Friday, June 26, 2009

Eurotrip Planning

My work at IMEC this past week mimicked last week fairly well. I've been running models and simulations in order to determine a viable structure to then bring into reality when we fabricate these 3D self-assembled plasmonic nanostructures. In addition, I've been communicating with the technicians that operate the instruments over here so that I can try and ease the transition from the equipment we use at Hopkins to the equipment at IMEC's disposal. Just as I had assumed earlier this month, transitioning between equipment facilities is the hardest aspect of this research experience.

One thing I've noticed while being trained here at IMEC is that it helps immensely to have a background in microfabrication. Going through basic safety trainings in the clean room, it's almost assumed that you're familar with lithography and all of the steps and equipment involved. Luckily I've been working in the Gracias lab for the past year and half, so my transition to the research here has been fairly smooth. I don't mean to imply that you have to have a background in microfab to be able to work here, because that is absolutely not the case. It's definitely feasible to learn about lithography through means provided by Hopkins (like Dr. Gracias' Micro to Nanotechnology class or the Microfabrication lab offered by the BME department) or through literature.

Anyway, onto the point of this blog post. Seeing that I'm in Europe until the end of August, I'm trying to plan weekend trips to different cities. As I've shown in my earlier posts, I've mostly been traveling throughout Belgium and a little bit of the Netherlands. This weekend, I had originally planned on making a trip to Paris. This past Tuesday, I booked a hostel in Paris for Friday and Saturday night. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of not booking a train ticket first. I went to the Leuven train station on Wednesday to buy a train ticket to Paris (via Brussels) for Friday night. Lo and behold, the trains were fully booked the entire weekend. So there goes that plan. No trip to Paris. I immediately canceled my hostel reservation and began looking for somewhere else to go. The lesson I learned from this was that in the event that I need to take one of these high demand trains, I need to do it in advance. For future reference to anyone planning on vacationing in Belgium, if you plan on taking direct trains from Brussels to Paris or Brussels to London, be sure to purchase your ticket at least a week ahead of your planned departure date. To be safe, book your ticket a couple weeks (or even a month if possible) before you intend to leave, otherwise you'll be departing later than you had intended.

This fully booked train scare encouraged me to plan my trips further in advance. Accordingly, I've already booked train tickets to Paris in 2 weeks and London in 3 weeks.

Long story short, I've made plans to visit Germany this weekend. Tomorrow morning I'm catching a train to Cologne where I'll be spending the entire day walking around the city and sight seeing. On Sunday morning, I'll leave Cologne and head to Aachen for the rest of the day before returning to Leuven on Sunday night. The current weather forecast predicts rain in both cities this weekend, but hopefully it changes for the better.

No comments:

Post a Comment