Finally it is warmer, and with the sun shining more often, Düsseldorf reveals its summer charm.
My apartment is in a relatively quiet part of Düsseldorf, close to the Rhine, and when I went on an explorative cycle tour for the first time, I unexpectedly found myself on a nice path in between the river and farming fields, reminding me of Holland. Playing tourist with friends is so much nicer when the weather is good, when you can hop from terrace to terrace enjoying the sun and the views. Although I get to know the city better, find more favorite places, meet new people, I still miss my home country and mostly my friends. Even though it is relatively easy to hop on a train on a Friday afternoon, I realize it’s not just the physical distance that makes it difficult sometimes, but also the ease of communication outside of the lab. My German is improving (slooowly, I'm just not such a language person), but it still feels like barrier between me and the people around me. It just needs some time.
Of course most time is spent at the lab, working hard (or pretending to, or not pretending to and playing darts in the kitchen…). One thing I have learned so far as PhD student: patience is not a bad trait to have. My experiment with Parkinson patients is on hold due to unexpected delays with regard to ethical approval. It seems the rules have become stricter and for every adaptation in the protocol I have to wait until the next committee meeting. We would have started in May, but if we’re lucky we might be able to start in July.
Fortunately, in the meantime there are several other projects I can work on. One of them is a review. I thought that writing a review for publication would not be much different than, for example, writing a literature thesis. Of course, the general idea is the same, except that I now check and rewrite every sentence several times, am overly worried I might overlook an important paper and am more restricted in terms of length. It's a thrill though, knowing that it will actually be published... Hopefully! I very much enjoy writing, but now, after several grant proposals and now this review, I’m a bit done with sitting behind my computer whole days and hope I can soon start collecting some data!
As I am in the ‘Comparative Psychology’ lab, most people in my group investigate social/economic behavior in rats. On my agenda is a similar experiment as the (human) Parkinson experiment, but with rats, recording activity in the reward circuitry while they are on and off deep brain stimulation and performing a choice task. The task itself is now tested by one of my colleagues, and I have to wait for some practical issues to be cleared before I can start. As it is a relatively young lab, the electrophysiology equipment needs to be set up, as well as the DBS equipment. Stuff needs to be ordered, and so again I have to wait a bit, but there is progress.