A Year of Chances and Challenges


ESR8 One year blog

About one year ago, I was just settling into my new flat in Aarhus, a small city in Denmark, located charmingly in a bay at the Baltic Sea. Arriving in early summer and with perfect sunny weather, it was almost like going on a holiday and I could hardly believe that this would be my home for at least 3 years and the place, where I would hopefully obtain my PhD degree. Only a couple of weeks earlier, all of this had not been so sure. Another Covid wave had halted all travelling activity in Europe and even though there was only one border for me to cross from my previous home in Germany, compared to my other colleagues in MonoGutHealth, this border was closed and only admitted people with a “good reason” to pass. Luckily, everything worked out miraculously in the end and I could start my new job as planned.

It was a slow start, so I could get familiar with the topic of my PhD and enjoy the first summer to get to know my new home. I discovered similarities and differences between Germans and Danes and tried to learn the new language as best as I could. Aarhus is a fantastic city with lots of young people and opportunities for activities, especially by the sea. On the other hand, my new working place, the Department of Food Science at Aarhus University, is an incredibly diverse environment and in short time, I had made the acquaintance of people from all over the world. As I had only studied in Germany previously, this was an enriching experience.

Even though my project is a part of the H2020 MSCA ITN MonoGutHealth, this was hardly perceivable at times in these first months, due to the pandemic. The more thrilling it was, when we finally all met in person at the first Training School in Bydgoszcz, Poland. It was an incredible feeling to be part of a group with common goals and common interests!

My life remained busy afterwards, as my first animal experiment was conducted. It was a period of great responsibility, as every step had to be planned carefully to ensure valid and comparable results. Apart from that, it was a humbling experience to have the lives of other beings at one’s command, especially since I had accompanied the lives of my chickens from their first day in the egg.

As a Marie Curie PhD student is always busy, my next months were filled with the analysis of the numerous samples I had collected and with planning my first secondment of four months. Thus, I am spending my one-year anniversary in Bydgoszcz, at Politechnika Bydgoska, and I feel reminded of the very beginning of the adventure of my PhD and project MonoGutHealth. A new city, new people, and new projects. But that story will be told in another blog…

Looking back at my first year, I am frequently amazed at how comfortable I have become in foreign environments, surrounded by people who do not speak my language and might have a different culture too. It definitely is a confidence boost and I am sure I will remember this in many years to come!