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Friday, 3 October 2014

Strathnaver Conference [Bettyhill, 04-06.09.2014]



After quite a few adventures and my boyfriend driving like a hero from Aberdeen to Thurso, we finally made it. I was again in Scotland, it was my first History conference, and I felt happy.
I confess-- the beginning of 2014 caught me a bit off guard, trying to make my way through those travel plans that should have been completed by the dawn of the new year. With a big blank for the end of August/beginning of September, I still thought that Kirghizstan would be the perfect follow-up to my love story with Central Asia, begun in 2012 with Georgia and Armenia and about to be continued with Iran. However, as the unexpected is a constant expectation in my life, I seriously started thinking about returning to Scotland at the beginning of September: there were so many elements tempting me to do so, that I finally gave in. The stipend received from UHI’s Student Development Fund was of tremendous help, as I was able to book the flights as early as March and get some good deals.
I still feel that this conference was more than just a history conference.
An opportunity to finally meet my fellow students. All of us having lunch and dinner together, sharing opinions, and giving each other real hugs was simply fabulous after those e-mails, discussions, and messages exchanged online during so many months.
Rossal
A great way to get to meet some of my teachers again. Always friendly, relaxed, and helpful – this does count for one’s motivation to study with UHI’s Centre for History. And it was not different on this occasion – it was the same warm welcome I’d remember from October 2013 when I first visited the Centre.
Questions, ideas, and – in the end – feeling part of something big and important. While in Bettyhill, a friend of mine joked about having thought of at least 5 research topics. The various papers on clearances and the actual field trips to clearance sites like Rossal or Strathy did spark a few questions in myself, too.
Post-private session with Prof. Eric Richards
The private session with Prof. Eric Richards. The one who was able to truly make me understand the Clearances, from an outsider’s perspective. Plus, the discussions stressing on focus questions – essential in our researches – and his suggestion not to get overwhelmed by data while collecting the materials for our papers and actually starting our researches will always linger in my mind.
In the end, a change of plans might turn out to be a great thing. Especially if it opens you up for more. I am really thankful to have been there, Dr. Elizabeth Ritchie did a wonderful job in organising the conference, I just hope that such enrichment opportunities continue to be in store for me.   

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