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Nicole Ackerman | SLAC | USA

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Preparing for a Foreign Trip

My recent trip to Detroit was relatively unusual in that I was traveling to a place I know. My past travel for conferences and other business has always been to a city I’m unfamiliar with. Usually I have to navigate the public transportation between a strange airport and a hotel I’ve never been to before. Now I get to do this in another country.

In September I am traveling to Italy to attend the 31st Course in Nuclear Physics in Erice at the Ettore Majorana Foundation and Centre for Scientific Culture. Since I have 20 hour of travel time to get to Europe, I’m spending a few days in Rome before the school. I’ve never been to Italy before, so I’m looking forward to seeing the city of Rome and some of Sicily. I’m less excited about navigating Italy by myself when I don’t know any Italian!

While my preparation for the trip began many months ago – foreign travel requires 90 days pre-approval by the DOE – I have been putting a lot of time into it recently. I booked my flight from Rome to Palermo last week and today I booked my hostel in Rome. I’ve downloaded a bunch of “learn Italian” podcasts, but I haven’t been paying enough attention to them to learn any phrases. I am slowly learning the sound of the language, which I usually end up pronouncing like Spanish. I certainly hope to pick up some survival phrases before I leave, but I face a few challenges. First, I have a few deadlines occurring right after my trip, so I either have to have the work done before I leave or do the work while in Italy. Second, I really want to read up on neutrino theory before I attend the school. Third, I have to figure out what I want to actually see in my short stay in Rome. Finally, the majority of the time between now and my Italy trip is taken up by a collaboration meeting in Canada. This is a juggling feat I do not feel ready for!

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