PhDiaries: The start of field work

Lets start off with an inspirational quote to get us all in the mood for stepping out of our comfort zones:

May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears
– Nelson Mandela

The past couple of months I have been pretty quiet on the blogging front, mainly because I’ve been so busy trying to keep up with the project and getting everything done! I will try to improve on this in the months to come.

I wrote a blog post for the Orangutan Tropical Peatland Project, saying a bit more about what my project will involve and my background with OuTrop. Check it out here.

I was able to go to Indonesia for a three week recce trip about two months ago. While I was excited to be heading back to Indonesia, it had been a whole two years since I had been there last, and there were some definite nerves about going back and starting the project! To be honest, I was pretty terrified about it all, but I’m familiar with this mixture of fear and excitement as a sign that I would once again be stepping out of my own comfort zone. From my previous experiences I also knew that through leaving that safe zone of familiarity I would learn the most and have some great experiences to come.

I’m sure all PhD students go through the same emotions when finally embarking on their field work, especially when doing so in a country on the other side of the world. But the recce trip was great to build up my self-confidence and proved to be very successful! I caught over 400 fish in the traps which I was testing, I had great discussions with some local fishermen, and met with local researchers. I was able to choose my trapping method, and build up contacts which will be useful in my field work. So if you’re planning to do something similar, try to make time for a short trip to meet key people and have a look at what you’ll be dealing with.

Following a successful PhD upgrade at Leicester, I am now back in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, and starting to get meetings together and get the research project started. These are exciting times, and I will try to post updates on how my experiences are going. Below you can see a cool freshwater eel which I caught in one of my traps in the forest!

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