Jumping in a pre-historical setting in Odrinhas, Lisbon area, Portugal

Welcome to A Pulgarita! I aim to inspire young full-time researchers to travel and explore while rocking their own projects!

Who is the “pulgarita”?

I’m Cátia, a 28 year old Biomedical Engineer currently enrolled in a Bioengineering PhD program. I really like my research work, a combination of stem cell manufacturing and programming, and it is allowing me to learn about a lot of exciting things.

I was born and lived almost all my life in the Lisbon area, Portugal, a city and country that I absolutely love! Currently, I live in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, since I am doing a research period at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. So here I am to show you how I am trying to arrive to my final research destination (becoming a doctor) while traveling and exploring as much as possible on a tight budget!

Why “A Pulgarita”?

Since I was very little I was always very energetic and doing my own thing while aiming to learn a lot about the world. For instance, at the age of 4, while at a gymnastics party, instead of doing the group chroreography, I was jumping around off beat. Throughout elementary school, my favorite book was a Geography Enciclopedia that I loved to open to see pictures about very distant places that I would love to see with my own eyes one day. Fortunately I’ve been to 16 countries already =)

I think I’m like a flea in a way: always aiming to reach more than what my height allows me and always from place to place in the hope to find nice details. But I am not the bad flea that we all hate for making us itchy, at least I hope so 😉 My father saw this about me since little, so he nicknamed me “pulgarita” (“little flea” in Portuguese). Yeah, now you get it.

Chilling in Rome, Italy

Why in a PhD?

Since I completed my MSc in the end of 2011 I have worked in research. I am grateful to have already published four articles and given over a dozen of presentations about my work. Back in early 2015, the perfect opportunity came to apply my research interests in the healthcare field and programming to a more industrial and entrepreneurial setting. I really thought a lot before making one, because I knew how hard and time consuming it is and how many people are drained by it. I knew that if I ever made the push, it wouldn’t be just because it would be comfortable. It was because I wanted to learn more and make an impact aligned with my values. After all, it’s 4 years of your life at least. However, the purpose of developing your research to advance knowledge is something that still excites me and keeps me going, but not only that…

How do you travel with a full time research project?

First of all, I want to say that, at least for now, I don’t want to make traveling my full time job. I feel great having a home base and developing healthcare or programming related projects. About combining this, it is not that hard and the same advice sure applies to other full time jobs.

First of all, traveling does not mean going to a different country every single vacation period. Most enjoyable experiences come from exploring my surroundings and finding new things as a true every-day explorer. Another thing that helps me to visit a lot of different places is being on a budget, but of course not overly restrictive, then what would be the point to travel to a new place just to see everything from the outside? My third advice would be to do everything possible to be optimistic and productive to make everything at work fall into place more easily and be guilt-free in your vacations and explorations. As bonus points from being a researcher, there are abroad stays and collaborations (like my current one), conferences and other meetings that will enable you to travel while working.

A pause in a hike in Lagos de Covadonga, Asturias, Spain

What will I get from this blog?

I’m writing mainly to you, fellow young researcher with a tight schedule and budget and a desire to know more the world outside the lab/office/library/whatever, to provide:

  • Budget travel tips and inspiration;
  • Research motivation and communication tips;
  • Coverage of related career development events and tools;

While my passion is combining both travel and full time research, I aim to also provide useful content for you, wanderluster or city explorer on a schedule and budget, while explaining how the research world works. Hopefully some of the tips and skills I provide will help with your work life as well!

With “A Pulgarita” I hope you get bitten into seeing the world with more curious eyes, that’s what keeps me going!

Want to stay tuned? Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest for all budget travel and research goodies! And while we’re at it, I ocasionally do vlogs on Youtube, check those out 😉