The great life of a PhD student depicted in the title… In the past months I visited Cameroon, spend a week in Prague, now I am for 2 weeks in the Netherlands and in the new year I will again shortly visit Prague before going back to Cameroon. I am seeing more airports than the average person in a lifetime! In this blog I will try to look back at my experiences in Prague and Cameroon during the last months.
I ended my story last time when I was working on a grant proposal. It has been submitted and we are awaiting the results somewhere in the beginning of 2017. Part of the PhD studies is a conference for PhD students of our department. The whole department is invited and spends two nights somewhere in the Czech Republic listening to presentations from the first and third year students. So I had to present as well, but well, a starting presentation is much easier than the one in your third year. The conference was really nice, we had a lot of fun (and maybe some drinks as well) and I got some nice questions, comments and tips for my research! And of course it was a great way to get to know everyone better.
After the conference we had to quickly pack everything for Cameroon. Which seemed like an impossible task when you saw the amount of stuff we needed to take (See below). But in the end we managed!
At the end of October it was finally time to go to Cameroon. All loaded with 2x 23kg’s we undertook a nice journey from Prague to Trebon and onwards to Vienna, Istanbul, Yaounde, Douala and Buea. In Douala two bags were missing and of course one of them was mine L. Which included the majority of my clothing… In the end they said that we were transporting dangerous goods (Batteries…) and they had to remove it and only then they could resend it. In the end we got our luggage, minus the batteries, a week later; when we were already on the mountain.
But let’s rewind to the trip up the mountain. One of the heaviest days in my life. I was prepared for a long hike, but having to hike up for 6.5 hours with a bag on your back is complete madness for somebody with little experience in mountain climbing… I struggled a lot, but thanks to two of our great field assistants (Francis and Collins) I managed to make it up to Mann’s Spring (2200m high).
The first two weeks we spent there, doing a case study in the Savanna above the tree line, establishing transects in the mountain forest, measuring traits and setting cameras for our pollination studies. After two weeks we gradually moved the camp down to Crater Lake (1600m), where the same work continued.
The field work was great and I begin to see more and more that field ecology is the best part of the job. So it will be a struggle in the last two years without fieldwork… But now I will first enjoy the field trips! Not being able to shower for a month, sleeping in a tent, having to use a latrine (hole in the ground) and cooking on a wooden fire. Great experiences, although a rather primitive life 🙂
We had a great team with us in the field, so the month went by really fast. Luckily we will be back on the 18th of January for another field season, so I don’t have to wait long before going again! The only thing I am not looking forward to is the hike up and down again. These hikes were the toughest ones I have done until now… hopefully it gets better in the future!
Now after enjoying a short week of civilization in Prague and a visit from Joep and Koen I am back in the Netherlands to see the rest of my friends and family again. On the second of January I will go back to Prague to finish preparing for Cameroon.
Greetings from a cold country,