Today is my first week back at QMU since returning from my visit to Australia. My trip to Australia was a busy one, was filled with lots of new experiences, networking, sharing and learning – not to mention lots of sea and sunshine too!I received funding Graduate School Training and Development Fund to visit the University of Wollongong (UOW) in New South Wales. This visit was to enable me to network internationally in several key respects and contribute to building my awareness of research capacity and internationalism within research.
As someone who is just reached the mid-point mark of their PhD, having an ‘international research visit’ was a pretty daunting experience to begin with. I always assumed the word ‘international’ in the world of research belonged to experiences researchers and professors, not to a young PhD candidate very early in her career. Reflecting back, I felt the pressure to make this experience a meaningful one; one that could open up new horizons for the future. Boarding the plane in Edinburgh, I knew I had learning and sharing opportunities awaiting for me at the other end. However, when I stepped back on that plane at the end of my journey, I did not only have a few experiences to add to my CV, but I felt I was coming home a more confident researcher-in-the-making.
Visiting a new research environment, away from my safety net and ‘home-comforts’ of QMU allowed me to become responsible for making my own connections. Not only did I see, but I felt the importance of early career networking and collaboration.I was soaking up every opportunity that came my way to share my PhD research and developed new working relationships with nurses and other healthcare professionals, researchers and academics.I realised that this trip could be the start of exciting international collaborations and working for the future. The lesson that I have learnt is that you are never too early in your research career to begin creating connections that could lead to unknown and exciting opportunities.