From the 25th of October 2021 to the 25th of February 2022, my four-month secondment gave me the opportunity to have a fantastic and unique experience at BIOINICIA and live in Valencia.
I was very excited to start this new adventure, as it is my first experience working abroad, and I have been looking forward to it for some time. Of course, I’m in an international and multicultural research centre (INL, Portugal) where the mother language is English, and sometimes it feels like I’m not in Portugal. However, I’m still in my comfort zone. Thus, this experience was a once in a lifetime opportunity that allowed me to have the chance to meet new people, to know what it’s like to live in the centre of a big city for the first time and to improve my Spanish.
In 2021 I lived in Galicia for nine months, where I made many friends and enjoyed many typical Spanish dishes and places. However, since Portuguese and Galician are so similar, I couldn’t practise my Spanish as much as I wished. In Valencia, I was “forced” to speak every day in Spanish, which I liked because I improved my communication skills with a language that I learned to love, which could be an advantage for future collaborations.
On the other hand, I have been working with encapsulation technologies for six years, and this secondment allowed me to learn more about electrodynamic processing. I developed a project using electrospinning in the past. Now I learned how to use the electrospray technique using new equipment with the help of high-profile experts at BIOINICIA.
From the first moment in BIOINICIA, I felt very welcomed! I found a multicultural team very friendly and welcoming, providing a great work environment. One of the things that impressed me the most was how united and well organized they are. Everyone got along, and every day they invited everybody for a coffee break and to have lunch together where we could share stories about our lives and tell curiosities about our countries. That’s something that deserves to be appreciated. They were very kind to me and were always available to help me with my work-related issues and give me tips and advice on what to visit and do in Valencia and the surrounding area. Unfortunately, due to COVID restrictions, we couldn’t get together outside of work as much as we would like.
Concerning the work itself, I improved and learned more about electrodynamic processing, the electrospinning/electrospray equipment, and the influence of working parameters to develop and produce optimized micro/nanoparticles for the encapsulation of bioactive compounds.
Valencia was a wonderful and unexpected surprise! I didn’t know much about the city since it was never my first choice as a destination either for work or vacations, so I didn’t have high expectations. For that reason, I was so amazed by the quality of life, great weather, and all that the city offers. Moreover, the city has just the right size, neither too small nor too big and has everything to live with quality, comfort, and fun. I was fortunate enough to live in the city’s heart (Plaza del Ayuntamiento) and effortlessly enjoy all the city’s attractions. Valencia has beautiful gardens. My favourite is Turia garden, which is full of people doing several different activities and maybe where I spend most of my time outside work; a lot of squares, leisure spaces and sports fields; a unique and astonishing municipal market where you can find everything; outstanding delicious gastronomy, which I have to highlight the typical and famous rice dishes, seafood, “agua de Valencia” and orxata. Also, I enjoyed watching a game at Valencia CF stadium, the Bioparc, the city of art and sciences, and the beaches and marine area that are just 5km from the centre! In addition, luckily, I took my car and had the opportunity to visit some places and cities around, such as Parc Natural de l’Albuferal’Albufera, Port Sa Platja, Sagunto and Chulilla. The only thing I felt sorry for did not have the chance to attend the most famous traditional festivity of the city called Fallas that started in March, right after my departure.
Overall, this experience was better than I ever expected, and I loved every second of it. I certainly recommend BIOINICIA, Valencia and everything that this secondment encompasses to anyone who has the opportunity to do one. I will go back there one day to see the Fallas.
Thank you all so much for this unforgettable experience!