A journey to remember!

By Pegah Hafiz
Thursday, 8th November 2018
Filed under: ESRBlog

For three months, I had an exciting research stay at University College Dublin where I managed to make new friends and spend more time collaborating on research activities and projects with fellow TEAM and MSCA researchers.

Packing and getting ready to move to another country is not easy but pretty exciting especially when travelling to a beautiful country like Ireland! Hiking is my favourite activity and I enjoyed hiking areas close to Dublin; I used to hike in my hometown, Shiraz (Iran), every weekend and Dublin brought those memories back for a while. My picture below taken from the top of Greystones in Dublin may demonstrate my enthusiasm for this pasttime!  It gives one time to reflect on research, which looks super promising up on the hills!

Apart from visiting numerous amazing places in Ireland, I attended an engaging seminar including some workshops about youth mental health at the Dublin City Youth Council. I listened to the experts who talked about the possible ways to manage mental disorders in young people. Myself and two of the ESRs based in UCD participated actively in a workshop with young people where we shortly created the following poster:

Thanks to Darragh for holding our work to take the picture! I was inspired by the mature and responsible teenagers who successfully managed the workshops and sessions; it was probably my first time to observe it closely.

Speaking of kids, a goal-oriented program by Suite Science in UCD aims to teach science to the primary school students. I was lucky to attend two sessions and help the organisers, who by the way, put so much effort into designing the scientific experiments. The first session focused on the magnetic field and the kids were able to get hands on the sort of things that attract a magnet in a laboratory equipped with sufficient facilities. At the end of this session, the kids participated in a robot fight! The other session was exciting as well; we managed to launch rockets in UCD campus simply with some bottles, water, parachutes, and air pumps! It was absolutely safe as the kids were divided into groups of experimental scientists and safe guards! The picture below shows how I taught the kids to measure water for their rockets.

Abseiling was another adventure that I signed up to show my courage and stand for youth mental health. Through Jigsaw event, I managed to establish a fund-raising nearly 40 days before the abseiling. The funds go directly to supporting mental health services for young people.  I can't claim that before the abseiling I was absolutely calm; picturing yourself coming down from a high spot in a stadium is not as easy as simply saying it but I couldn't doubt my excitement! First, see the picture below to get familiar with the concept of my abseil:

Could you find me in the picture? ;-)

You may read more about the details of my fundraising through Jigsaw here. We were 50 excited candidates gathered by Jigsaw organisation in Croke park, Dublin. We went to the level 7 and after preparation (e.g. wearing a helmet and a safety jacket),  professional instructors helped each of us to do a short practice using a stairway. Then, we went up and climbed some tiny ladders. I was honoured to be coached by a very positive and relaxed instructor; he taught me how to cross the edge using two moves. I could never imagine myself staying at a tiny edge while floating in the heights and not being nervous at all, BUT believe it or not, I was super calm! The next step was to attach to the rope and enjoy the abseil! I totally recommend abseiling to all of you in a controlled condition. I'm looking forward to find such activity in Copenhagen.

Last but not least, I'd like to thank Erin, Dr David Coyle, and my TEAM colleagues based in UCD who helped me a lot during my stay in Dublin. Apart from all the research, I really enjoyed "Coffee Time" with other TEAM ESRs where I got to know my peers on a personal level.  One of the significant contributions of my research stay is undoubtedly finding several good friends at the Insight Centre. Every single day spent in Dublin was a great opportunity for me to learn and I will never forget all of the sweet memories.

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