Programs & Awards  
A Day-By-Day Summary of the 2006 ICPS in Bucharest, Romania

By Cary Pint, University of Northern Iowa

Cary Pint  
SPS Outstanding Student Award recipients Anthony Davidson (left) and Cary Pint (second from left) with other attendees at the 2006 ICPS in Bucharest, Romania.  

I had the opportunity to attend the 2006 International Conference of Physics Students (ICPS) in Bucharest, Romania, which spanned the dates of August 13th to August 21st, 2006.  The annual ICPS is sponsored by the International Association of Physics Students (IAPS). My personal impressions of the conference are that it was a great blend of social activities--or time set aside for such--and presentations from students in physics from across the world, but, mostly Europe.

Despite the fact that the conference and events were a bit unorganized, and the living accommodations were  very interesting, the experience of meeting so many people from so many different countries who all shared the common interest of physics was amazing.  In the next few paragraphs, I am going to describe- day by day- my experiences at ICPS 2006. 

Day 1 (Monday)
I boarded a plane on Sunday, August 23rd in the afternoon, and finally landed in Bucharest on Monday afternoon.  Coincidentally, there were several students from Lancaster University (in the UK) who were also on my plane (from Amsterdam to Bucharest), and I actually sat across from one of them.  So, needless to say, I had already met several people from the UK who were going to be attending ICPS before I even made it out of the airport. 

Cary Pint  

After waiting in the airport for a while, we were finally taken, by bus, to our residence on the campus of the University of Bucharest.  Unfortunately, the conference organizers had some issues with the Romanian government providing accommodations, so we endedup with some very *interesting* living quarters.  Despite my exhaustion and disorientation from the long plane ride where I had passed over several time zones, I still found the energy to go to the "welcome party" on Monday night, which basically consisted of music, exhausted physics students from all over Europe, and good European beer.  At upper left is a picture of me with some of my new friends on the first night. (I am on the bottom right side).

Day 2 (Tuesday)
Tuesday morning started with breakfast, and then the opening ceremony and an invited talk.  I found the invited talk somewhat interesting, as it covered the topic of neutrinos.  We then ate lunch, and proceeded to go on a city tour of Bucharest.  However, the city tour turned into a walk to the city (where we then stopped, and turned around and came back), which was rather disappointing.  The highlight of the tour was seeing Kassandra (who I had met up with earlier in the day) being stopped by a guard for taking a picture of the American embassy (the irony!). 

We then proceeded to dinner and waited around for "Romanian night" to begin, where the Romanians were supposed to throw us a party to share their culture and food and drink with us.  Once again, this never happened, which was disappointing.  So, my new group of friends (mostly English physics students) got together and decided to take the initiative to do some Romanian wine-tasting (since this was originally on the schedule for the conference, but also was cancelled). 

Cary Pint  

Day 3 (Wednesday)
Today, the conference lectures began.  The first lecture was by Tony Davidson, the other American besides Kassandra Jorgensen and I.  At left isTony during the question and answer period in the lecture hall. 

Throughout the day, there were many lectures.. some of which were very technical in nature, and some of which were educational in nature.  I remember one, which was very interesting, which explored the optimum temperature needed in order to make a well-packed snowball.  The presentations were a great mix of technical scientific research presentations and fun explorations in physics. 

Cary Pint  

Later in the day, Kassandra Jorgensen gave her talk on the research she had done (pictured at left).  And then we all went off to dinner and started preparing for the Nation party. 

The nation party was, in my opinion, one of the best events of the conference.  At this party, each of the individual countries prepared a table full of things from their country, such as snacks, food, drinks, etc.  Since there were only three Americans, our table was not as elaborate as that of the British (who has 50 + people at ICPS).  Between the three of us, we managed to put a nice table together that (hopefully) represented the US well.  Below are pictures of some of the tables at the Nation party. 

Cary Pint  

Probably the most enjoyable part of this conference was to see and taste a little bit of culture and food from each of the countries represented.  I have been to other international conferences in the United States, even though I have never really experienced something like this- where so many people from different places get together to present their foods and drinks and culture.  In addition, later on in the night, we got to see all of the British physics students get up and do a little song and dance before it was time to go to sleep and get rest for the next day. 

