Independent Research: The Best and Most Challenging Endeavor

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Taylor Quinn
May 9, 2022

Conducting research abroad was one of the most rewarding experiences I had during my semester in Nice. I signed up for a Field Research Seminar course thinking it would help me with my degree, but in actuality the course taught me so much about structuring a professional research paper and time management. 

My specific project analyzed the economic value of the French Multi-Annual Energy Plan. I researched a wide array of topics specifically pertaining to nuclear and renewable energy usage in France and Germany. I was assigned an IES Abroad advisor that checked-in on me periodically and provided feedback. It was an intense process that spanned the length of the semester, but I learned how to pace myself in the face of a long and technical paper. There were definite challenges, however. I dealt with a lot of self-doubt while I was going through a labor-intensive period of research. I had high expectations for this paper and expected it to be easier than it was. In reality, finding data from French and German sources is difficult, and I had to relearn which sources are credible in Europe. Additionally, it was difficult to develop a timeline for myself when I wasn't even sure what direction the paper was going in. I quickly realized that time management is an extremely useful, but difficult, skill to master. Considering the project was self-paced, I tried to stay on-track with the timeline I set for myself, modifying when needed, but it was challenging. My mentors’ advice boosted my resilience and always gave me new ideas, which kept me going. While I absolutely faced some procrastination, I was still proud of myself for turning in quality work by the deadline. I emerged with more confidence in my analytical skills and learned that I’m capable of quality research. 

I believe doing research abroad is an incredible opportunity, and if your center offers it, I would definitely consider signing up! It teaches you useful skills that are applicable to both school and a future career. Here are some tips that helped me manage my time and research successfully:

  1. Write down a timeline for yourself (yes, physically write it with a pen and paper). Keep it close by and try to have one or two general goals each month. 

  2. Pace yourself. Don't devote 12 hours straight to only research, you will burn out eventually and we don't want that!

  3. Start writing the paper in chunks. They don't have to fit together right away, but the important part is getting words down on paper. 

  4. Have some trusted loved ones proofread your work. Most likely, they will provide useful feedback without being too critical. 

  5. Turn to an advisor or mentor for advice! That's what they're there for, and a different person’s point of view can be really helpful in refining your work.

Conducting research abroad enriched my study-abroad experience and while it was difficult at times, I don't regret it at all. If you're thinking it sounds interesting, just try it! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

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Taylor Quinn

Hey everyone! My name is Taylor Quinn and I'm an Economics major at UNC Charlotte. This semester I'm studying abroad in Nice, France with the Business, Sustainability, and Immigration Program. My hometown is Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and I'm a huge football fan (American style). On the weekend, you'll probably find me discovering a nearby hike, scoping out a bookstore, or studying at a local coffee shop. I love to cook, although most would say I'm only an amateur, so I can't wait to explore the Niçoise cuisine and the rest that Nice has to offer.

2022 Spring
Home University:
University of North Carolina-Charlotte
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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