Come rain or shine… 3 months of British weather (and work)
For the past three months, I’ve been working on my PhD thesis at Lancaster University as a visiting researcher. During this stay, not a single day passed that I did not think or talk about the weather, and as it happens, the state of the Lancastrian weather seems to almost perfectly coincide with important academic moments during my visit.
In the first month of my stay, I sent a grey and rainy picture of Lancaster campus to a friend. ‘See, I told you’, she replied, ‘why would you go to rainy England if you can also go to sunny Santa Barbara?!?’ My friend’s response made me ask myself: why did I come to Lancaster, other than to simply ‘work on my thesis’? As a result, I spent a lot of time rethinking my PhD project and my approach to the whole matter. The weather remained grey and rainy, and with only a year left before the end of my project, I wasn’t sure (anymore) whether my approach was actually going to work…
Over the course of my visit, the weather steadily improved. In the second month of my stay, rainy days – during which I struggled with the complex theoretical aspects of my project – alternated with sunny days – during which I found even more interesting manifestations of metaphor in my corpus than I already had. As time passed by, I had many fruitful and insightful discussions with various people, both in Lancaster and back home, and things started to fall (back) into place.
Sometime during my third month in the UK, Lancaster ‘suffered’ from a heatwave, with temperatures reaching an ‘amazing’ 27 (!!) degrees. People wouldn’t stop talking about how summer had finally arrived. And yet again, the weather perfectly reflected what happened in academic terms: The heat wave coincided with the visit of a friend whose PhD project is similar to mine, and after some intense discussions, for a moment I felt like we could solve all problems in the world (of metaphor) by simply slightly adjusting my perspective on the whole matter…
Of course, the heatwave only lasted for a few days. And of course, the feeling of invincibility was replaced by uncertainties about the adjusted approach. However, the long-term weather forecast for Amsterdam looks promising, and I am looking forward to coming back home, with a backpack full of inspiration and ‘the summer in my head’ 🙂