Blog & Updates

December 6, 2022

Our experiences after a year of SURREAL - Julie (ESR14)

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, the floor is given to Julie, who's doing her PhD in Wageningen, The Netherlands:

Where: University of Wageningen, Department of Social Sciences, chair group Consumption and Healthy Lifestyle
When: Started in September 2021

What is the most interesting thing you’ve learnt?

'What does it mean to be ‘a professional’...? In some way, everyone is just exploring, trying out, just doing something. I don’t think I’ve fully realized this yet, but hopefully I’m on my way to learn that making mistakes is normal and ok, that by acquiring skills and knowledge one does become better at what they do, but one does not become perfect. Life is a lifelong learning journey for all of us, whether we like it or not. And that is actually quite beautiful.'

The hardest task you have come across?

'Being a ‘project leader’, being responsible for a several year project involving both academic and local professional stakeholders (such as the municipality and a youth organization), giving the research project a direction and deciding every time again on the concrete steps to be taken, dealing with the insecurity of whether things will work out as planned - e.g. will anyone want to participate in the research activities I’m planning? Having the uncomfortable fear that I’m asking people to participate in my research not for their benefit, but for mine (i.e. that the research ‘works out’).'

The most fun experience within SURREAL?

'Even though I’ve found trying to interact with adolescents for my research often very challenging, the interactions we’ve had, once initiated, were often fun. I’m thankful for the chance to get an insight into lives of people that I would otherwise not so easily interact with, or get in touch with.'

How has your research impacted your daily life?

'I’m appreciating the many privileges I have, and also I appreciate even more the great value of public squares with roofs and benches and football courts, and the great value of social organizations.'

Photo by Izuddin Helmi Adnan on Unsplash

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