Annie Bananie en Europe

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Portugal part 1: Sesimbra

The first annual IDS-FunMat Training School took place in Sesimbra, Portugal from March 13 to March 18, 2011. This was my first “sort of” conference, and I can’t really compare because I’ve never been to a real conference before. However, it’s Portugal, and c’mon, you’ve gotta treat it as a mini-vacation.

The IDS-FunMat program, short for International Doctoral School in Functional Materials, is a joint program between the European Commission and Canada – a bit weird, I know – that offers a 3- or 4-year doctorate where each candidate is affiliated with two universities and an industry partner. The two universities must be in separate countries, hence mobility is mandatory. 9 cities are involved: Bordeaux, Caen, Grenoble, and Paris in France, Louvain-la-Neuve and Liege in Belgium, Darmstadt in Germany, Lisbon in Portugal, and Waterloo in Canada. As you know, my PhD is joint between Bordeaux and Louvain-la-Neuve, and I have already made my first move at the beginning of March.

Where is Sesimbra? It’s a little fishing village approximately 50 kilometers from Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal. The thing I was looking forward to the most, aside from the sunny weather and the beach, was meeting all the other PhD candidates in my program. There were 22 of us, coming from all around the world and now scattered throughout Europe due to our mobility schemes.

Enough about my program and onto the week! The schedule was jam packed with plenary lectures and presentations and workshops, but even in the midst of it all, the students were able to squeeze out every bit of free time to spend networking with and getting to know each other. Let’s take a look day by day. Mouseover the small pictures to read a brief description and click to see the full version.

Day 1: Arrival

Upon landing, I saw a magnificent view of Lisbon. Unfortunately I did not capture the moments before landing as I didn’t get a window seat, and that would have to wait until departure from Lisbon. Nevertheless, Lisbon definitely gave me an extremely good first impression.

The school arranged a shuttle bus to get us from the Lisbon airport to Sesimbra, which took around 45 minutes. We went through Lisbon city and the first thing I noticed was that the landscape of Lisbon is extremely hilly. Houses in Lisbon are built in layers of increasing height, and it was a rather unique overall design. More about Lisbon on day 5, where we had a little excursion around the city. For now, the scenes from the bus suffice to add some anticipation to the excursion.

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