Traveling Engineer: My Train Trip

in #travel4 years ago

I am currently doing my PhD in Mechanical Engineering and a bonus of this is conference travel. In order to make sure you are consistent with current knowledge in your field many researchers every year travel to conferences and the like to meet and talk to other researchers. My latest conference took me from New Zealand all the way to Toronto, Canada. Whenever I go on a trip like this I always make sure that I have at least an extra week to look around the area I am in as a bit of a holiday. I might do a mini series on some of the places I visited when I get around to it. But Today I wanted to tell you about my train trip from Toronto to Montreal.

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Me on my way to the conference; Multi-scale Modelling of Wave Structures in Neuronal Media

I find that a nicer way to travel between cites is via train. Especially when the travel time to get to the airport, get through customs, get out on the other side and to my next hotel is comparable with getting on and off the train at both hotels doorsteps.

I booked the train tickets well before I even arrived in Canada. I brought a 'Business Class' ticket because of multiple reasons. First, it was only CAD$40 more expensive at the time than the regular ticket for the 5 hour trip but it came with so many benefits. There was a hot lunch, not dissimilar to a plane meal but I enjoy plane meals so it was great.

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The train Food

You could have lots of alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks on the train for free. You got priority boarding, larger seats and finally the part I liked best was the waiting lounge where there was infinite help yourself non-alcoholic drinks. When I arrived at the station I had no idea where to go because they were doing renovations so I asked at a random counter. The person behind the counter said it wasn't the right counter but since I had a business class ticket she would take care of my bags for me and show me where to go.

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The Business lounge

I want to give you a bit of context before I go on and tell you a little story. I am a practical person; I knew I would be on a train for 5 hours and I had to walk, with my bag, quite a bit on either end so I wore suitable clothes. Simple, comfortable, clean and tidy clothes with walking shoes. Another bit of context is that I am a small stature female.

So when it was time to board, I mentioned business class had priority boarding so whilst the rest of the passengers waited in a separate line the passengers who all came from the business lounge walked right up to the front and went straight through. As I lined up in the fast line I got a few comments from a group of people in the other line that I will not likely forget. It went a little something like this:

LADY 1: staring at me "You are in the wrong line, that's the business class line"
ME : I notice her but don't quite comprehend what she said
LADY 1: Rather loudly "Are you sure you are in the right line?"
ME : nods quietly "Yup"
LADY 1: turns around to her group "Oh really are you sure? What type of business would YOU have"
Group laughs to each other and I walk on to board

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My face while on the train kept switching between these two faces

At first I wanted to shrug it off as a lady being nice and wanting to make sure I was in the right place but I couldn't help but shake my head the whole trip for one of three reasons:

  1. Either she knew how the ticket system worked and thought, based solely on my looks, that I looked too poor or to cheap to spend a little more and buy a business class ticket or

  2. She actually thought that business class tickets were only available to people who were on business. In this case, knowing nothing about me other than what I looked like, she decided I was not a business person. or

  3. She at first wanted to help, but when she realized she was wrong she decided to make a joke of me.

Given that I was both in town on Mechanical Engineering business AND I decided to spend more on my ticket I felt double annoyed. In addition to this what annoyed me was that she chose to say it solely to me. Not the Chinese family ahead of me, the solo traveler far older lady behind me or the group of normally dressed men at the front of the que.

Maybe this experience for her will make her question herself before she says anything next time. Don't judge a book by its cover!

Finally, here are some photos of the train trip (it was hard to take good photos on a moving train!)

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It actually rained at the end

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Great photos! We wanna know what was being discussed at the conference too! Also, let it be noted, we have like zero female STEM content now on Steemit. Your articles would stand out.

Thanks! I clearly have to change that! Maybe I will do a post about the conference I went to in Boston, it was a seriously large conference on computational modelling of life sciences. I absolutely loved it and would have a fair bit to say. The conference in Toronto was more a collaboration endeavor and I don't think it would actually interest anyone. Thesis writing at the moment consumes my life but I look forward to writing more on here.

Yes, please do. Science Science Science.

I just posted on one of my favorite interdisciplinary conferences.
https://steemit.com/science/@plotbot2015/learning-about-cultures-by-building-them-steam-in-action-at-contact

I like using the train while on holidays, its usually pretty relaxing, unless your honesty/intelligence/status is being questioned of course!

Shrug it off, life is too short to worry about other peoples shortcomings :)

Yeah not too worried was just part of the story.

The train was super relaxing and it was an experience of sorts for me also. The trains here in New Zealand are more scenic than functional to go from one place to another because they cost so much.

Years back, me and the Missus travelled around Switzerland for two weeks by train in the summer, it was great. Swiss trains are ON TIME, really on time, not like trains here in the UK that are 'on time' if they arrive within 15 minutes of the scedule.

I love taking the train! Last summer me and my BF was traveling by train through Europe. This was one of my best trips ever. Also, from Amsterdam to Paris we, for some strange reason, got upgraded to business class. As you mentioned earlier, if you have the money then it's something you should experience! The comfort is x10 :)

If you like topics such as traveling, self-development or vlogs feel free to check out my channel. Otherwise keep up the good work! Have a nice day :)

Oh the Europe train trip is on my must do list! I dream about when I can get the time. I traveled by myself in Canada but if I didn't the price difference for two people could of defiantly put me off. Unexpected upgrades are always the the best!

Thanks for commenting, I will check out your channel.

Good for you. Working on a doctorate myself. Aim to be done with my dissertation by June and then I'm taking a 10 week sabbatical!!

Good work! I think I will do about the same. I plan to submit my thesis by the end of the month so I am super busy trying to do that right now so I know them feels!

Awesome. Onward :)

Hey @me-shell,

welcome, fellow PhD student! :) Conference-trips are great, I've never been to conference where I did not have a great time. Yet, at least! ;) All the best to your writing endeavours, the end is particularly much effort. You will make it!

Thanks @dysprosium. My favorite part about conferences is the conference dinners where you see all the same people only there is usually free flowing alcohol and free food (technically included in the conference cost which I often get back on scholarships)

All an experience, student you can know other places, many teachings

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