24 Jul 2004

Update after Week 4

Submitted by Paul Brown

I'm coming up on the end of my fourth week here in Porto, and I can say that things are going well, but not as fast as at first.

Language class is not very stressful for me any more, and although there are still times when I feel like I'm underperforming, there are also times when I really feel like I'm moving along. Speaking is still not natural and I often forget to do the right conjugation of verbs, but last night I was able to read a computer magazine in Portuguese without much difficulty and without having to continuously use my dictionary.

Next week I will meet with Prof. Pecas Lopes (my boss at INESC) and another researcher to learn what my work will be for August. Most of the rest of people in INESC will be on break, so I will get exercise my "self-starter" skills. With any luck I will get a new computer since the one I am using now is in the 300 MHz range and I will mostly be doing computer simulations.

Last Sunday I found a Baptist church here in Porto that I am looking forward to attending again tomorrow. So as not to hang too much weight on first impressions, I'll leave it at that, but I hope that before long I'll be able to say with some confidence that I have found a church home.

Another batch of photos have been posted to the gallery, this time complete with captions and everything. I have also updated the times to local time here (having been in EDT before, since that was how the camera clock was set).

10 Jul 2004

Update after Week 2

Submitted by Paul Brown

I've been in Porto for two weeks now, and thought I'd put an update up for all the loyal fans out there! ;) All is well, and I am gaining confidence in using Portuguese, though it is still very rudimentary and comprehension of real people talking is low. I put a number of pictures up in the gallery (have a look!).

I have been in the Portuguese for Foreigners class for a week now, and I can at least understand the teachers when they talk, though of people in the "real world" talk faster, with less enunciation, and more complex sentence structure. Still, this is an improvement over the first few days this week when it took all my concentration to mostly understand what the teachers were saying.

The people I will be working with in INESC have been very, very helpful for me, assisting me in everything from finding the canteen for lunch to getting a bus pass and opening a bank account, many of which I would have had tremendous difficulty finishing on my own. Besides being helpful, they are also very friendly and funny and I think it will be a pleasure to spend time at work in INESC.

So far I don't know much of traditional Portuguese food since it is cheaper and easier to eat in the school canteens or at home than go out for a meal. I will be trying to remember to take pictures of my meals when I eat out so 1) I can find out what it is called from my friends at INESC and 2) So I can post the pictures to the 'net for the edification of the whole world.

19 Jun 2004

Server moved home, Paul moved away

Submitted by Paul Brown

Well, I'm not quite gone yet, but the day is coming, just over a week away when I will be gone. Gone from Manning. Gone from Iowa. Gone from the United States. But still in the world (so not gone for good, I guess)!

I have spent the last few days at home in Manning getting my computer system set up as a server for news and pictures while I'm gone in Portugal. Next week Mom and Dad and I will be at the beach in North Carolina with Mom's side of the family. Once we fly back to Iowa, I'll have a day to regroup, then we'll be heading back to the airport for me to take off to Portugal.

In case you've missed the news up till now, I will be going to the University of Porto to study for my master's degree at the University of Porto in Porto, Portugal. I will be emphasizing in the electrical power systems area with my coursework offered in English. I intend to travel to Porto on 27-28 June to take a language course prior to the beginning of the academic semester.

The two-year plan for the master's program is available here (scroll down to the power systems courses).

While I'm gone I hope to be able to publish updates here as well as upload pictures to the photo gallery. Stay tuned!

4 May 2004

New site

Submitted by Paul Brown

This is a brand new site that I threw up quickly. It is based on PHP-Nuke, and what you see here is just the default. I will be working on making customizations, so as time goes on, it should evolve away from that.

[edit 12/28/05] the site has now beem moved to the Drupal CMS.

29 Dec 2003

Update from Paul 12/29/03

Submitted by Paul Brown

Highlights: finishing co-op term at NPPD, accepted to program to get master's degree from University of Porto in Porto, Portugal, returning to Ames for what should be an easy last semester at Iowa State.

Well, I'm now in the final weeks of my co-op term at NPPD. It has been a great experience as I have had good projects to work on and good coworkers to learn from. Mixing at the church in Columbus has been a very rewarding use of my off-work time once in a while. I love working with great musicians, and I think it has broadened my perspective to see how another church handles sound and work with different equipment.

The big news of the past month has been my recommendation from the Iowa State power faculty to the master's program with the University of Porto in Porto, Portugal. Since I received some language materials from my family for Christmas, I have started studying Portuguese (classes=English, life=Portuguese, I guess). This will be a tremendous opportunity for me to get my Master's degree and gain international experience. It will also be a huge challenge as I face not only the rigors of grad. school but also a new language and a new culture.

When I return to Ames for my final semester at Iowa State, I hope that it will be my easiest semester since freshman year. I will only be taking 14 hours, and only 5 of them are at the EE 400-level. I will be a sub-team leader on my senior design team, and I expect this will take a lot of time. The project is supposed to go to competition this coming summer, but we have not yet even gotten to the point of testing and tweaking yet. Heroic effort will be required for this project to succeed, and I will try to give what I can....

Posted: Dec. 29, 2003


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