by Claudia Acquistapace

sec clau McGill

My secondment at the McGill University took place between the 4th of February and the 11th of March 2015.

I arrived in the afternoon of the 4th February and the first thing that really astonished me was the ability of the plane to land on a completely snow-white landing lane. The softest and coldest landing in my life.

Montreal's people told me February it is not exactly the best month to visit the city because of the cold winter and the city was covered with snow. For me it was completely unusual to live a normal life surrounded by so much snow and such cold temperatures. What I mean? Just one example, I went to the supermarket and on the way back, with all the bags, I slipped and fell in the snow… and there was this funny scene of me lying and laughing in the snow surrounded by my bags. Things that happen in winter!

During my stay on average the temperature remained between -10 and -20, with the coldest peak experienced on a weekend in Ottawa at -35 degrees.

At the institute I was sitting in the students room, where I met a great girl called Jeanne. Jeanne together with Paloma, Andres, Ayako, Patrick, Katia, Xiao-li… I cannot mention all the names but these great people made me feel at home and helped me with any kind of problem.

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On my second day, I had a meeting with Prof Pavlos Kollias to define my work there and I also presented my PhD project in a group meeting. There I enjoyed one of the most fruitful discussions I ever had about my research topic, because of the wide experience in radar and microphysics of Pavlos and his group.

The days passed fast while I was working and programming, but I had “maté”, a typical beverage from Argentina, with my new Argentinian friends Paloma and Andres. Furthermore, I would like to thank Andres for the IDL programming tipps he gave me, which improved my ability in programming a lot.

Moreover, other nice things happened, which were not planned. What? Thanks to some chats in Spanish during lunch breaks, I got the chance to present my work to the Cloud Physics and Dynamics group of Prof. M.K. (Peter) Yau at McGill. It was a great chance for me to talk about autoconversion, the topic of my study, with one of the major experts in the field. I was so excited and of course I felt the pressure talking in front of such an “ authority “ in the field.

What else happend? Well, I went iceskating on a frozen lake, teached tango and was the official tango DJ for a women’s night, furthermore, I made new friends and met new colleagues. There is just one thing I would like to highlight especially. In Canada, I understood the importance of a secondment. It was one of the most interesting things for me to see how another research group is organized and works. Moreover, I enjoyed establishing connections with people, who work on similar data as I do.

Montreal for me is a shining record: it was an amazing experience, from the scientific as well as from the human point of view. It made me grow and it made me more independent.

In conclusion, I must contradict Montreal’s inhabitants: the city is amazing in every period of the year. J