GCC for the First Time: Initial steps of the journey

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Starting the journey from the remote Sibiloi National Park, Kenya. (Picture by Miquel Torrents-Ticó)

   The 1st of August I opened my eyes and I didn’t know where I was, it was not my bed, after a few seconds of bewilderment I remembered I was starting a new adventure in Helsinki, Finland. I looked at the watch, I have not changed the time yet.  It was very early, here the rise and fall of the sun acts in his own way, but I could not sleep more. I was excited to jump to the new day with my new group, Global Change and Conservation (GCC), part of the University of Helsinki.

Nobody knows the exact instant in which my relationship with GCC started, it was long time ago since I contacted them for the first time. During this time, I have been in two expeditions to Sibiloi National Park, Kenya. I discovered this amazing location and I met their friendly people, but perhaps most importantly, these experiences stimulated the solid decision to be part of the group and develop my own conservation research project. As happens sometimes in life, all these thoughts were crossing my mind on that first day, on my way to the University and I felt I was ready.

The first month is always confuse. However, everything seemed to be under control when I received my own desk, my sanctuary. Here, from this reduced space of the university I started meeting colleagues and learning their diverse and exciting studies. In such environment, with people open and always happy to help, I have begun to analyse some social data collected during the last expeditions.

Taking together, it has been a demanding month. On Fridays, it is stimulating to participate on the weekly journal club, an excellent place to discuss and learn. I have been lucky enough to be invited at the last Metapopulation Research Centre (MRC) Annual Meeting in the beautiful Åland Islands. It was a great opportunity to meet the rest of this large and multidisciplinary group. But above all, I understood the significant history and the scientific impact of the MRC, by listening all the conferences. Moreover, I gave a brief presentation about my proposed study on `Human-Hyena interaction in Kenya`. And of course, writing funding applications has been the pillar of my existence.

If there is one thing I wish I did more, I would say going to the sauna. An important part of Finnish tradition, a place for quiet reflection or noisy meeting. The classic experience combines sauna hottest temperatures with a dip in the sea, which in a few months this will mean ice-swimming.

Where have the time gone? Today is 1st of September and the time has slipped away. I open my eyes and I know the new month will begin with new challenges, but this is still to come.


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