Secondment from NUIG, Galway, Ireland Sweden to E-NIOS, Athens, Greece.

ESR1 – Aitor Almanza Goikoetxea (Spain) 



I think it was last December when I learnt I was going on secondment to Greece. Some changes had occurred in the TRAINERS network and E-NIOS, a greek company based in Athens were included in the network as partner organization, taking up the bioinformatic duties. Can’t describe the excitement when I learnt about it, finally I was going back Greece.


It was going to be my 2nd time there, after a whole year in Thessalokini as part of an Erasmus exchange. So many memories, friends, experiences… remember crying in the airport and promising myself I would go back as soon as I had a chance. Eight years later and after cheating Greece with a few other countries I was going back at last.

Bus Galway – Dublin, 3 hours flight to Athens and here I am again. Having a gyros pita staring at the Acropolis, like nothing had changed. Just like the first time, still noisy, chaotic, dirty, hot, vibrant, and absolutely gorgeous. From there, hoop into a bus and head Nea Smyrni where I had rented a small apartment close to E-NIOS headquarters.


By week 2 I knew which the best souvlatzidiko on the neighbourhood was, the names of the sons of the fruit vendor across my building and people to play football with every Thursday. So easy, there should be more greeks in the world. Key part of that nice routine were the people at E-NIOS, friendly, laid back, patient, great people and great teachers, I can’t thank them enough for all the help and support.


Because the science part was sometimes challenging. Coming from a molecular biology background, computers can be sometimes scary, and it takes a while before one gets to speak the same language. However, with help I was able to learn methods, workflows, techniques, that allow a different approach to biological research. Methods that can complement molecular and cellular biology ways of doing research, skills that increase my toolbox and that I feel makes me a much more complete researcher. Looking forward to apply these new learnt skills to my project, to my host laboratory, and continue collaborating and working together with the people I met at E-NIOS.

Also looking forward to go back Greece as soon as I have a chance. Promise.