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A Chinese perspective of being a PhD student in Foulum

Yuan Yue from China tells about her experiences as an international student at the Department of Ani-mal Science, Aarhus University. According to Yuan Yue, there are big differences between Denmark and China when it comes to being a PhD student. She likes the Danish work environment, there are good research facilities and a good cooperation across research groups.

[Translate to English:] Yuan Yue blev anbefalet at søge til AU-Foulum af sin kinesiske vejleder, som havde været gæsteforsker ved AU-Foulum. Yuan er glad for sit valg.

Yuan Yue from China has just defended her PhD thesis in the Department of Animal Science entitled "The influence of vitamin D and antimicrobials (pheromonicin) in relation to the control of bovine mastitis". After the defense, she got a postdoc position in the department for eight months, and we caught her for some quick questions regarding her experiences as a PhD student.

What was your background?

I had a bachelor from China and came to Aarhus University with a two-year scholarship from China making it possible to do a kind of master at the same time as the PhD. My Chinese supervisor knew AU Foulum from a visit as a guest scientist and recommended me to apply for a position here. My first choice was to go to Japan, but I am very happy to be in Denmark, as experiencing another culture was the main thing for me.

What was it like to be a PhD student in Foulum?

It is very different to be a PhD student in China. In China, we respect our supervisors and usually follow their instructions. My experience in Denmark is that I can express my opinion freely and that my opinion counts. I feel relaxed and free.

I prefer the Danish work environment where research is the main focus. The research facilities – barns, laboratories and equipment – are good, and it is very positive that all work is platform based and is made across research teams resulting in a big and broad experience. In China, for example, every researcher has his own laboratory and limited cooperation with other researchers.

I also enjoy the social life, including coffee breaks, Friday bread, celebration cakes etc. For the first half a year, I lived in a residence hall where I got many international friends. Then I moved to the staff flats in Foulum. It is a little boring, but it works well for me, as I have to look after my experiment in the evenings and during weekends.

Did you get the help you needed when you moved to Denmark and started in the department?

Yes, my supervisors and the secretaries in the department helped a lot with everything from Invitation Letter, accommodation, health insurance card, the Citizen Service Centre etc. Even though Beijing is cold, my first impression of Denmark was that it is cold here! I arrived in March 2013, and the country was covered in snow, so it looked like a fairy tale country. Denmark is very nice and quiet, and I appreciate that the nature is so easy to access.

What was your PhD project about and what was your motivation for choosing this subject?

I studied how vitamin D influences certain immune parameters of healthy dairy cows and investigated the potential of vitamin D and a new antimicrobial pheromonicin-NM for controlling bovine mastitis. I have worked with cows in China and wanted to continue within this area. The idea for the project came from one of my supervisors after her participation in a conference.

If you are interested in learning more about Yuan Yue's experiences of studying in the Department of Animal Science, please contact her. You can find Yuan Yue's PhD thesis here.

Contact information:

Yuan Yue, Department of Animal Science, Aarhus University

E-mail: yuan.yue@anis.au.dk

Tel: +4587155987