Overseas Institutional Visit student blog: One month at the University of Barcelona

In June 2022 I had the chance to go on an overseas institutional visit (OIV) to the University of Barcelona and spend one month working with researchers in the Department of Economics. With lockdowns lifting, it was a great opportunity to meet other researchers in my field in person, to learn more about different contexts and angles of the work I am doing for my PhD, and to explore research questions which are not the direct focus of my PhD work.

The University of Barcelona at Avinguda Diagonal, 696 and Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes
The University of Barcelona at Avinguda Diagonal, 696 (left) and Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes (centre and right).

The OIV scheme is offered through the CDT, making it straightforward for students to set up. As COVID-induced travel stops lifted, I knew that I wanted to visit a research institution abroad to be able to learn about other contexts of my work and to work directly with other researchers. I applied to visit the University of Barcelona, and a few months later I was off to Spain. I’ve found the OIV scheme to have both expected and unexpected benefits. With lockdowns having made it difficult to build research networks, the OIV was a great way to work directly with other experts in my field. Unexpectedly, by being able to visit an economics department I was also able to learn more about the economic roots of the research I am doing, as well as familiarise myself with the diversity of research areas which fall under the economics umbrella. As my background is in Geography, it was super interesting to learn more about the economic history and perspectives of my research.

My time in Barcelona was also enriched by attending talks and workshops in the department. In my first week, I attended a lecture from the Kapuscinski Development Lecture Series and workshop by Seema Jayachandran. In addition to giving a lecture on gender differences in her research, she held a mentoring workshop session for young female researchers to support female PhD students in the pursuit of their professional goals. As an early-career female researcher, hearing her perspectives and advice was immensely helpful. During my OIV, the Department of Economics also hosted a conference on policy. Although the research presented at the conference was mainly related to education and health, whereas my own research looks at emissions, it helped deepen my understanding of impact-driven research and research-based policy.

I’m very grateful to have had the chance to go on an OIV and for how supportive the CDT is in providing these opportunities. For me, it was a great learning experience, which I can’t recommend enough. And of course, being able to explore the beautiful city of Barcelona on weekends and in the evenings was an added bonus…

Tourist attractions in Barcelona


This blog post was written by Lena Kilian, a Year 4 CDT student based at the University of Leeds. Her first PhD paper is published here.