Getting Caught in the Wash of a Jet Engine; or my unexpected itinerant life

by Anna Blanch on March 16, 2010

When did my life become one in which I consider trans-atlantic and pan pacific flights at least semi-annually, have an unhealthy knowledge of American hub cities, get invited to Symposiums in Paris, apply for grants and bursaries and scholarships left and right, and actually travel to London, Cambridge and Oxford semi-regularly for research?

Seriously. How did i get here? I shake my head more in wonder than anything else?. Both at how slightly overwhelmed i am by the amount of travel I have slated for the rest of this year, but also by the blessings and trials my life is bringing. 


I guess the first paragraph might sound glamorous or exciting to some of you. It’s not really either. But it is part of the adventure that is my life.

The international flights can be explained in this way: I am Australian. My family is in Australia. I like them. I don’t want them to forget what I look like. and I was living and studying and working in the US. Now i am in Scotland. Comprende? 


The rest can be put down to needing to travel to visit archives and libraries and to give papers at conferences. It’s not exactly the picture of a jet-setting lifestyle. I rarely travel for things other than work.*

How have I managed this? I mean it isn’t like i have an overflowing fount when it comes to my bank account. Actually i’ve come to the conclusion that the amount I travel is definitely my version of the loaves and fishes miracle. That’s partly why I have to be assertive and creative and down right scroungy when it comes to applying for any grant, research travel, bursary, scholarship money I can find. It’s made me tough and it’s made me learn quickly about they why and how of applying for funding and to be peaceful and calm in the face of rejections.


Some of my friends directly contribute to my research by giving me a place to stay and often by feeding me and encouraging me and letting me sleep in and putting up with incessant research updates! I am so blessed that this is the case and I more grateful to them than I can adequately explain in words. Gosh, I love that I enjoy traveling and that I have such amazing friends all over the world doing fun and amazing things. That makes travel detours to see them and experience their worlds so much more fun and I’ve had a few opportunities to catch up with friends along the way. But it is tiring and difficult sometimes. It’s a little lonely and the feelings of isolation and disconnection abound.


I’m learning how to pace myself in travel, to minimize jet lag and travel tiredness. I am learning how to bounce back quickly so i don’t need a holiday after I’ve spent an intense week in a research library. I’m learning about myself and those things that capture my imagination – taking moments to smell the roses, and enjoy the richness of the opportunities I have in front of me.


I could always use more funding. But having little in any area forces creativity to make ends meet. That and my Mum likes to see me. Living like I do is tough. But it means appreciating the true cost of all that i do and that my family and friends do to support me practically and emotionally and there is a gift in there in the very least. I just need to keep reminding myself to see it!


*Although my next trip to Australia is all about family. Not work. Not a bit. And it’s going to be great.

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