Dear readers of the PROTECTED blog,

It is great to see activities, such as our blog, starting again! We had a few weird months…like any other human being on this planet!

We all know that this situation was/is awful for many aspects. I had ups and downs, of course. but I would like to try to look at the bright side.

A pandemic really helps you put things into perspective. It may sound rhetorical, but I hope people used this chance to learn (again) what was really important for them, as I did.

I’ve learnt to focus on the positive. Indeed, I felt lucky and immensely grateful to have finished my last experiments just before the world was starting its lockdown (I was actually finishing my last secondment in Belfast!). 

I’ve learnt the importance of work-life balance. Working from home meant that I was absolutely in charge of drawing the line between my work and my life. And as both of them happened in the same flat, that was not immediate, it took some adjustments. But at the end it worked!

I’ve learnt how lucky we are to have technology on our side. Yes, we all went through connection issues. Also, we all were at least once that person speaking for 5 minutes straight without realising our colleagues did not have some weird insects they were trying to get rid of, but they were just making those movements to indicate we were muted. Nevertheless, we were able to keep working!

I’ve learnt how to use my time more wisely. Apparently, days still last 24 hours (even if I have to say time perception was weird… like “How it is possible I have already finished 2kg of pasta if I bought it yesterday?”  to then realise “I went shopping 15 days ago”). That said, yes, I found time for that type of things for which I was normally say “Oh I will never have time for it!”. This was the time during which new passions flourished. For example, photography and birdwatching. What I am saying is that this lockdown is the reason why my social media pages are now 150% made of pictures of birds and useless stories about how difficult is to get pictures of birds. As I am a very consistent person, I am attaching a feathery picture here as well (a male great-tit bringing food to its super hungry baby).

I’ve learnt that I love writing my PhD thesis! And now it is almost done. Before starting, I was scared I would have hated it… It didn’t happen. Now let’s hope the examiners would share my love feeling about it.

I’ve learnt how much I miss my family and home friends. This is the longest I have not seen them in all my life (about 8 months). Again, I am grateful to have someone to go back to and this deep feeling of belonging.

With restrictions lifting, we are slowly going back to (semi-)normal. However, is it really worth it to go “just” back? I suggest we go forward, instead, taking the things we learnt with us.

 Chiara

PS: I would like to congratulate with Que, for successfully defending her PhD thesis! She’s the first PROTECTED early-stage researcher to reach this milestone! As everything was online so I was able to join the Zoom meeting and it was great to be part of this special moment for her. Again, super congratulations for your amazing job, Que!

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