I must confess I was a little nervous before the forum started. Being a bit of an introvert, I wondered if I would fit in. I should not have worried at all! Everyone is so understanding and caring that you can always talk to someone with similar or very different interests, which is extremely enriching.
LIYSF is a Science Forum, and scientific it is! The plenary lectures were very interesting and mind-opening, covering a great variety of areas in a way that everyone could understand the discussed topics and find out more about their favourites. The optional lectures and the Specialist Study Day were great to focus on the latter. I choose those related to Chemistry and Biology, covering viruses and epidemiology to sustainable lifestyles. I can say that I learned a lot and I am more than grateful to have met such confident, brave and inspiring researchers.
Preparing a poster for the Science Bazaar was a challenge, but totally worth it! Getting the chance to present our projects and sharing and learning from the other participants was an unforgettable experience. The TED talks of the ten chosen projects and the LIYSF Student Forum were also extremely interesting.
The scientific visits were amazing! Visiting the research centres at the Universities of Nottingham, Cambridge and Imperial College was a dream come true. You can feel the passion that researchers all over the country have for their work and listening to them in their working environment reassured me on my idea to pursue a career in research. The laboratories and equipment were mind-blowing!
Not only did we get to visit such amazing scientific facilities, but also had the chance to discover London – the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, the Thames River cruise, the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum as well as other places around the UK such as Oxford, Salisbury and Stonehenge.
Cultural nights and social activities were memorable. The Treasure Night Hunt and the Olympics (won by Beitside, of course) were great fun. I was lucky enough to attend Wicked and The Phantom of the Opera which were both breath-taking! I performed in the International Cabaret and the Traditions of Home Night organised by the forum, two excellent opportunities to share and enjoy our home traditions!
Having taken part in the CERN Programme too, I had the incredible opportunity to visit Paris and Geneva. The first is a breath-taking city, with so many places to visit, like the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre-Dame and Montmartre. I had three unforgettable days just before being transferred to Geneva. The CERN visit was the icing on the cake. I could not believe we were there! After a short introduction in particle physics, we went to the ATLAS Visitor Centre and could see the detector’s control room. It was so exciting!
Last but not least, all people are great. From the organisers, visiting professors and staff members to the students attending the Forum, everyone was welcoming and friendly. They made you feel at home, although many of us were far away from it!
These weeks produced very funny memories; I shall never forget the “Bing bong! Programme announcements”! The best part of the forum, the one that truly makes your life better, is getting to know different cultures, religions, points of view. We have made friends from all over the world and that is something we will never lose.
For all these reasons, I encourage anyone considering a career in science to attend the London International Youth Science Forum. I am glad to say that LIYSF 2017 has been the best summer of my life!
P.S. I would like to extend my gratitude to LIYSF for this life-changing experience, and to Fundació Catalunya-La Pedrera and Fundació Víctor Grífols for supporting my stay there.
Míriam Condeminas Rodríguez – Barcelona, Spain