Here and there

I have not written here for a while, so here are my adventures since November, with a lot of pictures.

In November with Kata, Zsófi and István we spent a long weekend in Toronto which was quite awesome. Our main programs were doing tourist stuff in Toronto and Niagara, about that the others have written. It was really funny to have metric system for a couple of days. For me this was the first time that I drove longer distance in the US, I was quite surprised about the driving culture in a good way. Additionally I was previously invited and managed to visit a geophysical instrument manufacturer near Toronto, which was a huge thing for me hence I had spent a lot of time measuring with their equipment and I had a very fruitful chat with the leading engineer.

 

More pictures from our Toronto trip: https://flic.kr/s/aHskPUXjkP

As part of Outdoor Leadership course, we spent a rather short two days on the Appalachian Trail, hiking up and down from Mt Greylock.

More pictures from about this trip: https://flic.kr/s/aHskQ9Xckd

By the end of the first semester I really got used to Trinity and adopted to the feeling being in the US. To be honest, it took way more time than I had expected from myself. Though the courses were very good, I think I learned more from the structure of the education, especially the workflow of the courses. I really believe that once when I will be (hopefully) teaching I will be able to fuse this way of learning and teaching with the methods I used to at home. Even more, I am taking now some  courses from different departments with even more awesome hints for the future.

More pictures from Hartford: https://flic.kr/s/aHskJJYwVV

On my birthday in December I went to visit New York again (I did an other tour in November). Though those days were only enough to have a brief insight how big The City is, it was a very nice experience to be in a big city again. This day was even more special hence my old mathematician friend from Hungary, Kristóf (with whom we organized camps for secondary school students) had a conference near Boston so he travelled down to NYC and we spent the day together and in the evening Zsuzsi joined us as well and friends of Kristóf and we visited a real small Chinese restaurant in the border of Little Italy and Chinatown, called Spicy Village, which I would recommend for everybody who likes really spicy original Henan-Chinese food.

New York is huge, I cannot really put it in another way. I had planned a couple of things to visit, but only a few I managed. Obviously I started with the „must see” tourist stuff like Times Square, Empire State Building but what was really outstanding moment for me to visit the USS Intrepid (an aircraft carrier ship used as a museum on the Hudson River). Since I was a little boy I had an interest in planes and machines so truly a boy’s dream came true when I entered the ship. Though the historical exhibitions on the lower decks are very interesting, the really interesting things were the planes exhibited on the main deck for sure. Amongst many others, there are exhibited a Grumman F-14 „Tomcat”, a really iconic aircraft of the Cold War, mostly known from the movie Top Gun, a SR-71 Blackbird, a very famous reconnaissance airplane, which is one of the fastest manned planes with numerous brilliant technical solutions for high-speed high altitude flying. Also the NASA’s SS Enterprise is present, which is the only space shuttle that has not been in the space, hence it was only built for atmospheric tests. Besides the planes, it was quite a feeling to walk around on an aircraft carrier, considering her size and dignity, the beauty and elegance of such fine pieces of human work.

More pictures from New York: https://flic.kr/s/aHskSG2fQf

I spent the Holidays at home with my family, I just managed to leave before the airport was closed, though it was quite an adventure to get to the airport in NYC, hence during six hours it snowed like 8 inches but I got lucky. Moreover I saw the Northern Light for the first time in my life, so I was compensated by the nature for the weather.

Before the second semester I attended to the Outdoor Club’s adventure in Texas. As a nature-lover guy who has never been to a desert, it was an awesome experience.

We started from El Paso. Hence I arrived one day earlier I had to chance to hike with Jamie in the Franklin Mts NP and sleep under the stars. In the first evening together we gazed the first of some awesome sunsets we experienced. That night the wind blew so strong that I had to pull back into the tent because I was almost blown away. After we headed to the Big Bend National Park (the ride was fine, with some spectacular geological moments), and we stayed in the various points of Chisos basin for a few days. We hiked there, had a wonderful time in an isolated ring of mountains, reaching the highest point of the region, Emory Peak (2387 m). Hence Big Bend is in the Chihuahuan Desert, we had a spectacular view on the desert from our position (the Chisos Basin is in an elevated position, feels like an island in the sea of desert). For the second half of our trip we descended to the Rio Grande River, which is the border between the US and Mexico, and we canoed down a few tens of miles from Rio Grande Village. The water level was almost 3-4 times higher (and faster) than the usual, therefore we had a nice job to manoeuvre our ship along the river. Also we landed in Mexico for a short amount time (it is legal in the flood-basin) and it reminded me of the Lord of the Rings when we entered the canyon, with its huge white limestone walls. On the last day of this part we slept on an island between the US and Mexico, which is quite an odd thing to do, but it was amazing and we had time to enjoy it. (Due to the rapidness of the river besides the first day when we had enormous wind, we advanced way faster than planned.)

