27. November, 2017
I hadn’t really given a research stay abroad much thought when I started my PhD, it seemed like fun, but too much extra work in order to make it happen, and there were so many other things I already had to do. Then suddenly one day well into my second year everything changed, and I was writing applications and talking to scientists abroad, and about two months later I was on my way to the Center of Systems Biology in Reykjavik, Iceland!
Thanks to the travel grant from NORBIS, I ended up having the time of my life. I got to work in an exciting group, learning how to create and use genome scale models of cells, further develop code for these analyses, meet new people, and I got to discover Iceland! Working on a (for me) new topic was challenging, it required a lot of work, but I also learned way beyond what I had expected. It helped me learn a new programming language, a new way of thinking, getting a new perspective on possibilities in analysing biological data, and develop me as a scientist. Working together with brand new people with different backgrounds than myself was also very interesting, and I learned a lot from working with them. I made both new friends and new connections, and hopefully some of these new connections will become collaborators in the future.
Although the Icelandic climate is not all that different from the Norwegian one, and most of the people living in Iceland speak fairly understandable English, it was still a both strange and wonderful experience living in a foreign country for a while. Iceland is absolutely stunning, and learning Icelandic is really not for the faint at heart. I fell in love with the country, the science, the language, pretty much everything, and that’s all thanks to NORBIS who supported me financially, and made it possible. Travelling alone and figuring things out by yourself in a foreign country is always a good way of learning a lot about yourself, and the world around you. It changes perspective, not only in regards to science and work, but also in the way one sees the world. Yes, there was a bit of work required to make it happen (most of it when I came home, actually!), but not as much as I initially thought, and it was all so worth it. I’m so grateful I got to have this experience, and I can highly recommend some time abroad to anyone!
Kjersti Rise September, 2017