Courses and city breaks

Hi Everyone,

I hope you are all doing great in this pretty busy period of the year. It is nice to read about all the conferences and workshops all of you are attending to represent the FoodSmartphone project. I can’t even believe that it has almost been a year since I became a part of the project. So much has happened since then and there is even more to do in the upcoming years.

A couple of weeks ago I held my first scientific presentation in front of our research group which was the first time that I had to give a talk about the project in a formal environment. First I gave a general overview on the state of the art regarding food safety and amperometric immunosensors and then I explained to them the concept of the FoodSmartphone project and my individual project and progress so far. At first I was terrified even thinking about presenting in front of 20 people, especially because I am a pretty quiet person in general and it is not easy for me to fill up a room with my voice. But I have to say that as I went on with the presentation I became a bit more confident and was able to speak louder. However, it would be incredibly beneficial if I could attend a course on the tricks of oral presentations, since I am still lacking a lot of skills in this regard. Speaking about courses I have attended my first training course here at CSIC a few weeks ago. It was a course on statistics and data evaluation and since the last time I have studied about these methods was during my Bachelor’s degree, it was really useful to refresh my memory and to learn to analyse data with the use of the STATA software. Furthermore the course was in Spanish, so you can imagine that it was a bit exhausting trying to understand the language and the scientific part at the same time. Thank god at least the software and the programming commands were in English! I have also started to do a 5 week long on-line English course on scientific writing, which is a bit more work than I have anticipated and makes me feel like I am back in high school with all the homework, but it has some pretty interesting lectures and I hope that I will be able to use the skills acquired for the writing of scientific papers.

As you have already read Safiye has been to our lab for a short secondment in April. It was really nice to have her here, I enjoyed showing her the city while discussing the progress of our projects and giving each other ideas for future experiments. We have also talked a lot about the ups and downs of our PhD lives, which was also great, since we perfectly understood what the other one was going through.

Showing Safiye around Barcelona

A few weeks ago I have also attended a Lateral Flow Test workshop in Zaragoza with Raheel and Safiye. Even though the course was really intense and we didn’t have a lot of time to rest, I think we have all enjoyed it. We had lectures from 8 in the morning until 5-6 pm including some practical sessions as well, which were really interesting. We had the chance to make our own lateral flow tests for the detection of the hormone hCG. In the evenings they organized walking tours for us where we were able to discover the most important sights of the city finishing with typical Spanish tapas dinners that lasted until 11-12 pm.

Discovering beautiful Zaragoza during the Lateral Flow Test workshop

As I have mentioned in my previous blog I have started to go to an art course. It is twice a week at nights and I have been finding it really useful for disconnecting and taking my thoughts off of work for a while.  We have started with a simple pencil and paper and now we are drawing with pastels, acquiring the tricks of the different techniques.

Apart from work and training I tried to take advantage of the few long weekends that we had these last months. My first trip this year was during Easter to Paris. I have never been there, so I was incredibly excited to go and see if it really is a city as magical as everyone says and I have to say I wasn’t disappointed. It quickly became one of my favourite cities that I have visited so far. Even though it was still pretty cold winter weather, I had an amazing time there. The whole city has an indescribable enchanting atmosphere, I completely understand why it has always been one of the most important centres of art (I had an amazing time discovering all the museums and churches). If it wasn’t for the cold and the lack of time, I would have walked alongside the river Saina for days just admiring the combination of nature and architecture. I will definitely have to go back there during warmer days.

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Some of my favourite sights in the magical city of Paris

I have also spent a long weekend in the northern part of Italy, in Bergamo. What made the biggest impression on me was Lago di Como, which is an incredibly beautiful lake between ranges of mountains. The whole scenery made me feel like I was part of a painting.

Bergamo and beautiful Lago di Como

Just two weeks ago with my friends from university we have visited a friend of ours in Brussels. Apart from visiting the capital we took a daytrip to Bruges, which is just the cutest little town one can imagine. It has narrow streets with colourful houses, beautiful churches and a small river trickling alongside the city. It was really nice to see my friends again after months, we have truly enjoyed our time there.

The enchanting city of Bruges

I am really excited about my next travel to Prague where I will get to meet you all and learn about your progress while we can discover another beautiful city together!

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