I have made it! survived a year in OZ!


It’s already been a year in the quiet and beautiful Canberra.A year that has been like  riding a long rollercoaster, a definite full on year!

Today I feel it is time to evaluate what I have done and what my learnings have been during this period of time. Well, I came here with an idea of the type of research I wanted to do , with the type of life I wanted to have. Though I felt anxious I also felt confident about my decision and I was looking forward to live the PhD experience, whatever that meant at that time. Now I know that it is not just the research, it is the whole experience, it is devoting three or more years of your life to studying, thinking, reflecting, researching,being different, focusing on one thing,getting a new identity.It is been a time of becoming, of learning and relearning, of uncertainty.

It is been very different from my first expectations. I didn’t know much what it was going to be like, but for sure it has been something else.  My research topic has changed heaps from my proposal. I have been challenged by my ignorance and preconceived ideas. I have realised how much I don’t know and how  much there is to be learnt. I have been fascinated thinking about what reality is and how we relate to the external world. I have been challenged trying to understand how we learn  and all that is involved in the learning process. I have felt shocked with my incapacity of putting ideas on paper, with my constant procrastination, with being so fragile and goofie. I  feel so certain about uncertainty and I feel good about it!I have been so ignorant of the glycoysis pathway…

What have I achieved? Well, I have done courses, seminars and workshops , all of which have contributed to improve my research skills. I have attended some inspiring and refreshening workshops and conferences. I have dared to put my ideas out through this blog,by discussions with other reearchers, by writing and submitting my writing to academics. I have achieved the first milestone of my PHd successfully.My asbtracts have been accepted to a couple of conferences. But, you know what my greatest achievement is, my new persona. Yeah! My new being, this refreshening and exciting dynamic state of becoming, of learning that I am learning.

Thinking, studying, reflecting and researching is not just a job, for me it is been a new life, my life in Canberra, in Australia. All the space around me, all this openness has brought new, different ideas, opportunities, new challenges. The Australian bush has connected me with the ground, with earth, with simple and great things to enjoy. Australian people have made me question who I am, how I see life and how my background, my identity as a Chilean teacher of English also shapes how I do research.

“The PhD experience: a collective activity” is the title of an abstract I submitted to the ISCAR conference to be held in Rome next year. Luckily it was accepted and paradoxically it is my attempt to understand the PhD experience. The way I see the PhD now is that is an activity in which we PhD students get engaged in a meaningful learning experience which is shaped and reshaped by a constellation of relationships. My experience has been shaped by OZ idiosyncracy, ANU culture, Cedam’s morning teas, seminars, barbies, supervisors’ meetings, PhD students discussions and so on.

It is spring in Canberra, and it is absolutely lovely. It has been a good year, a full on year and the rollercoaster is still moving. I have not only  survived a year in OZ, but I have enjoyed it heaps. The PhD experience has been a great experience!

About Malba Barahona

Educational researcher, language educator. PhD from Australian National University. Passionate bushwalker and mountain lover. I procrastinate reading fiction, hiking, doing yoga, riding, having a beer and more recently decolonizing my existence. I write in English and Spanish in different blogs especially with the purpose of encouraging my students to write.

One comment

  1. MF

    Congratulations my dearest, I can feel your exiting about this disclosed new world….I know you …you are the best…and if I close my eyes, I can hear the ligth of yor smile, only hope this can wrap me soon

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