Extreme Researcher Goes Ireland

I was meaning to be hard at work today at finishing my second article but my day got somewhat derailed when I was notified that my travel grant application to attend the 2016 Esse Conference in Galway, Ireland was accepted. This has meant that I have spent the latter part of the day making travel plans for the August 22-26 conference, booking accommodations, etc. A happier disruption to a researcher’s work day than that rarely happens, though, so I’m not complaining.

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Credit: williambacky.com

Ireland is a country I have wanted to visit for a long time, and to do so while attending what’s sure to be a useful and stimulating conference and having my expenses generously covered by the University of Vaasa Graduate School is a fantastic scenario. (As a sidenote, the graduate school is right now accepting applications so if anyone’s interested in joining our vibrant research community and potentially accessing benefits like these travel grants in the future, so now’s the time to apply.)

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National University of Ireland. Credit: kbph.ie

The exact venue of the 13th biennial ESSE (European Society for the Study of English) conference is the National University of Ireland (a.k.a. NUI Galway). This is a large conference that lasts five days and has academics attending from all around Europe. That is why this is an especially important conference for me as an English student.

In the conference, I will present my dissertation project “Male Adventure Athletes and Their Relationships to Nature” in a doctoral session that is reserved for junior researchers like myself. The idea is to gain further experience in academic presentations and gain valuable feedback from the more senior researchers in an accommodating and friendly setting.

I have also applied to present a more detailed slice of my research in a seminar on “Gendered Bodies” but the notification of my acceptance or rejection should come some time next week. In many conferences, gaining entry into a seminar presentation is fairly simple, provided that one can write a reasonably cogent proposition. In the case of this ESSE conference, however, presentation spots are highly coveted, so it’s entirely possible that I won’t be admitted to present in the seminar. In any case, I’m glad that I was accepted to present in the doctoral session, which is anyway possibly the more useful venue of the two for myself. I’ll update this post when I have the definite info on this. (Edit April 6th: As I suspected might happen, my presentation in this seminar did not fit in. As ‘consolation’, I was offered to present it in the form of a poster. I accepted, and my new, revised, proposal was was in turn accepted by them. So, I will present in a doctoral session and present my other topic in a poster. Which is pretty cool, too.)

And, finally: I will attempt to also conduct an interview or two for the final, interview-based article of my upcoming dissertation while I’m there. I have researched online the local climbing community, which is part of the Irish mountaineering club, and I should have time after the conference hours during my week-long stay to spend enough time with the local climbers to score an interview (or two) here. Looking forward to this, too.

Further, I believe that the fact that I was able to include this interview angle to my application facilitated my getting the travel grant, as now I’m not ‘only’ attending a conference but also concretely advancing the progress of my dissertation. I am also quite happy that I was able to further prove to myself that I can write applications that receive financing, as that’s an important part of academic qualifications and actually something that researchers routinely include in their CVs.

Receiving the grant did not come as a complete surprise, since I tend to be fairly optimistic (some would say delusionally so) as regards my work. That said, the application process was competitive and its outcome was far from certain. Sadly, this meant that many talented researchers did not receive the funding they applied for. I do hope they can arrange their funding in some other way. As I understand, the graduate school arranges another application round already later this year, which shows that they are committed to furthering the internationalization of the university, and that there are further opportunities for those researchers who did not receive funding this time.

To conclude, I’m very happy that things turned out the way they did, while also recognizing that the world tends to always balance things out eventually so that it won’t be a cakewalk all the way through. While waiting for that balancing to happen, I’ll look forward to the hard work, intellectually stimulating conversations, networking, socializing, and climbing that’ll take place in Galway in August.

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Credit: tumblr.com

Too much? No stereotypes here at Extreme Researcher, eh..?

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