An Early Stage Researcher’s diary during corona times
Andreia (ESR8) have written a blog-post on her experiences during the Covid-19 situation:
I feel lucky and in a privileged position during these difficult corona times. I haven’t fallen sick so far, neither has anybody close to me. I have the best job one can possibly have now. It’s perfectly possible to work from home and I run no risk of becoming unemployed due to the crisis. My PhD project has been only slightly affected by the pandemic.
Nevertheless, I cannot deny that this worldwide crisis affects me.
Here in Aarhus University – Denmark – we have alternated periods of “lockdowns’’. Those periods can be from 3 weeks to 3 months (more or less). Now that I approached the 3rd year of my PhD, I start realizing – painfully – what corona has taken from my academic experience through these “confinement’’ periods. Normally we would have had a summer party, several academic cafés, Friday drinks and other social gatherings at the university (I really like the way the Danes value fun and celebration J). But this year, we did not have many of those activities. In a 3-year PhD period, this makes a difference. Probably 1/3 of those 3 years will be affected by the crisis. My PhD is the best job I ever had (I say that with great honesty), and it’s a pity I cannot enjoy the maximum of it in all domains: academically, culturally and socially.
I miss being with my colleagues, to have a tea together in the afternoon and talk about our career joys and struggles (we still do this online, although it is not the same). I miss in-person seminars, PhD defences, conferences. In truth, I miss people.
Now more than ever, I realize that machines will never substitute humans. We can find so many videos on YouTube about so many topics, but nothing substitute being together in a classroom, in real time, sharing that experience and moment in life.
Thanks to recent studies on behaviour sciences and nudge, I learned that in our social interactions, we influence and are influenced by others all the time – mostly without realizing it. Our words and actions might influence others in ways that we will never imagine. Allow me to tell a personal example on that.
During one of my secondments abroad, I had the pleasure to meet a very nice woman responsible for the cleaning of the campus. In a certain day, I met her in the toilettes, when she was preparing to clean them in the morning. I suddenly noticed, when we exchanged a mutual smiley ‘”good morning’’ that she was wearing beautiful eye shadows matching her work uniform. I cannot explain exactly why, but her choice of makeup inspired me a lot that day. She was about to perform a task that is not (shamefully) much recognized and dignified in our unfair society. Despite that, she was trying to bring the best version of herself to the work, in her way (as I understood), by making herself looking good with beautiful eye shadows. That day, in my own way, I also tried to bring my best self to my work.
It’s exactly things like that I miss during corona times. Smiley “good mornings”, getting inspired by each other, random acts of grace and kindness… Hopefully, this difficult situation will serve as a “wake up call’’ for many of us, to enjoy the presence of each other, while we can.