By Liz Hannon
As a European languages graduate I lived and worked in Barcelona and Alicante for a year after college as part of the IBEC European Orientation Programme and have been enamoured with the Spanish language, culture and people ever since. The opportunity to return to Barcelona and to use my language and administrative skills as part of the 3DNeonet project on behalf of UCD has been fantastic.
I received a warm Catalan welcome from my host company Xenopat who offer pre-clinical and personalised cancer treatment services to academic research groups, companies, patients and medical consultants in the development of cancer therapeutics.
It was inspiring working alongside Anna Portela, CEO of Xenopat, to learn first-hand how a small company uses their scientific expertise to provide the tools for ground-breaking developments in cancer research.
I worked with Xenopat on communications and market research, applying and sharing my experience of working with academics and researchers in the UCD School of Medicine and UCD School of Biomolecular & Biomedical Science (SBBS) over the last 6.5 years. I have now experienced, from another perspective, how academic research groups and companies collaborate internationally in the advancement of cancer research.
I spoke only Spanish at work every day, attended Spanish classes in the city centre Tuesday and Thursday evenings and on Friday evenings I took a private class in Catalan. During our lunchtimes together, Anna and Rosa who are native Catalan speakers, very patiently listened and helped as I tried to construct basic sentences in ‘Català’! Que bé!
I experienced once again, life as a temporary resident in Barcelona, surrounded by the magic of Antoni Gaudí and modernista architecture, the gorgeous food and weather and at the weekends I travelled to see spectacular events in the Catalonian region including the Castells (human towers) of Tarragona, the feast of Corpus Christi in Sitges, the European Balloon Festival in Igualada and the Blanes Fireworks Festival.
The 3DNeonet secondment has been an enriching and rewarding experience for me from a collaborative, educational, linguistic and cultural point of view.
A big thanks to Anna Portela and her team at Xenopat, to Wim Meijer and Heather Wood in SBBS and to Breandán Kennedy and Yolanda Alvarez for all their support and for welcoming me to 3DNeonet! Moltes gràcies a tots! Muchas gracias a todos!