Arrived

2013-04-30

I have been here about a week now, so it is time for a new post. I would have posted before, but I didn't have a computer yet. Now that I do, things are starting to become "normal".

The trip

Wednesday morning, I went to the airport. I got annoyed by lousy programmers[1], but that's not anything new. In the plane, I watched a movie (the Rise of the Guardians) and read in a PhD thesis about solar cells, as a preparation. And I tried to sleep a bit, with limited success.

  1. The airline sent me an e-mail that I could do my check-in on-line. So I went to the website, and answered all the questions. After I had answered everything, and chose to print the ticket, they said "oh sorry, with your passport, online check-in won't work". THEN DON'T OFFER IT TO ME! Then on the airport, the same thing happened again on the little "check-in terminal". It said (after I answered all the questions) that I should speak to a person. So I went to the desk, and there they said "why didn't you check in yet?" Well, I tried...

Chicago

When we almost landed, I could see Chicago from above. It is unbelievable how much that is built on a grid. Near the water are lots of really high buildings; the rest is flat. But all of it perfectly aligned on the grid of roads. Very different from the Netherlands.

When I arrived in Chicago, I first had to wait a long time to get my passport checked. Then I got my baggage, and proceeded to the exit. Before giving my baggage to the next plane, I took out the batteries which hadn't been allowed in there. Luckily, they hadn't taken them out (and they hadn't exploded).

So then I had about eight hours to kill before getting on my next plane. I had written about this on a forum, and someone there wrote that we could meet up. So we did. He took me to the Millennium Park, where we had trouble finding a parking spot. So we were driving around the city, and I got to see quite a bit of it. Eventually, we gave up and went back out of the center for some food. After that, he brought me back to the airport. It was a nice way to spend the otherwise useless hours of the day.

Arrival

The second plane was very small. The weather in Chicago had been good, but just before we landed in Houghton, we entered a snow storm. It was pretty thick snow, and I'm not sure how much the pilot could see. But it was enough for him to make a safe landing, so everything was fine.

I was picked up by a student, who offered to first drive me to Walmart. But it's the middle of the night? No problem, it's open 24/7. Ah well, ok, let's go there then. So I got some food for the first days. I didn't know what would be in my apartment, so I didn't know what I would want to take. it was good that I at least had some food. Walmart is extremely big, and they have everything. I thought a Carrefour was big, but that's a local groceries store compared to Walmart. Unbelievable...

When I got to the apartment, I noticed that I could use more: pans, knives, and bed linen was also not present. Of course I had my towel with me, which I used as a blanket for the first nights.

The first days

During the first days, I've been getting used to how things work here. I bought a bike, and found that my house may be close to the university, but it is about 100 m higher, so it's still a heavy bike trip.

The summer semester is just starting, which is holiday for most students. So everyone is now having their final exams, and then most people will be leaving. It is a strange time to arrive.

The student associations which I wanted to join are also closed for the summer (that is, they don't have meetings). I'll see how things will turn out. Everybody says this is a great place to be in summer, so I hope they are right.

Pictures

Finally, I suppose you want to see some pictures. I didn't make many yet, which is a pity: there was lots of snow when I arrived, and most of it is already gone now. But when I got here I was too tired to start photographing, so I didn't. Except for the one I promised, of course. I made a photo with the flag I got from home on the evening I arrived, in my apartment. here it is:

My first photo

I'm eagerly awaiting my next assignment.

When I met my professor, he told me that I could choose whatever I liked best from all the projects that he was doing in his group. So I will probably not be printing solar cells (because solar cells really aren't my expertise), but I will start with other things. I'm hoping to print stepper motors relatively soon. I'll start with a gearbox. My first project is to help someone to prepare a workshop for 40 high school teachers, who will build 20 RepRap printers. A very nice project, which should work fine.

That's it for now; the next update will probably be sooner.

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