from January up to now, I've been recruiting and interviewing respondents. Finally, just this week, I finally completed my target number of respondents. On top of that, I've finished transcribing the interviews. I've also coded the interviews and the photos as well. Also, I'm proud that my two paper abstracts were accepted for presentation in a conference, one in Japan and one in Melbourne. Unfortunately, I won't be able to go to Japan due to financial constraints. However, the committee wanted me to present through online. Meanwhile, the conference in Melbourne will be held in July. So with these upcoming academic engagements, there's no way for me not to be busy. Yes. I. AM. BUSY.

While I've been pushing myself in working hard for my PhD, I've also been enjoying my stay in Melbourne. In January, I finally met the love of my life. Oh dear, there's love life. There you go. Since I'm a private person (lightning strikes!), I won't disclose in this blog who is my special someone ( no pictures and dropping of names to protect privacy). But I tell you, my special someone is a smart, loving, caring and super down-to-earth individual. And whenever we're together, there's no dull moments. We have that (not only the physical) but the emotional and intellectual connection. We can talk and even discuss serious matters to funny topics.I really can't imagine how God has blessed me with my special someone's coming. I'm not only inspired to deliver in my research, but I'm absolutely humbled. After all the dating and engaging with "sour" encounters, I've finally found someone who is genuine, witty, and lovable. Okay, enough of the sweet stuff. So obviously, February walked in with a colourful and loving vibe. Just in time for Valentine's, my heart was racing. It was unstoppable. I admitted to myself, oh dear, I'M. IN.LOVE.

Speaking of love, I fell in love with Sorrento Beach in Mornington Peninsula. The sea waves were calming. The cool breeze was refreshing. The mountains were jaw-dropping. I just enjoyed the sights of nature. It was a great way to fight stress and enjoy the beauty of nature. Best of all, I was in good, loving and caring hands of my special someone.




Apart from enjoying the joys of being in love, I've never turned my back to my friends. Friends will always be friends. They are there through thick and thick and thin and thick again. No matter what happens, they're there to guide, inspire and support you. So to strengthen our friendship, my friends and I went to the Swisse Colour Run. It's tagged as "the Happiest 5K on the planet!" What I loved about the event was it's colourful, youthful and playful vibe. We were there not to run but to simply walk, splash ourselves with coloured powders and dance! And just like that, I walked away with happiness on my face.  And yeah, colours too!

With Eden and Kat!

With Loki

Speaking of colour, back in February, I went to Melbourne's much-awaited White Night. Buildings, alleys, parks, and bridges were projected with colourful and jaw-dropping lights. I was in awe (again, despite seeing it last year) because of the creativity and unimaginable effort in making the beautiful and astounding light projections. Despite the cold breeze that night, I felt warm (of course, especially with thousands of people flowing side by side as you walk and make your way out). Thankfully, I survived that night and went home with a pack of photos in my camera phone.


Photo by Guy
It's already March and so far everything is smoothly running. The first phase of my data gathering is finally complete. Soon, I will start my data gathering in the Philippines. That will be the second phase of my research. It's a bumpy road to do a PhD. But so far, I am enjoying it and I'm looking forward to day that I'll be able to teach, publish or join a research team. On a related good news, I'm offered a visiting scholar program from one of the universities in the Philippines. I just need to check with my University on this matter.

Meanwhile, on a personal level, I'm happy with my special someone. On a not so happy part, I will be away. But anyways, two months won't be that long. After all, both of us can "exploit" (Hello, Polymedia!) various communication technologies to strengthen the relationship. And yes, we are both busy. On another personal aspect, I'm absolutely excited to see my friends and family again. It is given that I will be busy conducting my interviews but I promise to spend some time with friends them. Since it's gonna be summer in the Philippines, to visit the beach is a must. Not that I want to get a tan. I just want to relax and be pampered. Let's see how this goes. For now, I'm focused with research and I'm keeping my schedule "fluid".

I'm now on my second year of doing my PhD. So far everything is okay. To do a PhD is not a walk in the park. To say that "A PhD is a Marathon" best describes the journey. It may look so colourful or prestigious, but the road to reaching the destination is simply overwhelming and tiring, yes, it's blood and tears. It is an isolating experience too. That's possible especially when on your own studying. You are the captain of your ship. You control everything. To-dos are endless. And so you need to work and be sure you're ticking the box in your list. In my case, as sociable person, I try to maintain a balanced lifestyle. I stop when I need to. I take a break if I'm stressed. I go out and meet people if there's a chance. I exercise to diffuse anxieties and fears. And I simply reconnect with family and friends to draw strength and inspiration. And on top of that, I have my faith in God that keeps me running in this race. Yes, there's life apart from doing PhD. For now, I am taking a bit of baby steps (sometimes) paired with big leaps and continous running. In this PhD marathon, focus is needed. Lets.do.this.

I am excited this April. I am moving in to a new house (finally!) and I'm going back to Manila to do the second phase of my data gathering. I'm also looking forward to meet my college friend's family from Canberra! I am also visiting Brunei for a two-day vacation. Friends in Brunei, I will be there from April 23 afternoon until April 26 morning. Then after my side trip in Brunei,  I will be home. Wohoo!

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