Another decade on: 2013 (part 1)

It’s just about the end of 2013, and time for a post about the year. It’s been a big year, full of new experiences for me and especially for Andrea.


In January I finished up my stay in Paderborn with plenty of snow. I said goodbye to all the people I’d met over my four months there and then headed back home to Barcelona.

The day after I arrived in Barcelona I caught the final day of the annual Barcelona Number Theory Seminar (STNB), which I had helped organise. My contribution was a website for the seminar,, which now hosts over 10 years of archives from the annual seminar. It’s one of the biggest web projects I’ve programmed solo, and I learned a lot of the complications involved in creating a truly multilingual website.

Shortly after I arrived back in Barcelona, Andrea started writing her Ph.D. dissertation. As anyone who’s written one, or witnessed the writing of one, can testify, it’s a long a difficult process that kept Andrea completely occupied for the following five months at all hours. I helped out as I could, proof-reading, helping around the house and posting amusing things on Facebook.


We had a respite in March heading down to Córdoba for the wedding of one of Andrea’s friend’s from uni. Mª Dolores is the first of the group to get married and we all had a fantastic time (along with the other 300 guests!). This was my first Andalusian wedding, and I got to see some of the traditions that don’t exist in other parts of Spain. It was also our first of three weddings that we attended this year.

Then, in April I finished up my third decade on Earth. In true Stainsby style my family set up a website – – where people could leave messages and photos to wish me a happy birthday. It was wonderful to get so many messages from friends and family, especially since I don’t live in the same country as many of them anymore. I waxed philosophical for a bit, the short version being that I feel very lucky to have experienced everything that I have in the last 30 years and am looking forward to the next 30!

Next up a nice extra birthday present. I finally signed my contract with the university. Over two and a half years into my Ph.D. and I had finally gotten myself a scholarship! This certainly helped make things a bit smoother balancing work and study. Part of the fellowship (it’s really a fellowship, not a scholarship) had my teaching for the first time in Spain. In the 2013/14 academic year I’ve been tutoring calculus classes to Aeronautical Management first-years (we used to call them JAFFYs at Monash) and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.


May also saw Andrea heading off to the USA for the second time in a month. She had been in Wisconsin at the end of April for a conference and now had another one in Boston, but this time I was going with. While we both spent most of the week working, especially Andrea with her dissertation, we got out for a bit of tourism and also a wonderful meal courtesy of Evan and Steph for my birthday. It rained almost the entire time that we were in Boston, but we got to see the famous universities (MIT and Harvard) and a lot of the city, which is all incredibly green and has some lovely old (for the new world) parts.

I headed off to the University of Warwick for a number theory in cryptography summer school in June, and got my copy of Galois Theory signed by the author, Iain Stewart, who’s a professor there. This was nice for me, as that book was the first real mathematics book that I ever read and it helped me a lot when I was started my Ph.D.

In July – with an enormous sigh of relief – Andrea deposited her thesis dissertation. While it wasn’t the end – she still had to defend it – it was a big moment and I think Andrea was very happy with what she’d written and I couldn’t have been more proud. An almost 200 page document written in a foreign language is a big task, and this one was well written and a huge accomplishment.


At the end of July we headed for Granada for the wedding of one of Andrea’s cousins as well as a much needed summer break. The wedding was celebrated in the church inside the Alhambra with the reception below in the Palacio de los Córdova. The views were, as can be imagined, absolutely spectacular.

After a hot summer relaxing in Granada, it was back to Barcelona for the event of the year.

I’ve run out of time this evening to finish the recap, so you’ll all have to wait until tomorrow for the event of the year along with the rest of 2013.

Update: You can read part 2 here.

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