Friday, July 31, 2015

Lab Goodbyes

I just returned from Switzerland however I'll talk about that trip in a separate post. My time at the lab and final thoughts about my lab experience deserves its own post...

The last day of lab was extremely emotional for me. I had become so close with everyone in the lab and they were all some of the most genuine and nicest people I had ever met. Every single one of them took the time to teach me things, help me, and be patient when the language barrier was an issue. From having lunch together everyday, to hanging out after work or doing things on the weekends I had formed true friendships with many in the lab. The hardest part was realizing "wow I live on a different continent, I may never see these people again in my life". I will definitely return to Madrid one day but who knows which of those people currently in the lab will still be there. But at least this day in age we have plenty of online things to all keep in touch.

As a way of saying thank you to all of them I made brownies for my last day. I had wanted to do something that represented the United States, but with limited materials here in Spain for something "American" I didn't really know what to do. Turns out that for them brownies were something they associated as being a purely U.S thing. When I gave them the brownies they all exclaimed "ah something American! This is such a typical American dessert". It was interesting to think of brownies as a states thing, but it accomplished my goal of providing them with something they don't typically have here in Madrid! They all also surprised me and got me Madrid gifts. It was extremely sad saying goodbye, but at the same time I was extremely grateful that I had such a great experience that made saying goodbye so hard to do.

The primary language I spoke at the lab was Spanish, so I feel as though my skills in communicating have improved tremendously. In terms of the skills I learned this summer research wise: I improved my immunohistochemistry skills, qRT-PCR, immunoblot, handling mice, stereotaxic surgery and behavioral testing (Rotarod, T-Maze, object recognition) skills. I also increased my general knowledge about the pharmacological and biochemical aspects of cannabinoid research with regard to neuroprotection, signaling pathways and cell viability. It was also such a neat experience being given my own project, however since so many of my mice had died in the beginning of my project my results aren't that significant. But since it was a pilot study it provided promising results to go ahead with a larger project, so that was exciting to be part of that!

While it was sad leaving the lab here in Spain, I am excited to return to my lab at Emory with the knowledge I have gained this summer! I am beyond grateful to not only my lab here in Spain, but also the Emory IRES program for providing me with the opportunity to come and work here. It truly was a summer I will never forget; every experience was invaluable.

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