Serendipitous Occasion

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It has been really cold so study German is not that bad after all :), it keeps you at warm home

Why did I learn German from 2006-2011?

I thought I should write this post because I’ve been asked different times why I could speak German before moving to Germany. However, I never found the time or inspiration until I told the story to a friend and said that was a “serendipitous occasion”. And it sounded so good as a title I couldn’t miss the opportunity to use it. So here it is:

When I started my PhD I was in a long distance relationship (when I say long, I mean looonngg: 2 different continents) so there was not a lot of reason and/or motivation for me to stop working in the lab and go home. After several months, I decided that was not good for my health: PhD was a part of my life, not my life (work for life, not life for work!). I needed some fixed-point activities to force me to leave the lab. So I went to the official language school in Cadiz and apply for a course. Because I was really late on my inscription, only the German course had free spaces so I said “Why not?”

It turned out to be a nice experience with really nice people but every time I needed to inscribe for the next course I was unsure, I had a lot of work and questions like “why I am doing that to myself? It is useless, I speak English, what else do I need?”… But my mum always said: “Keep going, it’s good for your brain” I should say my mum loved language and if she had had the opportunity to study herself or to choose my studies she would have choose “Translator”.

So I did indeed keep going until 2011, when I did not pass B2 test (because it required more time than I had while finishing my thesis and doing a master and studying Galician and an endless list of “ands”). I then moved to Southampton and stopped going to language schools.

Although I had forgotten a lot when we arrived to Wilhelmshaven in 2014 (that was more than 3 years without saying a work of German and immersed in another foreign language), it helped us to survive.

Now I am going twice a week in the afternoon and this Friday I will take B1 test again.

So the lesson is: keep going no matter what or why, some day you might say “it was worth it”

SERENDIPITY

Little eco-gestures

It has been super long time since I’ve written a post in my blog. It has been a crazy summer for me: hen-do party in Madrid (yes, scientists also party hard J), University friend’s wedding in Puerto Real (where I was first made!), preparation for cruise (not only normal packing preparation but also getting catamaran and buoy ready for the first ever real deployment), visitors at home for a week, cruise in the Baltic Sea for four weeks, holidays in Ibiza for ten days, SOLAS conference in Kiel for a week (where I co-chaired my first discussion session). I can write a post for each of this points (I will definitely do for the Baltic Sea cruise) but today I want to tell you about something different.

Summer holidays in Ibiza

Summer holidays in Ibiza

Patri hen do in Madrid :)

Patri hen do in Madrid 🙂

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Beautiful wedding in Puerto Real

Poster presentation in SOLAS conference in Kiel

Poster presentation in SOLAS conference in Kiel

Mud walk :)

Mud walk 🙂

By now all the readers of this post know I work with CO2 in the ocean. During more than 11 years I have been actively working on this, I am often asked the question/comment along these lines; “you study CO2 but you cruise the Polar oceans” or “a lot of CO2 problem but you go to a conference in Hawaii”. Although cruises are still necessary to understand the complexity of our ocean, the oceanography community is investing a lot more effort in the “environmental friendly” platform like Argo buoys, fixed platforms with automatic sensors, gliders… Also it is also necessary to meet with your fellows in conference for networking, plan future research… However, more and more video-calls and conferences are used to discuss plans and papers.

But today’s post is about the personal little actions one can do to contribute less to the carbon budget. Of course you don’t need to be a carbon expert to do that but for me it makes more sense to be as consistent as possible with my life. I have a car and a bike and I try to cycle four days per week to work (believe me it is not always easy in North-Germany for a Mediterranean island girl). The fifth day I use the car because I go from work directly to a German course with my husband. We don’t use plastic bags for shopping and we avoid buying products with lots of packing (my friends, bananas have the most clever natural way of packing themselves, they don’t need an extra packing!). I do not use disposal tampons or slips but silicone cup and clothes washable slips (also these super white products are not really healthy). I always used alum deodorant, clothes tables napkins..

I don’t buy a lot of clothes, with travelling I learn we really don’t need that much to live comfortably. I admit I’m a fan of the charity shop (my angry aunties say I wear death’s clothes), where you give a second chance to a lot of things that otherwise would be waste. I had strange conversation with the cell phone customer service department who tried to reward me with a new cellphone because I’ve been such a loyal and good costumer: “No, I don’t want a new phone, mine is working fine” and the lady repeated again and again with surprise “but madam, it is free, you don’t even need to pay the delivery service”.

Sure I miss a lot of other little gesture one might do to reduce the impact of CO2 footprint. What are yours?

NORTH MIGRATION

I did this map for a talk, to present myself and where I have worked for more than 6 months.

