Hi! We’re finally back with the interviews to other bloggers that happen to be, or have been, STEM professionals at some point. And this is the first time interviewing a fellow Portuguese blogger! So, my first choice was Catarina Costa from Daydreams. I love the very clean aesthetics of the blog, it seems very Hygge like to me. I met her in person soon before I moved to Boston at a bloggers meetup in Lisbon and I figured out her face was familiar. No wonder why, we both worked in the same building when I was doing my MSc thesis, even though we were on different labs. After I expressed my will to interview other STEM professionals who had a blog, it made every sense to interview her. I was even more excited to learn that she was changing careers while in her post doc. She is also an avid traveler with great travel photos. For instance her honeymoon was in Iceland, one of my dream destinations and possibly a dream honeymoon regardless I get married with my significant other or not. Let’s get to know her better?
1.Tell us about your research field and academic background.
It might seem unbelievable, but since I got into Middle School I knew I wanted to become a researcher. I didn’t know very well what to do to accomplish this, but working on a lab seemed very appealing. Fast forward to the senior year of High School, I chose to follow Biology. With this in mind, I went to the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon and I graduated in Cell Biology and Biotechnology. This was the same field of my Masters. For my Masters’ thesis I went to Instituto Superior Técnico and I worked since then on the Biological Sciences laboratory. My research field was on the relevance of a family of membrane transporters of Candida glabrata (a pathogenic fungus) on drug resistance.
2. What were the most relevant moments of your academic career?
I guess that the most relevant moment was when I published my first research article as a first author. I was working on my project since 2010 and seeing a 3 year work internationally recognized was a moment of extreme happiness!
3. For how long have you had Daydreams? What inspired you to create the blog?
Daydreams is almost 6 years now! I still can’t believe it has been around for so long. I created the blog when I started living with my then boyfriend (now husband). I followed several blogs and the idea of writing more than scientific articles, in order to share my things in the way I wanted, was so appealing. On February 29th 2012 I created Everything About K (K comes from Kika, my nickname at home) and, in June 2013, it evolved as Daydreams, a much prettier space and more reflective of myself. I finally understood by then what I wanted to talk about – travels, beauty, DIY, etc.
4. You have such a busy schedule: you are on a post graduation in Digital Marketing, you are a blogger and one of the co-organizers of Bloggers Camp, and you still have time to travel and take gorgeous pictures. Finally, you had a super busy year in 2016 while planning your wedding. How can you manage all this?
Now that you put things in these terms I can see I manage my time quite well! The truth is that, with so much going on at the same time, I always feel I leave something behind, and it’s the blog most of the time. That makes me quite sad and I’m trying to change this. One of my main goals is to publish more on the blog and to create more routines. Hopefully I can do this.
5. Do you feel that the blog helps you to relax from research? What other things do you do to unwind from this very absorbing lifestyle?
Absolutely! Research is not only a very absorbing career, but it also required a great ability to deal with frustration. Apart from the blog, I love watching TV series and meet with friends, in particular I love having brunch!
6. You have several posts about travels in your blog. What was your favorite place? What do you have to tell us about that destination?
Well, I didn’t go there in vacation, but I fell insanely in love with Japan. I could talk abut this country where I lived for 6 months for hours without getting tired! I guess Tokyo deserves at least one week there. It’s a huge city, with so many different areas that look like completely different cities and with such a large variety of food. Then, if you can visit Kyoto and sleep in one of the famous ryokans, don’t miss it! On the less traveled path, I loved Takayama and it’s wonderful to taste all the sake available there.
7. You are born and raised in Lisbon, so you must be able to provide us wonderful local tips about the city. What are your favorite spots in Lisbon to walk around, eat and drink?
I am surprisingly bad when choosing places to go in Lisbon. I end up knowing more about other cities than about my own because I always think I have a lot of time in Lisbon and leave all things for later. So I won’t be original and I will suggest Baixa and Chiado for long walks. There’s always something new going on there! For brunch, I love Choupana Caffé (personal Pulgarita note off the record: these are on the top 3 best croissants in Lisbon for me!) and I love having drinks in Foxtrot for a vintage feel bar.
8. Which opportunities did the blog give you? Tell us about Bloggers Camp as well.
Above all, the blog allowed me to meet extremely interesting people and projects. When I think about everything that Daydreams has given me I think that, if I looked back, I would to it all again like I did at first.
Relatively to Bloggers Camp, it’s only possible due to two wonderful friends I have from the blogging world, Ana and Catarina. There are even crazier than me for having accepted, without thinking twice, to organize the only annual bloggers meetup in Portugal. It has been wonderful to see this project grow and become larger and larger but, at the same time, it’s scary! Sometimes I wonder if we are up to par to the huge things that have happened to us but then I understand that our dream team is unstoppable and all the fears go away 🙂
9. You are enrolled into a post graduation in Digital Marketing. After this, you are open to new career challenges. What advice can you give to someone who is now in research and thinking about going for a new career?
I don’t really like to talk about this, but unfortunately research in Portugal is very limited in terms of career choices. The market is highly saturated and when I think I didn’t like to follow the academic career, since teaching was never my dream, the options are even more diminute. Therefore, I am studying a different area that I like a lot and challenges me as much as research. Who knows if new doors will open?
The only thing I can say to someone in the same situation as me is that you should fight for your dreams, define your own path and don’t let a degree define what you will do for the rest of your life. We are all way more than a professional title and what matters is, at the end of the day, that we feel we did everything we could to be where we want to be.
10. It was a great pleasure to interview you! Where can we follow you on social media?
Thank you so much Catarina for the interview and I apologize for not having been able to publish this earlier. I was with her in November when I visited Portugal and I know that she is already working in Digital Marketing by now and going strong with the Bloggers Camp 2018 edition and other workshops for bloggers. This is an inspiring story to show it’s never too late to change careers and is a good background to start my features on career development challenges. I have SO MANY to write about.
Next week will be my last at MIT. So much nostalgy will kick in. Be on the lookout for a special blogpost Saturday marking the 1 year anniversary since I landed in Boston. See you then!