Monday, August 15, 2011

A New Beginning

Well, friends, August is half way over and summertime is quickly coming to a close (although I have a feeling the heat may pop back up at least once or twice, just for good measure).  School starts at Missouri next Monday and normally right now, I’d be mentally preparing myself to head back to school and psyching myself up to start a new semester.  But this year, I’m mentally preparing myself for a new, different adventure. 

In less than two weeks, I’ll be hopping a plane and leaving the country for almost 3 months.  I announced on Facebook, but somehow forgot to mention on the blog, that I found out back in April I received the grant I applied for last spring.  This means I’ll be spending the next 2.5 months of my life in a village in Bangladesh, studying a group of nomadic river gypsies.  (I know - I can only HOPE it’s going to be as cool as it sounds!)

At this point, I know very little about what life will be like in the upcoming weeks and months.  I have no idea what it’s going to be like to interview people who speak a different language.  I have very little idea about what I’m going to find out about the river gypsies (but I hope it’s good!).  I do know I’ll spend a couple of weeks after I first arrive taking an intensive language course in Bengali language (I currently know NO Bengali…).  I know I’ll be buying all of my clothes once I get there, as it is important to dress like a local.  I have an idea about where I’ll stay and some of the contacts I need to make when I get there.  I also know that I’ll be traveling with a great friend, which frankly eases nearly every fear and calms my nerves quite a bit. 

Luckily for me, my friend Roslyn worked as my advisor’s research assistant last year and spent 6 months in Bangladesh.  She speaks a little Bengali, knows the lay of the land, and is familiar with the culture.  Roslyn is going back to complete her dissertation research and we both managed to get grant money and arrange to go at the same time. 

The purpose of my research will be to conduct as many interviews as possible and learn as much as I can about the group of people I’m studying.  I hope to be able to use the info I get to write a grant for more money to go back and complete a formal research project for my PhD dissertation.

After 9 weeks in Bangladesh, I’m taking a quick, 5-day trip to Taiwan to see some friends (and hopefully some of my old students) before I come home.  I am equally as thrilled for this trip.  I have missed my friends for the last 3 years and have been trying to figure out how to get back to visit since I left.

After I get back to the States, I’ll have a short 6-day turn around time in which to get back to Columbia, unpack, rest up, take care of some school business, see friends before the Thanksgiving break, and then repack for a trip to Montreal, Canada.  The annual American Anthropological Association conference is in Montreal and I will again be presenting my thesis work (the polyandry paper).  Then, it’s off to Iowa for my friends’ wedding before going home to Lincoln and sleeping for a week straight!  Haha

To tell you the honest truth, I feel pretty overwhelmed by all I have to get done in the next couple of weeks and all of the traveling over the next several months, but I’m also really excited!  The reason I went into Anthropology was because of my love for travel and my interest in learning about other people and cultures.  This trip feels like the first step towards becoming a “real” anthropologist!  It’s what I’ve been taking classes for and preparing for over the last few years.  It’s a chance to follow my dream.

(All photos courtesy of my advisor, Dr. Mary Shenk)


  1. WOW! What awesome adventures! Can't wait to hear all the stories.

  2. Can't wait to hear all about it and see all the pictures!

  3. I'm so excited for you, Katie! But I'll sure miss you around here!!

  4. Sounds like an exciting and life altering trip! I look forward to hearing all about it when you get back (and on your blog too:)

  5. Really excited for you!! Can't wait to hear all about it. So proud of you. <3 mags