During a recent trip to New York (11-24th Sept 2009) I hired a car for the day and ventured 2 hours north to the University of Connecticut (UCONN) to meet with Dr Julie Aikins, an expert in the field of early adolescent friendships. Julie organized a forum for post graduate students and I presented my own PhD research on "Self Esteem and Social Relationships among Students in Transition from Primary to Secondary school".
The outcome was an abundance of new ideas for the future direction of my thesis. Julie fearlessly devised a new model to further explore the impact of loneliness, self-esteem, belonging and friendship quality during school transition. She also suggested the introduction of two (2) new variables:
- Stability of friendships
- Reciprocity of friendships
Once again I would like to extend a huge thank you to Dr Julie Aikin and her team of research assistants for their generosity and wisdom. UCONN is also a place I would highly recommend as a well-resourced and service-oriented university - The library and the library staff were phenomenal!
Now back in Sydney, I have returned to the 'writing-up' stage of my project, aiming for 80 000 words by mid- 2010 with ongoing support and guidance from my long-distance supervisor, the amazing Dr. Helen Watt at Monash University. Helen selflessly shared the art of connecting with international experts and it was well worth the effort.