Monday, January 21, 2013

Spain and hiking and charities, oh my

It's been a while, hasn't it?

And this post doesn't have to do with my PhD. Not really, anyways. It does in the sense that, having been at this for 16 months so far I need a break soon. Not a working holiday or a putting up with my family holiday. An actual, completely disconnected from everything, holiday.

I've been planning this one for a while. At the beginning of May and very old friend and I are going hiking. In Spain. Specifically, we are hiking the 800km Camino Frances, the French pilgrims' route across northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela. In 33 days (well, 5 weeks total, but we plan to stay a few days in Santiago at the end). It's been a goal we've both had for years and this is the year we're going to do it. She is finishing her PhD, I'm in the middle of mine. I turn 30 (yikes!) this year, though she doesn't until next year. Still, she starts her 30th year this year, which is almost the same thing.

But I want it to be about more than just us and a personal challenge and a long-held dream. She is doing it to research for an archaeological book about the Camino (with help from me!) and I am doing it to raise money for Cancer Research UK, a charity that has become very dear to me in recent months. I haven't done a fundraising walk in nearly two decades, and this seems like a great one!
Sometimes, being here is not all about doing a PhD (or gaining work experience, or making contacts with like-minded people, or doing something meaningful for your chosen subject). Sometimes it's about the other things you do to enrich your experience. And this is one of those, both for myself, my friend and for the many people that will hopefully benefit from us doing this.

Besides, after walking 30km a day for 33 days, finishing a PhD is going to be easy, right?

So that's one of the things that's been filling up my time. Also, planning a teaching session this week (help me!!!!), writing a report, being in Canada, sending email after email after email and all around freezing to death in the middle of the worst winter England has had (that I've lived here). They'll be more updates starting next month when I have things to update about!