After a Bachelor and Master’s degree and a change in countries and city, I now have what I can call a job. For the next four years, I will be working as a PhD candidate at the University of Oslo in the field of ecotoxicology.
(Feel free to skip this section if it sounds too technical)
For those who are interested, for my project I will be investigating how life history strategy affects the bioaccumulation of environmental contaminants. Life history strategy incorporates life, reproduction and death within an evolutionary framework. For example, birds migrate to move to warmer parts of the world to avoid the winter as a life history strategy. Differences in strategies mean that species will prey on different animals leading to differences in diet. This has consequences when considering what pollutants animals might be exposed to, and can largely depend on the types of interactions animals share with one another in a food web. What effect might climate change have on all this? And to think I’m only in my first week!
The week so far
So far this week has involved meeting administrative and academic staff, as well managing things like keys and user accounts. Most of the week I have been trying to gauge how life at Oslo differs from Bergen and there are quite a lot of differences, both big and small.
All upcoming Master’s students already have a project title and approved supervisors. They are required to submit a detailed project plan by the 1st of November (i.e. 3 months after commencing Masters). In Bergen, a title does not need to be formalised until January the following semester, with a formal description of the project not due until mid-April (8 months after starting).
Tea and coffee are provided completely free of charge, meaning that you basically have access to unlimited caffeine. However, I have noted that whenever I prepare a coffee pot it frequently disappears within 30 minutes. I often find myself crossing my fingers whenever I make a trip to the lunch room to find enough coffee that I can bring back to my desk.
One aspect I enjoyed when studying in Bergen was that offices were visible through glass doors. In Oslo, office doors are wooden and dull, and a lot of staff keep their doors closed during the day, making the hallways darker and a little lifeless. I have made it a policy to keep my door open whenever I am in office.
Opportunities to interact with the department
Every Tuesday the department head sits in one of the lunch rooms for 30 minutes for morning coffee and invites all staff and students to come join if they have anything they wish to discuss. I think this is a fantastic initiative and helps bridge the gaps between people in separate research groups.
I have had a great first week so far and already have some direction for my project. I look forward to seeing what these next 4 years of life will bring!