Almer S. Tigelaar

A Little Bit of Everything

32 000 feet

… or roughly 10 kilometers above the ground, that’s where I am now as you are reading this: in an airplane following one of the North Atlantic Tracks. In two hours I will be landing in Boston, going through security checks, and transferring to a national flight to my final destination: Pittsburgh. Since few people, me included, have an intuitive feeling of where that actually is: it’s on the east side of the United States, in west Pennsylvania. The timezone used there is Eastern Standard Time: six hours before Central European Time. So, if you’re in Europe: I will actually be in Pittsburgh by midnight your time.

So, you must be wondering: that’s all nice, but why are you on a transatlantic flight headed towards Pittsburgh, anyway? If you’re thinking: not for the “quality” in-flight food, popping eardrums, and cute flight attendants1, you’d be right. I will be at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh for several months as a Visiting Scholar, specifically at the Language Technologies Institute, and more specifically with Jamie Callan and the students working with him.

Roughly that means that I’ll be collaborating with students, getting an impression of CMU and the people there, all whilst continuing my own research on peer-to-peer web search engines. Of course: I have some time to explore Pittsburgh and other parts of the United States as well. Expect some US focused blog entries the coming months.

As most people that leave their home country for an extended time to go off to a far away place, I too am thinking mostly about what I am leaving behind: friends, family, roommates, a familiar environment. The fact is that when I return none of these will be the same anymore. Truth be told: they would also not remain static when I would have remained here. However, due to the gradual changes this would be far less noticeable. One thing is for certain: by the time I get back I will have changed as well …


1) Okay, that might be the one valid reason …

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