After having worked along real researchers for a while, Kristina cannot get overly excited about being back at university again, she writes in today’s blog.
Since September in these blogs I’ve explored what it means to move away, then to leave the new place again, then come back and experience reverse culture shock. But not surprisingly there’s even more to it.
I’ve been back from Australia for over two months and back to the Netherlands for over a month. Yet I keep still meeting people that I haven’t seen in months, and they of course ask about my time Down Under. Recently though, as the memories of ocean and sand and bright blue skies are waning, I find myself instead reflecting more often on how my Australian university experience differed from my past and current #WURlife.
In Perth I was based at Murdoch University. There I had my own office and staff ID card and I was getting invitations to staff BBQs and fancy end of the year parties (held outside in short-sleeves and with tiny ice cream cones for dessert). I was attending meetings of research groups, having interesting sciency chats with colleagues (!) and even sometimes asked to tag along to their fieldworks. Not going to lie, this as well as all the interest for my research from my interviewees made me feel pretty special.
Not just that though – it was very enlightening, encouraging and inspiring. A major drawback of being a student for such a long time is that you can’t help but feel like you are always looking up to someone and have nothing to show for all your efforts. Who cares about essays and group reports? I sometimes daydream that these will somehow miraculously land me a job, but let’s be realistic. Yes, grades are our achievements and validations against our peers. However, when you can hold your own in an intelligent conversation about *insert your topic here* with someone much much more experienced in the field, well that’s hugely satisfying. As are emails, all the trip records on Google Maps, interview transcripts, and hundreds of pages of field notes.
So coming back to Wageningen and again being a lowly Masters student, just like hundreds of others, has been a bit deflating, to say the least. Doing nothing else but staring at a computer screen, working and usually having only myself for company hasn’t been very helpful either. But it’s all part of this project called thesis – there will be plenty to show at the end of it.
Kristina is a second year student MSc Forest and Nature Conservation.