Blog & Updates

December 20, 2022

Our experiences after a year of SURREAL - Alex (Li Min) (ESR10)

12 months ago, many of our Early Stage Researchers joined the SURREAL project and we are eager to share their most important experiences to date.

Every week, an ESR will provide a mini update by answering the 4 questions below. Hopefully, this will give you some insight into their most important first year experiences.

12 months on…:

  • What is the most interesting thing you’ve learnt?
  • The hardest task you have come across?
  • The most fun experience within SURREAL?
  • How has your research impacted your daily life?

This week, Alex will tell us about her experiences of living and working in Jerusalem.

Where: Works at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Geography
When: Started in October 2021

What is the most interesting thing you have learnt?

"Living abroad in a new country is not new for me as I moved from Toronto, Canada to Paris, France for my Masters Degree. However, moving to Jerusalem was a whole new experience and came with a lot of challenges and lessons. It’s always interesting to learn and try to integrate yourself into a new culture–in this case, more than one culture. There are a lot of social norms that I had to get used to and to this day, I am still baffled by how a lot of things operate." 

Here I am on the virtual reality treadmill in our lab

The hardest task you have come across?

"The most difficult task so far has been starting a project from start to finish. Our project involves a lot of logistics from purchasing sensors to coming up with a data collection schedule to actually training research assistants and managing the schedules to get everything done in the proper time frame. In previous projects that I’ve been involved in, the data had already been collected or didn’t require any additional managerial aspects. In this sense, it has been challenging to be involved in the more “nitty gritty” aspects of data collection."

The most fun experience within SURREAL?

"It has been quite fun to be involved in a project on as large a scale as SURREAL. Since there are 14 other ESRs, there is a sense of community and it is nice to know that there are people going through similar experiences. It is especially fun and entertaining when we get to meet up in person, such as at the Network Schools." 

How has your research impacted your daily life?

"The research has made me more aware of how living in cities can impact my health. With the exception of a few years of my childhood, I have always grown up and lived in large urban areas. It can be quite alarming to read studies about how pollution of all different types is much worse in cities and it can be difficult to mitigate these effects. Instead, I try to stay healthy and physically active to the best of my abilities. I’ve picked up some more indoor sports like bouldering and weight training to try to counteract my sedentary lifestyle."

From left to right: the Dead Sea; the view of the old city from the Social Sciences building; and just a nice sunset picture

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