Cary Pint  

Day 4 (Thursday)
On Thursday, we woke up early and headed out into Bucharest during out free time.  We toured the Palace of Parliament (pictured at left), ate a late lunch at an excellent Romanian restaurant, and then walked around downtown Bucharest for the day.  We accidentally missed the poster session, so we just decided to stay in Bucharest, since we weren’t sure if we’d get another chance to come into the city.

Thursday night, after we returned from our excursion to Bucharest, we had a costume party.  It actually turned out to be another very successful event, as many people brought very interesting and elaborate costumes.  Although, I took the night off because I didn’t bring a costume and had my presentation the following day. 

Day 5 (Friday)
This was the final day of oral presentations.  I gave my presentation late in the day (5 PM), and it turned out alright.  However, to my luck, the battery in the microphone died just before my talk, so I ended up having to talk very loudly, so everybody in the auditorium/lecture hall could hear me.  Murphy’s law never fails, right? 

Friday night, we ate dinner, had a few drinks, and waited for the football (or otherwise known in America as soccer) tournament to begin.  It turned out that they played until 5 AM, but us Americans went to bed far before that.  We watched and cheered for the English teams until it got late.   

Cary Pint  

Day 6 (Saturday)
Today, we woke up early and went into Bucharest again.  Since we Americans had to be at the general meeting where each country was represented at 3 PM, we had a little bit of time to go out and about in town.  We went to "THE" park in Bucharest, which was pretty neat, and found some shady spots to sit down for the afternoon and enjoy the lively atmosphere of the place.  Pictured at left is a concert hall in downtown Bucharest.

We then got together and headed down to the University, where the General Meeting was to be held.  However, instead of starting the meeting at 3 PM (which was the scheduled time), it ended up starting at 4:30 PM.  In addition, it turned out to be long and drawn out, and several things that should have been done by key people on the IAPS executive committee were not done.  As a result, the meeting did not end up concluding until after midnight (which was totally unnecessary).  However, I did decide to run for a position on the executive committee of the International Association of Physics Students (as the editor of the Journal of IAPS), and I ended up winning by a substantial majority, which was nice.  I actually found this position attractive because I enjoy writing, and have always wanted an editorial position for a journal or magazine (hence, I halfway completed the course requirements for an English major at UNI).  Plus, it gives me a great opportunity to use my skills to make JIAPS a journal which promotes science in a fun and exciting way. 

Day 7 (last day, Sunday)
Today, we woke up early and boarded buses to go to Transylvania and visit Dracula’s castle, as well as another old castle/stronghold.  Surprisingly, things ran very smoothly.  The Romanians finally stepped up and organized this well, and it turned out to be a great day.  Some pictures are shows at below,, with captions. 

Cary Pint  

Although Dracula’s castle wasn’t as elaborate as I had expected, the day turned out very well.  We ended up going back toward Bucharest at around 5 PM, and stopped at a little town in Transylvania (I don’t remember the name), where we ate dinner, and had some time to sit down and relax for a little while.  Then, around 8:30 PM, we started back to Bucharest and arrived late.  Since my plane was leaving at 6 AM on Monday morning, I didn’t really have the chance to attend the Farewell party, except to say goodbye to a few of the friends that I made while I was there.  Tony and I ended up going to the airport at about 1:30 AM (we wanted to be sure that we didn’t get stranded without public transportation running in the middle of the night), and played chess for the last few hours of our time in Bucharest. 

Overall, I found the conference to be an amazing experience.  I walk away from the conference having met and befriended many physics students from countries all over the world (mostly Europe), which made the experience a memorable one.  In addition, I saw many enjoyable lectures about physics, I visited many wonderful places throughout Romania, and I have the opportunity to serve on the executive committee of IAPS as the editor of the Journal of the International Association of Physics Students.  I have won several awards in physics over the past few years- however, no award yet has allowed me such a rewarding and enjoyable experience as this one.  Hopefully, I will have the resources to travel to the ICPS conference next year, held in London! 

SPS & ICPS
SPS funds travel to the annual International Conference of Physics Students (ICPS) for recipients of the SPS Outstanding Student Award for Undergraduate Research.

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