Attending the ABC Summer School

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As I told earlier, I spent two weeks in Amsterdam in June studying, cycling and seeing the city. Now the summer school is over and it’s time to make a short summary about things I learned and experienced. To be honest, I wanted to write a travelogue to my blog, but sorry to say I was far too busy and exhausted to do that during my trip. The course itself was very challenging for a part-time student like me, but after two weeks of school work I completed the course along with my young student colleagues.

Students from the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Romania… and Finland

ABC Summer School 2018 brought together students from different universities all over Europe. There were students at least from the Netherlands, Poland, Germany, Romania, Canada… and me from Finland. The major part of the students were studying in the research master program in the University of Amsterdam, but many of them were also studying different master’s degrees in the University of Leiden, Utrecht University, the Hague Universitythe Radboud University in Nijmegen and many others.

I don’t study in a master’s program, so it was a bit tough to adapt to studying in English in such a short time we had in Amsterdam – especially when the terminology of neuroscience was quite unfamiliar to me. However, in my opinion, I succeeded quite well despite some difficulties I had with the topic.

Excellent lessons

The course itself consisted of two parts: 1) lessons and 2) workshops. Or actually there was also the third and the most important part, which is my own learning and time used to it. But that is quite an obvious part of studying, so I concentrate on the first two parts. Of course I could have used more time for my own reading, but there was also much to see in Amsterdam, and I had decided to take it a bit easier with the course. In the workshops we were instructed by tutors, and our goal was to create three things for our research plan: 1) a study proposal, 2) an A0-sized poster and 3) a pecha kucha presentation. For these things we had two weeks of time, so we couldn’t really waste time during the course.

Every morning from Monday to Friday days started with morning lessons given by professors from different universities. They all spoke of different fields of neuroscience. Topics were from their own interests and study projects. All these phenomena were researched by the methods of neuroscience. For example my own interest is understanding decision-making, that was introduced by for example prof. dr. Berna Güroglu, whose traffic example was pretty much like my own plan in my previous post. Traffic is an interesting subject, because it includes so many common rules and ways of acting. Traffic is also a social environment, where we have to take other people into account. Our own research plan was to try to model these social environmental stimuli on norm compliance, which made traffic example very interesting, too.

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Prof. dr. Berna Güroglu talked for example about decision-making in traffic.

Study proposal, poster and pecha kucha presentation

For me it was completely a new thing to do a study proposal, poster and pecha kucha presentation of our research plan, so already seeing the form of them was new for me. But I got really good advices from my student colleagues and tutor for doing them. For them all these things seemed to be a business as usual type of thing in their studies, so I had excellent exercise when participating our team work and seeing my student colleagues working.

Study proposal, as I understood it right, is the document, that is done at first when planning a research. It’s like a supporting framework for all the other things, and with your proposal you sell your idea to for example university and to potential financiers. But when I wrote my own master’s thesis in 2012–13, I didn’t write any kind of proposal, although I should have written if I consider it now. Anyway. I wrote my thesis without any proposal and that’s it. But if you want to do a real research, that you want to sell to someone, a study proposal and a poster are probably something you should do.

So, we did our proposal and poster plus prepared our pecha kucha presentation, that we gave to the other students and tutors. And here’s our poster, where we could have used a bit more pictures. But anyway, in my opinion that was the best research poster I have ever done. Let’s forget the fact, that it’s also the only one I’ve ever done. Anyway, it was also interesting to see and hear the other students’ research plans and how they had planned to research the phenomena they were interested in. Some of the students told, that they are really going to put their plans into practice in the future. That sounds great, when these students were able to use this course as a stepping stone towards their own research.

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Presenting the posters of the research plans.


Final thoughts of the course

The course was very interesting, and it gave me a lot to think about – which obviously was the main point when attending the course. First of all it was really nice to be able to participate the ABC Summer School 2018. All the people were very supportive and nice, and the course itself was well organized. I want to thank the staff of Amsterdam Brain and Cognition unit for these excellent two weeks. I really keep my thumbs up for you and also all my student colleagues from different universities. Many of them are going to do their master’s thesis in the near future, and they’ll need a lot of positive energy to their work.

My time in Amsterdam was really intensive, but also very nice and rewarding. I also learned a lot, and was able to use my English in practice, which was one of the main points when decided to study abroad. I really recommend this kind of combination for anyone interested in both traveling and learning.