Perseverance, Hardwork, Deadlines
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” We all get this question several times on the way to becoming an adolescent. Every kid projects themselves in their dream occupation: doctor, engineer, teacher, you name it and you hear some saying “I want to save the world” in an assertive manner, quite heroic. Well, for some of them that bold statement remains as a childish spark and fades away but for others, it even gets stronger and turns into a driving force to make them strive for making the world a better place.
Oh, if you expected the story to go as “… and I was that kid” I must say you´d be quite wrong. I was an ordinary kid with decent dreams, if you had asked me that question at the time, probably you would have heard me saying “a teacher” or “a cook”, but I was always fascinated by the idea of contributing to scientific advancement that will make a remarkable change in people’s lives. This idea flourished as time went by and overpowered my childhood dreams. That’s how I found myself studying chemistry at the university, that’s why I got out of my comfort zone and moved to Belgium later on and last but not least, that's how the course of events made me distort my comfort zone once again, go for an adventure blindly and move to another country and voilà here I am, participating in the ALLODD program, doing a PhD in Spain.
When I first got out of my small world in Turkey, little did I know that it could be quite challenging. Though, what I was feeling was excitement, more than being afraid of the unknown. Not knowing how things are being handled, where to go for certain bureaucratic procedures, not to mention the language issues coming along with not knowing the local language (which is a major problem on its own and yeah English is not always enough to save the day) … When you move to a new country, these are all tough stuff you need to go through every day until you get to the point where you pretty much learn how to get your way.
After living in Belgium for 3 years, give or take, I reached a point where I felt comfortable living there. Though, Belgium still achieves to surprise me every now and then. When it was time to go back to Turkey after my master studies, I was at the point where I needed a fresh start and when I found this great opportunity in Spain, I told myself to go for it. Even though I had never been to Spain before, I was pretty confident that once again, going through all of these struggling & adapting steps of living in another country wouldn’t be scary at all. More challenges, bring ‘em on!
Though there was one ‘tiny’ detail that I didn’t anticipate at the time: the fact that I had forgotten how complicated the visa procedure might be for a non-European person. Although I showed up at the embassy with every possible document that could’ve been asked for (do not underestimate how messy it can get at this stage), it took me 4 months to finally obtain the visa and at the end I bought my ticket from Istanbul to Barcelona, but there was one more obstacle on the way. It was March and it was the coldest time of the last 50 years in Istanbul, snowing like hell. Yeap you guessed it right, I had to postpone my flight due to the unexpected weather conditions. Long story short, I managed to move to Barcelona in mid-March. Shortly after, two new languages were introduced to my brain: Spanish and Catalan and I found myself dealing with the Spanish real estate world and bureaucracy again. Meanwhile I was trying to have a grasp on my PhD project. Two days after the official starting date, I participated in the first ALLODD event in Vienna. I was still trying to make sense of everything since my life changed at a pace faster than I was able to get adapted to.
Though it didn’t stress me out, quite the opposite actually, I liked the feeling of a fresh start.
Fast-forward to June, I was only involved in the program for 2 months and there were 4 conferences awaiting me. There I was as a rookie PhD student preparing presentations and posters without having any results to show, taking part in organizing a conference, getting prepared to welcome all the ALLODD members in Barcelona, the city that I could call home already.
If I had to summarize that period with one word, I’d choose ‘deadlines’. Deadlines was the name of the game basically. It was extremely hectic, but also so satisfactory when I could cross one more item off the to-do list. At the end, after contributing to the organization of a successful event, attending to inspirational conferences where I got the chance to show my work (or let’s say what’s yet to be achieved with my project), meeting new people from all around the world, learning more about different fields, techniques, the feeling I had the most is euphoria.
Things never go as planned, some small tasks that are expected to be completed in a short period of time might fail even at the initial step, hence frustration is inevitable, but it is a part of the job, isn’t it? Nevertheless, the best thing to do is to sit tight and enjoy the ride (without getting too laid back, though).
I am really grateful for where I am now despite all the errors with my calculations, upcoming deadlines and such. I have no clue about what the future holds but whatever that is yet to come, I am impatiently waiting for it and ready to face it and embrace it (Hmm, I wonder if I spoke too soon, well time will tell, I suppose).