ITN mobility in times of corona…

Read the latest piece from our very own Mimi, RECOMS fellow, who details her fresh experience about our most recent Training Event 5 that went online in the time of corona.

by Mimi

As an ITN fellow, one of the cornerstones of the program is mobility. Mobility for our research, for training but also mobility for personal matters since most of us are a couple of thousand kilometers away from family and friends. However, the pandemic has come to put in question all these things that a few months ago, no one would have thought twice, like taking a train or a plane to get to your next training. Suddenly the world became so small. 

Maybe, it is for all these reasons that there was a high expectation to meet, face to face, after almost five months of quarantine measures in the TE5 Munich. Nevertheless, country regulations and this new type of life where we live in intervals of two-three weeks make it quite difficult to put all RECOMS members in one place. 

If so, putting everyone together was proven not feasible, putting some together was still an option. So, in the spirit of holding true the resilient and adaptive qualities of RECOMS, the next stage of ITN mobility was coined, please welcome *drumroll*, the “blended presence training mode.”

The “blended presence training mode” (BPTM) means that those fellows whose travel restrictions allowed them to move could join those that couldn’t. BPTM also means that those fellows within the same country or neighbor countries could gather together to attend the online training from the same location. 

So, as representative of the Belgian team, I took the task to join my fellow friends in the place where it made the most sense…Munich. Everything was done in order while following the restrictions and advice of the government. Hence the idea to get there by car to reduce exposure in public transport while being more carbon footprint friendly. It was a delight!!!. Hours of green landscapes, mountains, and the spontaneous storm here and there.   

Having the opportunity to meet other RECOMS fellows beyond the limiting zoom meetings[1] felt like a breath of fresh air in a not so ventilated period of in-house quarantine. Meeting face to face made quite evident that we are social animals that yearn for physical, social interactions. Moreover, it also made us realize how those interactions are important for our development as researchers, professionals, and physically / mentally healthy people.  

The circumstances that ITN fellows face due to the corona can be shared with many. Still, only those in similar circumstances can truly understand what it is like. Being in lockdown while doing research, caring for those communities we have been collaborating with, plus, the constant fear that should something happen to our families we might not be able to get to them is definitely a sentiment of many of us.

But having the opportunity to discuss these fears and share our experiences of how the pandemic has affected not only our research but our everyday life while sharing dinner and saying hi or goodbye with a real hug felt like the best thing in months. 

The new BPTM offers an alternative to training in corona times. But, I guess I speak for everyone when I say that we are looking so much forward to a normal training with all fifteen fellows, mentors, and the corresponding fiery and interesting discussions that we are all so fond of.