Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Interesting times: a summer recap

Back on track, and the wheels are spinning as fast as ever. Autumn is here, and as usual for me there is so much to do. Not that I'm complaining, it helps keep my mind off the disturbingly deep thoughts. Thought a quick recap of my summer could be in order.

As always, it flew past so very fast. It began with me heading to China on tour with the orchestra (I already wrote an extensive travel blog on that, starting here). When I got back I had a quick breather around midsummer, which I mostly spent recovering from my two-week cold and general travel exhaustion. After that, I went to a one-week course in planetarium-programming. Learning how to operate the new digital planetarium and scripting new shows, basically. The new projector sure is really cool, but also radically (sometimes annoyingly much so when the system crashes) different from the old, mechanical one. Oh well, no use in being sentimental; the times they are a-changing.

Having barely finished the course, I re-settled into my office at the observatory to finish working on my bachelor's thesis. I had passed all my courses before I left for China (with honors even, unbelievably enough!), so this was all I needed to finish in order to finally obtain my degree. I had gotten about halfway through the project during the spring, so I worked for about four weeks on my project. Excitement, frustration, understanding, struggling, relief. So many feelings packed into those circa forty pages that at last became my thesis. Age determination of stellar populations. Quite a fancy title, considering how few and uncertain my results actually were. Oh well, I had fun and learned a hell of a lot (including Python programming!), in any case.

When I after having hardly left my office (neglecting the relatively nice weather outside) for half the summer handed in my report I went off on three weeks well-deserved and well-needed vacation. Up to visit my folks and my friends, and half of that time even further up north mountain hiking! Me and six friends, hiking along in northern Lapland, walking all the way to the top of Kebnekaise (Sweden's highest mountain at 2.1 km!), was a truly lovely experience. If I don't get to go mountain hiking next summer as well I'll probably start climbing the walls.

So yeah, I had a really intense vacation what with hiking and condensed socialising; I got home way more tired than when I set out. At least in the body. My mind at least got the break it needed. Then I headed back home for two weeks of summer-work. At the observatory! How awesome is that? (Very awesome indeed, I'll tell you.) My task was to temperature-calibrate a radio telescope. What with me never even having had a single lecture on radio astronomy, I spent most of the time trying to understand what I was doing and why radio astronomers use so strange units. Finally, me and my supervisor managed to do some measurements and even making some sense of the results. A confusing but fun experience! And I even got paid. 

In the midst of all the confusion I also managed to submit the final version of my thesis and defend it in front of a small committee. Passed with honors! Who would've thought I was capable of such a thing? I surely had my doubts, but now I have a bachelor's degree in astronomy and astrophysics, and my self-confidence level is higher than ever. Life is awesome, things are going my way, and now I'm a master student. I have a feeling I'm gonna need that hard-earned self-confidence before long, but gods know I'm prepared. I absolutely love what I do, so it's gonna take a lot to stop me now.

In conclusion: my summer was really intense and not so very summer-like, still it was bloody awesome. Next year I'm hoping for more free time, though. It feels good that autumn is here, so that I can get a chance to breathe again. Hah, as if! 

Love and interesting times,

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