Wednesday, June 11, 2014

My New Space- Part III

The delay in writing the third piece about my life at Strasbourg is due to multiple reasons, foremost being procrastination. At the end of October, we had our first examination which most of us passed with fairly decent grades. This marked the beginning of the next six months, which were as hectic as it could get. We were doing three modules in parallel - academic lectures, the team project and the individual project; the most among them was the team project for reasons far more greater than the scope of the project. every year at ISU, two team projects are carried out which are inter-disciplinary in nature and inter-cultural in team composition true to the ISU motto of 3Is education. This year, the team project titles suggested to us were 'One way mission to Mars' and 'Space for Migration'. Both of these topics sound fairly vague, and I was assigned to the latter. The individual project work was more laid back and this helped me to divide time efficiently between lectures, assignments, the two projects and having fun at the same time. 

As I had mentioned earlier, the team project was the most important aspect at ISU as it happens to shape the social group dynamics for the entire year. It is through this endeavor that we come to know most about each other. When you put people from culturally diverse countries together, sparks are bound to fly. Even though I had worked in ISRO where people from different parts of India work together, we shared some common sentiments, hence working on the team project was a completely different experience. The topic itself was a difficult one to crack and went through many changes, before being finally named as Steps To Effectively Prepare for Migration (STEP M). I had a gala time and would remember this for a long time to come. Its not often that you find your team members from 11 different countries like the USA, South Korea, China, Canada, Belgium, Spain, Venezuela, Czech Republic, Nigeria, Ireland and Japan. The academic load had some effect on the partying spree, and also stressed out a lot of people, which was reflected in the increasing number of arguments (and bitching that people resorted to thereafter) people had for petty issues like the cleanliness of the student lounge.

Team Migration at Flams, Strasbourg

One of the good things at ISU is the guest lectures delivered by eminent people from industry and academia. Module 2 had a bevy of such lecturers, the most popular among them being by astronaut Bob Thirsk. The area of Space Medicine had already caught my imagination due to the awesomeness of the way it was taught to us by in-house faculty member Dr. Gilles Clement. Bob Thirsk took it to another level during his lecture presentation, and later on we got to interact with him personally in typical ISU fashion with snacks and drinks. Most of us managed to get an autograph from him, and a few of our classmates successfully managed to persuade him to write about kitchen cleanliness! Being the gentleman he is, he obliged to our childish requests and I have this autographed poster thanks to him. 

We had many industrial visits during Module 2. In module 1, there was the remote sensing trip which was spoiled by bad weather, still it was pretty awesome and we had a great time at Mount St.Odile. The ones after that included the trips to Astrium, Friedrichshafen (Germany), SES, Betzdorf (Luxembourg) and ESA ESOC/Telespazio, Darmstadt (Germany). The bus journeys were not that eventful with most of us being passed out for the maximum amount of time. Meanwhile, there was a big Christmas holiday in between when most of the class went to their respective homes and only a few of us (mainly Indians) were left to enjoy the excellent Strasbourg Christmas, photos of which can be found here - It turned out to be a great holiday, especially since I had a visitor back from home, and we all had a blast (unfortunately I can't post the best photos of our adventures). I explored Strasbourg like never before, and also happened to visit a small town 30 minutes from here called Colmar. One of my classmates is from this place, and her mother's hospitality touched us, especially since we were visiting during Christmas when you are supposed to be with family.

While all this was happening, I got so engrossed in my ISU life that I forgot about my life back in India. I never lost the connection, but some strings went loose and I paid the price for it. I may have learnt to do a system design of a remote sensing spacecraft in 3 days flat, and managed an inter-cultural team for a few weeks successfully, but I failed at managing my personal life to the extent that I stopped caring about it. I knew I seldom learn from my mistakes but this time it was right on my face and yet I repeated the same mistakes that I have committed before. Thankfully I had a good support system of friends with whom I spent almost 16 hours per day 6 times a week. Honestly speaking, I haven't spent this amount of time continuously even with my parents in the last three years. Hence a strange bond existed among all of us..we may not like each other a lot, but we still had to bear with this fact and live like a family. The projects were completed successfully and both teams were lauded for their efforts.

With this I end the summary of my life at ISU, Strasbourg. There are a few important things which I did not mention because I will be writing separately on them. I tried my best to present my experiences in a crisp way. Keep reading for more details :)

1 comment:

  1. Seems like I am reading my own ISU journey till now specially the second last stanza! :P