Alejandra Rodriguezde la Rosa

There are some experiences that mark your life. Having been a NIGintern is one of those. After more than half a day flying, I landed in a totally different country: different people, food, religion, culture… But when I arrived to the Kawakami Lab, all its members welcomed me to Japan so kindly and greeted me so heartwarmingly that I felt back at home instantly. It is wonderful how science breaks frontiers!

My project was about the production of knock-in transgenic zebrafish carrying Gal4FF gene by CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome engineering. I didn’t have any previous experience with zebrafish, but thanks to the patient guidance of Kotani-san, Kawakami-sensei and Aki-san I learned how to microinject the eggs, test the CRISPR gRNA efficiency and construct the necessary vector, aside from practicing essential lab procedures such as transformation, direct sequencing, mini-prep production…

In addition, I really enjoyed many other things, as the meals with the lab members in the cafeteria talking about Japan as well as about my own country, the dinner we had in the izakaya, and specially the Japanese classes with Miyauchi-sensei, who even prepared a tea party for all the interns!

During the weekends, I had a chance to visit places that I always wanted to see since I was a child, such as Kyoto, Nara, Tokyo, Hakone, and Osaka, thanks to the super-fast shinkansen and bus services. These opportunities allowed me to experience from the amazing traditional cultural heritage to the futuristic buildings in Japan. And I even visited the Ghibli Museum!

We also organized some collective activities with other interns. Together we gave a try to different foods (Okonomiyaki, Kaitensushi), enjoyed a visit to FujiQ, went to Numazu festival and saw the fireworks. But above all, I will never forget the moment we got to see the sunrise from the very top of the Mount Fuji.

If one year ago someone had told me that I would have the opportunity to visit such an incredible country while doing what I love the, I wouldn’t have believed them. But now all I have to say is that Japan is wonderful country, and that its best thing is their kind and warm people, from who we have a lot to learn from.