By Ruth Tchana Wandji (Agricultural University of Iceland)

Uncertainty, one word I will use in describing these last months with covid-19. Though in regular times being uncertain is mild, in covid-19 times, the stakes are higher. The main uncertainty was not being able to start the research or not travel at all for fieldwork. It was exasperating. Leaving a quarantine to another can be depressing, but it was a relief to travel and do a quarantine because I could do something of my research.

If words currently used could earn money or awards by themselves, the words “online”, “virtual” (name them) are nominated. We were not out of the woods, from online meetings, conferences, webinars to online courses and others. Though human contact and interactions were reduced, we created and tried to maintain ways that enabled us to remain sane and healthy at work. Weekly coffee meetings, reminders to tell us we can book appointments with an attributed school counselor or psychologist, weekly lab meetings to discuss how we cope with our research, to name a few.

In Iceland, a glimpse of ordinary life is only possible if tested negative to the covid-19 virus. I was, therefore, glad to do some fieldwork in 24hrs daylight and windy Iceland. Hot-springs, beautiful landscapes are rewarding after a long field or workday. Meeting also other FutureArctic ESRs was awesome. Sharing our experiences reminded me of “we are all in this together”.

 Moreover, it is not easy to have achievements with all what is happening nowadays, but improvisation and adaptation are essential in research. With covid-19, we had to improvise so many things, one of which was our pre-scheduled secondment. Not being able to be in Belgium due to the second covid-19 wave, we went online to save the boat, at least what remained of the pre-scheduled plan. We were not disappointed, for the online secondment was an enriching experience.

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