•  How it started….

How did you find the job offer, how was the job interview, what were your feelings when you were accepted?

I heard about the open position in SAMOSS from my friend Leena who encouraged me to apply for it. Within couple of weeks of sending the application I had two interviews via Skype and was offered the position. Big steps, such as moving to another country, can be scary, but not for a moment I doubted when I made this decision

Riikka from Finland, ESR in Madrid

 

After 3 months of an internship in the German Diabetes Centre in Düsseldorf I decided to look for a PhD position in Germany. I was very lucky finding a position after a month of intensive searching and sending applications (jobvector.de). The job interview and a first contact with the new team was very positive. The topic of my project was fitting to my experience, interests and at the same time seemed to be challenging.

Monika from Poland, ESR in Jena

 

I firstly heard about Marie Curie Action from a postdoc whom I used to work with during my Master’s. However, joining Marie Curie myself was not really in my plan at that moment. I was applying for another PhD position within the same group when my supervisor told me about the Marie Curie Action. I was immediately attracted to this project, because it aimed at solving the problem that I had had during my Master’s. It was a perfect match for me. And it turned out to be the best decision I had ever made.

Maureen from China, ESR in Groningen

 

I was doing an internship in a research center in France, and a colleague was a post-doc with a Marie Curie fellowship. He told me his experience was so great that I started checking for PhD offers in the Euraxess website. Many research projects were really appealing, and the working conditions – part of an international network, many schools and conferences around Europe to attend, a high salary – enviable. I found very soon a project very interesting for me and fitting my own curriculum; and it was in Madrid, also a very nice location. I contacted the principal investigator of the group, Prof. Orellana Guillermo. After few e-mails, we arranged a Skype video-call: he explained the research and asked some information and some ideas from side. One month later I received the confirmation that I had been selected for the project. The same evening I bought a bottle of Champagne to celebrate the good news with my friends…

Guido from Italy, ESR in Madrid

 

It’s a long time ago,…hmmmhhh but I think it was at the nature job webpage.

The job interview was quite short and easy going compared to what I had before.

I was happy to find a job finally.

Konstanze from Germany, ESR in Vienna

 

 

 

  •  How was moving to another country for you?

Did you find it difficult to get to know people, your first encounter with “the locals”, how was the acclimatisation phase?

What I remember most about the first days and weeks is all the bureaucracy related to the new contract, taxes, healthcare etc. I would say that the Spanish bureaucracy is worth its fame; especially for me who didn’t speak Spanish at times it felt overwhelming. But thanks to my supervisors, who helped me a lot with all this, finally everything went rather smoothly. All the locals were very nice to me and the lab mates made me feel welcomed and part of the group quickly.

Riikka from Finland, ESR in Madrid

 

For an Italian is quite easy to move to Spain, as the two cultures have many similarities and the language is not difficult to learn. I also had the luck to come here together with Silvia, an Italian girl who had lived before in Spain and at that time was moving from Italy to Madrid with the same scholarship. Spanish people are also quite open towards foreigners, and Madrid is also inhabited by many international people. Especially, the lab-mates helped me a lot in the integration in the group.

Guido from Italy, ESR in Madrid

 

For me it was easier than for anybody else of the network, because I am speaking the same language. But even with this advantage it needs some time to meet and get to know people and getting accepted as German in Austria. I had the luck that I met a girl from Vienna I knew before. That made the time of acclimatisation easier.

 Konstanze from Germany, ESR in Vienna

 

  •  Looking back, what were your “best” moments

The highlights of your Samoss time, in a personal and in a scientific respect?

What I consider as the best moments so far are definitely the amazing times we had in all the SAMOSS meetings! The oyster tasting in Bordeaux, the hikes in Austria and Masada, floating in the Dead Sea, the “Amazing race” in Rome, to mention a few. Whether it was in rainy Netherlands or sunny Israel, we have always had a great time with the SAMOSS group.

Riikka from Finland, ESR in Madrid

 

Meeting people from different countries and getting an impression what it means being part of a network, the possibility to work in different facilities.

Konstanze from Germany, ESR in Vienna

 

Definitely meetings with SAMOSS members were valuable and strongly motivated moments for me as well as a highly integrated job in a multi-disciplinary team of dedicated experts with which I could exchange the knowledge. Furthermore, from a scientific respect, access to the state-of-the art equipment and technologies not just in host institution but in the labs of project partners during secondments were helpful to perform experiments and learn many new for me techniques.

Undoubtedly, the positive moment was the appreciation of my work during conferences and two poster awards. Finally, the defence of the doctorate was the greatest moment from both scientific and personal reasons.

Monika from Poland, ESR in Jena

 

At every project meeting, we, as well as our work, were exposed to a multi-disciplinary atmosphere. In this way, valuable comments were received and our horizon was broadened. Furthermore, doing secondment offered me enormous opportunities to try new ideas and to advance my research. I could often find help within the network to climb over obstacles in research. It has been a great experience being in this network!

Maureen from China, ESR in Groningen

 

The best moments, both personally and scientifically speaking, were the international meetings and conferences in which we met around Europe and Israel.

Guido from Italy, ESR in Madrid

 

  • What did you find particularly difficult

The setbacks you suffered, the obstacles, …

 

Being the student representative having the coping with mediation between students and professors.

Konstanze from Germany, ESR in Vienna

 

The most difficult moments for me have been at work, the normal (I guess) PhD crisis due to struggling to understand why things do not work/face challenges/keep on with the deadlines… Having a lot of schools abroad and mandatory research stays reduces the time for research, and the scholarship lasting only three years results in a quite tight and stressful work pace. Obviously, living in a foreign country makes sometimes things worse, because of the distance separating from family and friends.

Guido from Italy, ESR in Madrid

 

  •  What will you take with you?

Moments you will remember, lessons you learned, ….

 

I will take with me countless memories. I think living abroad teaches you many things about different countries and people, different cultures and attitudes, but also about your own culture and most importantly about yourself. 

Riikka from Finland, ESR in Madrid

 

I have enjoyed many things about being in this network, not only the research but also the people. I have been feeling myself so fortunate to meet so many thriving and open-minded people. I always had joyful conversations with both PIs and PhDs, regardless that we are all from different countries having a various background.

Maureen from China, ESR in Groningen

 

Well, beside all the scientific knowledge and soft skills acquired… J the things I will always bring with me are: Rock climbing and amazing German beers in Jena; soapy sumo and late night dancing in Madrid; Groningen survival training; climbing Masada and floating in the Dead Sea (p.s.: do not dive into a salty swimming pool of a hotel close to the Dead Sea, the water is way too salty…); canoeing on River Danube in Vienna; treasure hunt between the monuments in Rome; the ocean and guitar music in Bordeaux.

…and the fact that the World is our Oyster!

Guido from Italy, ESR in Madrid

 

Hmmmhh…there is no particular moment I have in my mind- there were good and less good ones…I have learned that it needs a lot of work, organization and communication to build up such a network/programme.

Konstanze from Germany, ESR in Vienna

 

After these three years I am richer not only in a scientific title but as well new friends, knowledge, many soft skills, language and experience. I have learned how important a team-work is, as team-work divides the tasks and multiplies success. Furthermore, I have noticed importance of sharing the knowledge. As knowledge has completely no value until we use it and share it. Experience gained in my host institution taught me to not be afraid of hard work as nothing worthwhile comes easily. Furthermore, do not let other discourage me or my work but as well taught me the strength of character, self-discipline, time management and confidence in my own abilities.

Monika from Poland, ESR in Jena