This belated post tries to wrap up my adventures during spring semester. As I came back I dived back into my life here and managed to finish my masters and had a pretty busy summer but I had the chance to think about my year in the US (and select&process from that 3000+ pictures I took in that period).
I wrote about the very different courses I had chosen and it took a tremendous workload but it totally worth it. Overall I profited the most from the very differing teaching styles and I learnt pretty much from little tricks how to teach certain stuff that I learnt the hard way I think.
The n.m.r. course was very pleasing since the teacher thought the way I like it, and I had the chance to get deeper knowledge on methods I had never used (since my profile is not exactly chemistry nmr, but always good to know what the others are doing).
The darkroom photography was a huge experience for me hence I only had the chance to use DSLR machines, analogue film cameras are harder to maintain. My project was on photographing the jiu-jitsu club’s practices (I practiced with them and they were kind enough to let me take photos of them – I am grateful for that) and captures moments during trainings. These pictures will be uploaded in the near future when I will have them digitalized in proper format.
The Sci-Fi and Society was a total surprise for me because there the sci-fi literature differs a lot from what we used to among the former eastern-european sci-fi fans. Those novels, books, short stories are mostly way closer to the fantasy and phrase barely social critics about society and culture. As a young one who has been raised in a former country of the soviet block two thoughts cleared out in me: i, we are far beyond in expressing social problems and ii, some of these books were real for the former eastern block. A good example that has publicity now is the Handmaid’s Tale from Margaret Atwood who was influenced and inspired by the late 1960s’ Czechoslovakia and this new series by Hulu shows a great amount of elements of that. My chosen book was The Left Hand of Darkness (by Ursula K. LeGuin) which a terrific novel about a neutral society whose member got no designated gender (well, there are only male-female) and can choose periodically which role they wish to be for a short period (and the rest of them are biologically neutral-like). For me its beauty lies in the English it is written. It has a very clear-out, simple and nearly too simple scientific report language written in an objective viewpoint. ( To understand that: The story is about guy who has the profession which I would define as space-sociologist and basically this book sums up his study about this society which has to be evaluated by the person (in this case I was really grateful that Hungarian has only one pronoun for he/she/it)). Other novels and short stories were very enjoyable and enlightening for me since this style was very new to me – and just before I had been surprised that contemporary Hungarian sci-fi has such good short stories as well (!).
The Fluid Mechanics with lab was professionally engaging since I never had engineering class before, and we got the chance to work with wind turbine, plane and wing models calculating a bunch of thing about that both in metric and imperial systems. A cultural thought: About half of the class liked more metric than imperial so I was not alone. (In that sense I was outlier hence I feel comfortable thinking in metric and that was funny for them sometimes, but I always had partners in metric system.) Even so, I learned about the Rankine temperature scale (which is surprisingly unknown) that is used for mostly in the US for jet propulsion stuff. / It has a 0 degree at absolute zero and the scale is the same as in Fahrenheit so it is the similar relationship that between Kelvin and Celsius. We also had lab sessions which were more fun – we had to create buoyancy measuring tool, wrote a lot of lab reports and we also visited the New England Air Museum which is just outside of Hartford. (We managed to sit in machines like UH-1 Bell which was the iconic helicopter of the war in Vietnam or second world war fighters.) Alltogether this was I think the course I liked most in the viewpoint of education because there were a lot of different teaching styles involved – and we had to complete tasks in groups and alone as well, so I observed a lot of useful tricks how the professor instructed us and how the other students thought about certain problems.
Lastly I had the Earth Systems which introduced us into the complicated systems that are happening around the globe. It was fun with some modelling and interesting process-based approach of convections and transports occurring inside and outside of the Earth.
During the semester I had the chance to join one of the nests (small groups for freshmen helping the transition to college life) for their spring hike in the White Mountains. It was middle of the spring but this area is located relatively close to the Canadian border so there was a lot of snow so I had the chance to try snowshoeing. This short 2 days were a little hideout before the end of semester and it was lovely to hike in freezing cold with the others.
In the very last weekend I was able to visit Boston which immediately won my heart with its vibe. I also took black and white photographs with a film camera. Obviously I visited the MIT where I have a friend who showed me around the interior and shared some design styles with me about the buildings.
After finishing my exams and last homeworks I headed west to wander around in Cali. Through my long 2 weeks there I was able to visit Grand Canyon, Death Valley, San Diego, San Fransisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and my biggest adventure was to attempt to climb Mt Whitney. Unluckily the weather was bad and I only made to the basecamp which is located at some 12,000 ft (~3650m) where I stayed for the night and in the morning I chose to head down. I ran into a young group that had a Hungarian member (!) which was ultimately funny considering the odds at that place. The highway that leads down is called Route 395 which turned into my favourite highway in the US: one side is the Sierra Nevada and the other side is flat areas and mountains, truly gorgeous. I stayed for a couple of days at my friends (we used to hike together) between LA and San Diego in a small town where I could charge my batteries for the rest of the time. With Zsuzsi we visited Yosemite and did some sightseeing in San Fransisco with a little detour to try the famous PCH (Pacific Coastal Highway or Route 1). Just after that I visited LA and that area with an old friend of mine (we did our BSc together) and a Trinity College student (thanks Elliot!) showed us around in Beverly Hills, UCLA and Santa Monica. We spent a morning in Malibu (which is a main motive in the Hungarian movie Argo) and spent a lovely sunset in the Death Valley. Right after we visited Grand Canyon and the Crater nearby and spending a day in Vegas I headed back to NYC. Somehow I did not exceed the threshold for my bags and I was en route to Hungary.
I could not really write down what this year meant to me and I cannot be grateful enough for this.
My pictures might tell you even more about the places and my viewpoint where I have been:
White Mountains: https://flic.kr/s/aHskXtU7hJ
Boston, BW pictures: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm7ER6ih
Mt Whitney attempt: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm7ELiMW
Grand Canyon: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm3SkWVi
San Diego: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm8xssrD
Death Valley: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm4Tzj7Q
Los Angeles and area: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm7EKFxw
San Fransisco: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm3Ssvnv
Yosemite and PCH: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm4TNGeQ
Las Vegas and Hoover dam: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm4MDCp8