Sunday, April 14, 2019

My EMDC Erasmus Mundus Journey

KTH Welcome Reception at Stockholm City Hall, 2013
7 years ago in 2012 August, I arrived in Lisbon for my Erasmus Mundus masters program, European Master in Distributed Computing (EMDC). My mobility was, IST (Lisboa, Portugal) -> KTH (Stockholm, Sweden). My first academic year should be in Portugal and the third semester (first half of the second academic year) should be in Sweden. The final semester is the thesis, and it was proposed that it should be in KTH, Sweden, although it was not set in stone, unlike the first 3 semesters.

KTH Main Campus in Summer
Initially, my grant was in a waiting list, and I was careful with the money. But I was approved for the full scholarship, Category "A" soon after. This eliminated my worry about money. I had planned to spend just one year in Portugal and the second year in Sweden. However, I decided to come back to IST for my final semester for my master thesis.

The first semester was interesting. Everything was new. We had a group of international students doing our Erasmus Mundus program. We all were always together. We also had other international students from various other mobility programs.

KTH Main Campus in Autumn
Portugal was my 4th country to visit. Lisbon was my second city in Europe. My first trip was in 2010 to Paris. Of course, at first, Lisbon felt underwhelming compared to my expectations based on Paris. However, it became a positive experience quickly. We had 2 out of the 4 courses of the first semester in Taguspark. We would take the IST shuttle in the morning to commute to Taguspark campus from the Alameda campus. My apartment was in a walking distance to the Alameda campus where we had most of the lectures. We often had meals in the canteen - the Taguspark canteen was much better than the ones in Alameda. We also had a winter event in Nuria, Spain in the snowy mountains. We enjoyed the snow and the -11℃.

View of the Langholmen island, Stockholm
Our move to Stockholm was smooth. We had more students in KTH/Sweden in our group compared to IST/Portugal, as all the students of EMDC had to spend one semester in KTH. While we spent our first year in IST, Portugal, the other half of us had spent their time in UPC, Barcelona, Spain. Stockholm was fun. It had lots of lakes and forests. Its metro stations were beautiful. It also had a popular story involving a discontinued metro station, Kymlinge, and an old Silverpilen (silver arrow), the Ghost Train. Summer was long and comfortable. Winter was depressingly dark. But inside our apartment, it was warm enough. Unlike Lisboa, Stockholm had a good central heating.

EMDC Summer Event in Fejan
For the final semester, I decided to come back to IST for the master thesis. Everyone else either stayed at KTH or went on to different companies or research labs. So I was back to INESC-ID Lisboa. But my experience was entirely different from 2012 and 2013 when I had a big group. Anyway, I successfully completed EMDC, with a score of 18/20 for the master thesis, with 2 publications (at MASCOTS and UCC). I also worked at UniPlaces as a part-time software engineer by the end of the 3rd semester to early 4th semester.

Gamla Stan
Masters in Europe, specifically the Erasmus Mundus mobility programs, are very exciting. I decided to continue my higher education in Europe with Erasmus Mundus. I applied for EMJD-DC (Erasmus Mundus Joint Doctorate in Distributed Computing) and got selected with the category A scholarship. Finally, my EMDC came to a successful end.

We also had 2 graduation ceremonies. One for KTH at the Stockholm city hall where they usually present the Nobel awards! We also had our welcome reception in the city hall when we arrived in Stockholm. Most of us had a reunion there meeting our friends after a long time during the KTH graduation ceremony. We also had a graduation ceremony at IST. But unfortunately, it was only me who was attending. Luckily, I was staying in Lisboa for my EMJD-DC at that time. Overall, EMDC left me with very happy memories and no regrets! Given a chance, I would not do anything different. :)

Friday, April 5, 2019

3 Decades of Memories

As I turned 32, I was reflecting on my 3 decades of life in a few countries, and writing a series of blog posts over the weekends. During my life, I also did my bachelors, masters, and Ph.D., which left me with long-lasting memories. Consequently, I ended up summarizing my life in the few countries in a few blog posts.

Memories of Sri Lanka
Memories of Portugal
Memories of Sweden
Memories of Belgium

Romantic Porto
As I reach the end of my Ph.D. studies this summer, I am also heading to the third episode of my life, the first being life in Sri Lanka, and the second being the student life abroad. My student life has been remarkable and memorable. As I reach my third episode, I often end up recalling those days, the student life when I felt so energetic and young. But I pledge to continue to be positive and have good memories, not feeling too old. It is more fun to look for a more exciting future, rather than vividly recalling the past. Of course, it is always refreshing to revisit those old places that I loved several years back (for example, Porto). But it is also essential to create new memories and continue having positive memories as always. :)