"This villa, built as a private mansion in the early '900, is surrounded by gardens and located on top of the Monte Mario hill."
The banquet was a multiple course meal of unidentifiable (but still yummy) Italian food. The menu was in all Italian, and between the ten of us at the table with our various translate Italian books we were sort of able to figure out what we were eating . . .
At our table we had two Japanese, two Taiwanese, and a bunch of Swedes . . . since we all had very different backgrounds we didn't talk much about robots - mostly about Sweden, where we come from, and 'our story' of what brings us to the conference.
Surprisingly, out of 1800 papers submitted, ours got the 'Best Conference Paper Award'! I say surprising because its the first paper I ever authored! They also included my presentation as part of the judging process. I worked pretty hard on it . . . I had my first complete rough draft finished 8 months before the submittal date, and I had spent weeks working on the presentation, practicing it like 10 times out loud in my hotel room over three days . . .
Each of the judges approached me after the judging (not all told me they were judges, I found this out later) to congratulate me and said they were really really impressed by the paper and the presentation. They were all totally shocked when I told them it was my first paper and I never went to graduate school . . . 'Just wait until my next paper,' I joked =P
If suddenly you became tempted to see the paper:
Unfortunately not everyone worked so hard at their presentations . . . as you can see quite a few people were working on it last minute:
Anyway, as a treat to myself for working so hard I got a big Italian Gelato (ice cream). Italians eat ice cream even in the winter, but I had decided to wait until the weather had warmed up a bit to try it.
That night I went walking around a bit to see the Colosseum at night. Whenever I travel I always like to see the landmarks at night - so much more beautiful then!
In all the conference was fun, but it was also very exhausting. I would wake up at 6am every morning, and get back to the hotel after 10pm each night, for a total of 5 days. It kind of felt like school, with all the long periods of lectures and such . . . I learned a lot, filled up several notebook pages worth of potentially useful ideas, too. I think however the conference wasn't selective enough. ICRA had a ~40% acceptance rate, but judging by the somewhat low quality and really high number of presentations I personally think it should have been more like 20% acceptance . . .
But then again I'm very much used to the high quality very selective robotics presentations given at CMU, perhaps my standards are too high =P
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