Sunday, August 19, 2007

Australia, Part 1

So last month I was in Australia for 2 weeks. I was in Australia once before, for about 2 and a half weeks in March of 2004, part of my 2+ month excursion through SE Asia. I kind of assumed I would never, or at least in no time soon, be back in Australia. I mean, for the time and money, it just seems more exciting to go somewhere new. However, the organization I have a fellowship with, Human Frontiers of Science Program (HFSP), had their annual meeting outside of Brisbane. I didn't go to the last meeting in Paris, and they say they _expect_ you to make it to at least one meeting, so I sacrificed 2 weeks of my time and headed out to Australia. For HFSP. Actually, it turns ot the next meeting is in Berlin, so I'm glad I didn't hold out for that one.
The meeting was cool. Everybody there was either a postdoc like me on a long-term fellowship, an ex-fellow and brand new professor on an HFSP "career development" grant, or a professor with grant funding from HFSP. Unlike most meetings, the science covered a relatively wide array of topics, so most of the stuff wasn't TOO relevant to my work. But there were also some people in my field there, some names I knew, so it was good to meet and talk to them.
The resort was really nice. Located on the Sunshine Coast. We had nice dinners prepared with good food outdoors on the beach or around a bonfire. The problem was it was like the coldest winter in Australia in 15 years. So nobody was really prepared, and we were trying to stay warm and huddle around the gas heating towers they brought out. This also meant there wasn't much water activities going on during the days.
Part of the conference was a boat tour of the everglades nearby, which was actually a big disappointment. But there was some nice scenery.

In a kind of "what the fuck?" moment during dinner one evening we got to see some sort of Australian hillbilly shear a sheep.

Another good thing is I met some other cool fellows. Actually, coincidentally, I met two girls that were working in Melbourne and ended up hanging out with them during the conference. Which sealed the deal on my debating of whether to head out to Melbourne next.

I just really like this picture somehow. On the right is Kirsteen (From Ireland)(in Melbourne)
(To be an HFSP fellow you must also be working in another country from your home.)

Notice the attire. It does actually get cold in Australia, even halfway up.

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