|Bianca de Lucani|
Erasmus program was a fulfilling experience which allow me to know only grow as a researcher but also motivate me to continue my studies. Before going to Barcelona this year I was going through a rough time. In the beginning of the year, I found out I did not get my scholarship to continue my PhD studies in chemistry and also that my husband was moving away to Denmark looking for other professional opportunities. Erasmus experience enriched my life in such a way that it gave the motivation and stimulus needed for me to finish my studies when nothing else could.
The process to enroll in the Erasmus program to legally be able to come to Centre for International Health Research (CRESIB) initially look very complicate but thanks to Elisabete Rodrigues’ (from Faculdade de Ciencias da Univeridade do Porto) help and guidance through the process every step was more simple and easy to carry than it looked. I very much thank to Elisabete Rodrigues for being so kind and help me find solutions and not problems in order to enroll in the Erasmus program.
Since the moment I arrived to CRESIB to start my Erasmus program I felt very much welcome. I was assigned a desk and a space to do the experimental work and safety goggles and a lab coat were given to me. I had nothing to worry but to do my work and meet the assigned goals which were mainly to detect antibody responses to multiple P. falciparum antigens by Luminex in Mozambican children participating in Phase IIb trial of RTS,S. Once I had finished testing the 400 samples (Plasma from African Children) for seven different time points a total of 2800 samples, I had two weeks left to analyze the results (Picture. a). Initially, I felt overwhelm with the amount of work to be done in only three months but the lab adviser, Joe campo, who closely helped and taught me the procedures to test the different samples during my stay was fun, patient, and knowledgeable (Pic. b) and motivate me to do each experiment with the same high energy from the beginning to end of my stay in the CRESIB.
Every member of the team was kind and there was not a day when someone in the research group did not want to work. Motivation, enthusiasm, and energy were never missing in the research group. The happiness that brought me to do my job encouraged me each day to wake up with a big smile in my face to start the new business day (Pic. c). We had group meeting every other week where two member of team discussed in detail their work and later each member told us a bit about their recent work. Also, we have journal meeting every other week and seminar each week except in August. In the journal meeting, two team members presented each a paper and in the seminar sometimes people came from other countries, for instance, Peru, to tell us a bit about their research.
One time I had an accident doing one of the experiments in the laboratory, unfortunately, one of the plasma sample splash in face, specifically, cheeks and lips. I was taken to the hospital and I was never alone. Although I was wearing my safety glasses and lab coat, I felt a bit scare because we basically don’t know the content of the samples but until we finish all the experiments. However, since I had the insurance to be able to do Erasmus Program, nobody denied me medical care. They took me to Urgency in the Hospital Clinic and the doctor say there was not trouble because the sample we used were not fresh (recently taken out from a patient) but there were in a refrigerator and when they are taken out from the freezer and they reach room temperature most virus die. Also, it did not splash in my eyes. Therefore, they let me go telling me not to worry because nothing serious happened.
I made great friends in the lab and one of them was carrying a baby and gave birth to a handsome and healthy baby boy just before I left Barcelona (Pic. f). In my goodbye party, 20 people from the research group were there. The restaurant was made for 14 people but I talk to the owner and he found some other chairs and tables and he made the restaurant for 20 (Pic. g). We ate sushi for a good price and I say some words to thank them all for my experience and some tears came out. Although my money expenses were tight and my family was going through a hard time economically speaking, and the Erasmus scholarship did not arrive on time to help me in the moment, I was very much HAPPY because nothing else missed during my three months stay in CRESIB in Barcelona and I am thankful to Erasmus program for allowing to going to CRESIB.