Without the help of the Go Abroad Fund, I would not have had the opportunity to participate as a summer researcher for the 5th summer school with the Vienna Institute for Social Ecology and the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research. I spent 10 days working and living on the Greek Island, Samothraki. As one of the most remote islands of Greece, this opportunity was by far one of my most unique. We spent the entire time camping on a site, miles away from the nearest small establishment. The campsite was right next to the beach which had an amazing coastline and classic warm, Mediterranean water that I made the point to swim in every day.
I prepared myself for Greek Island life by endlessly watching Mama Mia, I can certainly attest to the fact the scenery, culture, and people lived up to my expectations. I also gained a newfound appreciation for local communities and their perspectives on sustainability. It makes us realize the many benefits we have in a society where we are able to make the most sustainable choices for ourselves. I had my reservations about going to a secluded Island on my own but had taken the opportunity to gain independence by traveling alone which proved to be very rewarding.
Going into the programme, I had the baseline knowledge of what socio-ecological research entails but wanted to expand on my technical skills and how to better benefit local communities. The summer school has been conducting research on social metabolism and energy use on the island Samothraki Island since 2007. Purpose of the summer school was to aid the ongoing efforts of networking with local community members, stakeholders, and researchers to make the whole island a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
My research focus was on the energy use on the island to fill the data gaps concerning wood-use and heat on the Island. So, we used existing data from previous years, and data are given to us from local establishments to estimate the amount of wood extracted and imported to the Island to better understand energy use. My time on the island very memorable and I greatly appreciate the Go Abroad Fund for allowing me to experience it.