Secondment from LBG, Vienna, Austria to NUIG, Galway, Ireland

AndreiaESR9 – Andeia Luís (Portugal)

Exchange period: from  10/07/2017 to 08/09/2017

Once Albert Einstein wrote

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.”

And, that was how I was feeling when I moved to Galway, in Ireland.  I was living abroad for 1 year and half, in Vienna, Austria. Therefore, I was pretty sure that this new change would be a “piece of cake”.

But it was not! Again I had the so called “culture shock” while I was living there.

Galway is completely green, a fairytale city. Did I mention green? Yes, green is exactly the word to describe Galway and Ireland. Landscapes are so mesmerizing, that it makes us feel like we’re living in one of those beautiful museum paintings. Nonetheless, Galway is not only green, but it has also huge sea sites, located on the west coast. It became one of my favorite moments, during my time in Galway, enjoying my free time, watching the sea side. It was obviously when the weather allowed it – Ireland is also known for its super grey clouds and horizontal rain. Those made me have a different concept of Summer. At some point, it made me feel like a Jon Sow, where I had to say his know and famous words – The Winter is coming!

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I was going to work in the Hogwarts of Galway. Yes! It is the National University of Ireland, in Galway. It is one of the most idyllic buildings that I have ever seen hosting and being an university. However, my Harry Potter spirit was more focused in the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science (NCBES) where Prof Afshin Samali has his lab. And, where I worked for 2 months for my research PhD project. My purpose for this period was to screen ER stress-related proteins as p-PERK, ATF4, CHOP, p-eIF2α, XBP1s in sepsis and traumatic-hemorrhagic shock tissue samples. The complications of sepsis and traumatic-hemorrhagic shock remain the main problem after accidents and operations in the intensive care units. And, the death of patients in this condition still has no clear rational explanation. Therefore, the identification of the UPR mechanism having the highest impact on the organ failure induced by shock can contribute to the development of a powerful therapeutic strategy.

While in Ireland, not only Science was feeding me, I was also delighted with the traditional Irish Breakfast, it was for sure one of my favorite dishes there. The black and white pudding provided me a completely a new gastronomic experience. It was also time to take advantage of all the sea food that we can have in Galway, such as mussels and oysters.

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Another big highlight in Galway is the diversity of street performers that are daily performing, giving life to the main streets, in the city center.

The pubs are also one of the main attractions in the town (not only for tourists!). There are many different ones around town with a special Celtic environment.

Speaking of Celtic environment, I need also to refer the wild landscapes in the Cliffs of Moher. This viewpoint was for sure one of the most breathtaking views that I was able to enjoy during my secondment.

I had also the chance to attend some local events, such as the frenetic horse race that takes place over one week and everyone is dressing fancy as possible.

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Chetan (ESR 12) and Antonio (ESR 10) were also in Afshin´s lab during my secondment. Having them around gave me more support in this exchange. Not only we had the opportunity to discuss more closely our “ER stress” questions but also we shared some moments and had fun together.

For us (Antonio and I) was also time for a big experience with Indian food cooked by our private Michelin star – Chetan Chintha. I will always miss his food!

Likewise, I received strong support from all Afshin´s lab group members. I had great research advices from Karolina, Ben, Izabella, Argha, Eoghan and Aaron. Dr. Shane Deegan and Dr. Susan Logue were essential for my successful work at the NUIG secondment. Thank you all!

Last but never least, I would like to thank Prof Afshin Samali for all the care and for making this Marie Curie fellow experience possible.

As for you, Ireland, I know is not “goodbye”, it’s just a “see you soon”.

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