Two days ago I implied that you wouldn’t hear from me until about three weeks from now, but as it turns out I already have something I wanted to share. Today I finished my last day at the Department of Clinical Chemistry at Karolinska Institutet Huddinge. I started spending my summers here two years ago and I can’t exaggerate how much I have learnt during my time here.

“That’s it for my goal-setting, you’ll hear from me again sometime in the next three weeks.”
– Me (technically not lying)

My work has been very interesting, although I can’t go into much detail since none of it is published yet. What I can tell you is that working with clinical chemistry is excellent. The job requires constant thinking and second guessing what you’re doing. Although much of it is following protocols, you are never in the exact same situation as the author was in when she wrote it which means there are always subtle differences that you need to take into account. Thanks to this I have developed an attention to detail here that I most definitely didn’t have when I started (just ask one of my supervisors). I have also learnt a lot about the scientific method; for example I know how to think about handling batches of tests in a way that avoids systematic errors and I can almost see contaminants come and go when I put on gloves, wash something or use a pipette. Research, and most things surrounding it, is really more about learning how to learn rather than learning obscure specifics and I really think that insight will help me in college.

Although the things I mentioned above are really interesting the most valuable experience from my time here is being around all of my excellent colleagues. I especially want to thank my two closest supervisors and mentors: Osman Ahmed and Matteo Pedrelli. The two are extraordinary researchers and kind, considerate people. Not only have they taught me almost everything I know about clinical chemistry, I’ve also enjoyed talking to both of them about cultural differences between where we are all from: Sudan, Italy and Sweden. The discussions have ranged from immigrations politics and linguistic differences to what kind of tea they drink in Sudan and whether we are religious or not. I find it absolutely amazing how the institute has enabled them and many others to come to Sweden and become part of our strange anti-social society of godis-loving blondes. For example I was happy to hear that Osman’s wife recently completed a big step towards getting her Swedish medical license and that she will start practicing here soon (my sincerest congratulations if you’re reading this!). I am also happy to say that I now speak Swedish with Matteo all the time even though we always spoke English when I first started working here two years ago, and Osman is definitely getting there.

It does feel a bit sad to leave now after all this time but if the people at Princeton are even a tenth as kind and interesting as they are here I have no doubt that I will love it there too. My best wishes and a big thank you to all the people at Speckem, expect me to come visit when I’m back in Sweden this winter!

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