More than a year of the Ph.D. passed so quickly that I barely believe the first year is already over. This first year has been full of exciting adventures and amazing new friends. Initially, this post would have been a sum-up of my first year, both adventures and successes. But, with the first draft, I realized I was not going to do justice to all the great things that happened this year and to include the biggest realization I had this year. Therefore I decided to focus on my vacations in Chile.
I stayed in Santiago for a few days to meet many friends, and the feeling of closeness had not disappeared with any of them. Moreover, with a group of friends with whom I gather daily to play online games and chat. Now that we were in the same city again, since most of us left the country after the pandemic, we had a wonderful barbeque just in time to see the Word cup final and celebrate for our neighbors! After this, it was time to go to my hometown with my mom and sisters. Over there, I met my dad, and the crying came back with no less intensity. I will never forget the long hug and the feeling of finally being home. Here we stayed a few days before continuing the trip even souther to see my brother in Llanquihue. This meeting was the most emotional since it was the very first time all six of us were together to spend New Year’s as a family since I left, and most probably, the last time until the end of my Ph.D. We spent the most relaxing weeks in Llanquihue, enjoying the lake, mountains, and weather of the south of Chile. Thereon, the goodbyes were in order, so undoing the route back to Santiago, I saw most of my friends and family members. When I went to take the flight, I realized that my heart was full of love (and food), so I started missing my family as soon as I had to say the final goodbye at the airport door.
Upon arriving in Halle, I had the strangest feeling since, from the minute I was out of the train station, I felt at home again. The last year and a half showed me that home is not a place, but the people with whom I feel at home. I am forever thankful to SPEAR since it taught me not only physics but also how to enjoy living abroad and the importance of good friends and colleagues.
Silly me, thinking that a Ph.D. was only to learn about science. Here I am, with tears again, prost to Halle and the SPEAR program!!.