Saudações! Greetings from Portugal! As I write this, I’m sitting in a cafe near the bus terminal in Porto, a port city famous for its sweet wine. By late afternoon, I’ll be back in Lisbon, the capital city, for one last hurrah, and I will fly back to the US tomorrow.
The past week has been a perfect combination of work and play. I went to Lisbon to attend a multiple-day conference called LabPhon (Laboratory Phonology). This prestigious conference is held every two years, every time in a different country; although the last meeting was held in New York, this year was my first time attending.
One of my group projects was accepted as a poster, so I traveled as a group with three other current graduate students and spent most of my time with them. But I also made new friends from other linguistics programs and got to connect with faculty whose work interests and inspires me. I was really impressed with the caliber of all the research projects I saw and thrilled that so much of it was right up my alley. I’ve been to plenty of linguistics conferences before, but the majority of them are general conferences with lots of different linguistic sub-fields represented (e.g., syntax, typology, natural language processing, and other topics that I know are important but that have little relevance to my own research). This was the first time I went to a conference where everything was “P-side” (phonetics and phonology, with relevant intersections with language acquisition, bilingualism, psycholinguistics, and sociolinguistics), and I felt much more “at home” among the talks and presentations.
I’m doing my best now to keep up the energy and inspiration I felt from the conference and channel it into productive work for the rest of the summer. But I also took a few days off to have an actual vacation!
Portugal is quite beautiful, and the weather is so nice here. Lisbon is a fun city with plenty to do and see. My friends and I hit up the famous Jeronimos monastery, an exhibit on M.C. Escher (who was Dutch) at the pop art museum, and found one of the locals’ favorite spots for sangria and outdoor music, a beautiful viewpoint at the top of a hill, called a miradouro. Porto is much quieter, but there are some breathtaking views of the river and its bridges right in the downtown area. I also went on a wine tasting tour, which was a real highlight. Oh, and I can’t neglect to mention Sintra, a beautiful town in the mountains with an amazing and diverse set of castles and palaces to explore.
I’ve had a lot of fun, but I’m read to wind down this trip and get back into work mode, especially since I’ll be spending all of the month of July (which is in just a few days… aah!) doing research in Los Angeles. Since I only have one month, I’ll need to be as efficient as possible with my time. I’ve never lived in LA before, so this should be quite the adventure.
Word of the Day: azulejos are the beautiful blue and white ceramic tiles that are used to decorate many walls on traditional Portuguese (and Spanish) buildings. In the photo below, taken at the Pena Palace in Sintra, the building on the left is covered top to bottom in azulejos! They’re also used to make huge murals.