Translated as “over-the-table”, sobremesa does not make sense literally. Sobremesa, in Spanish speaking countries, is the time spent after a meal, sitting around and talking to people you shared meal with. The range of topics for conversation is as wide as the universe.

I will be leaving Spain in a few days. Let me give a small “talk” about the people I shared “my meal” with and the topics we devoured. Here goes:


I. There is only one instance when time stands still in ICFO. That´s when one is heating food in the microwaves.

II. For an institute where researchers are all A1, it is not surprising that almost everybody thinks that everyone is smarter than him/her.

III.  One´s action is usually a result of a balancing act. (Optics Express 20:17, 2012)

IV. Walking in a corridor in ICFO is like hearing Elsa singing “Let it go” in different languages.

V.  By using different eyes, one can access information without changing the interaction. (Phys. Rev. Letter 109:4, 2012)

VI. Do or do not. There is no try. ~ Yoda or the Boss, most of the time.

VII.   During summer, it´s sometimes too difficult to concentrate at work because the beach is only a mere 15-minute walk from the institute.

VIII. ICFO is like a playground. You enjoy yourself, you discover new things and you find good friends.

IX. Self-healing takes time, distance and most of all, energy. (Optics Letters 38:3, 2013)

X.  If you happen to be too busy during lunch time to squeeze lunch, you will find comfort in the fact that there is an informal late lunch club in ICFO. And believe me that that is much later than the Spanish lunch.

XI. Even inaccessible information can be accessed with the proper matching conditions. (Scientific Reports 3, 2013)

XII. Sitting in one of those bean bags scattered around ICFO is the perfect place to read an article. It is just too difficult to restrain oneself from sleeping.

XIII. The smallest details can be highlighted with the right projections. (Optics Letters 39:2, 2014)

XIV. The support staff save lives, hard drives and headaches. One wonders if they mend broken hearts too.

XV. The reception ladies’ “good byes” and “good nights” are the best way to end a working day.

XVI. Try joining Calçotada.  The amount of onions you´ll eat there will be more than all the onions you’ll eat for the whole year combined.

XVII.  All your muscles (especially the ones you thought did not exist) will curse you when you run a mountain trail.

XVIII. I find it difficult understanding the concept of work-life balance. If work is not part of your life, does that mean you are not living 9-10 hours a day? That´s an awful waste of life!

XIX. Failure to failure with undiminished enthusiasm. ~ Nobel Laureate Steven Chu on his life in science.  

XX. All journeys eventually end in the same place, home. ~ Chris Geiger

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