By Kristinn Edvardsson,

Having started my journey into ABM at the wrong end so to speak, I felt it was time for me to start learning ABM like a normal person, at the beginning.

I registered for a beginners course on ABM in Brescia Italy that was held between the 20th and 24th of June. My network was meeting at the Manchester Metropolitan University between the 5th and 10th of the same month. Between the two events I had a one-week gap which I thought to myself would be good to fill with a mini secondment at the Centre of Policy modelling at MMU and learn about ABM from the experts there. It seems to be a pattern for me not be able to follow the guidelines: I either do an extended secondment or a mini secondment. I have heard jokes about how Icelanders consider rules more as general suggestions, perhaps there is some truth to that.

On the one hand, as a beginner at ABM, there is hardly a better place to start learning the trade than the Centre for Policy Modelling in the hands of Bruce Edmonds and Ruth Meyer. On the other hand, it can be quite intimidating when you realise just how little it is that you actually know about the subject. This fear of my inadequacies subsided really fast because I was surrounded by my fellow students who are at various stages in their work and really helpful.

Having already laid down the foundations for mine and Cezara´s  ABM, which has had many working titles ranging from the fairy fish project to the Icelandic costal community model, we were glad to be getting some professional feedback. Bruce arranged for a discussion session where we presented our work to his team, and then discussions followed. Our plan is quite grandiose (or so I believed at first) as we are attempting to model the fishing industry of a whole country. Don´t worry, dear reader, it is a very small country of 320.000 souls, give or take, that looks bigger than it actually is (depending on the map projections of course). The fear I had was that this would be impossible, but still I pushed on because I liked the idea and put faith in Cezara´s endless confidence in the idea, and now I felt judgement was upon us. The modelling experts were not disturbed in the slightest and showed little negative (as I expected) or positive (as I had hoped for) emotions. I fact they seemed to think this would quite doable and the only thing they commented on in passing was that this might require more time than we were planning for.

Puzzled by this open mindedness and general optimism on behalf of our supervisors and peers, I was glad to have the Curry mile close at hand to provide some comfort in the form of exotic food. The Curry mile is an interesting little street in Manchester where a concentration of mainly middle eastern and Indian restaurants coupled with others from every corner of the globe offer their cuisines to the weary modeller. However, the Curry mile pales in significance to an old Irish family recipe that our lovely fellow student Lia Aodha cooked for us at the end of our stay, Thank you Lia!

I think I am missing Manchester already.

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