Travel in grad school – #sciparty recap

Hi all! This month is a month that I deemed tdedicated to celebration by the guidelines of my Happiness Project 2018. Will I manage to keep my spirits high? Stay with me! At least for now, I can celebrate that the illness that has kicked me to the curb in the last weeks is finally improving.

What do you generally do when you celebrate? You might throw a party. And that’s what happens on Twitter every Friday at 1PM EST. The SciParty to chat about a science related topic, with a new host every week. And it happened to be a good coincidence that I was the first host of March. My topic was “Travel During Grad School” and I was so nervous in the day of the party. Like I always am whenever I throw one. That’s why I gave up throwing huge b-day dinners. But I knew I couldn’t shy away from this one!

I started inviting all my followers on Twitter and Instagram over to join, both in my account and the SciParty ones. And yet, I was afraid no one would join and would be left speaking about this topic I love so much alone. But it turned out I couldn’t even catch up with all the answers from the amazing people who collaborated and even made questions! The party went over time and then I continued answering to questions with my personal account because I love sharing experiences. Why not check out the main highlights of the chat in the Moments page I created on Twitter?

From what you can see, people from diverse backgrounds and most of all with great photography skills joined. Most of them are bloggers and friends I know well, but seeing some new people was encouraging. So, I would like to provide a quick recap for the general audience about the main worries and style of traveling of PhD students:

1. Time might not be an issue to travel if you manage it well. Money is.

Most PhD students do not get that high of a stipend that could cover so much the living expenses. I can talk for myself in Boston, that was not exactly very high…and I was aware I would use some of my personal savings to be able to travel. I know the money will come back. But anyway, you can always travel in your campus city or nearby. In Portugal we often say that we want so much to travel to new cities and places that we overlook all the amazing things our country has to offer. So, if you don’t have that much money, try a day to do touristic things in your hometown, like checking out a new museum in a free admission day, or exploring a new hiking trail like if you were hiking in a distant country. It’s a good way to refresh the mind! For me, in the Lisbon area, I always find myself with plenty to do, and in Boston there’s so many cool activities. Our group had this monthly tradition of renting a car for a one day roadtrip nearby and it generally cost only $30 per person. It’s a matter of adjustment and change of mindset 😉

2. STEM travel attractions might be a good way to keep your scientific cravings satisfied while traveing

I believe, more and more, attention is being brought to science, technology, engineering and maths based attractions. We all know of science and natural history museums, but there’s much more! I’m not even the best to talk about this because when I travel I prefer art and nature, but a lot of nature has cool science facts behind it to explain why the landscapes look like that. For instance, I hiked 1h until I got to Papakolea Beach in Hawaii’s Big Island. Why’s so? It’s one of the 4 beaches in the world with green sand. This happens due to a high presence of olivine, a green mineral, in the sand. All due to the lava in the island being so rich in this mineral. So, you got the landscape and the cool science fix in one go 🙂

3. Even not as regular tourists, conferences and internships make us more traveled

Going for these opportunities is always an investment. Of course it depends on the supervisor and deparment funding, or being wise yourself when you have to pay for the conferences. For me, I go to conferences mostly for the networking and curriculum development opportunities, but the travel part also entices me. I would have never traveled to Brazil at the age of 22 if it wasn’t for my first international oral presentation at a conference and having a group with good funding for that. Or I wouldn’t have gone to Hawaii if I didn’t tag along my bf who had a conference there. If your funding body allows, you can spend an extra one or two days abroad to explore the city and make a little vacation. I never could, so be wary that probably that time you would spend resting after an intense work day, you could use for a little sightseeing.

Hope you liked learning a bit more about traveling during grad school! And make sure to join Sciparty when you can to discuss any other science related topics. Today the lovely Erin Winick (fellow STEM Squad Member from Boston) will be chatting about the Future of Work! We are all worried about robotics and artificial intelligence and what it can do to jobs, so this is a great chance to learn about it.

Tell me, what are your favorite ways to travel as a PhD student? And if you’re not, any ideas for us to be better organized on that regard? Don’t forget to follow me in FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest to keep up to date!


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