Updates from Jonathan

What up world, it’s the husband’s time to shine! So, as you can see, Sara’s prediction was correct and we haven’t updated her blog in a while. That’s why I’m stepping in to make some changes! 

I’ve been meaning to help contribute for a while actually; we want this blog to be something we both can use to share our experiences with friends and family members. We’ve been on a few notable adventures so far and have had excellent visits from friends. The difficulty we’ve been having is finding the right way to share our stories. When we moved, Sara decided to shy away from posting content like trip photos and videos via social media, retaining the copyrights and ownership of her talents by promoting on her personal webpage instead. Hence, the blog! Our idea was to upload less to Facebook/Instagram/Twitter and instead share our experiences here and directly share the original photos/videos with our friends via (slightly) more private channels like Google Photos or Apple Photos. So far, we’ve only done the latter… The problem has been once we neglect to share one thing, we put off making another update and now we’ve had a pile-up for the past 4 months. 

To finally obliterate the pile-up, here is the first of many delayed blog updates. We’ll start with the late winter months and a visit from our good friend Andy Wagner!

February 2019

Life in France has gotten a bit better by February. After the therapeutic New Year’s trip to Zurich to see the Sleps, we started settling in to the country a bit more. Work at ITER started picking up for me. I went on a work trip to Daejeon, South Korea, to attend the 10th ITER International School with 100 or so PhD students and postdocs. The KAIST campus (Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) that hosted the week-long school was extremely impressive, and I got to learn a lot about power flux handling in tokamaks. Plus I got to tour the KSTAR fusion device there, check one more tokamak off the list. After that, I settled into more of my 2-year Postdoc project back at ITER. I began collaborating with another PhD student, and we spent a lot of February working towards results to be presented at a future conference. 

France has also become a lot more enjoyable after making more friends. Yes, we have friends here! Mostly friends from ITER, but that’s ok. We’re getting along wonderfully with the other 4 Monaco Postdoctoral Fellows that I’m working with, and we all live in the same area of Aix-en-Provence. Plus we’re friends with a few American employees from ITER and their spouses. Some of which have cars! They’ve all been very kind, and have taken the time to hang out with us, show us the ropes around the region and take us on a few journeys in their cars. For example, Sara and I were able to go on our first skiing trip together in the French Alps! I enjoyed it, Sara not so much. More practice is required. (Note from Sara: We’ll see… I don’t think I’m built for winter sports. Unless those sports involved hot chocolate and sitting in a comfy chair.) 

We’ve also taken a couple of hiking trips to the calanques near Marseille with Lauren and Jed (ITER friends who both graduated from NC State! Small world.) It’s a pretty great experience of sitting on the side of a cliff, eating a sandwich and drinking wine in France.

Our second visitor to southern France was our good friend Andy Wagner. He stayed with us for  9 days. It was fantastic getting to catch up with him, and to use him as an excuse to finally venture out around France a bit and try to play host. He brought us some goods from home, and we introduced him to the fine wines and breads and cheeses of Provence! He also gave us an excuse to finally go on an official 1 hour tour of Aix. One of our friends here let us borrow a car, and so we were able to drive to a few great places. Andy and I went on an easy guys’ hike through the Callanques, a trail on the Mediterranean coast near Marseille. We all went together to an old medieval fortress called Chateau des Baux, as well as the Palais de Papes in Avignon. That one was high on Andy’s priority list. Finally, Andy and I sans Sara took a day trip to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, a Provencal town nestled in the side of a valley. We had a delicious French lunch overlooking the valley, complete with rosé, and hiked up a long stone staircase to a medieval church. All in all a great visit, one we sorely needed. 

Until next time! Apologies for some of the photos not being in a correct order. Sara is still figuring out the best way to collate and organize her photos on the iPad. If anyone has any tips, let her know!