Research abroad is as challenging as it is exciting. The two overlap for those who step into unknown territory—landing on new soil with an unanswered research question. I embarked on international travel and the voyage through the research process to conduct a primary research project in Rio de Janeiro before starting my master’s research project in health improvement/public health. This was opportunistic and practical exposure to the stages of research that complimented later learning from my research methods module and master’s project.
I was advised by an academic and adviser to the United Nations to research the sex industry. From the recommendation, I read into the systematic enforcement and violations faced by sex workers, in particular the violence experienced at the hands of police officers and the laws surrounding prostitution which are illegal, creating a difficult and more dangerous environment for sex workers. However, the sex industry could be made safer.
The methods chosen were primarily qualitative—semi-structured interviews, focus group work, and participant observation at a State HIV/AIDS conference in Rio de Janeiro. The data went through thematic analysis, to distinguish, examine, and record patterns. The analysis was aided by using research software NVivo to categorize data into themes. This case will inform individuals who are considering research projects in a new country. It will discuss how I prepared to familiarize myself with the fundamentals of research methods before the master’s project, the challenges and rewards brought from the research project, and advice for beginning the first research journey abroad.