The Doctor’s (not) in (yet): Phase 1 - It's a Wrap!

Unbelievably, my three weeks of data collection in my first case study destination are over already and with it, a third of my fieldwork in the South Pacific. While starting off a bit slowly, I was able to get a decent data set to analyse. I received a good insight into people’s experiences with the whales and I’m happy that basically all of them were very friendly and supportive of my PhD research. The results, however, are still top secret ;) I’ve mentioned that already, but I was extremely lucky with my tour operator who made the start into being a doctoral researcher very easy for me. I’m always thrilled to receive so much trust and of this I am very grateful. I would have loved to get this trust from other stakeholders as well, which, unfortunately wasn’t given. Luckily, I was able to get the very important bits, so I am not too sad. I don’t see it as a loss. They have missed out on an opportunity of being heard…

While interviewing people didn’t feel like work in the first week, I went on a low with the beginning of my third. You have to ask the same questions several times a day (4 was my absolute maximum!) while you don’t see the animals yourself. I’m not complaining since I had my encounter in week 1 (video will follow) but my work involved surprisingly fewer whales than I’ve thought. I still haven’t managed to get pictures of the actual activity. Either we had bad weather, the boat was full or even both of it happened.

The next steps will include to adjust to busy city life in Auckland again and to continue with the transcriptions of my interviews. I’ve been too lazy to constantly keep up with my recordings, so I still have quite some work ahead of me. I’m looking forward to getting back to training. Besides cycling, I wasn’t really able to work out. I’ve still lost some kilos due to a very simple diet here on the island. Fresh produce is hard to get and very expensive. So I’m very looking forward to Avocado Season in NZ!!

But of course I’ll leave with rather mixed feelings. I had a great time and even made friends. I’ll miss the calm cycling mornings and my sea glass collecting routine. I had a great day out to Liku Reef where I conducted one of the most important interviews: The one with the operator. Lucky enough, I have seen a humpy breaching with its calf far out. As I said, it’s been a while since I’ve seen any whales so that was a great moment and probably my whale finale for this data collection period. Still being in Niue, I’ve planned not for my next, but the following (phase 3) fieldwork in which I’ll focus on sharks with the beginning of 2019! I got really excited and once more I felt gratitude for the life I have. I know I’m very privileged and I’m fortunate so many dreams of mine have come true already. The next 6 months will stay adventurous for me with almost each month involving traveling. Could be worse, eh?

Koe Kia, Niue! I’ll be back!

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