My Time in Barcelona, Spain

¡Hola! Les habla Isis desde Barcelona, Cataluña, España, where we have finally overcome what seemed like the worst heatwave of my life.
Fact: it was so hot that someone fainted next to me at the beach. I was almost next. Just so you get an idea, the highest temperature in Cataluña reached 43.5ºC = 110.12ºF, a new record for Spain.

Internship: ISGlobal

Aside from the infamous humid heat of Barcelona, this summer I’ve had the pleasure of interning at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal). ISGlobal’s mission is to improve global health and promote health equity through research, policy, and education. There is a multitude of projects within ISGlobal but my internship specifically falls under the Antimicrobial Resistance Initiative (ARI). ARI aims to develop new strategies for designing drugs and diagnostic tests through molecular research.

Every two weeks or so, I rotate through different projects in the lab, learning new techniques and approaches to study microbes. It has been very academically fulfilling to work with clinical samples from patients and using them to learn different approaches to combat this global issue. It has also been fascinating to see how the lab uses its expertise to educate not just other scientists but also the general public. Just recently, my coworkers came up with a card game intended to teach others about different disease-causing microbes and the proper ways to treat them. The game is set to be in stores this fall but we have some copies to play with in the lab now. 🙂

Overall, the lab does a fantastic job of not only conducting research but also being a constant resource for the community. I’ve learned a tremendous amount of information that will be useful for my Senior Integrated Project and my overall career as a scientist.

Outside of my internship:

Barceloneta beach: one of the many fireworks surrounding me and my friends during Sant Joan.

When I’m not in the lab, I’m out exploring the beautiful city of Barcelona, which has a lot to offer both during the day and night. I was lucky enough to be here during Sant Joan (Saint John), which is a celebration from about 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. for the Feast of Saint John the Baptist. It is the shortest night of the year, where the sun reaches its highest point before dropping. The sun is seen as a symbol of fertility and wealth and to give it strength, the city is lit up in bonfires and fireworks literally all night. It was very beautiful, fun, and dangerous (I went home with bits of firework materials in my hair)!

Barcelona is a vibrant and diverse city filled with remarkable landmarks ranging from La Sagrada Familia (one of Spain’s seven wonders) to the historical streets of Gothic Quarter. Considered the second capital of Spain, but the actual capital city of Catalonia, it has its own cuisine, traditions (like the Feast of Sant Joan), and even language (the primary language is Catalan). Though the city is filled with many tourists, making it difficult for the locals to get to see you as more than a tourist, it’s filled with much history and beauty. It has truly been a pleasure to be here! Minus the heatwave.

Montserrat: a beautiful mountain range next to Barcelona. Quite the hike to get up there.

Find below my ultimate favorite location of all time: La Sagrada Familia.

This is a remarkable temple, one of the many masterpieces of Antoni Gaudí. Every single aspect of the temple has a specific purpose, down to the measurement of its tallest tower. The tallest tower will be precisely 170 meters tall, one meter less than Barcelona’s highest mountain peak (Montjuic). This is because Gaudi believed nothing man-made should be higher than God’s work! No words or pictures can describe the beauty found within this work of art, which is why it has been under construction since 1882 and scheduled to be finished in 2026, the centenary year of the death of Gaudí. Catch me there!

Btw: La Sagrada Familia is home to Gaudí’s tomb.

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