My name is Marcus Pagenstecher and I am Early Stage Researcher #2 of this very exciting project called EJDFoodSci. My home university is the University of Copenhagen, but I am also enrolled at the University of Agriculture in Krakow.
It’s been almost a year now since I packed my belongings into two suitcases and set off to a new chapter of my life. A good time to look back, if you ask me. What a great journey it has been, certainly more than I will be able to fit in this blog entry. But you have to start somewhere, so I will tell you a bit about the beginning of the project, and how it was to settle in Copenhagen, city of bikes and hygge.
After completing my chemistry studies in Munich, I applied to this project not only out of my passion for research and the cool topic but also because I wanted to take this exciting chance of starting from scratch again. In a different country, with a different language, and a completely new work environment. Which is really what these MarieCurie Innovative Training Networks (ITNs) are all about. Needless to say how excited I was when I actually got this position. I packed my things, found a flat, moved to Copenhagen, and was ready to learn my first words of Danish as well as fight the looming bureaucracy battle. But instead, all ESRs were instantly called to “beautiful city of Krakow” in Poland to meet each other, get extensive trainings, and present themselves to the supervisory board of the project. It is safe to say that we were all surprised how well this multicultural group of people who had not known each other before fit together. But I guess it doesn’t hurt that we all love beer ;-). In the end, it was really a big team building trip. Which is great if you’re facing 36 months of a Ph.D. together, scattered all over Europe.
In fact, almost the whole city of Copenhagen speaks fluent English, which is of course comfortable. Too comfortable at times.
Of all PhD students at KU’s (Københavns Universitet) SCIENCE faculty, only 50 % are Danish. The working language is English, making it very easy to settle in. In fact, almost the whole city of Copenhagen speaks fluent English, which is of course comfortable. Too comfortable at times. It is very easy to postpone actually learning Danish. But believe me, it is absolutely worth it. Just being able to answer properly in everyday situations. Or when you want to tell your neighbor that you are having friends over and it turns out that she does not speak English. Anyways, a language course is always a great chance to meet people if you are new to a country.
Registering in Copenhagen/Denmark is a lot easier than I imagined it to be (for a European, that is). The people working at the International House were very friendly and helped me navigate through the form jungle. I told them: If you go to a German administrative office missing a required form, you will be politely asked to come back next week. And the best part: After your initial registration, you can do everything else online with your so-called NEM-ID. Rumor has it you can even get divorced online.
After a year, things have settled down a bit. I have gotten used to bartenders handing me the card reader without asking and paying even minimal amounts without cash. My Danish is getting better, but keeping up the classes is challenging with all the project related travels in between. The same would be true for my research, but I fortunately got assistance from a Master’s student. More about that in the next blog. Anyways, my highlight was definitely when my EJDFoodSci colleagues visited me for two weeks as part of our PhD courses. Being able to share my new home and my workplace was amazing, and I know I will get that opportunity more often during these three years. In small doses even through this blog. So stay tuned for more!