Secondment at the MAPP centre, Aarhus University, Denmark – Kaat Philippe (ESR7)

The year 2020 was a special year, and that’s even an understatement. The highly contagious coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 sparked a worldwide pandemic and the year turned out differently than expected. This year, working from home was enforced or privileged and we were confronted with many uncertainties. Studies had to be reorganized, and several conferences I was already looking forward to, were cancelled or postponed.

Not unexpectedly, the planning of my secondment at the MAPP centre of Aarhus University was also questioned. Due to low infection rates in summer and to avoid other changes in the planning of my PhD project, we finally decided to maintain the original plan. My secondment in Denmark was planned from August until the end of January, and it would be a surprise how things would turn out during those months.

When I arrived, the Danish government just announced a new lockdown, great… Aarhus University was closed and I started my secondment by working from home. Nevertheless, the Danish team managed to give me a warm welcome and I was immediately invited to participate in the team’s numerous online activities.

The restrictions changed several times during my secondment, meaning that some periods I was allowed to work at the office and some periods I was working from home. Despite all changes and uncertainties, I have highly appreciated my stay in Denmark. It gave me the opportunity to work in an international and interdisciplinary setting at the university, and to discuss topics that were relatively new to me with my “Danish” colleagues. This was possible on campus or by attending online knowledge exchange seminars, seminars with invited speakers etc.

In addition, we prepared an online study to investigate possible predictors of mothers’ and fathers’ involvement in feeding related tasks at home and of food parenting practices in Denmark. An ethical approval has been granted and data-collection will take place soon, so more news about this study will be announced shortly!

As I spent six months in Denmark, I also had the pleasure to discover Aarhus and around. I enjoyed the lovely beaches, tried some typical Danish foods and drinks, and experienced “hyggelige” moments with colleagues and friends. “Work hard, play hard”, no?

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