Cities where I live for work for more than 6 months

Cities where I live for work for more than 6 months

First thing I realize is that I’m migrating north every time I move. I don’t particularly choose that (I’m not a fan of cold weather and it narrows the window of time when my dad (a non-cold weather person at old) can visit me) but it just happens.

This week I was sadly packing the summer clothes I used for my holidays in Mexico during Easter and I realized how few summer clothes I have! Partly thanks to UPS who lost two parcels full of clothes during the last move but (here the connection with the map and the north-migration, don’t think I’m losing my mind) partly because I’m leaving every time more and more north. I then remember with nostalgia my long summer in Ibiza working in the sailing school, when my bikini drawer was fuller than my whole summer clothes drawer now, hahahaha…

My sad summer clothes drawer

My sad summer clothes drawer

Anyway, I look forward to using summer clothes again at the end of May in Madrid, where I have a “hen do”!!

And hoping to do at some point a U-turn on this map and start migrating south. It was been a haaaard and loooong winter. I’m glad my partner and I have decided not to move without the other anymore.

THE BUOY IS FLOATING!!

After 5 months from the start of my new job in Germany, we had our first sea trial of the buoy we are building to measure CO2 flux. The whole process was really quick, mostly because of the great job of the workshop folks; if it was me alone, I would still be trying to figure out how to put two aluminum sticks together 🙂 So that’s a good example how oceanography is a team game.

So everything starts when I learnt that one main task in my new contract is to help build this buoy. As always, first doubts of “Will I be able to do that?” now more emphasis with my less than beginner German. But it turns out that language was not a problem: a little bit of German, a little bit of English and A LOT of WILLING to communicate with each other.

Every visit to the workshop was full of excitement: “What am I going to find new?” I was in beginning to see a little baby growing :). One day I arrived at the workshop thinking it will be one short visit to discuss one small item but I spent almost all my working day with them… that was serious! They want it done soon and when they have the time for you, you don’t waste the opportunity.

A cold morning in January we went, buoy up to a trolley, buoy up to a crane, buoy down to the sea!!

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OMG just before that, all the doubts again: did I close the sensor properly? Have I forget some connection? Was the time configuration right? Will it float?

It turns out to be a success, not only the buoy floats but it also measures what it is supposed to measure 🙂 . So next step is to build an arm to move an instrument that measures current in and out of the buoy, attached some temperature sensors and GPS. By April we hope to be doing our first real measuring day, you will hear details soon 🙂

EIVISSA = IBIZA

Four days before heading Home for Christmas I think it is good opportunity to tell you where I come from. I always like to observe people’s faces when I answer their question, ‘where do you come from?’ Most of them are surprised. After saying, “I come from Ibiza”. I am normally asked – “Do real people live there?’ “Do you have schools there?” I always laugh and answer, ‘yes, normal people live there who don’t spend their lives dancing and doing drugs. Yes, we have schools and even University!!’ I give my “elevator speech” about my island. The local tourism board should give me some recognition for saying, “Ibiza is more than discos, sex and drugs. It’s UNESCO site for cultural and biodiversity, it has an important necropolis… ”

Another funny moment: it is really easy to travel from any little airport from the UK to Ibiza during summer. Even if you go home for a funeral then, you are surrounding but crazy young people trying to get as drunk as they can before landing and the cabin assistance shouting on the microphone saying that “if they can’t do the safety induction audible they can’t take off”. And you sit there, trying to follow your normal flying custom (mine is reading for 5 minutes and sleeping the rest :)). Different people sitting in the same row tried to talk to me after the wondering, “what this girl is doing reading and going to Ibiza” . . . “I’m going back home”. First they ask for a free place to stay over and then, ashamed they asked “But have you ever done “Ibiza” live? I mean, party and discos” hahahaha…

I love travelling around the world, but my friends, nothing is comparable to the peace I find at my dad´s place; and nothing is tastier that his fantastic fish soup; and nothing is more beautiful that seeing the cathedral and the wall from the jetty. I know I’m not really objective (not scientifically correct) in this aspect but… I count now the hours to go 🙂

I SURVIVE 5 WEEKS WITHOUT SEA (A RECORD FOR ME!!)

