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I'm in the 7th semester (of 10) in History and I've been doing some work on my thesis. I have most of what I need to begin. My planned topic is about how viticulture developed in California in the twentieth century and how it influenced viticulture in the rest of the world especially since the 60's.

I already have a lot of knowledge of wine as I'm a certified sommelier. My visa to the US was rejected (I'm from Mexico), and the universities that have partnerships with mine aren't in California. As I wanted to collect oral histories, this is a major issue.

My friend suggested that I change my topic to viticulture in New Zealand but I have to change completely the approach, and I have very little knowledge of NZ history. I don't have a supervisor yet. Some professors have told me that I should focus on Mexico, but almost everyone here does regional history and I'd like to change that, as well as taking an extra challenge of having a bilingual thesis.

So, what do you think? I have to take this decision this semester to avoid getting stuck with bureaucracy for a long time. I'm eager to read your opinions!

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    It seems to me that you have to answer the question "Is it possible to write a satisfactory thesis on this particular topic without traveling to the US?" It's your thesis supervisor who will evaluate your thesis, so in order to answer this question, you have to first find a thesis supervisor, and then ask them. If the answer is "no", then clearly you should change your thesis topic. Dec 29, 2016 at 1:22
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    It seems like wanting to do your thesis using oral history from California when you are unable to go to the US is a pretty tough obstacle to overcome. Is it possible to get legal help on the visa?
    – Jeff
    Dec 29, 2016 at 8:51
  • Thanks Nate, I will make a priority to define a supervisor. Dec 31, 2016 at 9:23
  • Thanks for your comment Jeff, maybe is possible, but it maybe very difficult, my parents are residents and most of my family lives there, so for them is most likely for me to stay if I have not enough connections here, I've seen this problem present with a few friends. I might get a student visa if I go a semester in exchange. Dec 31, 2016 at 9:28
  • Omar, the bilingual thesis is a great goal to have. I think you would need to improve your English quite a bit before writing a bilingual thesis, however. // The exchange program idea sounds great. // You may want to consider doing your interviews through a chat program, as a typed conversation. Jan 1, 2017 at 5:43

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Some thoughts:

  1. Can you collect oral histories without travelling to the US? For example, you can do interviews through Skype or work with a research assistant to collect some of the oral histories for you?

  2. Why are you fixated on collecting oral histories? It seems to me that, in this case, the research question may be answered through some other means of data collection. For example, document analysis may be an alternative.

  3. It seems to me like your equating travel (or at least presence in a country) with the feasibility of your research question. I'm not sure that's appropriate. What would you do if you can't get to NZ, say because of visa or cost issues? Select a third country? What happens if you can't get into that country? Select a fourth?

  4. Why are you intent on a bilingual thesis? There are a number of great South American wine manufacturers -- Chile, for example -- where you might apply the same basic research question.

Good luck!

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  • Thanks for the comment. I can collect a lot of info without traveling, is an option to try to do everything trough Skype but is usually avoided as there can be a lot of miscommunication issues, as well as the quality of the recording. A research assistant is beyond my possibilities. There are many advantages in doing oral history, you get to collect specific experiences and ideas related to your topic, I could get some of that using magazines but is less related, also I am planning to interview wine professionals. Dec 31, 2016 at 9:06
  • 3. You have a very good point there, I haven't thought that clearly, I didn't think my visa was going to be rejected to US as most of my familiars are citizens, but that was the reason that it got rejected, they thought that I could stay easier. But that's not the case in NZ, in any case I would know before the end of the next semester and I'd have a year left to write my thesis. 4. It's a personal challenge, I want to get an scholarship to do a Master's degree abroad as well, so that would help a lot. Dec 31, 2016 at 9:20

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