by summerstudent Oscar Moreno
As a master’s student in chemistry, experiments are the basis of my research. The excitement of running an experiment for the first time and the challenge of trying to explain the results keeps me motivated. Nonetheless, in order to pursue things further, my investigation forced me to work during weekends and many times I found myself preparing reports in my room at midnight.
I was not aware my acacemic life had come out of the laboratory and was encroaching on other aspects of my life until one of my advisors stopped me. After seeing me working on Saturdays without pausing, he called me to his office. We discussed how hardworking Latinos are and the good impression this may cause in our job positions. Nevertheless, he made me realize we are more than scientists and hence we also need to take care of our relationships and health.
This former experience has helped me to enjoy my time during HZB Summer Student Program. Despite the fact, that there is a certain freedom about shift time I work from 9:00 to 17:00 during business days. After work, I like to hike near ”Krumme Lanke” and take some time to meditate feeling the warm breeze typical of summer. On the other hand, I do not work any longer during weekends and even I do not check my email. This free time, I use to get to know locals, visit new places and learn more about german culture.
I am more into cultural and natural experiences and that is something that Berlin offers through several locations. I enjoyed my time visiting the Natural History Museum (Museum für Naturkunde): I never expected to have the chance to see the largest mounted dinosaur skeleton in the world which is about 12 tall, and 20 m long. I could see one of the most poisonous plants – Datura stramonium- and learnt about trees and bushes by visiting the Berlin Botanical Garden and Botanical Museum. This time certainly has helped to keep my mind out of work. And I feel that every Monday I return to work I am able to work more efficiently.
Academia often offers the possibility to go abroad to be trained and gain skills. Nonetheless, we cannot forget our lives extend beyond labs, there are plenty of new places out there to be discovered and experiences to live. In short, hang up your lab coat after work and take time to care about yourself and your relationships.
About the Author:
Oscar Moreno is a master student in Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Current research interests include electrocatalysis, sulfur-lithium batteries, conductive polymers, and energy conversion. His current research in HZB is on pulsed electrochemistry for tuning CO2 reduction selectivity headed by Dr Mattew Mayer.
You such an important point, Oscar! As stimulating and absorbing as research is (even the all-nighters can be enjoyable!), we cannot forget to nurture other facets of ourselves. And to rest! It helps us to enjoy science even more when our lives are multi-dimensional. We are more efficient and creative, and in the end also more fulfilled. Thank you for the reminder.
Thanks a lot for sharing this important “lab-life” experience. There is always something enriching to take away from free time. It offers us also new ideas and perspectives on our work.
Well done for writing about it and I hope you will inspire others to find a good balance between their work and life.
Oscar, I loved how you were able to take the advice with you to the HZB because it is so important to have a good work-life balance. I think it keeps us motivated when we give ourselves a mental break here and there. Thanks for your honesty!
Oscar! I really enjoyed reading your blog post because I could easily relate to it. Usually we get engrossed in the lab work to a point that we forget to enjoy our free time, but this blog is a nice reminder. 😊
Your text could be good advice for future summer students to enjoy the “full experience”. I really like the title of your blog post!
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