I recently mentioned that a paper I wrote got accepted to MEMOCODE, a conference in Lausanne, Switzerland. Having never been out of the country before, a trip to Europe was really exciting. It was also a little imposing — I would be traveling alone to a place with no knowledge of the local language (in this case, French). Unlike my trip to DC, where I was most anxious about my presentation, for this trip I was actually more anxious about the typically unimportant details — getting from one place to another, ordering food, etc.
I won’t say that those anxieties didn’t turn out to be at least somewhat warranted, the trip was at times quite challenging. At different times, I…
Accidentally ordered a dish served with a raw egg on top
Had to sprint through airports to make connections (in both Heathrow and O’Hare)
Had conversations entirely in French (thanks entirely to a phrasebook app on my phone)
But the benefits definitely outweighed the negatives. The trip was an amazing experience, and the conference went really well — my presentation was unfortunately quite short (I was given only 12 minutes), but it went well and I got some good questions / discussion. I also really enjoyed seeing the sights in the area — the cathedral is amazing, as is the nearby Sauvabelin tower / park / forest (where I even found a geocache!). On top of that, the food (particularly the fondue and the pasta) was delicious, and the local wines were also really good.
All that said, though, I’m happy to be home for a while, and back to business-as-usual. You can check out the pictures I took below!