When we got invited to SoHPC, both of us were very excited. Samanta was sitting with friends in a bar when she received an e-mail and celebrated it immediately. Juan had just woken up (cultural differences, am I right?) but he surely was equally excited. As time passed, probably all of us started to be anxious, not only of leaving home for two months, but also of people that one would have to spend time with. Super-smart guys that would look into their laptops all day, not really trying to socialize – isn’t that what you think of computer scientists at first? It got even worse after reading the agenda of SoHPC training week – the thought of 10 hours/day by the computer, doing things far exceeding the skills of a computational chemist was a recipe for disaster.
The training week was serious and exhilarating at the same time.
We met lots of interesting characters, and had a wonderful time during the evenings (shout out to Ross Lynch and his awesome Irish pub). All good things come to an end, it was really hard to say goodbye, and from this place we should thank not only SoHPC students, but mostly: the organizers for taking great care of us. Coffee in the mornings was highly sought-after and received with gratitude, and evening activities such as go-karting triggered lifelong rivalries amoungst some of the participants.
For almost a week now we’re in our placement destination – the Biomedical Research Foundation of the Academy of Athens (BRFAA). So far so good, although it was not an easy start. Suffocating heat and no AC in our rooms was the first thing to welcome us in Greece. Juan, living alone in a quiet street far from any life in the city, and Samanta – sharing a flat with 8 other people. Enthralling isn’t it?
Buses take you anywhere and at night taxis are cheap. Our first day welcomed us with mouth-watering Greek food and friendly people everywhere. To relieve some stress before meeting our supervisor on Monday we enjoyed the EuroCup final with Greek beer in the evening.
BRFAA looks as serious as it sounds and is tricky to reach on foot. Not a very encouraging start – we got lost and we were late for meeting with our supervisor – Dr. Zoe Cournia the first day. After a short introduction we started our training week in Greece. Not to bore you with the details: Maestro with Desmond, Glide and LigPrep tutorials were planned just for the first two days. Remaining 3: ChemBioServer, FEP Mapper and NAMD with VMD. Sounds like lots of work? Good. It was. Still, we enjoy sitting in our office: mostly because of air-condition, very good atmosphere, and the lab members. Apart from all these software, Samanta has also learnt to enjoy coffee (Juan was already pro), because Greeks not only know how to work, but also how to enjoy their evenings – like on Thursday, when we went to Brazilian concert together with Zoe and Ioannis from GRNET. But social life here is probably a topic for another blog post. This week we’re finishing our tutorials and next week: hands on real work, and as soon as our calculations are ready to start: GRNET and even more PRACE with Ioannis Liabotis.