I arrived in Manchester roughly one and a half years ago. This meant moving to a foreign city in a foreign country. I was extremely curious and excited about discovering this new place, and ambitious to finally meet my supervisors in person and start my research project. – Emotion and Memory.
Emotion and Memory are both subjects that anyone can relate to in one way or another – either individually or in interaction –on a daily basis. I had investigated emotion regulation in Depression for my Master’s degree and eager to learn more, I wanted to take yet another deep dive into this subject of emotion. This meant investigating the influence that emotions, (e.g. negative or positive emotions) have on prospective memory – for example: a memory we use when planning to do something in the future, helps us to remember to execute delayed intention such as sending out a birthday card, or the intake of medication on time.
The year started, I got used to the new climate, and I slowly found my place. Things weren’t exactly the easiest to start with but, luckily, I have four extremely caring and supportive supervisors who had already taken me under their wing before I arrived in England. One of the most helpful aspects for me, outside of University, was joining social activities and making friends through sport groups. I met people with same interests and similar backgrounds, went out to cultural events and travelled to visit museums. And then, there was Covid-19.
The pandemic has definitely put a spoke in a lot of people’s wheel!
Fortunately, my running research projects have not been affected by the lockdown and its consequences. I was able to work from home and collect data online. My major drawback during this time was not being able to travel home and seeing my family. However, paradoxically, this has also been a time that brought me closer to friends despite being physically separated. A time that taught me patience, and a time that showed me how important it is to stick to a healthy work-life balance (which is not always easy, especially when work and life takes place in the same space). I was forced to stand still for a moment and reflect upon what is happening around me.
Despite the restrictions implemented due to Covid-19, and all negative consequences that came along with it, I am deeply convinced that where there is a will, there is a way, and that there is always something positive we can extract, even from the most difficult situation.
I decided to make use of this time, instead of letting energy go to waste. So, I started a blog. There were three main aspects that led me to this decision: my interest and my experience in travelling, my admiration for art and creativity and, finally, the research situation I found myself in.
- The first one, was travelling: with the implementation of the lockdown, people were bound to one place. In the very beginning no travelling was possible at all, and when I thought back about all the places I’ve been to, I realized how fortunate we all are when we are free to go anywhere whenever we want. And yet, not everyone is as fortunate. Think about people who can’t leave their homes due to health issues, or those who cannot travel due to financial, let alone political, reasons. By sharing my travelling experiences through words and photographs, I may possibly open a window onto places that other people may not have access to.
- The second one, was art: since arriving to England, I knew that I had to find some creative work to pursue. With little available space, drawing has been the ideal option for me. It helps me focus while letting my mind wander, and observing the progress in front of me feels satisfying in a way that is difficult to describe.
- The third one, was the research situation. Not all research studies can be conducted remotely and independently. For one of my studies, and which is often the case within the field of Psychology, I was recruiting participants. However, participation is time-consuming, hence it is rarely easy to find people willing to generously offer their time by taking part in an experiment or filling out a survey. Often, incentives ease the struggle one faces when recruiting participants, yet competition for research funds is high. I was fortunate to receive funding from University for one of my studies, which I am extremely grateful for! I definitely recommend to everyone in need to apply whenever the opportunity arises. In Psychology for example, various organizations offer grants, depending on the research subject. However, I don’t know whether I will be fortunate a second time or not. That is why I decided to create to support: this means that I sell my artwork and 15% will be used as financial incentives for participants in my final study.
This decision was a way for me to combine three things I am passionate about and that currently fill my everyday life.
I think it would be wrong to sell the PhD journey as something consistently exciting and fulfilling. Just like any other job, there are exciting and less exciting times, enjoyable and annoying ones. That is why I think that throughout this journey, it is important to find something to do that brings happiness and satisfaction to us whenever research doesn’t.
Something that helps to keep balance, that inspires, and fills up the energy tank.
I am grateful for the opportunity I have in researching at MMU, and I am sure that for anyone who enjoys research generally, it is an experience through which one will always develop and grow personally.
You can find out more about Kathrin, her writing, and the create-to-support project at www.kapodi.com