Shauna Kearney, Centre for Business in Society
With 12 different nationalities congregating and calling a new place home for 10 days, none of us knew how the dynamic would work and if it would work. Some had reservations about visiting a new country so far away, while others including myself were excited by the prospect of visiting not just a new country, but also a new continent.
Although the flights were long and we were all weary when we landed, the moment we arrived at Monkey Valley Resort, we all knew this week was going to be special.
This was my first experience at a Doctoral School, and on the first day there was a certain level of anticipation on my part to be surrounded by so many highly intellectual men and women amongst my peers. On the first day we each had 1 minute to introduce our study, some went over and some went under, but in both cases we left that first session full of questions for each other and for the week ahead.
The remainder of the week was jam packed full of sessions which all had the aim of developing us further as Doctoral students. Some were quite familiar, while others took our complete attention to ensure we left with the most knowledge we could. Many areas relevant to our research study were addressed and everybody got involved and were vocal in the sessions.
The school incorporated a lot of group work which was extremely interesting, both in bouncing ideas off each other, and also for getting to know each other further. Although a number of us were from Coventry University, this was the first time many of us had talked in depth, both about ourselves and about our research. It was enlightening to engage with people from different areas of study, as well as different cultures and it has been an experience I will cherish.
Although there were many hours of classes, we still managed to utilise the free time and we were lucky enough to visit some of the most beautiful tourist attractions within Cape Town; Table Mountain, Robben Island and of course a sprawling vineyard to support the local economy! These free hours when we all visited these breath-taking sights further cemented our bond as not just colleagues, but friends who will forever share these memories.
Evenings were spent networking over dinner with both students and academic staff. Having access to experienced researchers across many academic fields gave us all the opportunity to talk in depth about related areas of our research, which I believe will no doubt have a lasting impact on our studies. One of the best aspects of this networking was the supportive advice given by the more senior staff and their level of commitment when they encouraged us to keep in touch and ask questions. They assured us that whenever we are in doubt that they are there to help us whenever possible.
While in the Doctoral school, there was no divide between students and staff, we all respected and learnt from each other and I look forward to applying what we have learnt when developing my study.