Originally, I wanted to use ‘Dragon Dictation’ to dictate this post. But I decided to go ‘classical’ and type with my new typing skills since the noise level is not conducive for oral dictation. Soon, that day will come.
I’ve been missing from a decent blog post apart from the Project 365 updates. Partly is because I’ve been away for a PhD course 2 weeks ago at Metochi Study Center, Lesbos Island, Greece. It was nice to have limited internet access. It facilitated more conversations over the tables, and space for personal reflection. A lot of it was directed to my own current research project, a pleasant amount of thoughts were focused on more personal musings.
Even after almost more than six months since I set foot on Kristiansand, there’s still a strong feeling of ‘newness’ and ‘freshness’ in the whole experience. Of course, from an academic point of view, it was very much an orientation into the academic community and discourse in terms of research, in particular for me the world of social sciences. But I’ve also kept the worlds of theology and philosophy very close and not forgotten.
It’s funny how some thoughts and ideas have come full cycle like a boomerang. So, every thought and idea must not be dismissed prematurely even when one holds them lightly at this beginning stage.
Of course, life can never be just floating in the creative seas of imagination, and day dreaming. Decisions need to be made, in face, staying in the creative zone and exploratory phase is also a decision in itself. However, after the course of ‘Using theory in interdisciplinary research’, I was already on the road to getting ‘married’ to specific theoretical approaches, and operating from a set of ontological and epistemological assumptions, and choosing relevant methods to move forward. What was nice is to feel ‘affirmed’ that I’m not heading towards a dead end, and significant ‘nudges’ to keep me on track.
Some people start with a ‘narrow’ focus and then start from there. In many ways that’s a good start for a PhD project. Saves some time in a way. But then, it’s also possible that being overly ‘narrow’ might actually blind us from some significant areas which need attention.
I had some focus, and started with a range of possibilities. Perhaps, the only area which was somewhat decided was the ‘time and space’ of the empirical material, and also the attention on a ‘relation’ which caught my attention but required the last six months to put into focus a little bit more.
The other aspect was the ‘self and other’ relation which was implicit and now more explicit at a number of levels. One is clearly seen in the material it self. But in the last six months, I’m also aware on the relation between the researcher as well as the researched. In addition to that, perhaps because I’m in a totally ‘outside’ situation from my ‘original’ situation, even the theories are not taken for granted. In fact, nothing is taken for granted. Nothing can be assumed without critical examination.
What is true at the academic intellectual level, has been also evident in our ‘orientation’ as a family, especially when school started in the middle of August. For Ewan, it was a totally ‘native Norwegian’ setting, which he thoroughly enjoys and soaking in well. For Gareth and Elysia, it’s more ‘international’ and yet situated in a Norwegian setting, so that brings another added dimension to our experience thus far. I had loads of fun speaking a little Mandarin and then Malay, and of course mostly English, with parents and teachers from different corners of the globe.
May Chin and I want to start our Norwegian lessons soon. And we’ve got our classes lined up at two different venues. May Chin’s lessons will be more spread out, while mine more intensive. I hope to be able to manage this on top of my own ‘big’ project, and I could have chosen to not go for lessons. But I guess, since I am here and the interest I have always had to learn languages, it’s only natural for me to take this step.
furthermore, what I’m thinking about theoretically, has a wider context for reexamination besides my original material for research, i.e. our whole life experience becomes a kind of ‘material’ as well. It’s intense in a way but it’s at least to me, integrated. So, while there are clearly different dimensions which may at first sight be ‘ambiguous’ but it’s connected with each other and distinguishable when needed. Nothing ‘vague’ about that 🙂
So, a note of thankfulness is in order. A kind of existential gratitude on the ‘giftedness’ of life and all that is laid out before us. Most of which has been present long before we have arrived, and much will influence us as we take baby steps to the future. Anja is calling out, now she’s been included in this blog post too. Can’t leave her out!