Pandemic Diary #70 – solo injured travel internationally T^T (20 Nov 2021)

so i sorta set my mind for a workcation / solo travel / living abroad

then two days in i sprained my ankle T__T first time spraining it. at least it’s not such a bad sprain, i can put weight on it without hurting. my foot is definitely swollen though even now three days later

this caused a strange set of events, like getting pushed on a luggage trolley by a world renowned robotics prof in order to catch the tour ferry, getting piggy back rides from people i met three days ago, and getting accosted by like every other person on the street asking if i need help

i’m not certain if i’m overplaying it, i move like snail speed right now. i think i can probably trust my foot more but i’m scared to since i remember that pain

hopping around and also hobbling around on a cane is so much effort

mostly i’m a bit sad i can’t do work and then take a walk around the seaside ! and i’ve been so exhausted just from every day things that i haven’t been able to get much work done 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 and motivation is low when sitting is tiring since i’m trying to keep my foot elevated, and the chair at the airbnb is totally the wrong height.

still, so far so good in terms of travelling logistics. smartphones and the internet make it sooo easy. i set up google fi (which did require chatting with the agent once in malta to fix my connection issues T__T) and so i could comfortably book airbnbs, and also scooter and cab rides through my phone (they required text verification so another +1 for google fi, free texting)

Malta is surprisingly like LA, 90% the signs are all in english, and almost everyone I’ve encountered also speaks almost perfect english

ths ankle sprain really drove home how much simpler in some ways it is to travel as a two-person group. of course there’s more possibilities of drama esp. if not on the same wavelength, and logistically can be time-consuming to agree on schedules etc. But it would have been really nice to have someone be able to handle luggage and get groceries and things. Still, everyone i’ve met has been so nice…

I feel quite silly babying my ankle so much, and attracting so much attention, when it doesn’t even really hurt most of the time. (more like growing pains than anything acute). but also like i really want it to heal in two weeks and not two months. and, since i got the injury from rushing (legit some stranger on the street told me to take it easy, and i was like eh i’m okay… SUCH KARMA), i figure it’s not a bad idea to take it slow.

compression socks are so expensive bought in a random pharmacies! and also they have sizes >__>; a pharmacist was insistent i was size small, later i measured, def. medium, and probably not good to over-compress my foot lol. and, people here don’t say canes, they say “walking stick”. the first pharmacy didn’t have one and suggested i look in a tourist shop for a wooden one LOL fortunately the one two doors down had a cane

at first being injured made me feel quite far from home and a little lonely even. still, overall i am feeling pretty okay

i have been sleeping a lot. this new room is on the 5th floor but the sun is filtered through a canopy and a terrace so it feels a bit like a basement room.

i guess that i still feel quite weird about international travel, so no pics for now, except for this cat which appeared at the conference

ok just kidding, here are some more pics. halloumi dog — delicious fried cheese

i went grocery shopping while hungry — everything is in english o.o these are quite tasty — a lot less sweet than i’d expect in america, which i really like

accessibility tools: on-demand car services and scooters, via smartphone app

(i paid a sweet $70 for a google fi unlimited plan because I didn’t want to mess around with missing work, and i dislike the mental energy consumed by rationing data. it’s been great for using the scooter, rideshare, whatsapp etc. apps)

i got copies of the book our paper is in! i’m putting them to good use as a laptop stand

on the desktop you can see my timezone reminders — in the bottom right, I used shell clock, which replaces clock with output of a shell command. also google calendar allows you to have two time zones, so i screenshotted and annotated that with the 9-5pm of my work mates.

okay the calendar bubbles are not actually how much i’m working, just rough time blocks so i don’t thrash that hard between my main projects

see where a comment has the command for timezones, and . one-click browser install, so handly. then go to gnome-tweaks and extension settings. i used “””bash -c “echo $(date +’%b %d %H:%M’) \(EST $(TZ=America/New_York date +’%H:%M’)\)”””

(the codes are at


it was so good to hang out with roboticists, i don’t feel like i got to know them that well. i wish that i could go again but i doubt that i’d ever have the spare cash to just throw $1k at a conference registration without including the travel and accomodation fees (this time around it was covered by NSF). it felt really awkward to hang out with people talking about $150 per diem meals and $3k flights while i had paid my way on the cheapest flights i found and staying in airbnbs. but my roommate put a positive spin on it that it was neat that i yeeted myself into another country for a few weeks.

also a bit strange to remember when i was so enthusiastic about this new world of academia i was discovering, and excited to contribute to society and talk about cool things with cool people

hopefully this resolves some of my urge to live abroad? (probably i just made it worse, i was expecting to have much more difficulty getting around — in some ways montreal felt a bit more foreign as there the signs are also in french o.o). and even more hopefully i get enough work done to feel confident about taking my qualifier exams. (it was interesting hearing about how all the different phd systems are set up in different countries ! i guess that’s how people end up applying to postdocs in other countries). then i’d consider it a good trip and good monetary investment (?) regardless of how much i get to trave/not travel (due to my sprained ankle)

i am not sure if these are functional but they are around

the afternoons and evenings of the conference were guided tours of malta, so i did at least get to see the main tourist sites and the different scenic views of malta 🙂 and now, time to work