January 09th 2023

International Research - Inspiration & Learnings from Finland & Canada

Monica Nadegger, PhD student at MCI Tourism, about her two research stays in Finland and Canada:

As part of my PhD studies, it was time to "pack my bags!" in 2022. Besides the conference trips, after two years of pandemic, the chance for two longer research stays in Finland and Canada had finally come. I will briefly explain the reasons for a research stay in a doctoral program and research in general, present the advantages (but also challenges) of these adventures and share beautiful moments from these stays in Rovaniemi/Finland and Montréal/Canada.

Research stay - Why should I do it?
A doctoral program is about developing one's own scientific skills in research and teaching and thus contributing to a thematic field in (tourism) research. However, since research never works "alone" but thrives on exchange with other researchers, research stays at other universities are an important part of developing one's own skills, learning from experienced researchers and making new contacts for future projects. That's why I decided to do two longer stays in 2022: four months at the University of Lapland (Research Community "Sustainable Naturecultures and Multispecies Future") and six months at the Université de Montréal and the Université du Québec à Montréal (both at the Department for Communication).

Research stay - Where exactly?
The choice of university should reflect your own research interests. My research is concerned with new organizational forms and practices, e.g. in protest movements, but also in challenging work processes in tourism and leisure research. Exactly this expertise was also important to me in the research sites. What do I expect from the colleagues on site? What skills can I learn there that are not available in Innsbruck, or not as pronounced? At the University of Lapland (Rovaniemi, Finland), there is a strong group of researchers around Prof. Outi Rantala and Anu Valtonen with the ILA Research Group, who deal with alternative, critical and new perspectives on tourism and have expertise both in ethnographic field research and in publishing in top tourism journals. At the Université de Montréal (UdeM) and the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), the research area in organizational and communication studies is one of the world's leading. Feedback from experienced researchers, such as François Cooren (UdeM), Consuelo Vásquez (UQAM), or Nicolas Bencherki (TELUQ) is more than valuable here for the further development of one's own work in the field of management. Strategic know-how also counts here: How can I publish research? How can I apply for future research funding?

Research stay - How does it work?
As nice as research stays are, they can be tedious and time-consuming. Additional funding, remote working, visa applications, relocation, new languages, new culture - these are just the big building blocks on a path full of smaller hurdles. So the first step is always funding, because unfortunately nothing works without it. In a PhD program, this is usually a bit more complicated than with ERASMUS in a Bachelor's or Master's program. To secure research funding for my stays, I have (so far) written about 100 pages of applications and about 20 pages of final project reports, fought my way through a working visa process for Canada for four months, and studied countless hours of flight and travel regulations in the post-pandemic chaos - just to give you a figure for the effort. Even though in my case the funding worked out through a scholarship from the University of Innsbruck and the Marietta Blau Scholarship, success is never guaranteed. So these stays also involve a lot of uncertainty, administration, dealing with authorities, project reports and time. And of course, the real work only begins on site. The double burden of getting involved in a new department and at the same time doing the work remotely from Innsbruck leads to very long weeks. So it's rarely boring, and unfortunately it's not usually a case of "pack your bags and just go" - as it is on holiday.

Research stay - Yes, please!
In conclusion, however, I would like to point out the good times in addition to the professional benefits, of course. New people, exciting projects, new cultures and unforgettable experiences are as important a part as the research itself. Without my stay in Rovaniemi, I probably would never have had my first experience of ice bathing or learned to love sauna culture so much. The time in Montréal convinced me that it is also possible to live and enjoy exciting and wonderful life in big cities far away from Serles & Innsbruck. The most beautiful thing, however, are the warm, heartfelt and unforgettable encounters. Because even though you face temperatures around -20°C or colder in both Rovaniemi and Montréal, every welcome was warm and heartfelt.

Nähdään pian, Rovaniemi!
À la prochaine, Montréal !