Love Travel? Try STEM!

STEMtravelHave you guys missed me? I’ve missed you lots, but I’ve had an amazing few weeks, months even! I know it’s pretty counter to the social media dogma, but I tried to shut off my phone, and live in the moment as much as possible.  But now, I’m back, and ready to talk STEM again.  I’ll try to share some of the highlights of my travels with you in detail over the next several weeks, but first let’s talk about why STEM may be an awesome career choice if you’re like me and love to travel.

First, a benefit of most STEM jobs is that they usually come with great benefits packages, including lots of vacation time. You’ll probably also have a pretty good salary, which means you’ll have some spare money to use over your vacation time. In June, I went to Cedar Point with family to run a half marathon with my sister-in-law. It was my first half-marathon, which I was pretty excited about.

Pretty out of gas after a 13.1 mile Sunday morning jog - and getting geared up for rollercoasters!

Pretty out of gas after a 13.1 mile Sunday morning jog – and getting geared up for rollercoasters!

In July, we went on a family vacation with my parents and sisters to go to Tennessee. I blogged about the week in Tennessee here. It was really fun to spend the whole week with my kids adventuring, exploring, and experimenting!  The lake we visit in Tennessee was created by the Tennessee Valley Authority back in the great depression by damming a river.  Much like the Hoover dam, this helped with flooding issues in the area as well as providing a renewable energy source.  The views on the lake are absolutely stunning!

With a view like this, you'd turn your phone off too!

With a view like this, you’d turn your phone off too!

Mr SciGuy and I just returned from Traverse City, MI with his family. If you’re not from the great state of Michigan, maybe you haven’t heard of it, but it’s a fantastic place to visit. If you think of the lower peninsula of Michigan like a mitten, Traverse City would be situated just about on the fingernail of your ring finger.

We took a ride on the biggest catamaran on the Great Lakes - we love the NautiCat!

We took a ride on the biggest catamaran on the Great Lakes – we love the NautiCat!

It has 2 big bays that connect to Lake Michigan, and there’s lots of outdoor things to do, and also a big cherry and wine industry on the peninsulas around the bay.

The view across one of the bays, just before a BIG storm rolled in

The view across one of the bays, just before a BIG storm rolled in

Vacationing is an obvious way to get travel in, but there’s also opportunity to travel for your job in STEM, too! For example, Mr. SciGuy spent a week in St Louis, MO for job training. I also got the opportunity to go on a quick trip to Toronto, Canada last month for business meetings. I spent a full work day in (really awesome, inspiring, educational, and fun) business meetings, but got to spend the evening I was there downtown. We went to an Iron Chef’s restaurant (Lee, by Susur Le) which was fantastic, walked through downtown, and spent some time on the hotel roof, which had an incredible view of the Toronto skyline. I wish I could’ve squeezed in a trip to the CN Tower, but didn’t have time on this trip, because I had to fly home and re-pack my bags to go on another trip! Guess I’ll have to go back to Toronto again soon!

Love the Toronto skyline!

Love the Toronto skyline!

Now, let’s talk about my favorite method of work travel. If you go into academic research, scientific conferences are I’ll devote an entire blog post on another day to why conferences are so awesome. To summarize, though, conferences are a way to share your work with others, see the current research in your field from all the scientific leaders, and to get the opportunity to meet leaders in the field and develop new collaborations. A bonus? They’re usually held in pretty cool places.

Previously, I’ve been to local conferences around Michigan, and travelled to Chicago, Washington DC, Boston, and Puerto Rico. This summer, I had the opportunity to go to Budapest, Hungary for a conference on lipid research. Budapest was amazing! I spent workdays working at the conference and listening to seminars, but we had nights, plus the day before and the day after the conference to see the city. Our hotel was right at the end of the Chain Bridge, one of the most famous sights in the city. Originally, Buda was split into two cities: Buda, and Pest. When the two cities merged to Budapest, the Chain Bridge was the first bridge to join the two cities. Now, there are several more bridges throughout the city, but the Chain Bridge is the most famous.  The picture at the top of the blog is of the lions guarding the Chain Bridge.

The view from our hotel roof - the architecture in Budapest was phenomenal!

The view from our hotel roof, with the Academy of Science across the park – the architecture in Budapest was phenomenal!

The conference was held in the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, another very famous site in the city, and we were within walking distance of Hungarian Parliament, the Academy of Art, a cathedral, and several marketplaces. Plus, if you follow me on Twitter (@theSTEMinista), you might already know I got to go to dinner in a castle – I lived my own personal fairytale for a night! Later in the week, I toured the underground dungeon/labyrinth attached to the castle, where Vlad the Impaler (aka Dracula) was imprisoned – if you like haunted houses and scary movies, this labyrinth is something you have to see!

I ate dinner at a castle - it was amazing!!  What a princess moment!

I ate dinner at a castle – it was amazing!! What a princess moment!

Did I mention the science at the conference was really good, too?  I learned a ton, met great people, and might have a couple future collaborations up my sleeve as well.

So, to summarize, my STEM career allowed me to travel my heart out this summer: to Cedar Point, Tennessee, Traverse City, Toronto, Budapest, and home with my kids while my husband went to St. Louis. What a whirlwind! I loved the travel, but I’m pretty excited to be back home, and getting back into my normal routine. If travel is a goal you aspire to, STEM is one of the best ways to achieve that goal – take it from me!

As I get back into my routine, and enjoy the last, precious few weeks of summer, I’m looking forward to talking more about STEM with you and gearing up for the 2015-2016 school year!


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