April 2011 Archives

Well that came so soon! (One week to go...)

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I should be studying for my phonology exam tomorrow. I should be writing an Italian paper on Enzo Ferrari. But I'm not. I can't. I am too excited to be going to Spain in ONE WEEK.

In December, I found out that I was accepted into the PIRE program. How wonderful! In December, traveling to Granada to do linguistics research seemed light-years away. Last night as I was presenting my research proposal to my fellow PIRE students, it hit me. In about one week, I will be in Granada, Spain conducting research. Now it seems like mere milliseconds (ha ha eye-tracking joke).

Since I will be leaving before finals week, there is so much to do. I have to finish up all my classwork and hand in projects early; not to mention pack and prepare my self for the summer abroad. It might seem like a daunting task to most, but all I can do is enjoy every minute.

Here is my advice to all PIRE scholars: Plan ahead as much as you can, but don't let life stress you out. We have brilliant faculty members making sure we have everything in line. We have prepared for months. We have an opportunity that is pure fantasy to most.

My philosophy for the summer will be this: enjoy every moment, turn every stress into a solution, and smile always.

Good luck to all PIRE scholars wherever you are going! May you do stellar research and learn at every opportunity.

PIRE's first summer is almost upon us, and it's time to talk about travel preparations. Today's post covers a topic specific to those of you visiting China or Hong Kong in the future: visas. Our (myself, Patrick, & Nicole) visa applications are in the hands of FedEx now, and this seems like a good time to commit some thoughts on the process to writing before the memory fades.

embassy.jpgGoing to China isn't like visiting Mexico or Canada (especially not those carefree days pre-2007 of passport-less border crossings) in that you must apply in advance for permission to enter the country (a visa) and the conditions of your stay are subject to certain limitations. Under most circumstances the process is not terribly difficult or confusing, but I'll describe a few hurtles you may encounter.

First of all, the folks pictured on the left (the Chinese embassy in New York) can be helpful to you, primarily via their website. By virtue of being in Pennsylvania, you fall into the New York City jurisdiction of Chinese consulates. This detail is important because visa rules can vary slightly between jurisdictions, so you want to know which ones apply to you.

Read on to get the step-by-step on the visa application process...

PIRE Students in Penn State Live

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This story appeared on Penn State Live on Wednesday, March 30:

http://live.psu.edu/story/52411

Congratulations to all of the PIRE students whose work is featured!
See the article from APS Observer here.
Well, here it is: the first entry by a PIRE student in a PIRE location. Get the champagne ready--or in my case, the tapas y cerveza! I arrived in Granada, Spain 2 days ago to clear weather and friendly faces. Two graduate students in Teresa Bajo's lab, Luis Morales & Julia Morales (no relation), went to pick me up at the Granada airport which rivals our own University Park Airport in grandeur. After a short 10 minute drive, we arrived at the apartment that I'll be sharing with the other Granada PIRE students when they arrive later this year. The apartment is right in the heart of Granada near the cathedral. It was thanks to Luis & Julia that we were able to get such a great apartment.

In many ways, we truly lucked out with housing, which I want to make the focus of this post for the benefit of other PIRE students traveling soon. This part of PIRE travel preparations can be very time consuming, nerve-wracking, and certainly demands patience. Part of the frustration is that looking for housing from abroad is like trying to hammer a nail that you can't see using one of those extendo-claws. You have no idea what the apartment looks like; it's hard to estimate what neighborhood you should live in; and you are far away, making it difficult to contact owners and agencies. 

In part, differences are due to place. For example, Bangor, another PIRE site, is a smaller community but the research centre is accustomed to receiving many visitors, so the centre staff are incredible in helping one find housing, essentially booking a place for you as long as you provide advance notice. On the other hand, Granada is a mid-sized city with less support infrastructure for visitors, so more than likely PIRE visitors will have to figure out housing on their own. In addition, Spain in general relies more upon interactions and queries made through phone and not as much through internet or e-mail.

Not to fret, it is not impossible to find temporary housing abroad! Below the fold are some suggestions for making the search perhaps a tad bit easier. 

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