|The Wailing Wall, Jerusalem|
In some ways, being a grad student can be unrewarding. We commonly spend months at a time obsessing over random research ideas with only the hope that our work will someday get published and marginally advance the state of the art of an esoteric sub-field that a vast majority of people neither know, nor likely care, anything about. Usually, we get paid little or nothing to do this. However, there are definitely some perks to the job. For one, you get to work on what you love. That's pretty important, obviously. But another thing that really gives grad students the jollies are conferences. Many fields have annual conferences in a variety of locales scattered across the country or even the globe. Beloved by grad students, conferences give us poor souls an excuse to travel to exotic (or sometimes not so exotic) lands in the name of furthering academia. If you're lucky, your advisor or department might even foot the bill. It's a nice respite from the otherwise endless work.
This year, a couple of friends and I were fortunate enough to have a paper accepted to the 2010 International Conference on Machine Learning. Since ICML is very well respected in the field and was, um, being held thousands of miles away in another country, we simply had to go. All three of us. To Israel. Nevermind that only one of us was required to present the paper. We must support the Academy, of course!
So, this summer, I spent four days in Haifa, Israel, filling my brain with the latest advances in machine learning research. Afterwards, I hopped on a train to Jerusalem for a much-needed vacation. For several days I did nothing but walk around the Old City with my camera, eat Yemenite falafel, and watch the World Cup at bars. And here is what I saw. --Austin
|By the Wailing Wall, Jerusalem|
|Tel-Aviv Airport, Israel|
|The Old City, Jerusalem|