PlaMatSu ESR Away Weekend
18-21 July, Paris, France
Day 1, 18 July: Arrival
On Thursday, all of our PlaMatSu ESRs travelled to Paris for their away weekend. Everyone arrived in the city at different times in the afternoon and went for a late lunch to catch up with each other. After checking into their hostel, they went out for a stroll along the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and visited the Arc de Triomphe. They enjoyed the incredible view from the top of the Arc, the terrasse, and the Eiffel Tower looked quite small in comparison to all the other large buildings and monuments around. In the evening, the ESRs met Dr Kerstin Brachhold, their coach for the next day, and went for dinner with her.
Day 2, 19 July: Workshops
The first workshop of the day, on “How to Publish”, was given by Dr. Kerstin Brachhold from Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, Germany. Aside from introducing the ESRs to how Wiley works and which journals they publish, the workshop focused on the process which takes place after a paper is submitted. The ESRs were all ambitiously involved in a discussion with Kerstin which touched on plagiarism, what to do when a paper is rejected, and what rights an author has when their idea is scooped and published in another journal. The ESRs found the workshop very interesting and expressed their appreciation for being told not only facts from the point of view of an editor-in-chief, but also about the possibilities which exist to find a job as a scientist.
In the afternoon, the ESRs welcomed their second coach for the day: Wytze Visser from Ludens, Amsterdam, Netherlands, whose task was to help the ESRs improve their presentation skills. Before the workshop, each ESR was asked to prepare a three-minute presentation about either a hobby, a passion or something else that we would like to share with the group. Strictly no science-related topics. Wytze has worked in theatre for almost all his life, therefore he knew how to lead the workshop effectively. Nevertheless, at the beginning of the class, the ESRs were unsure about what to expect. The workshop began with some exercises and body-stretching activities in order to warm up. Then, each ESR presented about their topic while being filmed. The audience – the other ESRs and Wytze – gave feedback on speech, body language, eye contact, etc. The ESRs learned a lot, especially because Wytze gave personal feedback to each of them, and the workshop concentrated on the delivery of ta presentation and how the presenter appears to the audience. The session ended with a task that required each ESR to read out a speech in order to learn how to pause and create tension. The ESRs enjoyed the workshop and would highly recommend Wytze for future students seeking training in similar skills. Unfortunately, three hours was nowhere near enough time to become fully immersed in this new area, but the ESRs sampled a good taste of it. In the evening, the ESRs and Wytze all went out for dinner together, then headed off to see the Eiffel Tower at night.
Day 3, 20 July: Treasure Hunt
For the third day of the away weekend, PlaMatSu ESRs Johannes Bergmann and Benjamin Droguet prepared an exciting and engaging sightseeing tour for their fellow ESRs in the form of a treasure hunt. The nine ESRs split into two groups of four and five, and were required find out which sights to visit by solving a series of riddles. While doing so, each group explored different corners of Paris, discovered new places, and enjoyed themselves. Together, the ESRs had great fun and took great interest in seeing how each of them contributed to the solutions in a different way. Some used a classic printed map, while others used their phone to get around. The ESRs were led on a tour which took in, among other places, the Place de la Concorde, the Louvre, the Centre Pompidou, Notre-Dame, Montmartre, the Moulin Rouge, the Galeries Lafayette, and some other some stores, including the beautiful Épices Rœllinger. In the evening, the ESRs had dinner together and exchanged photos and shared stories of their experiences wandering the streets of Paris that day.
Day 4, 21 July: Eiffel Tower and Departure
On day four of the away weekend, their last day in Paris together, the ESRs headed off to the Eiffel Tower. Some of them managed to queue and get a ticket allowing them entry and the opportunity to head to the top, while others simply relaxed in the park nearby and enjoyed the view from the bottom. After a fun trip to the Tower, it was time for the ESRs to bid each other farewell and head off to the train station and begin their respective journeys home. All in all, the ESRs spent a very nice weekend together, filled with lots of laughter, fun and joyful experiences – personal, as well as academic – which made them all happy and achieved the aim of bringing the group closer together.