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Emilie reflects on her experience as a visiting DPhil student with the Interdisciplinary Research in Health Sciences (IRIHS) team, or in her words ‘the best three months’ of her DPhil study!

picture from the Giving to the oxford institute of digital health brochure

Who am I and how did I get to join the IRIHS team?
My name is Emilie Mølholm Kjærulff.

I am trained as a medical anthropologist and employed at the Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen and affiliated with the University of Copenhagen, Institute of Public Health. As part of my DPhil study, I wanted to join a foreign research environment and connect with other researchers working on projects relevant to mine. This, I hoped, would inspire new perspectives on my DPhil study and be an exciting experience of living abroad.

I applied for an exchange with IRIHS because this team has expertise in integrating social science perspectives in health services research, particularly within the field of chronic illness management and digital health. After an interview, I was honoured to be accepted. Admittedly, I was a bit nervous prior to my arrival in Oxford, but this feeling disappeared on my first day in the office. I was greeted with coffee, tea, and cake, and I immediately felt part of the team.

Excellent feedback culture and interdisciplinary research environment
During my stay, I was able to make significant progress with my thesis as I could focus on finishing the writing of my articles. I also participated in many activities such as seminars, teaching sessions and workshops (some of which included a nice dinner or a pint and punt on the river!). These activities introduced me to researchers and students from different professional fields and they gave me insight into current IRIHS projects. I contributed with knowledge from my own project and did a couple of presentations for the team. For example, I practised a poster presentation for a conference, and the team provided positive and constructive feedback, which inspired me to add some details to my poster. Sharing my research, whether through presentations or informal feedback sessions on article drafts, was a very fruitful experience and it helped me connect with colleagues who had similar research interests.

I believe IRIHS has an excellent feedback culture in which input from colleagues with different professional backgrounds is highly valued. Furthermore, both benefits and challenges of interdisciplinarity are discussed, and this encourages critical and important reflections on our research.

Oxford is stunning!
The city of Oxford is big enough to have numerous cosy pubs and bars and some good restaurants, yet it is small enough to quickly feel like your new home. You walk among picturesque colleges, libraries, and churches, some of which are almost a thousand years old.

The historical and cultural atmosphere of Oxford is incredible – Harry Potter fan or not – you cannot deny that there is a certain magic to this. Finally, Oxford has a lot of green spaces. I went on a lot of hikes with my husband, who joined me for two months of my stay.

There are beautiful walks along the River Thames, meadows, parks, and the hills surrounding Oxford. After the hikes, we would often go for a ‘Sunday Roast’ at The Magdalen Arms or Chester Arms – the latter serves the best fish and chips I have ever had. The downside to Oxford: it is quite expensive to live there! I was fortunate to have funding, but I advise you to investigate your funding and housing options.  


Opinions expressed are those of the author/s and not of the University of Oxford. Readers' comments will be moderated - see our guidelines for further information.


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