Final report for the Institute

Posted on July 23, 2008

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Today, I handed in my final report for the KLI Board. I am forced to discontinue my fellowship because it has simply been too difficult to reconcile working in Vienna with my family being in Warsaw. Even though I have known that this would the case for a while now, the actual moment I handed in the report was still quite painful. Working at the KLI has been a great challenge intellectually and personally but I have benefited enormously from my time at the KLI and I see that were I to stay I would benefit even more. Most importantly, staying at the KLI would provide me with the atmosphere to complete my book in the shortest possible time. As it is, I will have to continue the project at home, with all of the problems and distractions that entails. For the moment I am still at the institute but I leave on August 1st.

In a way it amazes me that anyone ever manages to get any research done, given how difficult it is to combine it with personal lives. I have seen this in the case of fellows whose families are with them: in which case they have to find ways to have a home life and put in many hours of research time every day. I have also seen how it affects fellows whose families are a long way away, pulling them between going to see their family and concentrating on their research. The thing is that research is nothing like normal work – it is much more like being a sportsman or a professional concert pianist. You have to spend hours and hours every day writing, thinking, reading, discussing, re-evaluating, re-examining, re-writing etc. Just like the other occupations I mentioned, research can not be shut away 9 to 5, if it is done honestly. Instead, it must be allowed to shape your whole lifestyle into something that people with normal jobs can not understand or truly appreciate. The KLI creates the atmosphere for this kind of dedication to lead to results. Yet, life has its rights and it, without fail, intervenes.

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Posted in: postdoc, research