It’s been a while since I have written in the blog but I have a good excuse, I was in a 4 weeks experiment in a circular wind tunnel in Heidelberg. 4 weeks plus preparation and installation of all the equipment plus take everything back to our home lab means A LOT OF WORK!! Some of you may not know where Heidelberg is (I didn’t the first time I heard about this experiment). Here is a map of all the places I have been during this adventure or I talk about in the post: mapHDhttps://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zR6f-Im6yd2U.kQUx9OZrrsbA

So, the second obvious question is “Why an oceanographer works during more than 5 weeks in a place 500 km away from the nearest sea water?” Not only that but also you’ll be surprise to know that we actually work with seawater! It is a big interdisciplinary project call SOPRAN (http://sopran.pangaea.de/). They collected water in the middle of the North Atlantic from a research vessel, transport until Kiel where they transfer to a track (whose next transport after our seawater was gums from bear gums, like haribo, so if you taste some salt in the last sweat, do not be surprise, hahahaha). So, that’s the explanation of how the water arrive to Heidelberg or the so call “Heidelberg ocean”. So in theory, I haven’t been without sea the whole time

Next obvious question, why so many bothering to bring water to Heidelberg? So at University there, they have a circular wind tunnel facility. That’s a 10 m diameter ring that you can fill with 1 m water (that means 18 m3 of water, 18000 L; that means if you have a big bath you can fill your bath ten times with this water!!). So this experiment was the first time they fill the facility with seawater, before they only use tap water or destilled water… Of course, seawater behaves different that freshwater so that makes this experiment so important. Ok Mariana, ok… a lot of blablabla but you haven’t explained yet why this is important.

So what we were trying to quantify is the flux between the water and the air of different gases and how this flux is affected with different factors. Some of the readers will get lost with this explanation but I have a good example everyone will understand. Imagine you are in a party with two rooms separated with a door. Originally all the people are in the first room but then more and more people arrive so people start to occupy the second room. Then you have more or less the same number of persons in both rooms, but this doesn’t mean people don’t move, you can see a friend in the other room or a plate of biscuits you like. Sometime the door could be lock or really heavy so really difficult to open and go through. Some other time the door can just blow out because of a lot of wind. So the two rooms in our “party” are the water and the air inside the tunnel and the door is the interface, the surface that separates them. This door (interface) can be heavier or not depending on the wind speed, the waves, the surfactants… so some people (gasses in the tunnel) may fill more comfortable in a more empty room or some prefer the warm to be with a lot of people (depending on their solubility and the temperature in the water and in the air).

I hope my example of the party help you understand the beauty of the air-sea interactions. Of course real live is much more complicate, there are gasses (and people) who doesn’t like others, there’s people who combine closely with other people…

We spent long hours in the lab (some days more than 16!!) but I always try to find some time to explore the surrounding area. So Heidelberg is a really nice and lively city. We also visit the Black Forest and Bern during different free weekends.

Overall, the experience was really good, I met a lot of nice people and we have a lot of interesting data (that will keep me really busy in the next months!!) but I have to admit that oceanography cruises are more fun. First, you don’t have to worry about the logistics of food, shop and accommodation (after 16 hours work, the only thing you don’t want to do is cook dinner!). Secondly, there’s no call to see polar bears, penguins, whales or albatross from your cabin window. All you see is workers in a new building (and that does not change everyday :))

I’ve been too long in the UK

I’ve been too long in the UK. I don’t know what to do after being to the loo when I don’t see the symbol “now wash your hands”. I panic in entering the lab without lab coat, even to fill a bottle of water and my PI was amused to see me keeping all the packaging of the chemical we received. It is sure he has never deal with BAS people, hahaha. There’s no fire-alarm testing on Monday morning and I haven’t had any health and safety induction, Risk Assessment Induction, chemical storage induction… However, life carries on without problems 🙂 It also annoys me that there’s no kettle and tea facilities in the hotels and I say twice as much “sorry” as anyone else (when saying in German, it is not as easy, hahaha).
Anyway, my new life in Germany is starting to flow more easily. We found an apartment: it was love at first sight, the first one we visited… the apartment choose me and not the other way around. One of the main reason to choose it was because it had some green walls. However, the landlord asks the actual tenant to repaint white before we move in on next Sunday, hahahaha. This one is much bigger than in Southampton so all visitors are welcome 😦
I continue to have problems with shipping company: I sent 7 parcels and only received 5. The two missing parcels (full of winter jackets, sport clothes and trousers) are in “Search and catch” operation around Europe. They probably won’t find them, in which case, they will give me some money back that might allow me to buy a sleeve of one of the jackets I’m missing :(. So here is a good tip: when moving, don’t put all your trousers in the same bags (or as Zoraida’s mum says, all the eggs in the same egg-carrier)
This move reminds me of one of the really good things about being an oceanographer: you work and live in really nice place. We are staying in a guesthouse of the Seckenberg Institute which has amazing sea views. Another good thing about moving to a new city: leave without a map to explore the city and everything is new, every corner needs to be discovered and doesn’t matter if it’s not the most important one (like when you are on holiday) because you have 3 years to discover all of them.