In November, WASS awarded 11 PhD candidates a Junior Researcher Grant for gaining international experience at another prestigious university or research institute outside the Netherlands.
Each fall, WASS PhD candidates with an approved TSP, research proposal and a GO-decision, are invited to submit a proposal describing their intended research stay and its added value to their PhD project (see the Call for Junior Researcher Grant Applications, around October). WASS examines whether proposals fit the criteria and awards a grant that covers expenses for travel and accommodation, up to a certain amount. Since 2009, the WASS junior grant programme has enabled around 80 PhD candidates to enrich their PhD with some valuable experiences abroad. Sabina Super (HSO) received the grant in 2015 and has just returned from a visit to the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim. Read her story here:
With a WASS Junior Researcher Grant to Norway!
The Wageningen School of Social Sciences (WASS) offers PhD students the opportunity to do an internship abroad in the 3rd or 4th year of their PhD. As Norway had been on my wish list as ‘a place to go to’, I took the chance and applied for this grant. And so it happened that I spent three months in lovely cold Trondheim at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).
I went to Trondheim in the first place to analyse data and finalise several articles as I was heading into my fourth and final year of the PhD. Going abroad was a great chance to focus on these activities, without being distracted so much by e-mail and meetings. Wondering along the fjord in the evenings and weekends also contributed greatly to creative solutions in the writing-up of the results, as I had plenty of time to think about whatever crosses my mind.
During the start of my internship in Trondheim, I presented the results of my PhD project during a meeting of the chair group that I was visiting. It was the first time that I combined the results from various sub-studies of the PhD into one whole story and presented this to a scientific audience. In the weeks that followed, the discussions we had based on this presentation were very fruitful for strengthening and focusing the articles that I was working on. I also visited the University of Bergen that hosts a research centre with expertise on the topic of my PhD project and the authors whose work I was citing in my articles were present during this visit and commented on my work. This was a great opportunity to discuss my progress with top-level researchers and to extend my network to other universities and fellow researchers.
Next to these job-related benefits of spending three months abroad, it is a great personal experience to be on your own for longer period of time in a country of which you do not speak the language, do not share the same culture and do not ‘understand’ the weather. The Norwegians are not known to be easy in making new friends, so they acknowledge themselves, but I met very interesting people during my work and while playing badminton at the university sports centre. It is through these personal contacts that I learned a lot about the cultural differences between the Norwegians and the Dutch. The importance of spending time with family in the weekends, the excellent working arrangements and the importance of outdoor life are just a few examples of what I have learned to be part of the Norwegian way of life. And ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes’ is a folk wisdom that proved true in the cold or rainy days and has helped me to survive a freezing-cold soccer match of the home-club FC Rosenborg that I visited with fellow PhD-students.
Hence, an internship abroad is not only about strengthening your academic work and extending your academic network, but it contributes to your personal development in many different ways.