Spending time in the desert is an amazing thing. The feeling, the silence, the stars in the sky during night, the wind, the cacti, the bonding,  the colours, the hikes are the rewards for getting your stuff really dusty. When we had the Emory Peak hike, in the morning it was freezing, halfway around it was almost 20°C, before the top we were hit by a hailstorm (we had a beautiful double rainbow), and an hour later it was almost 25°C.

All in all it was an amazing trip, with an outstanding group of people, it had almost as big impact on me as my first hike in Retyezát (Transylvania). The feeling of the trip might come through on the pictures. Moreover a short article was written about us to the College’s webpage featuring my pics:
http://www.trincoll.edu/NewsEvents/NewsArticles/pages/BigBendJanuaryTripSpring2017.aspx

More pictures from the Big Bend NP Trip: https://flic.kr/s/aHskTosvHK

Since then, the second semester started, I am having amazing lectures and this time I tried to select my courses from broader range, so I am taking Darkroom Photography, Earth Systems, Sci-fi and Society, Fluid Mechanics, NMR Spectroscopy.

Sci-fi and Society is kind of strange for me because I thought I had read a lot of sci-fi but I was totally unaware of the US Sci-fi (not counting Isaac Asimov and Frank Herbert books) novels and its variety. The “eastern-european” and “US” sci-fi are totally different in the way of storytelling and for me the level of scientific fiction descriptions. On the other hand the sci-fis here are way more openly system-critical. However, I found very interesting that the students here are not familiar with the sci-fi at home, only the most famous, like the Solaris (Stanisław Lem), or the Stalker (though that is the Tarkovsky movie based on A & B Strugatsky’s Roadside Picnic which is different than their short novel named Stalker). Obviously I have not known a lot sci-fi from here, but I am not a literature major so I have a huge disadvantage. It is also interesting, that as a European I have found a lot references about Europe, which was obvious for me and I had to share some thoughts about them (like the feudalism, or the structure of society in the beginning of the XIX. century). There are some lectures left, I hope I will have a more solid and clearer opinion about this.

The other courses are not that much has special aspects for me, the Fluid Mechanics is terrific how it includes individual and group work and also I got really pushed into the deepwater about the US/metric system which is nice. The NMR has been pretty awesome, this professor was the first lecturer who introduced NMR from this certain viewpoint which I really like. (It really does not make a big difference, but still.) Earth Systems is just fine, I missed this kind of course from my Hungarian curriculum, with this very puritan approach and with some programming. Darkroom photography has been a dream of mine, since when I was small boy my father took a lot of photos with an old Praktika, and here I had the opportunity to learn the process of the developing.

For spring break I had planned a little trip to Cuba, but unfortunately here was a state-wide travel ban for just the exact same day when my plane was, so I could not get out of Hartford. I got stranded here for the break, so I successfully reduced my pile of “to do” stuff, but I hope I will be able to go to Cuba before I leave. This is the other face of Storm Stella that brought a cold winter wonderland to here as well.

And a short comment as a sport fan, there was the Super Bowl LI, in the beginning of February, which was quite a thing here since large portion of the students come from MA and New England. However I was rather with the Falcons, the New England Patriots won in an incredible game against the Atlanta Falcons. The campus was quite loud from the shouts.

Also we had a gig from a little band formed by Trinity College teachers, the Gear Mama in the local pub, the Tap. They played adaptations of mainly ’70s and ’80s rock music.

More pictures from the gig: https://flic.kr/s/aHskWd3cpf

Pictures:
Toronto Trip: https://flic.kr/s/aHskPUXjkP
Mt Greylock Trip: https://flic.kr/s/aHskQ9Xckd
New York: https://flic.kr/s/aHskSG2fQf
Hartford: https://flic.kr/s/aHskJJYwVV
Big Bend NP: https://flic.kr/s/aHskTosvHK
Gear Mama concert: https://flic.kr/s/aHskWd3cpf

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