The transition from my home university in Zurich to my 10 weeks secondment at CIC nanoGUNE began with a long train journey on the TGV from Zurich to Hendaye, with a stopover in Paris. The next morning, I was warmly welcomed by the nanodevices group. Many faces were recognizable from my previous visit two years ago, yet, as is often the case, there was a noticeable turnover as well. In addition to scientific discussions, many members of the group shared their insights into local life. The food recommendations, especially the cheesecake, were much appreciated.
During my stay, I took the opportunity to explore Donostia and the surrounding areas, including a visit to Vitoria-Gasteiz. This city, known for its well-preserved medieval architecture, provided a pleasant escape and a chance to experience the local culture.
View of La Concha beach, situated on the Donostia coastline, and fireworks displayed during Semana Grande.
My academic journey took me to several places. The first was the European School on Magnetism (ESM) in Miraflores de la Sierra, where I met many new people in the field and learned a lot about the basics of magnetism, simulation, and characterisation techniques. As I had to travel via Madrid, I used the weekend to explore the city and meet members of the Zurich group and other ESRs who were in town for the JEMS conference.
Mixed impressions from Madrid and Segovia.
Later I went to Halle for the ESR training, where we covered the basics of topology and also had a soft skills session. A memorable part of this trip was when my train from Paris was cancelled, causing a 3-hour delay that would have left me stranded in Erfurt for the night. Fortunately, Deutsche Bahn arranged a taxi for the last 100 km, turning my trip into a 19-hour adventure.
Now that my time at nanoGUNE is coming to an end, with my departure scheduled for Thursday the 19th, I am preparing to say goodbye to the new friends and colleagues I have made here. As a thank you for their help and support, I plan to bake a Basque cheesecake for everyone. The thought of returning to Zurich brings a mixture of emotions. I am looking forward to continuing my research at my home university, but I will certainly miss the people and experiences I had during this secondment.
My attempts to bake a fluffy Basque cheesecake with flavours of caramelised sugar and vanilla.
The trip was full of learning, both academically and culturally. Additionally, the secondment reminded me of the beginnings of my PhD, as it was here that I received an introduction to the finesse of glovebox stacking. I have gained a deeper understanding of my area of research, particularly in flake formation and transport measurements. The many interactions, both formal and informal, have enriched my PhD experience, and I am eager to apply the new knowledge and skills as I continue my research back in Zurich.