A journey from the gloom to the sunshine and back

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I jetted off in the middle of June to the sunbathed Italian island of Sardinia where I attended the 6th Sardinian International Summer School. This was a 5 day work week course which brought together some of the forerunners in the field of complex and monogenic traits genetics. This was my first opportunity to attend such a course which primarily focussed on the current state of the molecular basis of complex genetic variation in humans and I very much looked forward to the experience.

Travelling to the island, however, was not going to be a smooth sail right from the onset and that got me worried. There were no direct flights from Edinburgh to Sardinia which wasn’t exactly a problem but I was supposed to check in separately for each connecting flight. This meant my transfers were not guaranteed and that bothered me. I used the time I had to wait in between transfers to do a quick tour of Rome, which was very satisfying. I eventually arrived at Cagliari airport and thankfully there was a shuttle to take me to my hotel in Pula.

The summer school started in earnest the next day with lectures in the morning and workshops in the afternoon. The rest of the days followed a similar pattern. The talks very much emphasised on the state of the art in the field. The afternoon workshops were hands-on practical computer sessions some of which were immediately useful to my PhD research. What made this summer school unique was the amount of interaction between students and faculty, which involved discussions over lunch and during dinner back at the hotel. Students were able to present posters of their own research during one of the sessions, which was particularly useful.

There was a free afternoon on Wednesday for students to explore the Island of Sardinia on their own. I joined a group of 8 students on an expedition to the Nora archaeological site. From there we rendezvoused with the rest of the school members on the beautiful Chia beach for an afternoon wind down.

On the afternoon of the last day, I left Pula to the city of Cagliari with some of the faculty whom I made friends with. We walked around the city enjoying the sunshine and stopping only to have specially made Italian drinks and gelato. We wrapped up the day with dinner at a pizza restaurant before we returned to the hotel. I began my journey back to Edinburgh at first light the next day and arrived at mid-afternoon. In all it was a positive experience and I learnt a lot at the summer school in Sardinia and I had the opportunity to build professional networks as well. I am thankful for the funds provided by the Principal Go Abroad Fund to enable me attend the Sardinian Summer School.

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At St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City during my tour of Rome

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The Nora Archaeological site at Pula, Sardinia

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A pose with two other students and two faculty members at the hotel

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Bittersweet: a taste of the bitter and sweet side of Italy. A bitter lemon and herbs drink and gelato.

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One of the best pizzas I have had

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