Writing Retreat workshop at Caldes de Malavella

By Keerthana, Daniela, and Lipa

After a weekend embraced by the charm of windy weather and heavy rains, all the Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) gathered in the Catalan countryside at Caldes de Malavella in the Girona province of Spain. This time it was for a writing workshop led by Matthias Koschorreck from Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Germany, with the help of Rafael Marce and Susana Bernal from Centre for Advanced Studies, Núria Catalán from Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research, and Daniel Mercardo from The Catalan Institute for Water Research. The idea behind the workshop was to kindle creativity and focused work, the writing workshop was organized in a picturesque and quiet rural house – Can Piferrer –away from our usual work environments.

The week kicked off with shopping and cooking for the welcome dinner. Despite the exhaustion from traveling, we enjoyed a productive introduction session where we caught up on each other’s work and discussed our goals for the week. Over the next two days, we engaged in a balanced mix of short lectures and exercises, which helped us in defining the key messages of our manuscripts, drafting their abstracts, and formulating their outline. Following this, we felt inspired to dive into the sections we needed to work on the rest of the days, while also benefiting from personal interviews with our mentors, who provided valuable feedback to each of us.

Can Piferrer provided the perfect backdrop for a captivating fusion of culinary expertise and companionship to flourish among the ESRs. Our culinary odyssey spanned continents and cultures, from the enticing aromas of Persian-inspired chicken to the comforting embrace of shakshouka and the indulgent richness of beef bourguignon. During downtime in the afternoons, you would find some ESRs partaking in a game of football, walking around the nearby fields, or exploring the surroundings on bike.

March’s abundance of birthdays set the stage for a joyous celebration honoring Faluku, Sabin, Rafa, and Ricardo. After a day filled with writing on Thursday, some in the group took advantage of the warm weather to bike to Cala Sa Conca where they met the rest of the group for celebratory sundowners on the beach. As the night progressed, festivities reached a peak with an intricately prepared dinner topped off with cake, culminating in an enthusiastic karaoke session honoring Rafa’s milestone birthday.

Active engagement during the writing phase was the core philosophy of this workshop with personalized feedback sessions, constructive discussions about scientific writing, and dedicated time for writing. The collective organization of meals provided an opportunity for ESRs to showcase their culinary skills, or lack thereof (i.e. burnt walnuts), and entrenched our bond further!

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