By Marco Bellisario
It has been a year full of work and learning and, after some difficulties and many surprises, I finally reached the end of my 12 months secondment in 3D-NEONET. It may sound a lot of time, but it actually passes fast when you work in research, especially on long term projects.
Looking back to June 2019 and my worries to get into this new experience I realize they were unfounded, because everything turned out very good despite the difficulties. It took me time to get used to the cold climate, the long dark winter, the different variety of food and people not being as social and open as it would be in Italy or Spain, yet eventually I made new friends (Skål!!), became obsessed with Swedish meatballs and found myself comfortable and happy living here.
Linkoping University attracts a lot of international students and, if this causes a constant fight to find accommodation, it allows you to meet many interesting people. During the secondment I also had a health problem, fortunately the healthcare proved to be quick and effective and I received all the help I needed.
Starting from March we had to face the pandemic situation: although quarantine was not imposed, we did our best to avoid unnecessary interactions and take social distance. I took home everything I needed for my work for data analysis and I went back to the lab just to realize an experiment always following the security measures. So in my case the pandemic did not have major repercussions on my projects except for slowing down some parts of the work. I am aware and ready to adjust to the different restrictions in the rest of Europe.
Finally, this experience has been enriching for my professional career but also as a person. I had the pleasure to meet and work aside the best ophthalmology researchers in the eye vascularization field in Sweden and created a bound for potential collaboration in the future. I really enjoyed life in this small town and the idea of going away now seems unreal, but it is time for me to go back to Madrid and continue my studies there, at least during the next semester. I want to give special thanks to Neil Lagali, Lasse Jensen, Beatrice Peebo, Pierfrancesco Mirabelli, Anthony Mukwaya, Maria Xeroudaki and the rest of the staff for the time and work spent together