Isn’t it truly incredible how some experiences have the power to shape your life and future in the most positive way conceivable? After having attended the 59th London International Youth Science Forum, I have finally understood the true meaning of life-changing experience.
My name is Ona Piqué i Duró and I am from Catalonia, Spain. I had the great pleasure to attend the 59th London International Youth Science Forum, which took place from the 26th of July to the 9th of August 2017 in London. Those two weeks I spent there were two weeks full of knowledge, love and passion. I was incredibly lucky to witness how Science brought together people from all over the world, which is something truly captivating.
To start with, I was able to attend LIYSF thanks to being part of a program in Catalonia called Youth and Science (Joves i Ciència). This program wants to promote scientific careers among young people and encourages participants to follow their passions. For the third and last year of the program, we had the opportunity to participate in an International or National research project of our interest. LIYSF was the one that caught my attention because I felt like it would be a great way to get a deeper and wider insight into Science while also enabling me to see different approaches to it and getting to discuss ideas with people who shared the same interests as me.
I have to admit that I was nervous at first. That nervous excitement that is associated with new things. What would I find there? I had never attended a forum in a foreign country with over 475 people from different countries and different ages and yet I was so excited to begin this new journey.
Once I got there, I felt like dreams and reality had collided. Reality surpassed my expectations, not only in scientific terms but also in social terms. In those two weeks, I was capable of widening my scientific horizons as well as exchanging innovative ideas with other participants, which made me grow as a person. The scientific program offered was very complete and it met all my expectations. The principal lectures and demonstrations were truly enriching and made me realise how Science can make life better. Moreover, LISYF offers a wide range of specialist lectures that give you the chance to get a deeper insight into your scientific passion.
If I had to choose, my favourite part out of the scientific program would be the scientific visits. I visited The MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) in Cambridge, the Department of Life Sciences from the Imperial College London and the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences & CUBRIC at Cardiff University. These visits were genuinely eye opening and enabled me to see how laboratory research is from the inside, how everything works, how science is really done. Not only was it amazing to be able to discover new scientific techniques and visit state-of-the-art facilities but it also was extremely enriching to learn about the undergoing cutting-edge research that is carried by renowned scientists.
However, what I really appreciated from LISYF is the social program. Meeting new people from all over the world and seeing how alike your minds are. Being able to gain a better understanding into their culture and their traditions in the Traditions of Home made me truly broaden my horizons. Additionally, everyone was so loving and accepting of each other, which made us feel like a family. A big intercultural family. During those two weeks, I truly felt overjoyed. Overjoyed to be surrounded by so many people who had the same interests as me. It felt truly magical.
One of the highlights of LIYSF is “The Science Forum Bazaar” which gives students an exciting opportunity to present their research project to fellow students and science experts. From my point of view, “The Science Forum Bazaar” was incredibly enriching. I remember being slightly nervous, as English is not my mother tongue and I was not sure of how I would do. However, once I started presenting nervousness became happiness. I felt so happy to be able to share my research project and get feedback from experts and other students. Everyone was genuinely interested in your project and it was a great opportunity to exchange scientific ideas. That evening, the rooms of the Royal Geographical Society were filled with knowledge, restless minds and posters. The aim of my research project was to search for divergences in a gene, known for detoxifying air pollution, between two populations of red squirrel found in the metropolitan area of Barcelona in order to identify differences related to the habitats in which they live.
Lastly, having the opportunity to stay in the magical city of London was extraordinary. Walking through those streets full of history and culture enabled me to connect with the city. The optional visits were a great chance to get to know the city a little better while also getting to know your friends better.
In light of the above, I strongly believe that LIYSF is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that will definitely broaden your horizons and will make you go further. Furthermore, you will be in touch with different Science research fields, which will introduce you to the scientific world. Do not be afraid to challenge yourself, get out there and let the world know you! Should you have the chance to attend LISYF, take it.
I am truly delighted to have had the opportunity to attend LIYSF. Thank you LIYSF for showing me how when people join forces we can achieve anything we want. For the eye-opening lectures and demonstrations. For introducing me to the scientific world. For making me go further. For everything you have done in those two weeks but also for how you have changed my life for the better. Because some experiences have the power to shape your life and future in the most positive way conceivable, and LISYF is one of these experiences. Thank you for making me understand the true meaning of life-changing experience.