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In the rearview mirror


Me when I was six months old
A photo of baby me when I was six months old

It’s been a while since I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard in this case). Although I do feel obligated to “catch you up” on everything that’s happened in the last few months, I will make it easy on myself and only mention a couple of highlights from the near past.


In the midst of April I traveled to Sarajevo for the third time. While I do have a desire to explore different parts of the world, an ongoing project with my Serbian colleague Vladimir keeps calling me back to the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina. When I was in Sarajevo, I heard back from an application I submitted to European Women of Mathematics. Had I been successful, I would have been funded for organizing a week-long summer school with amazing female peers whom I share a common field with. Although the result was not positive, I got the most positive feedback from the committee. They acknowledged and more importantly highlighted the hard work I’d put in the project and therefore made me look forward to working harder for next year’s application.


In the meantime, I had to start working on another project which was meant to be an opportunity to be a CIMPA fellow and spend a couple months in France to do research. Unfortunately, this application ended up being another chapter of disappointment. First I got informed that while I wasn’t a laureate I was on the waiting list. But finally it ended with a second email saying that they were sorry to let me know that despite the qualities of my application they could not support me due to a large number of excellent proposals.


May arrived with a huge amount of hope for unseating our president who has been dominating Turkish politics since 2002. As one of his opposers, I had believed with everything in me that this time the unbeatable would be beaten. I was naive enough to think after his popularity was hit by a cost-of-living crisis and the state’s initially slow response to devastating earthquakes in February, his voters would finally punish him. Unfortunately, I was mistaken. Once more, Erdogan’s supporters maintained their belief in his ability to solve problems, even though he created many of them.


In the midst of June, I traveled to Paris for the first time. When I arrived at De Gaulle Airport in Paris, I was welcomed by a subway strike. So, I had to start the journey to my Airbnb by taking a bus for about 45 minutes until I found a working subway station, and in between the bus stop and subway station by being caught in a terrible thunderstorm. One disaster led to another. I ended up at the worst Airbnb ever! After my Airbnb host checked me into the apartment (and by apartment I mean a technician room turned into a one bedroom studio), I even thought about purchasing another plane ticket and going back home. As expected, I decided to stay. I was there to attend a conference after all and the only bright side of this Airbnb was that it was only five minutes away from the campus.


Since I had one full week to spend there, I tried to enjoy my time as much as possible. I spent a good amount of time attending talks, walking around, and trying different cafes. As a person who looks forward to food being replaced with capsules in the near future, so that I can make use of that time for something else, I was amazed by the long lunch breaks French people take. If I were to describe Paris in one word, I would say overrated. Would I go there again? Only if my CIMPA fellowship application which I couldn’t get for 2024, gets accepted for 2025.


August was a month spent in between taking some time off and trying to figure out what quantum mechanics are. Well, long story short, in May I “cold” emailed a US professor to ask for a possible visiting position in their department. One email followed another and he mentioned to me how quantum related everything has been very much of interest among their faculty with the rise of quantum computing. We agreed I would give a lecture on the intersection of my field with quantum mechanics at their upcoming departmental seminar. Fortunately, all the hard work I put in paid off and I gave an excellent talk on the 15th of September. (Breathing a sigh of relief here.)


This past month and a half has felt like a single blurred moment of daily hustle and bustle. But nothing too significant has happened yet. For now I am just focusing on what is in front of me, trying to create opportunities for myself, and keeping my fingers crossed to eventually find where home is.


October 2023, Mersin

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1 Comment


Selin SARAÇ
Selin SARAÇ
Nov 01, 2023

🌈

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