Saturday, January 2, 2010

Year End Wrap up

As is the tradition everywhere online, the end of the year and the beginning of a new one prompts everyone to re-evaluate their life, the year and comment on how good/bad it was and how it ended. And now, me too.

2009 was a year where things I never imagined happened. I performed on stage as a part of UF's best and most well-known improvisation troupe. I acted... and played a role in a tv show! Of course, I finished up my thesis in UF and got my MS in Mech. Engineering. I knew I would go for a PhD, but I mostly aimed at doing it in the US. UFL was the back-up option.

Spring semester got me my first legit paper publication (ASME!!). I finally decided to break out of my safety net and plunged into improv comedy, something I had been fascinated about but never believed I could do. (I sang Soulja Boy and cracked a Pirate Ship joke, made up on the spot, in my first show!) I camped at and hiked the Smoky Mountains, something that I had promised myself more than a year and half ago. I did at 9 mile run at a pace of 10 minutes per mile and raised a little more than $350 for a charity organisation, Gators for ASHA.

Sometime in February, I decided to finally apply to "that dream research institute", somewhere in France, called INRIA Sophia Antipolis. I'd sent a few emails to the professor there and it seemed to be going on the right track. But mentally, I don't think I was prepared to make the big leap to France. Spring semester chugged along. I had long chats with many people. Sorted out some issues. By the end of it, I knew that the choices for my future plans lay in Stonybrook (New York), UFL or to wait for the decision from INRIA.

At the end of my Bachelors degree, I was eager to get out of Pune. No jobs seemed interesting enough and promise of "good" research while doing my master's felt quite attractive. And so I was glad to go to UF. Just the same way, right around my thesis defense, I started feeling the same feeling. To get out of Gainesville. Most friends were graduating and moving out too and the monotony of research (or rather, the lack of my interest in research) was getting me. I was tired about worrying about funding and doing jobs in restaurants and just wanted to focus on research work and fun. But I did not want to leave Gainesville for Stonybrook. And so I rejected the Stonybrook offer and decided that INRIA was the best option and if not that, then I would continue in Gainesville.

I had also figured out that INRIA is in the French Riviera... there were no further convincing arguments needed :P. I was sold. The 2 months after graduation, in Gainesville, were some of the most amazing. I acted in and assisted for a TV show called Oppie's Friend Gene. I've always wanted to see how movies and TV shows get made. The TSF guys never seemed unprofessional to me. I had great movie and fun sessions at home and at friends' places. I bonded with people and made new friends in the last 30 days in Gainesville. Who would have thought that would happen! The Smoky Mountain trip happened. I finally saw the Newnan's lake! 
(Whats at Newnan's lake? -- Nothing. We were told that it is a sorta Gainesville, tradition to take your boat there in summer and fish. We didn't have a boat, but I wanted to see this lake. Its a hell lot bigger than Wauberg and there are bigger gators -- we saw a couple of them.)

I came back to India. Leaving Gainesville was difficult. Especially since I don't know when and if I will return to the US. Thats a lot of friends and memories to leave behind. I wonder how people can move so easily between places. I spent the two months in India doing nothing. I got back to being the guy I was before - lazy, not doing anything and complaining (a bit) about stuff. Was this is reverse-home-sickness / reverse-culture-shock that everyone warns you about?... I don't know.

From September, I have been in France. It is nothing like I expected. It's been really difficult moving around and getting stuff done since I don't know the language. I could probably write posts about how to get things done, and what goes wrong when you try to do something. Maybe sometime later. I have met so many people from so many countries. I was once at this party where 10 of us at the table were from 10 different countries. Until now, among all continents, only Australia has not been represented at the parties I have been to.

Living in France, I have become even more used to being silent, and to listen more. I generally am surrounded by French speakers and most of the time I'm silent, trying to decipher their sentences. I've become even more dependent on the internet. At the end of this year, I was forced (by chance, bureaucracy and miscommunication) to end up with no cell phone or no internet for almost 15 days. It was tough, but refreshing.
I used couchsurfing to meet up with some people in Rome for Christmas, and had an amazing trip in Rome. Imagine spending 5 days with people you have never met, have no idea how they look and some of whom you have communicated only by email a few times. I'm definitely couchsurfing soon. And, oh yes... definitely visit Rome. It is a city one must see.

For New Years' Eve, I was contacted by an Italian couple (through couchsurfing again!) who were visiting the area. My flat-mate and some friends were debating about having a party at our place, and we decided to invite the Italians over. At midnight all of us walked over by the beach, to the city centre. We saw some fireworks, had champagne and chatted in a bar.

2010 already feels like future. It doesn't seem like now. It feels like time is zooming by. It should slow down.. I want to use my student discounts for longer. :)
To more blogs, more adventures and great research work... cheers!

No comments:

Post a Comment