Happy (belated) New Year! I hope you had a great break and I wish you all a great year. Now that I have completed my 4-month fieldwork in Thailand, returned to the beautiful city of Manchester, got over the jet lag and re-entry shock (mostly the wintry weather+ language+ er.. procrastination), it’s time to get back to work again.
Richard suggested that I write this blog post re my summative reflections upon my fieldwork while my memory’s still fresh. So, I listed what first came to my mind when I think of my fieldwork experience. Overall, I would say that it was great! I was fortunate to have supports from my friends/ former colleagues at the institution where my fieldwork took place. I ate well and played badminton and practiced yoga regularly with my participants!
To help me recall better, I looked at my notebook. It contains summaries of interviews and observations, notes, my reflections and my ‘to do’ lists. I have just realized now how unsystematic I was while keeping all these because they are all mixed up; It’s hard to label what is actually what. However, I chose to look at what I wrote down in my notebook when I tried to question the methods and my researcher thinking. The following keywords/ phrases from my researcher journal might give you some flavours of parts of my fieldwork experience:
Group 1 [Doubts including self-doubts]
How to…? What..? Where…? Do I need to…?
Does this have anything to do with…?
I’m not sure. Be worried.
Group 2 [Self-awareness]
Be aware. Remind myself about the purposes.
Be open. Changed. I feel that… I personally think that…
Group 3 [Thinking]
Try… What about…? What if…? If…, then…
I named the first group ‘Doubts including self-doubts’. It was the feeling that happened to me from time to time (and it’s never-ending, I guess). I kept asking if I was on the right track, if what I was doing would make any contribution, and etc. I talked to one of my friends there and he said it is normal and that self-doubt is a process of learning. Phew…I’m normal then!?
For the second group, I call them ‘Self-awareness’. Being observing about my own actions and keep record of what I did could be valuable when I look at my data again. Sometimes, I acted intuitively without thinking of the consequence. I kept record of that incidents and will include them in my thesis re how my actions might have affected my data. Keeping in mind the main purpose of the PhD research was also very helpful to keep me on track. Because I’m a great ‘worrying warrior’, I tend to think about trifling details instead of the big picture of my research. Online supervision fortnightly then proved to be valuable because my supervisors always reminded me why I was there.
Finally, Group 3 is about ‘Thinking’. These keywords/ phrases emerged when I tried to write what I was thinking which included things that I thought might or might not work. As I learned from my supervisor and being in the field, things are not static, I had to think about possible ways to help me achieve my goals. Sometimes, those ways were not written in my approved plan. During my fieldwork, issues occurred, but luckily they were not matters of life and death (only a participant withdrawal).
I consider myself lucky to have the opportunity to conduct my fieldwork the way I wanted to. I was also financially supported partially by the MIE (with £600 fieldwork allowance). I feel grateful to my supervisors, Richard and Susan for their time and thoughts as always. Thank you for reading this. I hope you enjoy(ed) your fieldwork as much as I did.