Thursday, September 24, 2015

Grad School Year 2: The DFT Strikes Back

At some point, I'll write up a little something about the whirlwind tour of Spain that Justin and I enjoyed, but for now, the quarter starts today! It's weird being a second year. Over the next 10 weeks, I will have only one class to worry about, no teaching to distract me, and a whole lot of research to keep me busy.

It's exciting, frankly. I enjoyed my classes last year for sure but, thanks to LANL, I know what it feels like to just do science without other stuff gumming up my time. And I want that back. Being gone for two weeks was cool and all, but mostly I just want to return to "routine" (if there is such a thing in grad school) and dive into DFT.

The class starts today and I look forward to seeing how the class will enhance my understanding of the research I've done and the research I will do. Speaking of which, I should probably finish up the homework that's due in an hour.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Hola, ¿qué tal?

Hooray, Spain! After enduring my first trans-atlantic flight and a french-filled connection in Brussels (a place I will definitely visit in the future), I found myself in a rather alien place full of non-perpendicular roads and buildings that looked older than anything I'd ever seen before. San Sebastian is a very popular holiday location for europeans and I can absolutely understand why. The views are utterly breathtaking and the food is to die for. Since I don't speak spanish, I often just smile confusedly at the waiter or waitress who has been tasked with serving me until they suggest something, to which I always reply, "si, si. Gracias!"

Other than the sheer deliciousness, eating in Spain is a wholly different process because socializing outdoors is way more prevalent here than it is in the states. Lunch is a communal affair, lasting a few hours and a number of courses. Meals always feature alcohol (sometimes whether you order it or not) and coffee or espresso. The waitstaff never comes to ask you how you're doing because you're always busy chatting and, I must say, I'm completely taken with the way they do things here.

I lament that I can't speak the lingo because I feel like I'm missing out on the immersive nature of spending a week+ in a completely foreign place. Luckily, the conference is in english so I'll know just how little DFT I know.

Speaking of the conference, I'm currently at it. I'm sitting in an empty lecture hall trying desperately to digest the delicious food I ate for lunch while running some calculations. It's all fantastic. I like it here.