The year draws to a close, and December last year I wrote about the support of my family. I would like to do so again, as I believe so far that I am the only ESR to be raising kids alongside my work. It has been a challenge to travel and relocate, partly alone, partly together with the family for two years. I started making concrete plans in late November 2020 for the four of us — me, my partner Bryndís and my two sons Múli and Fróði — to move to Friedrichshafen late in January 2021. Covid came, and we decided to postpone for a month. Covid didn‘t leave and we decided to postpone for another month. With no end to Covid in sight by the end of March, it was just me that relocated to Germany. It was not until August that my family finally made it over, my four year old started kindergarten and my nine year old started school. But a serious of complications led to us reconsidering our plans to stay until the end of 2023. Instead, we departed Germany in December a year ago for Iceland where my family would live while I carried out my secondments in spring this year. Although this frustrated our original intentions of living three years abroad together, bringing the family back to Iceland was the right decision.
I left for Wolverhampton for my first secondment at first chance in January this year, and although the spring was challenging I‘ve found myself reflecting very positively on my experiences in the West Midlands and London in January, February and March and Edinburgh in April, May and June. Indeed, I was warmly received by John Roberts, Alexei Penzin, Meena Dhanda and Fabian Erwig during my time at Wolverhampton, and by Angela Dimitrakakis in Edinburgh later in the spring. Not only did they offer valuable reflections and sound advice in relation to my research development, but also took the time to show me around and help me get settled. This time however, would have been unimaginable without my amazing partner Bryndís, my parents, my two sisters and the extended family I have in Iceland, who have been taking care of everything I neglect in my absence.
This situation, which continued in Germany after the completion of my secondments and after a wonderful summer vacation in Iceland, was certainly not how I envisaged the three years of my PhD. While I certainly do not take for granted the liberty of being constantly absent, I had no designs on conducting most of the time in my PhD split between my obligations as a researcher in one country — and my obligations as a father in another. Me and my partner were seriously intent on making these obligations coincide in Friedrichsahfen for three years with the exception of the secondments. But life happens and plans change. For this reason, I am now revelling in the brief respite of having returned to Iceland for Christmas, enjoying the first christmas snows with my kids, building snowmen and igloos after work and taking them to the swimming pool or the forest where my partner works on weekends when the working week is over.
For this reason, I feel compelled to use the opportunity of this last blog of the year, just as last year, to express from the bottom of my heart how grateful I am to my partner, my sons, friends and family and everyone else who have offered flexibility and support during the past two years. Also, as I wish everyone restful and merry holidays, I want to especially mention the faculty and staff at Zeppelin University, my professor Karen van den Berg, Rahel Spöhrer, Marie-Sophie Usadel, Philippe Kleinmichel, all of my dear fellow ESRs, as well as the extended network of collaborators and beneficiaries that are FEINART. I have had a lovely, challenging, and eventful year full of new encounters, growth and learnings. Gleðileg jól og farsælt nýtt ár.