Fata Morgana (chimerically) wrote,
Fata Morgana

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greetings from Vienna

I'm not sure that being a student volunteer at CHI will be worth the trouble. Everyone told me it would be a great networking opportunity, but so far, the only valuable thing that I've gotten out of the experience is a free lunch. The conference organizers are cutting corners so much that student volunteers don't even get a conference bag or proceedings (though there are rumors that if there are any proceedings left at the end, we may get a copy), and they only have extra-large student volunteer T-shirts left, which means that after the conference my free shirt joins my pile of other useless techie shirts that reach to my knees and are only good as nightgowns. I had to spend an extra $250 to change my plane ticket so I could be a student volunteer (meaning my entire conference stipend has been spent on my plane ticket), which saved me $130 in registration fees. I have to work 20 hours, which means that I'm going to be working during almost all of the sessions. And I missed a ballroom competition on Saturday night to get here early.

My impressions of Vienna so far aren't that great, but I haven't been able to see much of it yet. I fell asleep as soon as I got to the hostel yesterday afternoon, but I couldn't sleep past 4 a.m., when the sixth roommate stumbled in and started snoring loudly. I'm switching to an all-female room tonight, and hopefully none of them snore.

I imagine that it doesn't help that I'm pretty stressed out about the homework and competition planning I have to do while I'm in Vienna, and that I'm probably jetlagged too ... hopefully my experience improves in the days to come. :~)

I had a layover in Amsterdam, and was most impressed with the aesthetics of the airport. Even the bathrooms were well-designed, with slick plumbing and impressionistic murals of sailboats across the stalls. The Vienna airport was chaotic and overwhelming in comparison. I had trouble finding anybody (even in the "information" booths) who would help me find my hostel, both in the airport and in the metro stations, so I spent about an hour wandering around, trying to navigate the crazy maze of streets. The hostel was very nice, though, so that made up for it.

Today I attended a tutorial for free, another perk of being a student volunteer, but it was geared toward usability novices so I didn't get much out of it. Ironically, the tutorial was given by a Stanford professor - so I came all the way to Vienna to hear what I could theoretically have traveled fewer than 50 miles from home to hear. :~) Now I'm working the help desk in the conference office, which is rather dead this late in the evening, so I have plenty of time to surf the web. My presentation (my UW advisor will actually do the presenting) will be during the last session on the last day of the conference.

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