My first working day at SLU (Department of Plant Biology and Forest Genetics) started with a beautiful morning, so I did enjoy walking to the campus. Lots of people were biking and I think it should be a sin to go to work by car on a day like this! Even for Swedes.
I got to the BioCenter building, just in the heart of the campus, at about 10am and met with my Portuguese supervisor, Duarte, there. We went right to the office of the head of the lab, Claudia, who actually accepted me for the position. Right after that I was introduced into the time-frame of a typical working day: do not start before 9am, do start with a cup of coffee.
I spent those two hours till lunch being introduced to number of people, whose names and nationalities I am not completely sure about. I also met my another supervisor, Clément, who came from France only two months ago. I was very pleased to meet another Czech girl working here as well. The funny part was that, due to people pronouncing our names differently than they should be, I thought for some time that her first name was the same as mine. However, it turned out her name was Iva, not Eva. At least two of my supervisor’s coworkers were from Germany and I met couple of people from Asia. However, I do not think I have run into more than two Swedes so far.
After lunch in a cafeteria very very close to the building of BioCenter my ‘tour’ through floors, corridors, labs and offices continued. Although the corridors of the building form a square with a main laboratory and an elevator in the middle and everything seems to be well organized, at the same I have not managed more than just remember the most significant points: a set of bright orange chairs, a terrace and a green sofa.
I got equipped with Eppendorf tubes, pipette tips, gloves and anything else I might need later on. We got all those items in a ‘store’ and it was an experience to me! The ‘store’ is basically a storage of basic lab supplies which have been purchased before. However, anything which is taken has to be recorded in a relevant file. It is fine to keep this kind of records. What truly impressed me was that each of the items went with a price tag. For the first time in my short scientific life I got at least some idea how much a box of gloves is, how much tips and Eppis cost.
At 2pm I joined others for a seminar, followed by one more fika, coffee break. That is actually one of the first words I learned during my 4 days in Sweden. It is not going to help me find the way to the dorms nor to the lab, however I consider it to be essential to get to know the Swedish culture properly.
It was not before 3:30pm when I started working. My first task was to transfer more or less tiny Arabidopsis seedlings from Petri dishes to soil. I was impressed what a process it is to start doing your work down in the basement. It comprises of putting a lab coat on, as well as plastic covers on your shoes, in a hallway. You cannot proceed to the main working room until the hallway’s door has been closed.
When the planting was done, Duarte showed one of the methods he has been performing recently, giving me a chance to see very young Arabidopsis seeds and get some idea on how to isolate them from siliques and observe under the microscope. With that my first working day, when I barely did any work, was over and I could go to enjoy the sunshine.
I got that crazy idea to finally find the Lidl store. Again I could not find my way so easily, however was much more successful this time. I got to the store and even did some shopping. And again I was concerned about the quality of asphalt: most of the way it was OK, but gravels in a very last part of the trail did not make me very happy. Anyway, even if I have to take my roller blades off for last 10-15 minutes and carry them, I have no doubts skating to the store saves a lot of time and couple of blisters.
I got back to my room shortly after 8pm and gave an emergency call to my mother – with some more ingredients in my refrigerator I just needed to know what to do with them, so I can bring a lunch with me tomorrow. I started my evening cooking right after I finished the tuna-spaghetti left overs and the outcome of my effort looked quite promising.