New beginnings during the pandemic

The last year has marked a period of new beginnings for me. 

It was in the midst of the pandemic that I found myself making preparations for the next step of my career journey: moving from Edinburgh, UK, to beginning my PhD at Lund University in Lund, Sweden. This was in equal parts thrilling and challenging. During this uncertain time, moving countries was not an easy task and after countless struggles with travel bans I was finally ready to make the move in summer 2020. Equipped with health screenings, essential worker documents, and checklists, I set off to fly to Sweden. I left a UK in full lockdown, where essential stores only accepted one person at a time, and I had to say my goodbyes digitally, only to emerge into one where people were still hanging out together outdoors having drinks in the sun!

Undertaking PhD studies is never easy but doing so on a new topic, in a new country, and during a global pandemic didn’t help settle my nerves. I had so far only talked to my new lab through a screen, but soon enough I was able to join them for BBQs, wintry walk and talks and, of course, partaking in the social distancing edition of the Swedish tradition of fika in the freezing outdoors. I quickly adapted to a new style of life. Looking back at the peak of the pandemic, I believe it has made me into a more resilient person and challenged me to develop faster as a researcher. I have benefited from the opportunity to reflect about my priorities and my future as well as organize my own time, while knowing I could easily access my supervisor and colleagues when needed. Although there might have been less organic exchange in the shared physical research environment, I do realize I was one of the lucky ones who was actually able to make move and begin working on a project that I really cared about. I even appreciated the ease of joining talks and seminars digitally.  

With this unusual beginning behind me, I am now looking forward to ending my first year of PhD as the university completes the return to a “normal” state of operations :). A new beginning again!

A self-explanatory picture of my blossoming hop(e)s taken at our recent lab retreat in Torna Hällestad 🙂