Currently, I am a ‘visiting scholar’ at the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), working on one of the chapters in my PhD thesis. Specifically, I am here to improve my conversation analytic skills and to write a chapter on typing in police interrogations. Coincidentally (or not?), CA (conversation analysis) started in CA (California) in the 60’s. Lucky me!
Life here is incredible. I wake up to a bright sun every morning (really, there are no exceptions) and I make sure the palm tree is still standing in front of my window on one side and the mountains still look beautiful on the other side. I then pluck an orange from the tree across the street and make my way to the beautiful beach-side campus of UCSB. Once there I take very exciting classes, I have discussions with very motivated PhD students and I attend meetings and data sessions with fellow visiting scholars and inspiring professors. On the weekends I travel to great places like Berkeley or Las Vegas where I do not only attend fascinating conferences, but I also have fun. So, can life get any better than this?
Well, today something occurred to me when I was walking across campus with a double-latte-frozen-low-fat-caramel-mochachino in one hand and the latest copy of California Surfing magazine in the other (I am a big fan now) and a girl (probably an undergraduate), barefooted, wearing a bikini top and a wetsuit zipped down to her waist, passed by on her skateboard while talking on her cell phone. And I thought: Is this reality?
Being surrounded by beautiful mountains, beach, ocean, and sunshine every day: is that reality? Being able to work on your PhD for unlimited hours a day because you really have no other responsibilities: is that reality? Not being distracted by emails after 1 pm because everyone in the Netherlands is already asleep: can that be reality? I don’t think it is. But, hey, whatever kind of reality this is, it is definitely doing me and my thesis a whole lot of good, and that IS reality.
For those who wonder if I'm ever coming back? No worries - as long as the volcanic dust particles move along, I should be on a plane home at the end of May.