Hello everyone!

Greetings from sunny Liege where I am currently finishing my 3-month secondment. Three very exciting months, as the capital of the Belgian Ardennes has a lot more to offer than some might expect!

After a short settlement period and after getting to know my new transitory team members, I went to explore this new city and its inhabitants, and from the get go one thing was very obvious: Belgians know how to enjoy life. From tasty waffles (gauffres as they are called here) to the multitudes of beer brands, this experience was never going to be good for my waistline! And yet there were many amazing and scurrile things to discover in this city so the walking kept me at least semi in shape.

The old town of Liege kept me walking and exploring for hours with its beautiful old buildings and small mysterious alleys, its little parks and its famous stairs at the Montagne de Beuren (374 steps is a lot once you have to climb them). Luckily I had a bit of sunshine and good weather while I was here, which was quite untypical for this period, but of course I also experienced its typical weather conditions!

But not only the city itself was an amazing experience, its position in Belgium and Central Europe and its direct train connections also offered a lot to discover in its vicinities. Brussels, the Belgian capital, is only a one-hour train ride away and except from the multitude of touristy things, like the central square with the Manneken Pis nearby, the Atomium and the beautiful parks, it is also a culinary revelation with some of the best mussels you will ever taste, paired with the typical and famous Belgian fries (which totally deserve their reputation).



Another train ride brings you to Namur, a beautiful Belgian city in the midst of the forests, or the Grand Duche of Luxembourg. Aachen, Trier or Frankfurt, German cities are also only hours away, as is the French and Dutch border. In short, Liege does not only offer you a beautiful city to explore, but also functions as a platform to other culture centers in Europe.


But this experience was not only a cultural one, of course I also had a lot of work to do. I was accommodated by Marc Muller in the laboratory of Organogenesis and Regeneration in the Giga Tower, where I was quickly and warmly welcomed into the team. In a truly multicultural lab, I worked alongside two Vietnamese, one Mexican, one Indian and one Belgian PhD student, as well as Luxembourgish and Belgian master students, and with a Luxembourgish PI, and I profited greatly from their expertise in different fields. RNA extraction would not have been possible without their help, and even with our combined experience and brainpower, it was still an exceptionally painstaking experience to pull off.


With this post, I want to say goodbye to my fellow coworkers here in GIGA and I look forward to seeing them again!

Maria

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