Buber’s Basque Story: Part 47

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As soon as Maite crossed the threshold of the doors, a young woman was there in the lobby to greet her.

“Are you Maite?” asked the woman. Her blond hair was pulled back into a ponytail. She wore a white lab coat that covered her clothes. Her blue eyes were framed by small circular lenses. Safety goggles were perched on top of her head.

“Yes,” replied Maite.

Buber’s Basque Story is a weekly serial. While it is a work of fiction, it has elements from both my own experiences and stories I’ve heard from various people. The characters, while in some cases inspired by real people, aren’t directly modeled on anyone in particular. I expect there will be inconsistencies and factual errors. I don’t know where it is going, and I’ll probably forget where it’s been. Why am I doing this? To give me an excuse and a deadline for some creative writing and because I thought people might enjoy it. Gozatu!

“Welcome to the physics department. I’m Amy. I’ve been asked to show you around the department. Please forgive my appearance. I got in early to get some experiments done since I knew I’d be showing you around most of the day.”

“I’m so sorry, I certainly didn’t mean to inconvenience anyone.”

“No, no worries at all,” said Amy as she led Maite through one of the doors on the side of the lobby. “Others did the same for me when I first visited and it’s only right that I continue the tradition.”

As they walked, Amy pointed out a small conference room. “This is where you will be giving your talk,” she said. “And,” she added as they continued down the hallway, “this is where I sit. I share this office with a few other students. If you like, you can stash your bag in here.”

“That’s alright,” replied Maite. “I’d rather keep it with me, in case I need my computer or my notebook.”

“Sounds good.” They continued on. “Here,” said Amy as she pushed open a door, “is the department office. The secretaries will be able to help you with any reimbursements for your expenses and whatnot.”

Maite waived and said hello to the two women who sat behind desks covered in papers as Amy shepherded her past them. “And here is the department chair. He’ll be your first appointment. Oh, I almost forgot to give you this.” Amy handed her a piece of paper with times and names. “Here is your schedule. Your talk is right after your meeting with the chair. After that, I’ll take you to tour some of the labs and then we’ll grab lunch with some of the other students. In the afternoon, you have meetings with some of the other professors. Sound good?”

“Perfect, thank you so much Amy,” replied Maite as Amy knocked on the door. 

They heard a muffled voice from the other side. “Come in!” 

Amy pushed open the door. “Good morning professor. This is Maite.”

“Excellent,” said the man as he stood up from behind his desk and crossed over to shake Maite’s hand. “Thanks Amy, I’ll take her to the seminar when it’s time.”

Amy nodded. “See you soon, Maite,” she said as she closed the door.

The rest of the day was a blur. Maite’s talk, on the electronic properties of quantum materials, was well attended and engaging. She was constantly interrupted with questions, but she felt she defended herself well and that she had answers to most of them. 

Afterwards, the department chair had complimented her on her talk. “Excellent talk, and great work, Maite. I’ve got to dash back to the office, but I hope to talk to you again before the end of your visit.”

Amy then led her to various labs, showing her the equipment they had for interrogating the properties of quantum materials. There were the standard structural probes of transmission electron microscopy, but also more exotic tools including various laser spectroscopy systems and microwave amplifiers. Maite could barely keep all of the information in her head and was glad when it was time for lunch.

Amy and a few other students took Maite to the campus food court. She was able to ask the other students about living and working in Berkeley. The students came from all over the world and had very different views of both the campus and the city, with some loving the eclectic nature of Berkeley the city and others bemoaning the over-population. However, they were all universal in their love of the department and the science they were able to perform.

After lunch, Maite then met with a few of the other professors in the department, those that she felt she had some connection to in terms of research interests. They each explained their research history and the opportunities for students in their respective groups. Maite was again starting to feel overwhelmed with the sheer amount of information that was being funneled to her when, before she knew it, the day was over. She was both exhausted by the long day and excited by all of the amazing possibilities a place like Berkeley offered. 

2 thoughts on “Buber’s Basque Story: Part 47”

  1. I’m really loving Buber’s Basque Story, Blas! I subscribed to get new posts delivered to my inbox, and I always save new story installments as a reward for getting through all my work emails throughout the workday. Keep up the excellent work!

    1. Awesome! Thanks Lael! I’m glad you are still finding the story engaging. Hopefully I can keep it up as it evolves… 🙂 I really appreciate the comment!

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