I recently went to Reggio Di Calabria, a city in southern Italy, to present to present a paper I wrote at a workshop / conference. The trip was good, and (predictably, for Southern Italy in August) quite hot.
I spent an afternoon and evening in Rome before taking a train south to Reggio Calabria. While in Rome, I did a little bit of sightseeing and visited the National Gallery of Ancient Art, ate at some local cafes, and tried to nap away the jetlag. Once in Reggio Calabria, I:
Tried, without success, to figure out if I actually could drink the tapwater: no one would say it was unsafe, but also everyone recommended just buying bottled water;
Then tried, with some success, to figure out the meanings of the different types of bottled water, or at least “oligomineral” water;
Visited the National Museum of Magna Graecia, which was way more impressive than I had even hoped for; and
Was totally blown away by the horizon every time I looked at it. The Mediterranean with Sicily in the background consistently looked like a postcard.
The conference I was at also had an organized outing to the town of Scilla, where we walked through the fishing village / district Chianalea and climbed to the top of the ancient Castello Ruffo.
The only other notable event was getting my debit card skimmed at an ATM in Rome on my return trip, although I wouldn’t find out about that for a couple of weeks. Despite that, it was a great trip — I watched a number of really interesting talks, met great people, and of course the food (especially the gelato!) and scenery were just incredible.
In July I wrote about a recent paper covering my lab’s recent work with a concept called “Error Type Refinement.” Then, in late September, I got to travel to the city of Delft in the Netherlands and present the work. I presented at the ASSURE workshop, which was co-located with this year’s SAFECOMP conference. The workshop and conference were great — the presentations were really interesting, and I got to meet a lot of people working in the field (many of whom I knew previously as names on papers that I had read!)
I also had a lot of fun exploring Delft — the city is very old, and has a lot of really cool history, including a couple of neat churches — the Nieuwe Kerk (or New Church, though construction actually started in 1396) and the Oude Kerk (or Old Church, which dates to 1246). I also got to see more modern buildings (like the University library, which is a giant cone built into a hillside) as well as very small ones at Madurodam, which is a theme park that has 1:25 scale replicas of famous Dutch buildings, roads, ships and trains.
It was really nice to have nearly everything in the city easily accessible by foot, though I felt like I was always at risk of getting run over by people on bicycles, which was quite a change coming from the US. The canals (and accompanying ducks and geese) around which the sidewalks and streets were laid out were also a very pleasant change from the more mundane Kansas.
All in all, it was a great trip, and I learned a lot — both about safety critical computing, and about the history of the Netherlands. You can check out the photos I took below!
My work with medical devices took me to Lausanne, Switzerland last month, and since I was already halfway around the world my advisor and I decided a trip up north to Lübeck, Germany to visit medical device manufacturer Dräger made sense. The work I did there was really cool — in contrast to the conference in Lausanne, where I was the only person talking about medical devices, the Dräger work focused on nothing else. Also, I had a little over an hour for my presentation instead of 12 minutes.
I really enjoyed meeting some people who work in medical device connectivity research at Dräger, and I hope that we can continue to interact in the future. I also really enjoyed exploring Lübeck, which, like Lausanne, had a number of neat historic buildings. Communicating with people was definitely easier in Germany than it was in Switzerland (with the exception of one very insistent fellow in a train station) so while there were still challenges — mostly related to getting around: the mass transit is impressive, but it’s also sort of difficult to understand at first — it was all in all pretty smooth.
I managed to grab another geocache in a really scenic downtown park, eat a ton of marzipan, and get (briefly) addicted to currywurst. I also went to a number of very cool churches, saw the famous city gate (“Holstentor”) and even walk through a puppet museum. You can see some photos of the churches and outdoor areas below!
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!