18.000 km, 6 weeks and 2 findings – Philipp Diebold’s research stay in New Zealand

A research stay abroad is at the top of the wishlist for many students and doctoral candidates. Philipp Diebold spent six weeks on the other side of the world, in the country of Kiwis, Frodo and Mordor: New Zealand. The Munich-born participant was able to finance his research stay with help from Software Campus.

Philipp got to know a total of four universities. After a week on the North Island at the University of Auckland, he spent the remaining five weeks on the South Island, mainly at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch. From here he visited two other universities, Lincoln University near Christchurch and the University of Otago in the coastal town Dunedin.

Here he met with New Zealand research colleagues, with whom he now had the chance to closely exchange ideas on site. The four recently submitted a joint paper for an international symposium. Philipp noticed that a long distance can also have its advantages. “The work was completed quickly because someone was always able to work on it, 24 hours a day. When I had written part of it and sent it away in the evening, my colleague in New Zealand just got up and continued working on it. When I woke up the next morning, the new version of the paper was already waiting in my mailbox.”

What insights did Philipp gain concerning management and leadership? “When working together from a distance, email communication reaches its limits. I realized how important personal exchange is for project management. After my actual work at the university, I probably spent two hours a day on skype meetings with project staff and students. I wouldn’t have estimated this management effort to be so high before.”

Personal communication was already a high priority for Philipp, he would have liked to make more use of it. “I remember a seminar I attended at the Software Campus. It was on intercultural communication and the coach gave each of us the task to set personal goals. At the time, I decided to put more emphasis on personal communication. But when the coach asked us after 2 weeks whether we had achieved our goals, nothing had changed for me. In New Zealand, I realized I couldn’t get around it,” he says with a smirk on his face.

And his personal conclusion? My first advice to anyone planning a research stay in New Zealand: Add more holidays after you are done!” After his six weeks of research, Philipp had one week off, in which his brother visited him, and they explored the South Island together. If you ask him about his most beautiful experience, he names the almost Caribbean-like Abel Tasman National Park, which the two brothers explored by canoe and on foot. “The landscapes are so incredibly diverse: volcanoes in the north, snow-capped mountains in the south and rainforest in between. You can visit five continents in just one weekend”. And whoever listens to Philipp is sure: It was certainly not his last visit there.

More News