Thanks to the go abroad fund, I spent my summer in the capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo, and worked with the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) as part of my master thesis. My decision behind spending a few months abroad was twofold. Firstly, my postgraduate program has sparked an interest in me to focus on water-related issues and environmental sustainability. Therefore, an opportunity to work with a research institute which strives to achieve a water secure world seems very appealing to me. Secondly, I had a personal motivation in spending time in Sri Lanka, as I had spent a few years during my childhood on this island and was very tempted to go back and experience how the country has changed since my last stay. For these reasons I was very excited when I finally got on a flight from Edinburgh to Sri Lanka to not only start my dissertation project but also gain new memories and experiences.
Before going abroad, I remember feeling anxious about possible obstacles and difficulties that could come my way. First and foremost, I was worried about my work at IWMI and me possibly being caught up in other work tasks whilst neglecting my dissertation. Although I had discussed my thesis with my host supervisor in Sri Lanka, I was aware that I had to maintain a tight focus on my university work. Knowing my own insecurities and difficulties with time-management, I started my first day at work with a firm mind on achieving daily progress on my dissertation. As soon as I got to know my host supervisor, other work colleagues and interns, my worries vanished as the work atmosphere was very calming and friendly. Overall, I had a very pleasant and rewardable stay in Sri Lanka, due to my friendly host family, the helpful staff at my host company and last but not least, the country itself with its beautiful landscape. Nonetheless, I dealt with personal struggles at the beginning, feeling lonely with no friends by my side and later on also faced problems within the progress of my dissertation. However, my homesickness faded away rather quickly as I got to know other interns who made my stay abroad much more enjoyable and full of adventures. In regard to my work progress, I realized that some steps take more time than expected as I had to communicate and coordinate with several colleagues within the research project in short time period.
In the end, I realized that research can only be fruitful for oneself and the outside audience if I take my time throughout the process, work on my own terms, without feeling rushed and running the risk of overseeing important aspects which might be crucial to the overall objective. Although it has been challenging, working with researchers in an organization which fully prioritizes the needs of people with water-related issues, was a rewarding and humbling experience for me.