Letters from Nepal…PhD Geographer reports back

Enjoying the festival of Holi with my good friend Arya

Enjoying the festival of Holi with my good friend Arya (right)

My name’s Suzy and I’m a PhD student in the School of Geography at Queen Mary University of London. Here’s a little glimpse into some of the work I’ve been doing in Nepal and a few pictures too!

I count myself very lucky to be doing a PhD. I get to study a subject that I am very passionate about and I get paid for it too; I couldn’t really ask for more. On top of that I get to live in Nepal for eight months. I am half way through my research now and it is has certainly been interesting. My research involves talking to women from various backgrounds around Kathmandu and the wider valley.

My boyfriend and a view of Langtang range

My boyfriend and a view of Langtang range

So doing a PhD is much more than spending three years with your nose in a book. My time in Nepal has meant I have had a chance to learn about new and exciting culture and I have picked up a fair amount of the Nepali language. I have met all sorts of characters and enjoyed laughing, crying and sharing stories with them. Living in a developing country like Nepal has its challenges and difficulties, but there is never a dull moment.

My research topic is on ‘Widowhood and Well-being in Nepal’. When I first started this research in 2009 I soon realised there was no research on widowhood in Nepal and little research generally worldwide. I wanted to do something to help, but once I started the master’s, however, I realised I would really need to take this to PhD level to bring it to the attention of academics and policy makers.

A typical day in Nepal starts early with the morning Hindu prayers and a run around the temple a few times that I live next to. I have breakfast on the porch in the sunshine and then I go to meet my participants. Sometimes that can be right in the centre of Kathmandu amongst the beeping traffic, the roaming cattle, the market stalls and the spicy and fragrant aromas. Other days that can involve sitting amongst paddy fields and having a relaxing cup of tea whilst chatting to my participants. When I return home I enjoy going to yoga and listening to the crows settling down for the evening.

Doing a PhD is not without its difficulties. I think the hardest thing is maintaining a balance and stepping away from your work. As my research is so personal to me it is sometimes hard to take time away from it. Since starting the PhD I have got better at this and realised it is definitely a marathon not a sprint. I would say a PhD is hard, but if it is not hard it is not worth it. The satisfaction you get from it is definitely worth the theoretical and practical blood, sweat and tears. I would never consider myself to be very academic and if you asked me if I wanted to do a PhD five years ago I would say “never”. Yet, here I am now.

I hope you enjoy the pictures!

Suzy 🙂

 

 

View from Kyanjin Ri 4773m

View from Kyanjin Ri 4,773m

Two widows at a single women meeting Kaski

Two widows at a single women meeting Kaski

Lady making clay pots in Timi

Lady making clay pots in Timi

Paddy fields in Chitwan

Paddy fields in Chitwan

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