One of the most important lessons I have learned while conducting research is that things will almost certainly not go exactly how you have planned. We have talked about this during the weekly seminars a few times, and we mainly talk about how time will affect what you can accomplish or how the model for an experiment is insufficient, and the research team must go back to the drawing board. I have certainly encountered the time constraint issue, but I do not have to consider my experimental methodology n the same way people in the STEM field do. Instead, I have to contend with the results of my investigation and often have to reevaluate my discursive methodology and works I previously read in the light of new critiques and insights I encounter. While this is, in part, a goal of my research, it is frustrating when I am shown my blind spots. Therefore, I believe a collaborative, academic environment is vital for conducting research.
The majority of academic works acknowledge the great impact that discussions and disagreements with their peers have on their work. When working in a remote environment, you have only your voice and insights on whatever subject you analyze. No matter how clear your vision or how open you are to differing viewpoints, there are some inherent disadvantages to working by yourself.
While an ideal work environment may be with colleagues who have expertise within and outside of your field, the Brackenridge’s cooperative interdisciplinary approach brings people who are passionate about their work together. That energy is the first step towards completing great scholarship. If the people around you are not seriously engaged in their work, how could you expect them to care about what you have to say? The most valuable part of the Brackenridge is coming to understand why everyone chose their projects and the broad areas of application. Having this experience now, and with the difficulties caused by the pandemic, has developed my capacity for interdisciplinary engagement. As a result, I have a much better understanding of how to approach scholarship in subjects I have very little knowledge of and what questions to ask.
As for the future, I have some things planned and am currently taking steps to complete my goals, but there are other things that I have an idea of what I want to do but have not yet made concrete progress on. I am taking a road trip across the country to visit national parks, a few cities, and some friends in the near future. After that, I plan on working on a conference presentation for my work with expectations to present in the late fall or early spring. I hope to use the conference as a networking opportunity and better understand which graduate programs I would like to attend. In addition, I am going to take a gap year between undergraduate and graduate school next year by deferring my graduation and studying abroad. I have not yet decided where I will study, but I would like to finish an English Literature degree during my time abroad.