This spring I did a research stay at MARCH centre over a period of 10 weeks. As a PhD-student with global health education, and a midwife, MARCH centre was an obvious choice for me. I find almost anything that involves maternal, child and adolescent health interesting but I have a special interest in adolescent health, gender, and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). My hopes for this research stay was to network, develop technique, deepen my knowledge of my own research topic but also to broaden my scope and understanding of current research priorities. On a personal note, I was born in Stockholm to a Swedish mother and a British father, a north Londoner in fact, and the thought of spending more time in the city where my father was born and raised, the city which my grandparents and great grandparents had called home, was enticing.
During my time I got to meet so many clever, inspiring, hard working and wonderful people and Joy Lawn and Joanna Schellenberg made me feel most welcome. I went to loads of seminars, attended a two-day workshop in Windsor, and was involved in MARCH day activities, which led me to meet lots of people and finding friends. I was involved in project with Joanna, which really helped me develop my Stata proficiency and understanding of data management issues. I also organised a seminar on abortion related research together with Vernoique Filippi and Jenny Cresswell. The preparations for the seminar was a fantastic opportunity to meet and discuss my favourite topic with other researchers in the field and the seminar was a great way to bring people together who were interested in or already working within this field, to open up for discussions and provide networking opportunities.
A research stay like this very much becomes what you make it and it requires independence, being prepared to challenge yourself, a great deal of curiosity and some social skills. I also think that the timing is quite important. I have about one year left out of four and I think my previous experiences, the fact that I have come quite far in my doctoral education, was important for my ability to engage in activities and to contribute. My time at MARCH centre made think about my future, to reflect on where I am going, my weaknesses and strengths, what kind of research environment I want to be a part of, and what I see as research priorities. It was a great way to broaden my horizon, I made friends and valuable connections, and I also learnt a lot about other global health and research design issues. I definitely feel like I achieved my goals and more. I understand that as a PhD-student it might be difficult to find time and funding to do a research stay like this. I am fortunate to have such supportive supervisors. If you do have the opportunity though and are thinking about it I would say, go for it!