Blog & Updates
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.
Shradha will share her experiences of doing her PhD at Universiteit Hasselt with us this week.
Where: Works at the Centre for Environmental Sciences, Universiteit Hasselt
When: Started in October 2021
The importance of resilience is probably the most interesting thing I learnt over the last year, both in work, as well as non-work-related contexts. Moving far from the comfort of home, family and friends in the quest of multidisciplinarity has been a recurring part of my journey. However, starting a PhD while adulting on the side has made me realize how life is always going to be like a sinusoidal wave, some days are sunny, others rainy, and it takes them both to come together to create color.
The hardest task I found myself dealing with was prioritization. With the multiple facets of tasks and responsibilities that come with a challenging role in research and living independently in a new country, I’ve been working steadily towards getting better at it!
I’d find it hard to pinpoint to a specific instance here, but every opportunity to collaborate and interact with the other ESRs is super fun! Be it brainstorming for ideas together or just casually and informally checking in with each other. The cross-paths of cultural and academic backgrounds in SURREAL is exhilarating to be a part of, especially at in-person events.
Since I started working on my project, I have developed a newfound sense of awareness for the environmental factors in my immediate surroundings. I find myself consciously observing how a walk in a park or countryside gives me a sense of serenity while a visit to a crowded metropolitan city with heavier traffic leaves me feeling uneasy. Noticing these effects at an individual level while also investigating their impact on long-term public health outcomes fuels my motivation for pursuing my current field of research. This in turn has instilled more structure and discipline in my daily life.