Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Moments with Llovizna: Random Thoughts of a Gypsy Student

I started my blog in 2009 mostly as an internship diary and then continued to blog about my Google Summer of Code projects, final year project, and the relevant findings on programming and software in general. I blogged about AbiWord almost 50 times, and never thought I would blog about something else before moving to Lisboa for my masters, EMDC. I enjoy presenting my PhD (EMJD-DC) work at conferences. Due to the mandatory mobility of my master and PhD, I travelled and migrated across the countries and continents, which made Llovizna a travel blog too.

I like to stay awake during the take off and landing, as I usually get to sit in the middle seat. However, for some unknown reason, I mostly fall asleep just before taking off and wake up immediately when the flight is almost in the cruising altitude. I like watching movies in the long flights. They come with subtitles, so that I can understand all foreign language movies - mostly I watch Asian movies. The flights that are shorter than 7 hours mostly do not have movies. The airlines in the US, specially the domestic ones, are terrible, even if they travel as long as 5 hours. I remember a flight from Atlanta to San Francisco of 5.5 hours in United Airways - not offering meals, citing that this is the norm in domestic flights.

View from the empire state building
When I do not watch movies, sleep, or have meals, I just look outside the window and see the big world outside. I often do not sleep the night before sleep, as I get busy with packing, and also because I fear not being able to wake up on time for the flight. This makes me have the typical zombie walk - a walk without realizing or sensing the environment, more like a zombie.

I enjoy conferences - meeting, listening to, and share ideas with fellow researchers. I enjoy travels. However, I must admit that it is a hard situation where you are in a new and beautiful city (which most conference venues are), but have to focus on the conference and networking instead. Recently, I have somehow mastered the balance of it, winning over the jet lag and the tiredness related to the long flights. Perks of being a gypsy student. In addition to the conference related travels, I do enjoy some small trips when I have time and money at the same time, as the recent trip to NYC during a long weekend.

We enjoyed cooking in Atlanta. It has fresh food in decent prices. YDFM was our favourite. As the time to return to Portugal comes, I am foreseeing yet another intercontinental flight of the year. Mostly I end up packing the last moment, throwing away things at the eleventh hour or packing/storing things in bulk. One exception was my move back from Rijeka to Lisboa, where I managed to finish all the food items I bought - including oils, rice, and vegetables. Since 2012, I have this weird migration pattern of Sri Lanka -> Portugal -> Sri Lanka -> Sweden -> Portugal -> Croatia -> Portugal -> USA -> Portugal -> Belgium (expected) -> Portugal (expected). This summarizes my gypsy life so far, and in the near future.

I still remember my first walk from my apartment to my lab through the beautiful lanes of Atlanta, with a map. There was a guy in front of me walking. I was under the impression that he was going to the University as well. I was wrong - he turned to the opposite direction. Luckily I was not blindly following him (which I never do actually. :) ) The summer in Atlanta is much longer. When we return to Lisboa in two weeks, it would be autumn there already, with getting colder and wet. Hope it was still warm enough for some walks at the Parque das Nações.

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