Pre-departureMartin Blood-Forsythe '10 | June 24, 2009
This week has been filled with sorting out all kinds of last minute details. Like figuring out what odd combination of buses we need to catch to get from the airport outside Bilbao to Santander (the city we’ll be staying in), figuring out how to get from there to our apartment building, and of course packing! We were all relieved when Garrett’s passport arrived last week. Aside from the minor stresses of getting ready to travel, our anticipation has made this week has felt very static. Occasionally it will hit me that I’m the only member of our group that speaks any Spanish. I haven’t been to Spain since sophomore year of high school when I went on a concert tour of the Basque Country with my orchestra so I’m curious to see how different it feels now that I have a few more years of studying Spanish under my belt. I’m excited about the chance to explore a different provence of Spain, albeit one right next door.
Chema, the main researcher we will be collaborating with, generously found a place for us to stay and has told us all about Santander. Santander is the regional capital of the province and autonomous community of Cantabria, just east of the Basque Country. It is a small port city with a population of about 185,000. We’ll be working at the Instituto de Física de Cantabria (IFCA), a research center at the University of Cantabria. The main areas of research at IFCA are nonlinear physics, astronomy, and instrumentation/software development (many researchers at IFCA contributed to the Planck Satellite). We’re all really excited to have this opportunity to spend time at a professional research center and hear a little bit about what Chema’s colleagues are working on.
” Travel has a way of stretching the mind. The stretch comes not from travel’s immediate rewards, the inevitable myriad new sights, smells and sounds, but with experiencing firsthand how others do differently what we believed to be the right and only way.”
More than anything else I’m looking forward to the change of pace. What’s exciting to me about theory work is that you can never predict what’s going to trigger an exciting and productive conversation. Discussion, argument, and varied setting are so central to the process because anything that will push you to think a little differently is a valuable contribution.
Once we get ourselves settled in I look forward to exploring the city. The food in Cantabria is supposed to be excellent and I’ve heard that there is a nice beach within easy walking distance of IFCA.