PFTC5 post-course blog post

One of my goals for this course was to meet my future colleagues at the University of Bergen, since I just got a position there a few weeks before the field course. The crisis situation in which we ended up gave me a lot more than what I could have hoped for. Getting to know someone outside of their comfort zone, in a stressful situation is far more informative than in a business as usual situation. Plus, from my personnal experience, it is often out of the worst situations that you get the best memories and friendships. I am probably now a lot more connected with my new colleagues than if we had met on a normal field course.

On the science side I was supposed to get some experience with the use of drones for remote sensing of canopy reflectance. Due to technical difficulities (very nice way of saying that we crashed the drone on the first day) and lack of time to solve them, we did not do much of this. The covid-19 situation did not allow us to solve the troubles we had with our work. So I did not really get any practical experience with the drone and that is of course slightly disappointing. On the other hand, it gave me the opportunity to join other groups. By changing groups several times, I managed to get a nice overview of what we were doing. This was very beneficial since many aspects of this field course were new to me.

Obviously I did not learn what I expected. But I will remember that the saying «hope for the best, prepare for the worst» is also valid in field science. Beside I would add that the more technological you go, the more prepared for failure you need to be. I think this is a valuable learning output given the situation.

But most importantly, I have learned that there is hope is our chaotic world and the bigger crisis expected in the futur. Movies and litterature describe humans as selfish, agressive and autodestructive in a situation of chaos and danger. What happened in our situation was the exact opposite. Everybody remained very raisonnable and decent. The best of each individual came out, and people were actually taking care of each other. While locked down, which was a stressful situation for everyone, we managed to create an environment in which everyone could find a spot to deal with their problems. From going offline to ensure the best quality possible for a colleague remotely defending her thesis to avoiding people requiring more personnal space, great solidarity appeared. Conflicts had almost nothing to stand on, because everyone was able to talk about their concerns and issues, and everyone was able to listen and adapt.
We quickly understood that solidarity was the only way out of this situation that would keep us safe and sane. Seeing this solidarity appearing as a resilience strategy in our group, despite a stressful and critical situation, is my biggest lesson from this experience.

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