Hmm…I didn’t think I’d be too busy to update, but I underestimated this mission to Belgium. Third day back at the lab and I’m already feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the things I have to accomplish by the end of the month. Bring it on.
The blog posts must continue. It’s been almost two weeks since the training school in Annecy – wow? I left the IDS-FunMates in Bordeaux – lots of them, including Yi-Shiang, Jiang, Xuesong, An, Vusala, Edgar, Mathilde, Hanbin, Camille – and joined the ones in Louvain-la-Neuve again – Diana, Alina, Victor (I think), and Naresh who is arriving soon.
These are only some of the 60 or so students in IDS-FunMat. Now in its third year, the program has approximately 20 students per class, meeting annually in March for a training school where everyone gets to meet and mingle. Yeah, “training” school. Of course we have lectures and seminars and presentations and workshops, but all of us know that we don’t see some of our colleagues except during this event, and so we take full advantage of the week.
Especially me. I ❤ my IDS-FunMates so much. (Photo album here.)
I arrived in Annecy on a Sunday afternoon, roots and branches still visible, but on Monday morning I awoke to a big surprise – snow! Big snow! I think it was a present from the people who arrived from Canada or Belgium. I mean, I did request snow maybe two months ago, but c’mon, it’s the end of March. Some spring, please? Well to be fair, the snow was lovely, and I didn’t mind it, especially with the Alps as the background for our training school the entire week 😉
The mingling began as I met some of the ladies – Diana, Lizzie, Mercedes, Deniz, Henu, An, Erin, and me. Aside from Diana (my colleague in my Belgium lab) and An (random encounters in Bordeaux), I haven’t seen any of the others in a whole year! What a nice reunion.
Of course, with every training school comes the inevitable supervisor meeting. It’s also the only time of the year when I get to meet with all three of my supervisors at the same time, for the better or for the worse. On the left side of the table are Alain and Marie-Christine, and on the right are Karine and me. Alain and Karine are my supervisors in Belgium (also husband and wife) while Marie-Christine (whom I simply call Marie) is my supervisor in France. As for the meeting? It went smooth, for the most part, except for the fact that after that meeting, I knew I was doomed for April. And here I am now…
Since we were right by Lake Annecy and the Alps, a bunch of us decided to go and take a look. What an adorable group of people! The trip involved going down a giant hill, as the training school literally took place on a mountain. Going down was easy but the trip back up…was quite a workout.
And yes, the obligatory official IDS-FunMat logo…made by us. IDS-FunMat stands for International Doctoral School in Functional Materials. They got the “Fun” part right! I was the curved part in D, and I had to sort of lean on Ragu to create the D shape. I gotta admit…I probably look the awkwardest out of all the people involved in the letters.
I don’t know whose idea it was to take this photo from a high angle, but it was an excellent idea because it turned out extremely well! As An commented on my Facebook, “This is a super mega nice photo!”
As part of the training school, there’s an excursion every year. We went to Lisbon in 2011, and up to a mountain named La Rhune in 2012. This year, a snowshoeing/hiking trip was organized in the Alps. How exciting was that! We were split into five groups, each led by a professional guide who took us on various trails on a “gentle mountain” named Le Semnoz. Oh, snow…how much it reminded me of home sweet home!
The view from Le Semnoz was breathtaking. We took breaks in between our hike to catch our breath and just enjoy everything around us, covered in the purest white and a deafening silence only broken by our voices. This has got to be the most unconventional yet most well-planned excursion out of the three. And I’ve gotten my fair share of working out this week, from climbing the mountain back to the hotel, to this snowshoeing adventure which definitely made me sweat quite a bit!
No adventure in the snow is complete without a snow fight! If I didn’t have my camera with me, I would have dived into the deep white and joined the guys in their fun!
Part 3 on Annecy and Part 4 on Geneva still to come…!