Nomadic Scholar

If there was one idea or concept that best describes my baptism as a researcher today, I cannot go past the Nomadic Scholar. When Adele first uttered those two words, I was both baffled and bemused. There is certainly no shortage of buzz words and phrases that roll off the back of researchers’ tongues, both in real life and in the literature, but this one had a strange, alluring appeal to me. However, due to the constraints of time (and an impending yoga class at 6pm which I simply had to attend), the opportunity to delve deeper as to what a nomadic scholar actually is, was unfortunately not forthcoming. At least not today. So faced with the dilemma of not knowing, I saw two options in order to resolve my uncertainty:

  1. Google
  2. Define it myself

I chose the latter. So what does a nomadic scholar mean to me? Why was I immediately drawn to it like a moth to flame burned by the fire? Am I a nomadic scholar? Is my interpretation of the term even a correct one and am I using it in the right context? Do I have the authority to challenge the accepted definition or norm?

I suppose the answers to these questions will require further thought and consideration, but one thing I ‘know’ (with high probability) is that I am indeed a nomadic scholar.

Looking back on my academic career at four different universities, with a bachelor’s degree in Economics at Sydney Uni, masters in Statistics from UNSW, a semester at UTS studying Creative Writing and now a Science degree at UNE, where I have found my true ‘home’ in the fields of Chemistry, Mathematics and Computer Science. Whether this place I call home is temporary or permanent, only time will tell. But never have I been more excited, motivated and engaged by my studies and research projects as I am today.

In the past month, I joined a professional body called the Royal Australian Chemical Institute for a nominal annual fee of $25 (student rate), took the day off work to attend a workshop on Macromolecules and Polymer Chemistry at UWS Parramatta (free RACI event) and was lucky enough to receive a UNE School of Science and Technology research scholarship valued at $4000 starting in February.

As Xanthe Mallett highlighted during her ‘Be Inspired’ lecture this morning, it is important to invest both time and money to maximise your potential as a researcher. Sowing the seeds early in your career truly does reap rewards and opportunities, having talked shop and socialised over a glass of wine with several heavyweights at the macromolecules conference was truly a memorable experience. It made me realise something I have always known deep down inside, but have been in denial about for many years. It was that this was the type of environment or community I desperately wanted to belong to. And oh how thrilling it was to read my name on the list of attendees, being the sole representative from UNE!

But why did I want to be a part of this? Was it my unending quest and burning desire for knowledge? Did I want to change the world? Was it to fulfil my grandiose plans of immortality? Am I motivated by the betterment of society? Or simply the betterment of me? Is there a specific person or cause I am doing this for and dedicating my life’s work towards? Who or what are my catalysts? Is the force that drives me have something to do with my nomadic lifestyle and travel aspirations, to see the world and meet new people from every corner of the globe? As a new card-carrying member of the Nomadic Scholars Society (NSS), I would have to say yes to all these questions. But does my membership to this community necessarily invalidate my homelessness and nomadicity, by definition?

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