Oh, the Places You'll Go
As a PhD student, I get to travel quite a bit. In just the last two years, I’ve been to Atlanta (a few times, once as a visiting researcher to GaTech for 3 months), Austin, Vienna, Dagstuhl, and — most recently — Tokyo. I get to meet interesting researchers on every trip, whether it be during a conference coffee break (where “meeting” people occasionally feels like getting interrogated about research) or by running into each other while meandering through a national park.
These trips are largely work. I listen to talks on the latest research and imagine ways to connect them to my own. I introduce myself to more senior researchers (usually hesitantly) in the hopes that they’ll remember who I am once they’re through answering my questions. I stay up way too late the night before my talk polishing my slides to (what I hope is) perfection. I scribble all over whiteboards, drawing (mostly) intelligible pictures when working out new ideas with collaborators.
But then there’s the beauty of getting to go to new places because I have to. As an introvert and someone who’s pretty happy being in one place, travel is definitely not an itch I need to scratch (to me, “wanderlust” often feels like a made up word fellow Millennials use to describe the need for jealousy-inducing Instagram content). But my PhD has helped me learn that there’s a lot out there to see and understand, and somehow the difference and uncertainty and novelty of it all makes me feel hope.
So, until we meet again, Tokyo.