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Elena Hui from Switzerland Photo: Private
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"Contributing to the work of this research group felt very motivating"

Published: 10 October 2022

Elena Hui from Switzerland, Period of IAESTE internship: February – June 2022.

From February to June 2022, I had the opportunity to work as an IAESTE intern in the biochemical process engineering department of Luleå University of Technology. As a biology student, I appreciated the chance to extend my knowledge beyond the boundaries of my discipline by experiencing the daily routine of a chemical and biotechnology laboratory focusing on the sustainable production of nutrients, chemicals and medical substances with industrial applications. More concretely, I worked on the valorisation and modification of some bioactive substances contained in a halophyte plant by means of enzymatic synthesis. The daily work in the lab and the use of sophisticated machinery such as the High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) that I operated regularly allowed me to acquire a great deal of autonomy and confidence. Participating in and contributing to the work of this research group felt very motivating: I appreciated a lot its multicultural environment, the great variety of its projects and the focus on the applicability of its research in real world settings.

Besides being a professionally enriching experience, my stay in Sweden taught me many other things. Not least, I learnt how to withstand arctic temperatures approaching - 30°C and how to sleep with light during summer. Located in the north of Sweden just a few kilometres from the Arctic Circle, the small town of Luleå allows in fact to witness the incredible changing of the seasons in Swedish Lapland. I remember with joy a winter walk on cross-country skis on the frozen sea of Luleå that ended under some beautiful northern lights, as well as a summer hike in Abisko National Park accompanied by the spectacle of the midnight sun. From Luleå I had the opportunity to visit also many other places including the lovely Swedish capital and Norway's amazing Lofoten islands. In summary, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity I had, for everything I learned and for all the people I met during this time. I would particularly like to thank all the people in the lab, the IAESTE committee and the gymnastics group that I joined during these months (Lulegymnasterna) for making this experience not only possible, but also unforgettable.