Tess Ames
24th June 2023

ESR Blog | Welcome to Spain, baby!

ESR 2, Shilpkala Gade from Queens University Belfast, recently went on her secondment to Madrid, Spain. Below, she details her experience and how the international aspect of MSCA projects not only helps her scientific skills, but broadens her skills and abilities to navigate new places, to really take a moment to enjoy the sunshine, and to feel the warmth of the people and atmosphere that you can only find in Madrid!

So, I ended up in Madrid as an ORBITAL researcher, and let me tell you, it was love at first sight. You know how they say a stranger’s smile can give it away? Well, that’s exactly what happened to me in one of the metro stations. Instantly knew I was in Spain, baby!

Living up north in Europe, I had been missing the sun like crazy. But Madrid? Oh, Madrid knows how to bring the sunshine game. I swear, those golden rays made me happier than a kid in a candy store.

Shilpa and the fellow researchers enjoy a game of laser tag in Madrid.

Now, as a researcher, I was all about that ocular drug delivery stuff, running in-vivo tests like a boss. But you know what? I wasn’t just all work and no play. Madrid gave me the perfect balance. Relaxed vibes and killer productivity, my friend.



Let’s talk language, shall we? Spanish is like a whole new world, and Madrid has its own flavor. None of that formal “usted” nonsense here. They’re all about the “tu.” It’s “Como estas?” instead of “Como estas usted?” And let me tell you, people here are warm, I mean heart-melting warm. They’ll greet a friend with a “Hola guapo/guapa” like it’s no biggie. And when they sign off an email, they throw in “Un abrazo” because hugs are just their thing.

ORBITAL ESRs enjoy a dinner together while in Madrid

I’ll never forget my first day on campus. I was completely lost, trying to find my way to the lab. But out of nowhere, this random person from the university comes up to me and get this—they walked with me all the way to the lab, helping me find my path. Can you believe it? Random acts of kindness are a thing in Madrid.

Now, let’s talk weather. Madrid is all about that sun, sun, and more sun. They get about 300 days of it every year. Can you imagine? It’s like paradise for a sun-deprived soul like mine. And you know what else is cool? Public transport here is a breeze. Cheap as chips and you can hop on the metro to practically anywhere. They’ve got more metro lines than you can shake a stick at.

Oh, and let me tell you about this epic laser tag game we had with the research team at Ocupharma. Picture this: the local dude starts explaining the rules in rapid-fire Spanish. But here’s the kicker—everyone in the group, bless their hearts, took turns breaking it down for me in English. Talk about teamwork, man!

All in all, Madrid is a city that’s got it all. It’s like living the Scandinavian lifestyle but with an extra dose of sunshine. The people are awesome, the sun is shining, and the vibes are just right.

Madrid, mi amor, you’ll always have a special place in my heart.


Un abrazo!!!

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