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Pandemic PhD Stories : My french struggle

If you haven't figured it out already from the title, in this blog, I am blaming the pandemic for my lack of french, among many other things. I'll admit it's my brain's fault as well. But lets put more blame on something that can't fight back. Just can kill me or heavily damage my lungs.

Starting with a little background- my name is Shivangi, and I am from India. The first time I ever travelled abroad was for my PhD. So you can imagine my excitement to move to France and finally start my salaried life :D

I took some french classes before arriving in Nantes in November 2019. Half a day here and I realised the left hemisphere of my brain is pretty useless. But also that I needed it to work in order to survive. This meant I had to re-take language classes if I wanted to show off my french back home.

So, I started my lessons again in January and was excelling them. Nice to know my rupees earlier and euros now were not all wasted. But like always, life had other plans (Somehow, they never really match mine). Fast forward two months, and we were in lockdown. I didn't know enough french to get around and didn't have enough knowledge to do my research alone at home. And so my best friends were Netflix and literature review.

The city opened up again and so did my vigour to learn french. I enrolled for the next semester. And, drumroll...... we were back in lockdown! But this one was not that strict and we were still having online classes. But that meant there was always a google translate page open, you know, just in case. I then figured it out- my french classes were triggering the lockdowns. So I gave up.... For the greater good.

Well, it's safe to say that my french sucks. But I get by. Although it does get overwhelming sometimes to constantly hear a language and catch only bits and pieces. The only relief was when I would go to international events but that was like twice in my last year, thanks again to the great pandemic.

Here I was, hoping to meet aliens, but the only foreign bodies I met should be trapped in my mask and thrown away!

But for anyone learning french, don't let it deter you. Like I slandered stressed said, it was the pandemic's fault. As long as you regularly speak it (with and without mistakes), you'll get there. Just keep practicing with a person, and not with a wall like I did.

Image Credits: Pinterest

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Shivangi Sharan is a third year PhD student at the Laboratory of Planetology and Geosciences in France. Her research focusses on the study of the magnetic field of planets and to infer their internal structure from it. She is an active member of the IAGA Blog Team and can be contacted via e-mail here.

How To... Help with Outreach

In our new series of blogs we want to shine a light on some of the basics that researchers undertake in their day-to-day lives and provide guidance for early-career researchers. There are some tasks that a researcher will never have any official training in but are expected to do as part of their jobs. We hope these blogs make it easier. The first blog in this "How To..." series focuses on outreach. 

Science is fun and interesting! That’s why researchers choose to do the job that they do! But a large part of a researcher's job is communicating new results to the wider scientific and public community – sometimes referred to as ‘outreach’. So here’s a quick ‘How To…’ guide to provide some insight into everything outreach.

What is outreach?

The process of communicating science to others. It usually refers to educating the public in science and other topics they might not encounter in day to day life.

Why do outreach?

It is rewarding and can be a lot of fun. The general public funds a lot of research through taxes and it is a great way to demonstrate why science is important. Also, it is a great way to show your results to others and may allow you to appear on TV or help with a film related to your research (e.g. Jurassic Park!).

How do you do outreach?

Outreach can happen on all scales; it can be as simple as talking to an individual or running an international science festival! However, regardless of the size of the project there are some things you should always remember:

1.    Be age and material appropriate – a 4-year old child will not have the same understanding of the world as their parent. Therefore, we have to tailor the words and activities we use for the situation.

2.    Be engaging – asking people questions or having an activity for participants can help keep the audiences’ attention.

3.    Be organised – it is important to have everything set up and ready to go ahead of time. Think about what materials you will need and how the event will run.

4.    Be ready for questions – people love asking questions back! Make sure you know a bit more than just about the field you work in.

Want to know more?

The best way to become more involved with outreach is to join an existing project in your nearby community. There’s lots of materials out there if you search the internet. There’s also events run through international organisations (e.g. AGU, RAS, EGU etc) which you can join. Take a look at the websites below to be inspired:







Image Credits: Created using fotor.com

Hannah Rogers has just submitted her PhD thesis at the University of Edinburgh and is a member of the IAGA Social Media team. Her specialism is in investigating regional magnetic fields of Earth at the surface and the core-mantle boundary using mathematical methodologies. You can follow her on Twitter at @Hannah_Rogers94.

PhD in IAGA #5

IAGA has a lot of different scientists working on various topics. In this series of blogs, we will introduce some topics that are being worked on by PhD students. Hopefully this will give a better picture of the work being done in the field and encourage more early career researchers.

Sarasija Sanaka, is a PhD student working at the Institute of Geophysics Polish Academy of Science, Poland. Her supervisor is Dr. hab. Anne Neska. Sarasija says:

My research is about source effects in Magnetotellurics. Source effects are the inappropriate source signals which lead to distortion in the results, which further leads to misinterpretation of the subsurface electrical structure. My task is to identify and understand the origin of such problematic signals. Such signals are dominant in the high to mid-latitude regions. To recognize source effects, we have considered long-term magnetotelluric data, because they reveal temporal changes which cannot be explained by subsurface conductivity changes.

The above figures represent time-dependent transfer functions at 4000s for Grabnik (GRB) and Suwałki (SUV) stations in Poland.