PhD Adventures

Posted on 26th August 2014

For those of you who haven’t noticed, I’m gone again. For the long run this time.

I haven’t entirely decided on a new format for the blog, and I’m currently toying with a few design ideas. May ditch the custom themes for a bit.

This is all tied in with my latest new beginning, the third ‘era’ of my blog: my adventures as a PhD student. It will serve first as my diary, as a way for people I know to find out about my life and then, for other prospective PhD students to get a bit of an insight into what life is like. I plan to write at least weekly through the entire degree and chart the highs and lows of ‘grad school’ life.

For those who don’t know, I’ve just started my doctorate in Computer and Information Science at the University of Pennsylvania. It’s currently looking like I’ll be working on a project in computer security, but more on that later.

The flight over was unfortunately more eventful than I’d planned on. On leaving, I had already accrued enough points of Aegean Airways to merit Start Alliance Silver status, so it all started well. I paid the extra $100 for my second suitcase and departed for my first leg MEL-SYD. That flight was fairly empty with nothing special to report. The next leg however was packed full. SYD-LAX departed on time, with me seated next to two elderly folk from California who insisted that the only way to get through a flight was with the assistance of copious amounts of alcohol. Every time the drink cart came by, it was another two whiskeys for him and another few mini bottles of wine for her.

When I arrived at LAX, I made it through security pretty smoothly, however once on the other side, it was clear things weren’t quite right. A slew of flights were delayed and people were rushing about madly. Another normal day for United Airlines I guess. Both flights to Philadelphia for the day were delayed. The first waiting for another flight to arrive and the second as a result of mechanical failure. I put myself on standby and kept racing between the two gates in case one or the other boarded first. Finally my flight was scheduled for boarding, but it left only twenty minutes for my transfer to my final flight. LAX-DEN was not very successful from a logistical perspective. After a good forty minutes on the tarmac we finally lifted-off.

I was in a cheery mood despite being fairly sure I would now miss my connection, so I decided to be friendly and say hi to the flight attendants/stewardesses, no doubt they were having a rough day too with a plane full of now cranky passengers. They ended up being friendlier than expected, and soon enough I was up the back of the plane with Natalie, Kat and Amanda about life and travel. Natalie was even kind enough to offer me a place on her couch should my flight be delayed. One of the other passengers brought some Indian bread along and soon there was a small picnic in the galley, supplemented by some of the Cadbury’s chocolate  I had on me.

When I landed I raced across the terminal, only to see that the gate for my flight had closed three minutes prior. Close but no cigar. It took me another hour and a half at the airport before I was all sorted with a flight the next morning to Philadelphia. Leaving the airport to where I was staying for the night, I was amazed by just how flat the great American plains were. With the rockies in the background, the sun setting across Denver provided a picturesque moment that I unfortunately didn’t photograph, due to a fascination with the glorious crepuscular rays shining from on high. It didn’t take me long to fall asleep, but twenty-four hours after leaving I was still in transit.


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