Monday, October 4, 2010

Finally heading home

I apologize that it has been a while since my last post, I just haven't had the time to blog. I am writing this post in bits and pieces during the flight back home – which will take about 42 hours as I circle the world in the wrong direction: Sydney, Singapore, London, Paris, Boston, Chicago!

First of all I must say a big thank you, to all you that have been following this blog. I have gotten tons of comments from people I would have never thought would read it. I really appreciate that a lot. Even my 93 year old granpa reads my blog – how cool is that! (hola Toto!)

So, much has happened in the last month and a half or so.

I finished my internship at Google, which was an phenomenal experience! The last couple of weeks leading up to the end of the internship were quite crazy, I was putting in 12-15 hour days just trying to get it all done in time. Luckily I did finish my project, and it turned out quite well. I even got the chance to give a TechTalk about it, and I had a pretty full room – even with remote participants dialing in from Pittsburgh and New York. A big thank you to all the people at Google that this such a great experience!

Oh, I did manage to squeeze in those weeks a weekend trip to Copenhagen with a small group of Canadians and and Irish guy. I went there without knowing anything about the place and I was surprised how nice it was. We saw the palaces, royal gardens, the Tivoli amusement park, a very interesting hippie commune named Chrisitiana, and a few other cool places. We wanted to see the famous Little Mermaid statue (Copenhagen is the home of Hans Christien Anderson), but apparently it was on lease to the World Expo in China, so they had a screen streaming the live feed of were the statue was... not quite the same.

Then – finally – Lauren came!! That was the best part of the Summer! We had an awesome trip. We started the trip in Zürich, were I showed her around and took her to the Google offices. Then we went to Zermatt – a gorgeous mountain town in the Swiss Alps. After that we went to Germany to visit Tanja and Jan in Lübeck. Here we did a day trip to Hamburg and a weekend trip to Berlin. Next we went to the Cinque Terre region of Italy – were we took in the Italian lifestyle in these five little villages that jut out of the cliffs facing the Mediterranean. Our next stop was the fairy tale city of Prague. And finally we went to the city of lights – Paris – to visit Robert, Mafe and Calla. We took tons of pictures and wrote notes about our trip, which we will probably make into a 'digital version' of a scrap book. Once we get it done I will be sure to share it here. The best part of the trip was that Lauren was there with me :)

After our trip, we had to say goodbye again, as I had to go to Sydney Australia for the RE 2010 conference. I had to chair a session, co-chair the student volunteers, and present two papers (one at a workshop and another in the PhD symposium). Normally I would have been super excited about traveling to Australia, but after being away from home for 4 months, living out of suitcases, and not having the slightest idea were I was every time I woke up, I really just wanted to go home. In any case, the conference went really well. I didn't have the chance to do much exploring, but I did get to do a few cool touristy things, such as a tour of the city, a dinner cruise on Sydney harbour overlooking the famous Opera House and the Bridge, and a day trip to the Blue Mountains. The Blue Mountains were probably my favorite part, here you really do feel 'down under'. Overall I was quite impressed at how cool Australia is; not bad at all for a country that was colonized merely two hundred years ago and was meant to be a prison! I didn't get to see a Kangaroo or a Koala in their natural habitat, so I guess I will have to leave that for the next time. One thing though, is that the flight there is absolutely brutal, and the jet lag matches it.

And so ends a once in a lifetime Summer. It was awesome and bittersweet. I learned a lot: technically, professionally and personally. I met a lot of cool people and saw incredible places. I realized how much I love my wife, and how I am a better person when I am with her and how I should never take for granted our time together. All and all, a great summer.