It is around a year since I started my role as a ReTraCE ESR. I thought I would use this opportunity to reflect on the past year and share my thoughts, feelings and experiences.
My first observation is that time really has flown by. It genuinely feels like it was not longer than a month ago that I arrived at Högskolan Dalarna in Sweden to begin my PhD!
Nevertheless, during what has felt like a quick year, a lot has happened. I have attended three ReTraCE network schools. The first in Sheffield (UK) last summer, the second in Naples (Italy) during the winter, and the third conducted virtually due to Covid19 but hosted by the ABIS team in Brussels (Belgium) just last month. I also had the opportunity to attend two waste management conferences: one in Wales and the other in Germany. And I gave two further presentations: one at a local school in Falun (Sweden) and the other in Högskolan Dalarna’s Microdata Seminar series. Each of these opportunities have helped me to develop my knowledge and skills in relation to the Circular Economy.
In addition, together with the other ESRs and supervisors in Work Package 3, we have also completed project deliverables related to stakeholder management and limitations of the Circular Economy, with the potential of developing these further into journal articles. And there has been a lot of time spent in planning and laying the foundation for the research ahead. The level of detail and rigour required in the planning phase before moving on to the execution phase has been a challenge to adapt to, especially for someone who has spent prior years working in the tech industry where things work quite differently, particularly with the introduction of agile and rapid prototyping-style approaches in the last decade or so.
Another challenge has been the impact of the Covid19 outbreak. Although Sweden has not enforced a lockdown, many are voluntarily working from home here including me. I have found it a challenge to remain as productive as usual, but I am slowly adapting and getting better at this.
One thing I have been pleased with, however, is my ability to pickup the Swedish language to the level where I can now understand basic conversations with colleagues. It is something I hope to continue to improve over the coming years.
Overall, it has been an interesting and enjoyable year, with some challenges and achievements. And I am excited and optimistic about what the remaining years bring.