Everything started back in March, when I decided I would go to London as part of my summer holidays and spend some weeks getting to know one of the most exciting cities in the world. But since I can’t spend much time without trying to learn new things, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to participate in some event, like a conference or a congress, related with Biochemistry, my field of studies.
So, I started my search for scientific events taking place in London throughout the summer and that was when I found out the LIYSF website. After reading all the main informations about it, I completely fell in love with the whole concept of the Forum, since I had represented Portugal in the International Biology Olympiads 2016 and couldn’t wait to repeat the international experience. I decided I would do anything to be part of this year’s edition of LIYSF and started my journey, looking for possible sponsors and taking care of everything related to my trip. I can’t say it was easy, especially because my fundraising wasn’t exactly successful and I had to work really hard to get all the money in time. In fact, I can say it was one of the most stressful periods of my life, but it was completely worth it, since I achieved my goal and I can now tell everyone I had one of the most wonderful experiences anyone excited about STEM could ever have.
Once in London, everything was perfect from the very beginning. We attended incredible lectures, from some of the world’s leaders in science, and had amazing visits to some of the most prestigious research laboratories and industries in the United Kingdom. All of them gave us a deep insight into the everyday lives of the worldwide scientists and researchers which aim to make our life better with their discoveries, as highlighted during the two weeks of LIYSF. At the same time, we were privileged enough to have a wide range of optional visits that allowed us to do some sightseeing and visit places like Stonehenge, Buckingham Palace or the London Eye. Being my first time in London, this was perfect, because I could cross the city and visit many of its treasures, which I will definitely be visiting again in the future.
Besides all the lectures and visits, LIYSF also offered an amazing social program which I personally think is one of its most important components. Getting to know so many different people, from 67 different countries, was one of the best things about this forum, because I certainly made friends for life. The way our horizons are broaden, by the contact with such different cultures and traditions, is indescribable and connecting with so many people that share the same love for science that you have, just makes you feel at home the whole time, even if you are kilometres away from your real home.
I am really thankful for the overwhelming experience that was LIYSF. Leaving my small town, located in a small Portuguese island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, to go to such a dynamic and amazing city as London and be part of a group of 480 young and brilliant scientists was something that I will carry in my memory forever. I would highly recommend London International Youth Science Forum to all the students that have the opportunity to attend it, because this event is the result of the hard work of many different people that put their heart and soul into it in such a way that it affects you for life.