Chapter 4

Feeling At Home



Hakon invited me to spend the weekend in Oslo, his hometown. I’m really pleased at having visited such a beautiful city, and at having met his family, all the members of which are scientists! It was a very rewarding experience.

His parents, Haaken and Aundy, work in the aerospace research; his sister Ingaberg works in the naval industry; and his younger brother Björn is studying Telecommunications Engineering. They very kindly prepared dinner for me, at which I had the opportunity to try a delicious Lutefisk — baked cod, served with bacon and potatoes — which bears a resemblance to dishes in Spain, where different regions prepare the same fish in different ways, all of them very tasty — at least those that I’ve tried!

Hakon’s parents work in the aerospace research, his sister in the naval industry, and his younger brother is studying Telecommunications Engineering … A family of scientists!

The MDSCC~Madrid Deep Space Communication Complex is one of the three NASA Deep Space Network ground stations in the world, operated by the National Institute of Aerospace Technology. The facility contributes to provide the vital two-way communications link that tracks and controls spacecraft.

01_POSTS_#04_02It’s great to be surrounded by people working in my sector; conversations are really interesting. His mother Aundy spoke of Spain’s high technological level, as she had recently been invited to the country to visit our aerospace facilities. I learnt a lot from her, as she told me that the Spanish aerospace industry is the fifth most important in Europe in terms of size and number of jobs, and on account of its high level of research. Spain is one of the few countries in the world that is able to build an aeroplane from scratch, a fact of which I was completely unaware! We also discussed the Rosetta mission for exploring Mars in which Spain has also taken part.

As Ingaberg was interested in the naval industry, I told her some of the stories I had heard from my uncle the seaman, to prove that Spain is a reference in the building of multifunctional ships, frigates, submarines and floating docks for electric plants and regasification terminals.

I found Björn really bright. I think he wants to apply for an Erasmus grant to study in Spain. I told him I thought it was a good idea because Spain’s volume of business in information and communication technologies is the fifth largest in Europe. Our infrastructure, research centres and large companies in different sectors — environment, health, naval, space and car industries — that use TiC tools. He almost packed his bags there and then! Ha ha ha! Funnily enough, these sectors — especially those related with the automobile industry, the building of infrastructure and environmental conservation — are the most important in Spain.

Hakon’s brother, a Telecommunications Engineering student, wants to apply for an Erasmus grant to study in Spain. We told him it would be the greatest idea ever!

The 15 National Parks included in the Spain’s National Parks Network are distinctive for their variety and ecological wealth. Some of these unique areas have the UNESCO World Heritage designation: Cañadas del Teide and Garajonay in the Canary Islands, and Doñana in Andalusia.

01_POSTS_#04_03My visit to Norway ended with a journey through the fjords. There’s something in the light penetrating the glaciers that gives everything a magical appearance. During the trip we spoke about the snow, and they were all surprised to learn that we have wonderful ski resorts in Spain and that in the winter months it doesn’t only snow in the Pyrenees, but also in the Peaks of Europe in the northeast, in the Guadarrama mountain range in the centre of the peninsula, and in Sierra Nevada in the sizzling south, which everyone relates to sun and sand!

We’ve agreed that our next snow outing will be in Spain. I’ll be happy to show them our beautiful white landscapes!

I could save the night thanks to the research I’ve done during the application process. If you want to know how I could answer all questions about ‘Which are the cutting-edge sectors on Spain’s R&D&I?’ have a look at my notebook where I’ve drafted some official information.