Remember the days of book reports in middle/high school? Remember how you always waited until the very last minute to start working on it (don’t kid yourself, everyone did)? The night before it was due, there was a frantic rush to find the cliff notes (had all the free sites saved) and the constant battle of line spacing and margins just to get the required number of pages. Well, that’s kind of how I am with blogging. I always have these grand ideas of writing a post but when it comes down to it, I can never make it happen. My grand ideas slowly turn into cliff notes versions of various events, only to be shown up by Whitney as she enthusiastically posts the day of an event (I’ve said all along she is much better at this than I am). The post that follows is no exception. I’ve been intending to write this for over two weeks now. On the plus side, we’ve done a few more things in the mean time…
Way back at the beginning of August, I traveled for the first international conference of my PhD. The conference, eseb 2015 (Congress of the European society for Evolutionary Biology), took place in beautiful Lausanne, Switzerland on the campus of the University of Lausanne.
Instead of going into way too much detail about science and my excitement over the various talks, I’ll just sum up by saying that there were 1,500 participants from all of over the world, over 300 presentations, and two different poster sessions. In other words, it was a big conference. Of all of the talks/posters I saw, I do have to admit that one stood out among all of the others…
An interesting side note: eseb is a biennial meeting and therefore will not take place again until 2017. The next location of this large meeting? Groningen. While part of the fun of these conferences is getting to travel some place different, it will be nice to be able to come home every night. I’ve already told Whitney she can come with me to eseb 2017.
Outside of the conference, I did get to explore Lausanne a bit. First and foremost, I finally got to experience some sun and summer temperatures (I’m still wearing a jacket nearly every day in Groningen) so of course I took advantage and went swimming in Lake Geneva. For those of you from my neck of the woods (southwest Virginia), this is no South Holston Lake. Lake Geneva is crystal clear, refreshingly cold, has great beach areas for relaxing, and is surrounded by the Alps. It’s beautiful.
Following my swim, I went into the city for a bit of sightseeing. One thing to note, Whitney and I live in a completely flat country. Walking around a city like Lausanne (lots of elevation change) in heat and humidity was completely different from our typical day-to-day.
In other happenings, Noorderzon 2015 is currently happening in Groningen. This is a performing arts festival that takes place every year in a large park near our house. If I remember correctly, it runs for 10 days and is the place to be: lots of food, drinks, shows, and concerts. We were able to experience this last year, but on a very limited scale. For one, Whitney had yet to start her job so we were trying to be careful with money. Secondly, we now realize that we were very timid at that point in time. In fact, timid might be an understatement. We were scared that we were going to do or say something wrong. The simple thought of us not being able to speak the language was enough to cause us to just pass by and watch. Fast forward to this year and we don’t think twice about ordering a drink/food or walking up to random tents and exhibits. To think about it now, the idea that potentially saying something wrong would prevent us from checking out a local festival is ridiculous. However, at that time is was 100% true. It’s funny how things change in a years time. Moral of the story here: being able to speak the local language, if only on a limited basis, makes life so much better/easier. But even if you can’t, you still got to go for it! In the whole scheme of things, no one really cares.
In other exciting news, Whitney will soon be heading back to the US for a wedding. While I’m quite jealous of her getting to go, I’m not jealous of her travel schedule. From the time she leaves Groningen to the time she gets back, it will only be 4 days. Let’s not forget that includes flying half way across the world…twice. Nonetheless, I’m sure she will have plenty to tell in a later post.
We will also be traveling to the south of the Netherlands for a quick diving trip and to complete our Advanced Open Water certifications. This was originally supposed to happen following my trip to Lausanne but we had to reschedule. If things work out, we may try to mix in an additional small side trip along the way. As with Whitney’s trip, it will all be covered in a later post.
So that’s it for now. Stayed tuned for Whitney’s crack at the blog. It’s sure to be more timely and entertaining.
Until next time,
I always love reading your posts! A lot has changed here in a year too – as I write this I have a 3 month old laying on my chest…..