What being a nomadic PhD scholar looks like

By Gianluigi Maria Riva
Thursday, 14th February 2019
Filed under: ESRBlog

Not every road is the right one to take. But, be sure that eventually every wrong road leads you, at some point, to the right one. So, you then just have to choose to "walk". Which I did and which I do and, as I walk, this makes me a pilgrim. And a pilgrim accepts the occurrence of a wrong road, as getting lost, somehow, helps.

My “walking” denotes performing research, attending events, drafting applications, presenting stuff – guys, really interesting stuff, let’s admit – and I'm constantly travelling. Moreover, consider how damn lucky we are: we are hired to do what we like the most. Namely, thinking about research, trying to solve a problem. That’s essentially the researcher’s job, isn’t it?! We reflect on concepts, we investigates other’s thoughts, we stress hypothesis, we perform ideas and we cristallyse knowledge.

Personally, I like the fusion (call me a romantic renaissance) and I love swimming among different disciplines, be them humanities or science, and finding common patterns, connecting a dot here, 'stealing' a concept there. Thus, I may define myself as a nomad of knowledge, where a nomad is usually a free, erratic, self-ruling, driven, non-fully-compliant individual that grasps what he needs where he happens to find himself, but finally responds to a set of traditional morality

Here, this nomad pilgrim fellow “walked” a lot since the last May, sometimes in the right direction, sometimes not, few times against the wind, most of the time learning a long the way. Indeed, my project brought me to cross the ocean, in the far west, through the hills of Frisko’s bay, at the 39th IEEE Symposium on Data and Protection to disseminate awareness on how much of our public data are weak and exposed


Then the sunny land of late-spring Spain, attending a course on medical-informatics at ENJECT's training school , followed by the sweet beers kindly provided by Germany, during a PUI Cost Action event on addiction in Cologne. Again, my lovely Dublin for GDPR summit and the get-togethers with colleagues at the soft light of wooden pubs and a week absorbing the Scottish fresh air of summer for our TEAM summer school rendezvous. Then my sweet Dublin again - which I miss so deeply, despite its rainy attitude - and the smooth coffee taste of a Guinness, before taking care of my relocation.

Yep, relocation to Barça my dears. Though not before France and the wonderful red Toulouse and the Occitane’s wines: approved by both me and my mate Darragh. We both sacrificed ourselves to taste it during the Marie-Curie networking events in the ESOF week.

Not before Italy, land of summer holidays in which you can still work, but only if you are a nomad ESR, on the wrong road (but for the joy of your girlfriend waiting for you at the seaside).  The land to which one travelled by rented car, at night, from the wonderful red Toulouse, (because the flight cancel itself at the last minute) and not before a – even greater – pretty demanding week-long summer-school on Computer Supported Work Cooperation in the pretty landscape of the lake of Como, where one lost every single data one holds, and if one is so lucky, even all the backups are corrupted! And of course not before a bit of Switzerland, for a presentation in Lausanne on human-augmentation. Yes guys, human can “augment”, but not without having a good local fondue in the meantime.

However, Barcelona as I said. There I am now, finally, relocated. A bit of bureaucracy here, must be admitted, which I would define …substantial. But absolutely an amazing place in which a nomad PhD can be. Here one might perform one's secondment at Alpha, as I’m happily doing, to tackle those old evil beasts of mine Data and Protection. And well, jokes apart, a very exciting experience and full of learnings and exceptional people. And now it’s time to be a sedentary PhD. For a while at least.

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