The most relaxing places of my STEM journey

Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA, USA

Hi all! Today I thought initially of writing about “How I relax as a PhD Student” to stay aligned with today’s #summerofstem topic, but I have an old blogpost which has been pretty well read, about ways to maintain mental health as a PhD student, and all the advice I have to give is pretty much included there. So, I had an idea for something completely different that could inspire future travels! And also, you could get to know a little better my STEM journey. Let’s get started!

1 – Parque da Liberdade, Sintra, Portugal

Shout out to my hometown (well, almost, since I’m not a princess and cannot afford to live at an UNESCO World Heritage site)! I used to come here a lot with my parents and then with friends to get lost in the beautiful flowers and try to escape to the multitude of tourists that flock to Sintra. Also, it’s free of charge to visit the garden, which is so rare in Sintra nowadays. I have yet to write a post about Sintra, it will happen sooner or later 😉

Parque da Liberdade, Sintra, Portugal
Parque da Liberdade, Sintra, Portugal. Photo: Câmara Municipal de Sintra

2 – Jardim Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, Portugal

Oh, this is not that far from my alma mater (Instituto Superior Técnico) and it is such a lush garden with nice hidden spots in the middle of a very busy area of Lisbon. The garden exists since the 1960’s after being acquired to host the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, an organization that funds arts and science in Portugal. You can also find the Modern Art Center in this garden and this is a cool spot for dating. I use to go there with my then boyfriend and also with friends. I even went there to study in a more relaxing environment.

Jardim Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, Portugal
Jardim Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, Portugal. Photo: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian

3 – Petrin Park, Prague, Czech Republic

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you might know already I did Erasmus in Prague, Czech Republic, in my last year of MSc. I was living in Prague 6 in the Strahov dorms from the Czech Technical University in Prague, and I was so lucky to live right next to this park where there is a small replica of the Eiffel Tower. There is also a beer garden with a beautiful view over the Mala Strana and Castle areas. I remember how I used to take my guitar there so that I could play and sing freely and release the stress that seldom appeared and allow myself some very needed alone time (I used to live with another girl in the same room and sometimes I needed that space for myself).

Petrin Park, Prague, Czech Republic
Petrin Park, Prague, Czech Republic. Photo: Colby Bjornsen for ISA Student Blog

4 – Parque Marquês de Pombal, Oeiras, Portugal

Straight after my MSc I started working at Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência in Oeiras, a sunny suburb of Lisbon. One of the best things about working there was the access to the garden right behind, Parque Marquês de Pombal. The park has some fountains and sculptures and is one of the venues for the local jazz festival. I have such nice memories of picnics there! Also, sometimes, when I needed that extra quiet time to be able to read a paper, I went there.

Parque Marquês de Pombal, Oeiras, Portugal
Parque Marquês de Pombal, Oeiras, Portugal. Photo: Guia da Cidade

5 – Cais da Fonte Nova, Aveiro, Portugal

First of all, if you’re into traveling in Portugal, go read my most successful travel post ever, my local guide to Aveiro, developed after my 2-year research position at the local unversity. One of my favorite places to relax is Cais da Fonte Nova, an artificial branch of the Aveiro lagoon extending to a residential area of the city. If you take the boat tours, you’ll see this area, but I recommend stopping by to read or listen to some relaxing music in this area full of locals, a bit outside the main touristic circuit of Aveiro.

Cais da Fonte Nova, Aveiro, Portugal
Cais da Fonte Nova, Aveiro, Portugal. Photo: Câmara Municipal de Aveiro

6 – Praia da Poça, São João do Estoril, Portugal

When I started my PhD thesis, I was working on the Instituto Superior Técnico campus at TagusPark, about 20Kms west of Lisbon. In the summer, when I could take the car, I’d just go to the beach to enjoy the end of the afternoon sun and soak all my worries in the water. This is one of my favorites in the Lisbon area and I have plenty of happy memories from that time.

Praia da Poça, São João do Estoril, Portugal
Praia da Poça, São João do Estoril, Portugal

7 – Memorial Drive, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

And now we’re off to my stay here in the US! One of my favorite activities now is strolling or cycling up the Memorial Drive, the road that goes up the Charles River. My favorite area is really close to Harvard and I can’t begin to tell you enough about how beautiful the sunsets and sunrises are here! I already went there alone with a book as well to keep my mind a bit off things. I feel really fortunate to be able to live here.

Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA, USA
Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA, USA

What are your favorite spots to relax related to your STEM journey? Or your journey in any other field? Let me know! In the meantime, don’t forget to follow my journey around my PhD in the US in FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest to keep up to date!


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