Fieldwork in China, or a Huge, Frustrating, Dynamic, Messy Learning Process

My past couple posts have focused on my experiences traveling in China, but haven't really touched on my academic research, which is the whole reason I'm here! With absolutely zero fieldwork experience and minimal preparation (see my post on Preparing to Do Research Abroad, which describes my research topic and preparation process), I hopped on a plane to China. I figure...
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There ARE Black Beans in this Country, or the Impact We Have on the World Around Us

Brief update from my previous post: I FOUND BLACK BEANS. I heard rumors that black beans occasionally grace the shelves of the nicer grocery stores, and we finally had a chance to go this week. They were expensive, so I was only allowed to buy one can using our grant money, but I take what I can get. Anyway, on to the next topic. Since my position as a field technicia...
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Making Money, Then Spending It on Fruit Juice

Here I am, almost halfway through my summer project already! Time flies here on campus, especially with not as many students around and no homework to do. My research has progressed to its intermediate stages, and summer living is settling into somewhat of a routine. I’m managing to pick up some extra odd jobs here and there on top of my SURP stipend, so my finances are loo...
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5 Discoveries About Traveling Alone

I'm doing independent, pre-thesis research in China, and a byproduct of that is traveling on my own. Before I arrived in China, I was excited about the research and the going-to-China parts, but much less excited at the prospect of being alone for such a long period of time. I'm not one of those people who needs much "me time" and I thrive when I'm around people. On top of that...
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There Are No Black Beans in this Country: Unnecessary Adventures and What We Take for Granted

Whether it’s the nature of fieldwork in general or the nature of fieldwork in Australia, things that should be simple end up as an adventure. Let me give you some examples. The task that should have been simple: grocery shopping. Every week, we go on a shopping marathon to buy food for six for a week. We throw grocery bags in the back of the truck (named Matilda), vis...
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Slip-ups, Solitude & Self Care

After a few days of travel in Shanghai and Hangzhou, I found myself in Beijing, finally ready to embark on my summer of independent research. Beijing is the first of my stops in a research tour of China's ethnic minority theme parks (the rest are in Yunnan province). On Wednesday night, I checked into my hostel and on Thursday morning, I took the subway to Beijing's Ethnic ...
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Figuring Out Where I Am

Like any good adventure, mine begins and ends with time travel (courtesy of the International Date Line). I left Claremont for Brisbane, a large city in Queensland, Australia, on a Tuesday and arrived on a Thursday after 14 hours of travel. My return flight will reach the United States three hours before it leaves Australia. The time zone switch was especially difficult ...
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Preparing to Do Research Abroad

As my little blurb explains, I will be spending this summer doing independent research in Southwestern China, funded by the Oldenborg International Research and Travel Grant. This grant is awarded to 2-3 rising Pomona seniors each year, allowing them to undertake research for a senior thesis, project, or exhibition during the summer months before senior year. In the past, s...
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Independent Study and Small-College Education

On the Wednesday afternoon of spring break, I sat in the Coop Fountain staring at my laptop screen. My real spring break had started thirty seconds beforehand, when I clicked “send” on an email to my advisor containing the first draft of my independent study paper. The moment felt surprisingly anticlimactic. I shut my laptop, walked outside into the sunny spring weather tha...
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What Are College Summers Like?

It's that time of year -- everyone seems to be anxiously applying to programs/internships/jobs/research positions/funding etc. Over Family Weekend, standing in front of my CDO Summer Experience Funding poster, I fielded tons of questions from eager parents of first-year students. I've been asked the vague questions "Where do you want to be this summer?" and "What are your s...
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