Monthly Archives: May 2018

After the eve of departure

Leading up to the Global Perspectives Program 2018 trip was filled with millions of rows of data, thousands of words on a page, and hundreds of rows of code. The worst part about it is that it’s not over yet. I don’t think I’ll have much more data or code, but I’m still thousands of words away. As I plow through the final phase of my PhD, I’m mostly tired.

Planning for this trip was relatively nonexistent and I’ve already realized that in my rush to pack at the last minute, I forgot pajamas. GPP was the light halfway through the tunnel for me and my reward for sticking with it as hard as I could for as long as I could. That mentality wore me out though. I found myself suddenly having to switch from work mode into travel mode, and it was a switch that was surprisingly difficult to make.

There’s a bigger world out there, though, and the first view that can’t be found in Blacksburg reminded me why it’s worth it to step back and look around. I probably won’t get many words written in Switzerland, but maybe I won’t be so tired when I get back.

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Déjà vu

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized how much I appreciate things that are familiar. It’s the feeling that you get when you go home after being away for a long time, or seeing an old friend. While I love traveling, it can be stressful or overwhelming, and finding the space and making the time to relax is difficult. This morning, I went for a run (or maybe a walk? Which is it when you evenly split between the two?) to see a little more of the city with less baggage and while not incredibly tired.

It was so peaceful, with just the right pace of life to feel alive, but not rushed. I heard from some of the other Global Perspectives Program (GPP) participants about a wall that overlooks the city and when I saw it on my run, I decided to check out the view. It was gorgeous!

You walked up a slight incline into a spacious but shaded park, and if you walk to the end, you’re overlooking the city. I should have taken a picture of the park too, but I was suddenly struck with that familiar feeling. I could have sworn I had been there before.

I have been to Switzerland before. In 2006, one very brave teacher at my high school, the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science (MSMS), named Mr. Wester fearlessly led a group of 16-18 year old students on a trip here. I can honestly say that I think he was crazy for doing it, but I also appreciate that he was willing to do it. It was my first trip outside of the US, and it sparked a love for travel that will probably be with me for the rest of my life. I have no idea what the itinerary was on that trip or how many days we spent in any one location, but we did go to Zürich so it is possible that this park was somewhere I had been. We saw so many things in that trip that it all starts to run together and maybe Zürich has many parks with a similar feel.

However, there was something special about the park that I remembered. We sat with a group of old men who were playing chess on a massive outdoor chess board. I loved watching them, and there was something so peaceful about their casual manner as they took their time for each turn.

Me watching chess in March of 2006

Today’s park had no old men playing chess. It was also about 6:20 in the morning, so maybe they’re not early risers. I looked around I couldn’t see the chess pieces either, or the chess boards. I was a little sad that my memory failed me, until I saw a circle of chairs off in the distance…

Sure enough, there was my chess board! But what about the prices?

They were in the storage bins, of course, neatly packed away!

With that happy discovery, I finished out my run and headed back to the hotel for breakfast.

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