With only about a full week left of our time in Scotland, our class is working hard to get enough interviews and hours of observation in for our selected groups. For some of us, the process has gone fairly smoothly – but for others not so much. Choosing a group of interest was the first task and probably the easiest part of the whole project. All of us started with high hopes and started to try to research but soon found out that the ethnographic process comes with quite a few hurdles to jump. A few of the problems we have encountered have been people not getting back to us after we email or call, having to deal with security issues and not having enough time in two weeks to get through them, facilities being too far away (my first plan of studying a Synagogue was changed due to a 40 minute commute both ways- not feasible with how little time we have), and groups saying no due to their own busy schedules.
Although this has been frustrating, our professors have been assuring us almost daily that this is normal for social research. As annoying as problems may be, I’ve come to learn that encountering them isn’t always a bad thing. Because my original plan fell through, I ended up finding a great coffee shop/second-hand book store nearby who were more than willing to let me interview them and spend time at their business. I have also come to learn that to do this type of research you have to make yourself outgoing if you aren’t already, and you can’t be afraid to be nosy and ask questions. I personally found this a lot more challenging than I would have anticipated. I have done interviews before and have written one other ethnography, but I still found it nerve-wracking to approach a group as a stranger and ask for permission to study them. I was so nervous at first I’m pretty sure I came across as creepy and/or a weirdo when I first talked to the owner of the shop about possibly studying them. Whoops! Thankfully she said yes! Fellow classmate Lauren also said she was nervous to approach her group initially. She said the nerves went away after realizing how friendly and helpful everyone was.
I must say my time spent in Glasgow so far has been great. It’s been a big change from Edinburgh and the Highlands, but it’s been interesting to finally get to know some of the people who reside here. When I started to get to know some of the locals, especially through the coffee shop, my whole perspective of the city started to change. All of a sudden I don’t feel like such a tourist and an outsider. I know people by name and they know mine. I am slowly gaining inside knowledge of a small part of Glasgow, which is something I won’t soon forget.
Blogged by Tansy.