TreatRec ESR5 - Behind the Scenes

TreatRec ESR5 - Behind the Scenes

Like in a movie, conducting a European PhD also comes with some funny “behind the scenes shots” that I will never forget! As the TreatRec project is a European Training Network, it has partners in different countries. For us, moving from one country to another to perform secondments or attend conferences/courses involves many changes. We have to adapt to different languages, food, etc. Even to the use of different currency. Sometimes the adjustment to the new environment comes with comic situations.

In July 2016, I attended an international conference for the first time in my life. From the very beginning, I realized that people at conferences are very willing to talk since it was not difficult to start random conversations during the breaks. In one of these breaks, I had the chance to discuss my work with a group of French, Belgians and Spaniards. In particular, we discussed how I obtained the values of the first order decay rate for diclofenac. The first order decay rate was represented by “kbio” in my model. The English phonetics of “kbio” is something like /keɪ baɪəʊ/. However, during that break, I stupidly mixed English and Spanish and I said several times /ka baɪəʊ/. Despite the mistake, everyone seemed to understand what I was saying due to the context but the Spaniard were laughing out loud. /ka baɪəʊ/ has another meaning in Spanish (/ka baɪəʊ/ = cavallo = horse) which was completely out of context.

In September 2017, I moved from Belgium to UK. It means that I am not using Euros anymore but British pounds. One week after the move, I attended a conference in Austria where I had to pay in Euros again. The presentations finished a bit earlier on the last day and I went to visit the city center with some new colleagues I met during the conference. Sachertorte is a popular chocolate cake from Vienna so we stopped by in a café to taste it. It was delicious. We paid it separately and, oddly enough, the last one of us received in return British pounds from the waiter. There was confusion but soon after my colleagues realized it was my fault. They knew I came to Vienna from the UK and that I paid my part among the first ones. I looked at my wallet and saw that I was mixing British pounds and Euros. Since the 1 euro coin and 1 pound coin are very similar, I paid (again stupidly) my part in pounds! The waiter was not aware of the mistake either and he was giving pounds in return instead of Euros to the colleagues who paid after me! Luckily for me (the pound is still stronger than the euro) I could get most of the pound coins back!