With the support of the Go Abroad Fund I was able to travel to Amsterdam and Barcelona in early September. How nice to enjoy the last few days of the continental summer! My doctoral research is focused on the way researchers from different academic disciplines approach research about health inequalities, and the major aim of the trip was to expand data collection into non-English-speaking countries. The opportunity to include researchers from outside the UK by meeting with them in-person was extremely valuable. In a series of qualitative interviews, researchers shared their experiences collaborating with academics from other disciplines, and countries. Via my supervisors’ connections I was able to meet with an expert methodologist who provided a well-timed constructive critique of my project. I also met with a Spanish PhD student who is conducting similar research, and we have begun drafting a manuscript together for publication.
In addition to these academic wins, I was able to indulge my two artistic passions on this trip. The first was the Festival Oude Muzeik (Early Music Festival) in Utrecht. My host in Utrecht is a distinguished Dutch soprano singer, and I was able to tag along to several performances in the festival program. The quality of these performances was unlike anything I have encountered in the UK or my native Australia, and the (amusingly niche) “Early Music Market” provided an opportunity to get up-close with some rare and very beautiful instruments, and also to meet with passionate makers who have dedicated their lives to preserving techniques which are many hundreds of years old. In Barcelona I was able to attend class at Studio Ballet Barcelona. I have been practicing ballet for 7 years and am always excited to attend a new school, and receive the benefit of a new teacher’s perspective. The language of ballet is French and I assumed that I could follow a class with relative ease – I was wrong! But thanks to the generosity of those at the school I still had a fantastic experience. I concluded my trip with a sunset yoga class on La Barceloneta beach, feeling refreshed and ready for another year of PhD study.