Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Feelings of Erasmus Mundus

Baixa-Chiado Metro Station, a remarkable one for Erasmus Students
Week 26
[20/02/2013] - Since we don't have the lectures in Taguspark campus, we don't have to use the IST shuttle anymore. This saves us a lot of time this semester, compared to the last. However, we miss the good times we had at Taguspark, specially the lunch time together. I used to wake up at 5.30 a.m to catch the 7.15 a.m shuttle on Mondays. This semester, I wake up at 7.30 a.m, the earliest. More time to sleep!

6 months
Today we did our Mobile Computing presentation. This was the first team effort of Team XPD (Xiao Chen, Pradeeban Kathiravelu, and Dipesh Dugar Mitthalal). Now, I am having a break with some music, and decided to blog on the feelings of Erasmus Mundus, which was in my to-blog list for quite a long time. Interestingly, today it is exactly 6 months since I left home and my country, for my masters!

Feelings of Erasmus Mundus
My apartment - a usual meeting spot for us!
Erasmus Mundus is surely one of the best (if not the best) decisions that we all have made. We all came to Lisbon as strangers. I had interest in exploring Lisbon, but no real attachment to it.

Things started to change eventually. The support and helping hand of the locals surely made a positive impact on me. In my opinion, Portuguese are very friendly people. We, all the EMDC students became good friends. It felt good to be a student, after a break, as I became a student after spending two years working in a company. As Erasmus Mundus students, we had a huge opportunity to meet other mobility students, who follow Erasmus, Erasmus Mundus, BRAZIL, and similar programs. Meeting points like Bairro Alto and specifically the Erasmus Corner, became regular places of visit. Moreover, the cultural diversity made our relationships more interesting and spicy! ;) 

Fresher Winds
Nightly walks over Lisbon neighbourhoods!
It was like a rebirth, where we started to learn and earn everything fresh - new courses, new friends, new people, and new experiences. We came to Lisbon, almost with an empty hand and mind, with nothing but hope and expectations. We started to earn people and knowledge. Our relationships are interesting and non-trivial. Erasmus Mundus experience has written many new interesting pages in our life.

Level - up
Erasmus Mundus experience was a level-up. We learned about people and culture. Tried different dishes. A few phrases from each language! From what I learned and experienced, I would recommend every student to study abroad, as an exchange student, or as a graduate student abroad, at least once in their life. The aspects of life we learned during the Erasmus Mundus is much richer than the technological knowledge we have gathered so far during our stay. Balancing the social life and studies without getting too distracted, enjoying the new environment without compromising our unique values and believes, accepting different view points and learning from them, broadening the horizon, were a few interesting challenges the students face.

Walking from Santos to Cais do Sodre
World is not that small. :(
A few friends have already left us and returned to their home countries, as they have completed their study. We already miss them. They have surely left a strong foot print in our minds, which will never fade away. I am sure, I will miss Lisbon when I go to Stockholm next semester, as much as I missed my country when I left it last year. Probably, even more! Lisbon has surely become a second home to me, during the stay of the 6 months. The interesting people we met here from different parts of the world - I am not sure how effective we will be in communication or how much will we be in touch, after we departed. The world is still not that small, and I don't think the online or electronic communication is strong enough to express the human feelings, or replace the face-to-face communications. Quoting our P2P professor, once more. "Human nature: It is difficult to understand."

I just wish everyone of you will be with me, forever!

Monday, February 18, 2013

EMDC Winter Event 2013

Picturesque Segovia
Weeks 24 & 25 
[13/02/2013] - The last two weeks of the vacation were spent at Spain (Photos), in Madrid, Segovia, Barcelona, Nuria, and Sitges.

2nd Semester!
The second semester started on the 13th. The new semester has an interesting time table. We have lectures on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Finally, weekend has become longer than the weekdays! Like the first semester, this semester too we have 4 modules - Middleware for Distributed Internet Applications (PADI764), Fault-Tolerant Distributed Systems (SDTF64), Virtual Execution Environments (AVExe364), and Mobile Computing (CMov764). We already have formed the groups for the projects, and are ready for yet another interesting episode. 

Sitges Carnival was full of partiers parading!
Trip to Spain
EMDC Winter Event (6th - 8th, Feb 2013) was held at Vall de Núria. We planned a Spain trip (3rd - 11th, Feb 2013) along with the winter Event, covering Madrid and Barcelona, along with the neighbourhood, including Segovia and Sitges. Our flight itinerary was, Lisbon -> Madrid -> Barcelona -> Lisbon.

We spent the first few days in Madrid (3rd - 5th, Feb). We were at Segovia on the 5th of Feb. Segovia is a silent and charming neighbourhood, with a wonderful architecture, including the Gothic Cathedral of Segovia and Aqueduct of Segovia. We went to Barcelona on the 5th night, and had a brief meeting at UPC, on the 6th.

La Vall de Núria
Heavenly Nuria - This is where we stayed!
Then we moved to Nuria, where we enjoyed the snow, skiing, food, games, and presentations. It was an awesome experience, and the special thanks goes to the professors who organized this event pretty well, and the industry experts and the senior students, who shared their knowledge and experience with us. Travelling by the rack train that connects Nuria to Ribes was a remarkable experience. The change in the landscape and the climate was obvious. Mountains covered with snow, and heavy snow was the norm in Nuria.

We noticed that French border is just in a walking distance, from where we are right now. Snow, and -10°c. (Feels like -24°c). However, in winter, I don't think it's even possible in this heavy snow, except for those who are into adventures.

The Erasmus Mundus EMDC 2012 students from IST and UPC introduced themselves with two presentations. The EMDC-IST introductory presentation introduced all 8 of us.

On the 8th, we returned to Barcelona, where we stayed for the rest of the days, visiting CosmoCaixa Barcelona (formerly known as the science museum of Barcelona), Park Guell, and the other attractions around. Interestingly, we also got the chance to enjoy the carnival at Sitges, on the 10th of February. I enjoyed Spain. However, my preference is still Lisbon/Portugal. The comforting weather, availability of varieties of stylish food, the lovely people, or just my personal preference. Probably, I am just addicted to Lisbon.