Holy cow! This past week, I was fortunate enough to have my long study tour where I got to explore Lisbon and Porto in Portugal. Here we explored everything from the cities themselves to the academic visits and what research they were doing. To make it easier and to tell the stories of the week, I decided to give a few emotions I experienced during the trip.
On Monday, happiness. Obviously, I was happy the whole time, but nothing beats a good beach trip. After one of our academic visits, we had a planned group lunch by the beachside. Getting there took a while but was fun to find out how the bus system worked. When we finally got there, I could see the entire Atlantic Ocean. It was beautiful, glistening with crashing waves lining the shore. We had some free time afterwards, where I decided to jump on in. While the water was utterly cold, the fact that I had to opportunity to experience both sides of the Atlantic in my lifetime produced volumes of happiness that I couldn’t believe. It truly was a dream come true.
On Wednesday, surprise. During our academic visit to iMM, the institute of molecular medicine, I was surprised to learn about what research they were doing there. Specifically, one of our hosts was working on developing a malaria vaccine. You don’t see this type of research often in the United States due to our geographical position. He mentioned that due to the difficulty of how malaria manifests within the liver and how many genes are associated (roughly 12,000), they had to come up with new ways to help people become immune. What did they decide on? They decided to infect mosquitos with a non-active bacterium for malaria in humans, and the most effective way is for people to literally have 300 mosquitos bit you over 3 days to reduce infection spread by 95%. I couldn’t even imagine what that would feel like, and honestly was surprised how difficult research can be sometimes.
On Wednesday, Excitement! I was given the opportunity to take over the DIS Copenhagen instagram page for the day where I got to show everyone what a day in the life might look like for a DIS student. It also included the iMM visit, but was super exciting to show everyone the city itself. This included taking a trip to the aquarium, pink street in downtown Lisbon, and the coolest food market I’ve ever been to. We also got to go to a castle on a mountain the day before! I had tuna from Azores with sweet potatoes and I think fish might be ruined forever after what I tasted. Holy cow it was good. It was exciting to see everyone tune in and join me!
On Thursday, Curiosity? After our morning academic visit to learn about stem cell engineering, we had the whole entire afternoon to explore on our own. We didn’t have any real plans, so a couple of my friends and I just let the wind take us wherever. We visited a monastery, got crepes TWICE, and even found some hidden gems. There was this balcony area we stumbled upon where I think I took the most beautiful picture I think I have ever taken (the first picture of this post!), and we even found random castle ruins we didn’t even know about. One of the funnier things we found is that there was a whole building dedicated to having elevators that took people down to the next street below. Lisbon, you’re weird.
On Friday, Peacefulness. After a grueling 3 ½ hour flight in the middle seat with some terrible turbulence while a rain storm was going on, it was so peaceful to be back home. Sure, Portugal was fun and exciting, but nothing beats sleeping in your bed. Copenhagen has truly become to feel like my home. It took a little bit, but after the trip it felt safe to be back somewhere I knew. Hygge as the Danes would say. I realized this on the metro ride where I was exhausted and annoyed that I HATE turbulence, but at peace. I’m glad I came here, but nothing will stop my wanderlust for the next great adventure. I’m at peace with that.