written by: Daniela Meier (University of Leeds), February 2013
Just before Christmas we braved the elements and headed off to Austria for the MINSC kick-off meeting. All the participants of the network met in the ski resort of Seefeld, where we spent four enjoyable days.
The meeting was all about how to work in a research network. We got an introduction on what it means to be part of a Marie Curie network and our rights and obligations as fellows. Especially valuable in this regard were the talks of Dina and Chris who had participated in a previous training network. They told us about their experiences, about the challenges and benefits of working in such an international team and gave us a glimpse of what life can be like after successfully completing a PhD. To help us to get started with our projects, we had sessions talking about the basic ingredients of a research project and the questions related to doing ethical research. Many of the points raised during these discussions seem to be obvious and clear. However, spending time thinking about these issues will, in my opinion, help us to better understand and therefore avoid potential problems and pitfalls during our research projects.
The most crucial skills to successfully work in a network are communication and team working skills. Therefore large parts of the meeting were dominated by playful activities in teams to get us to talk to each other and to work together. For example, we had to try to escape from the moon. We had to work together as a team and fulfil the given tasks on time to ensure our safe return to Earth. Luckily, we succeeded in the last minute! But socialising was not over after the individual sessions. During afternoon brakes we indulged in “active outdoor socialising” such as downhill and cross-country skiing, ice skating and exploring the Seefeld region by foot. Many of us were also regular visitors at the local Christmas markets to enjoy a cup of Gluehwein or punch at the end of the day.
We definitely had a good time in Seefeld. I think that many of the activities have contributed to help forming a group out of the bunch of people that arrived on the 15th. Even though we all come from a variety of scientific and cultural backgrounds, there is definitely potential for a very good collaboration within MINSC and I think I am not the only one who is already looking forward to the Copenhagen meeting where we all meet again!