So it goes. Vonnegut’s wise words have followed me to the southern coast this weekend for my first work trip out in the field. For the past few days, Oregon State University graduate Katie and I have visited over one hundred houses in attempts to administer surveys. Our goal in this study is to assess quality of life, well-being, and attitudes of residents towards marine reserves on the Oregon Coast. The results of this study will then be provided to researchers, community leaders, and policy makers to inform decision-making.
As we are still in the pilot study phase of our research, we anticipated a few hiccups as we continue to hone in to the balance between strong methodology and realistic limitations. As expected of any applied research study, many things have in fact gone awry. Nonetheless, I am grateful for the redeeming cup of coffee that sits in front of me as I write.
In my mind, a research project has many similarities to a relationship. It has its high and low points – all of which are testaments to the development of a rewarding finished product. Though low points are not typically glamorized, I find them just as constructive both for the growth of myself as a researcher as well as for my project. Introspection at this time is often a necessity. In attempts to juggle four projects, I’ve found myself mildly overwhelmed by this relationship. So it goes.
In addition to reflection specific to my daily work, this internship has provided me with a glance into future directions. With graduation from my undergraduate program nearing this fall, I am now faced with the question: “Do I want a Masters degree or a Ph.D.?” More importantly, “Am I ready for this?” I feel fortunate to be surrounded by advisors with both professional and academic degrees who have shared their experiences with me. Amongst all of their stories, I have noted a common theme of sacrifice.
An old friend once told me that, “you get out of it what you put in to it”. His words stay with me now as I mull through the decisions in front of me. Though my end results in research have always been exceedingly rewarding, I now strive to find a balance between my academic and personal goals. Perhaps my next step is to go abroad and travel. Perhaps it is to apply to schools. No matter my choice, I am thankful to be part of a program that challenges my perspective and encourages frequent spurts of growth. There is nowhere I would rather be than here. So it goes.