Linz Winter Learning

Trip Start Jan 27, 2009
Trip End May 15, 2009

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Flag of Austria  , Upper Austria,
Thursday, February 12, 2009

Gruss Got, and welcome to my next, albeit late, entry!
Well, it has been a while since I've written and a lot has happened. I've made many observations, taken loads of photos, and seen plenty of things - but I presume most of this isn't interesting to anyone besides myself, so I'm attempting to keep out the rambling this time! It'll still be heaps long. Sorry :P
Firstly, the Agilent Winter School was an excellent experience. The first day was sitting in uncomfortable chairs listening to talks about techniques, and whilst I already knew most of what was said it was the little details and the references that were very handy for me!
At the end of the first day, a trio doing PhD's in Graz were nice enough to talk to me (haha all day I huddled in a corner and tried to not make eye contact, I was so scared of everyone XD) and I thoroughly enjoyed their company! On the second day, we were split into groups (I followed the trio around) and were given demonstrations of the techniques presented the day before. Instead of sitting all day this time we stood, which was equally painful :P I didn't enjoy all of the demonstrations, some were not relevant to me or I simply didn't get to actually see anything. It was still worthwhile for the few which were good!
That night we went out to dinner in town, courtesy of the winter school. Here I got my first taste of proper Austrian service, where we were handled with care by a comedian... Well he was our waiter but he was very funny! Every table he went to he left everyone giggling. The food was pretty decent, the beer was really good (I had two half litre glasses, and got a bit bubblier than usual myself)... I had the audacity to suggest that I had had better apple strudel at home which the waiter didn't like (well it's true!)... Maybe I should not have drunk so much :P
I also met two new people at dinner, a Canadian girl (for whom the weather was mild) and a Brazilian girl (for whom the weather is damn cold! Lol just like me from a hot place) who were very friendly and we caught the tram home together. I don't really remember what transpired then as I was almost in a beer sleep and was lucky to get back to the hotel awake XD
The next day we visited the Upper Austrian Research Institute, and saw some more examples of nanotechnology in action. These demos were a bit easier to observe, and didn't last all day so it was a more comfortable event. On the way there, however, I had a nasty shock when I had bought the wrong ticket for the tram (I thought mini was for student, and had no idea what midi and maxi were!) and got a €50 fine!! Well I found the main office for the company to pay, and explained how I was a student who didn't understand, and got away with a €5 admin fee. I'm not really sure why I got out of the fine, but hey - I'm not complaining. I won't make that mistake again, either!
I walked around with the Graz trio for a while, discovering some interesting shops to revisit once I got paid, but then they had to leave. I was sad to see them go, but I at least got the facebook page for the Italian girl, Daniela! Yay! :)
After this was a day off in which I did very little except read in my room. I enjoyed this experience very much :3
And finally, the eleventh annual Agilent Winter Workshop conference commenced! It was exhausting, being in at 8:30am every morning and the talks didn't finish until 6 at the earliest. Mind you we had some big breaks so it was okay, and they did pay for food and coffee XD
Dinner on the first night was at a castle atop a hill, called 'Schloss Wildberg'. It was really bloody cold and the place was an icy trap of doom, but it was still a beautiful atmosphere. At dinner I got to chat to a couple of Germans, and a man from Czech Republic, and of course the Brazilian and Canadian girls. Again I had a litre of beer and again I was lucky to get back to the hotel without sleeping on the bus :P
  On the second day (I think?) there was a beautiful snowfall, so Gabriela (the Brazilian girl) and I made a snowman, under the careful supervision of Valerie (from Canada) who did not wish to participate, hehe. Our very first snowman was short, kinda skinny, had mutant arms and no mouth... but he was our snowman and we loved him <3

The second night we had dinner at the Palais or something, which was a really schmancy restaurant in town. I felt underdressed, but seeing as everyone else just came from the conference too I wasn't out of place XD Again we had apple strudel for dessert, and again home is better - but I think I should continue to test this theory and have lots of apple strudel while away (nom nom nom) ;)
I resisted having beer, because I knew I'd drink too much. Instead I had some red wine which, although tasty, didn't compare to some of the nice ones from home ;). Then all I desired was some water. Did they have water without bubbles? Shock, who would want that? Apparently in Europe - not very many people. Anyway they didn't have any drinks without bubbles other than wine. I tried asking for apple juice, but got some other form of (sparkling) juice which had a gingerish taste and wasn't very pleasant. Somehow I ended up with two glasses of this and I drank neither... I drank a lot of (tasty... no seriously it's really good) tap water that night!
Well the third night we didn't have a scheduled dinner, which I'm grateful for as getting back to the hotel at or after midnight every night was wearing me down! Gabriela, Valerie and I hung out for a while in the hotel, swapping photos and listening to Portugese music, when we decided on a quick McDonald's meal. Now, I know I said no more junk food, but they were giving away these glasses which a close friend of Gabriela's would have really wanted and she absolutely had to get the last colour! Also, the Maccas here tastes the same as home, although it costs more. It didn't make me sick so I was content :P
I had to say goodbye, then, to the last friends I'd made at the conference. I felt really down after that so I did some retail therapy to feel better, buying some new (waterproof) shoes, a heater (the radiator in my room still doesn't work, despite it being "fixed" four times), and a hairdryer along with some snacks.   I also went over the talks and posters I had seen, trying to filter out what was useful to me and what could be useful to me one day, and what others I know might like. Well I'm still not done filtering because there was an absolute truckload of information packed into those three days, not to mention the school prior!
Yesterday, I finally sat down with Peter to discuss my project, and organise my time here. I'm now sitting at a desk in a shared office on the 10th floor, looking out at the most beautiful snowfall. I brought my laptop in despite having a computer here to work on, because the keys are a little bit different and it scares me :P
 I have no doubt I'll settle into a routine soon enough. But for now, I can pretend I'm still on holidays until I get started for real ;) This weekend I'll check out the sights of Linz properly, and report them to you!
Tschüss, and cyas later! Xoxoxo
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Where I stayed
Julius Raab Heim - Hotel Sommerhaus
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