My research began at the end of May with two goals in mind: 1.) determine the extent to which people’s attitudes toward immigrants accessing Spanish health care services reflect the limits of the Spanish nation, and 2.) finish the project—blog entries and all—by the end of June or the early part of July, at the latest. Good intentions aside, take a look at the date stamp of this blog entry, my first, and you already know the outcome of the latter goal. Hopefully this entry and the next two will demonstrate with similar clarity the outcome of my first goal, as well. As is true of many worthwhile journeys, my research—truly a mental and physical journey—has involved several unanticipated turns, stops, and, fortunately, breakthroughs.
Earlier this summer I traveled to Cádiz, Spain for a summer study abroad program through the Hispanic Studies department. During my five weeks in Spain I completed the research portion of my project and wrote the paper detailing my findings. Since my return I have worked on finishing the translation of that paper from Spanish into English, which, for reasons I will discuss later in this entry, has taken more time than I anticipated. Though I plan to summarize my conclusions in my last blog entry, for me this research experience has been as much about the journey towards reaching those conclusions as it has been about the ultimate product of that research; therefore, I will devote my first two entries to reflections on the research process itself.
Lesson #1: the value in flexibility
Research anywhere, even when conducted in a familiar context, requires flexibility, as one might expect considering the latter part of the word—that is, search—connotes a measure of uncertainty. Unfamiliar circumstances (e.g., relocation to a foreign state) compound the necessity for flexibility.
Example #1: Nowadays most research projects require Internet access, at least to a certain extent. Thus, the status of my research underwent an adjustment period upon arriving in Cádiz to a homestay in which Internet access from the apartment would not be an option. For that reason, I spent many an afternoon in the University of Cádiz library. If that venue closed, then off I went to one of the public plazas for free, city-supplied Wi-Fi. Surrounded by gelato shops (yum!), small children playing soccer, and the ever ubiquitous pigeon, I managed to ignore the nearby activity in order to make use of my limited Internet-search time. As someone who typically requires the sound level (or lack thereof) of Swem’s upper floors to be productive, this was a minor achievement.
Example #2: Translation of a research paper from Spanish to English has proved more challenging than I anticipated. The actual conversion of languages does not prove as much a challenge compared to the decisions such conversion forces me to make. In terms of translating the titles of sources or the names of organizations, I do not know the protocol for deciding whether to translate them into their English equivalent or preserve their linguistic integrity. Furthermore, revision has accompanied translation in order to maintain the sentences’ flow.