I have a moment at the conference with internet so wanted to break radio silence.
Being here has made me excited, melancholy, and reflective, mostly because it's the first time I've left Asia since we arrived mid-August, and it's SO ODD to be in the West again!!!
Lisbon is a beautiful place to have a conference because it is such a relaxing city it's hard not to turn a work event into a semi-vacation. When I get back home (leaving tomorrow but arriving Friday afternoon), I'll start posting the pics and travel stories. For now, some very brief observations:
1) I've spoken constantly in Spanish to people and understood their Portuguese and even Italian (so cool!). It is so wonderful--priceless really--to be in a place where I can understand conversations on the street, communicate what I want, and feel that people aren't staring at me all the time. I also had forgotten (almost) how much I love Spanish--the language, the culture, the people--and it's been an amazing reminder.
2) I have really missed a bright blue sky and clouds. Even on the most clear days, Beijing is still pretty polluted. The first few days, I took about 70 pictures of clouds--sky in background of stuff, etc--because it was so shocking to me.
3) The city has 3 million people and (no joke) feels like a ghosttown--so few people on buses, walking around, etc. My framework for population density has definitely shifted after battling the masses.
Now I have to get back to work preparing for my presentation tomorrow. The learning here has been incredible, and I hope to contribute. And the best part? Tomorrow my presentation ends at 11 and my flight leaves at 2 pm...meaning I'm almost back to Alison!!!!