A couple of weeks ago I finally handed in my YARP, for those of you who don’t go to the University of Southampton YARP stands for Year Abroad Research Project. It’s a 6000 word project written in the language of the country you’re spending your year abroad in. When it was first mentioned I thought that they were joking, but no, it’s a real thing. And while I have contemplated murdering the person who thought it up in the long year I spend working on it, (on and off it has to be said), I did end up kind of loving it.
I chose to study the influence of the hashtag #primeiroassédio on Brazilian politics, (if you want to know the influence it was none, absolutely zilch). Hey ho! Anyway, I got to study Brazilian feminism (super interesting and complex), I had to call Brazilian Deputados (Members of Congress, and yes, I was terrified everytime I dialled one of their numbers), and I spent a lot of time on Twitter and Facebook researching, and often just messing about.
So at the end of this fun and frustrating process what wisdom can I impart on fellow students about to do their YARP or dissertation?
- If you have no idea where to begin on choosing a topic, brainstorm. Think of everything you love, it can be rom-coms, video games, the gym, singing, veganism, trains, anything at all, and think of something about them you would like to know more about.
- Read up on it, if you really love what you’re reading, keep reading, and start to make a question. If at any point you think, this is boring give up on that topic, because you will be researching it for months!
- Start making lists. Reading lists, planning the basic layout and what you could put in the essay. Talk to a teacher you like, or think would be interested, or your supervisor if you have one.
- Read loads more, and think about if the project is really feasible. Looking back on my proposal, I didn’t really do what I originally thought, so don’t stress too much. Read in English, and in the target language (if you’re doing YARP), the latter gets easier.
- Don’t worry about writing at first, I didn’t start writing until December/January.
- Stay organised, make sure you know what is due when (and this comes from someone who had the wrong hand-in date for YARP), keep up to date with all the ethics crap.
- Try to write steadily, and when you have writer’s block just stop for a bit, and do more research.
- Keep what you’re doing in your head, and when you go off on a tangent make it relevant and bring it back to your topic.
- Your basic format is: your idea, facts, what you did, why you did it, why what you did was wrong, then concluding.
- Don’t panic. Don’t stress. Again, I did both, but it will be fine.
If you hate the whole thing, then that’s okay, you only have to do it once, and if you love it you can do it next year Sotoners!