My name is Nuria Gonzalez and I have been living for the last 4 and a half years in Baltimore, in the state of Maryland (United States). Before I start boring you guys about myself, I’d love to give some info about Baltimore since I think it is a city that it’s been tragically judged based on a TV show. Despite having a very high rate of crime, Baltimore is more than The Wire; Baltimore is one of the oldest cities of USA; Baltimore played a key role in the American Revolution; and Baltimore, along with Boston, is one of the cities with a higher concentration of universities and medical schools. OK, this is the end of my “Let’s Undo The Wrong Done to Baltimore”.
I was born in Hospital de Sant Pau in Barcelona in 1979 although I was raised in Badalona, or as I call it, the melting pot of Spanish cultures. My father is Castilian and my mom is Catalan, this along with the fact I spent all my childhood in such a culturally eclectic city, taught me to be open to different ways to do things but also to be protective of my own heritage.
I studied Biology in the Autonomous University of Barcelona and I got my PhD in Microbiology and Biotechnology in that same university. From very early in the game, I knew my future as scientist in the peninsula was doomed without the proper connection, so I decided right after graduation to leave Catalonia and head for United States (I did not know then it was probably gonna be for good). Currently, I am a research assistant in the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology ascribed to the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine, in Baltimore. I study the immune response of salmonids (a pet fish in my case: zebrafish) against a virus that is causing huge environmental and financial troubles for salmon, trout and carp both in the wild and in fish farms.
At a more personal level, I have been always very interested in history (my biology degree was almost by chance since I am hopeless for sciences – math, physics, and chemistry…torture). In that regard, I always try to bring Catalan history to my non-Catalan friends. The tragedy about Catalonia is that it is invisible to the world despite being a territory that played such a critical role in Europe politics for centuries (or rather what it is now known as Europe).
Finally, I wanna give you guys a very brief summary of my personal situation. 3 years ago I met an American guy from Philly who despises the way USA is portraying itself to the world, who is very aware of the immorality of USA government in many issues, and who LOVES football (although being from Philadelphia he is a very hard cord Man City fan-boy). I could not do anything other than marrying him. He is a videogame developer so his chances of finding a decent job in Catalonia are close to 0, as 0 are my chances of being properly paid as a scientist there. Those are the 2 main reasons I truly believe leaving Catalonia in 2009 was probably for good. I understand I have a moral duty to my homeland, but I need to feel I am acknowledged as a scientist and that what we scientists do is perceived as important for society, and that, unfortunately, is not possible now in Catalonia.
All that said, I really miss Catalonia and my friends, I miss the beaches, I miss the Catalan taranna, I miss calçots and the Pyrenees, but above all I miss speaking in Catalan. I hope my week as CatalanVoices curator will be as refreshing for you guys as it will be for me: a way to get back to basics.
(My personal twitter account is @rednuria if anyone feels like following me after my week!!)