The day you realise that you’re supposed to be researching for your dissertation in less than a year, even just a few months, is an odd one. Generally, at this point, you’re tied up in your Qualifying Exams, watching helplessly as the Everest becomes ever higher. Every meeting you have with a Professor clears one issue up and creates two or three more.
You’re never ready for these new issues, either. Sometimes you look back later and smile at how daunting it seemed. Sometimes not. Some of the issues, such as the one I face today, are happily not particularly intellectually mind-bending but rather present logistical challenges. My big problem today is this: how does one get a flight to Beijing at any stage in 2008 that isn’t morbidly expensive? I mean, the Olympics are just running through August, right?
Is everyone just planning to get there before May and hang out until Christmas? Tickets to Beijing are rarely cheap, but this is getting a bit mad. I could always try and get a cheap ticket (ha!) to Los Angeles, fly on to Hong Kong and get the train up. I’ve done that before though…. Not sure it will be fun minus the novelty.
Clicking through various sites is good for one thing though: so far, I’ve been able to completely ignore the most important part of the whole trip. What archives am I going to and what am I researching? Sometimes in graduate school it seems that everyone else knows exactly what they’re writing on from day one while you flounder through a world of endless reading, grading, and complaining. Sometimes it’s just true that they all have their stuff together, I think. I, on the other hand, constitute a different animal.
So here I am, looking for flights and trying to figure out a decent project to float to various funding organisations after the deadlines for most have passed. It’s ok once you learn to deal with the odd waves of panic and despair. I really do prefer this to working in an office.