Chapter 1

Sofía’s Journey



I’m Sofía, I’m twenty years old and I’m about to start an international exchange programme in northern Europe. I must admit that I’m a bit scared, but I’m also really excited to discover all that this experience will bring my way. It’s the first time I’ll be living abroad! And even though I don’t consider it as much as becoming independent, which is a big step, the truth is that for some time I’ll be cooking my own food and washing my own clothes — I hope my woollen jumpers don’t shrink, otherwise I’ll be really cold!

I’m taking a few of my grandmother’s recipes in a notebook I always have on me, in which I ask the people I meet to jot down their recommendations — I’ve always been really interested in seeing how others express themselves in writing … As you see, I’ going off on a tangent but I’d like you to get to know me a bit better, instead of only talking to you about my great passion since I was a child: science.

I must confess that I’m proud to represent my country in this programme, as our model of research, development and innovation has nothing to envy to those of other countries. I’m delighted to be able to tell all my new colleagues and teachers from other northern countries how things work in Spain, where I’ve been able to develop my career thanks to the great advances of the last two decades.

I’m proud to represent my country and being able to share our model of research, development and innovation with my new colleagues from northern Europe.

Funnily enough, this journey is helping me to learn more about my own country. In order to request participation in the programme I had to fill in a long, almost endless document that asked basic questions about the Spanish system, such as which are Spain’s leading companies in the sector and centres of excellence in research. But in order to answer others I had to surf the Net and write on all the technological sectors in which Spain has an important international presence, and on the leading infrastructure producers. Luckily, at college I took a subject called Sources and Documentation, that sounded a drag but turned out to be really helpful!

If you are reading me from a nordic country, I recommend as a starting point the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation website. Until I get there, perhaps you’ll find Spain closer than you think through its list of diplomatic offices. I’ve drawn mine up, have a look at it here.

The truth is that you never know what use you’ll make of some of the things you study, but there always comes a time when they prove valuable: instead of crossing your fingers pressing the ‘I’m going to get lucky’ button like a beginner, I learnt to verify, to distinguish between official and non-official sources. That’s how I discovered the websites that I think provide all the necessary information for answering these and so many other questions: the Marca España website, the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology website — FECYT for its initials in Spanish, and even those of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. I’ll tell you more about them because if you’re able to explore them in depth I’m sure you’ll find everything you’re looking for, just as I did!

During the application process I discovered some websites that if you’re able to explore them in depth I’m sure you’ll find everything you’re looking for.

Thanks to this research, I wasn’t only able to fill in the form I was telling you about and secure my place in the programme — yes!, but I learnt all sorts of new things and now feel much more confident to face up to this new challenge.

01_POSTS_#01_03And now I must go as tomorrow I’m leaving at a very early hour and I still have lots of things to prepare. Bobby, my little dachshund is even more nervous than I am about the journey. I’ll write the next chapter of this adventure from northern lands.

Thanks for reading me!