So I finally grabbed a moment to post. Things here are packed from 8am-11pm every day, but it isn't a high stress situation, which is good. Lots of interesting folks, good speakers, great food and wine (okay, tonight I will know more about the wine, but last night's was decent), and a beautifully scenic country location. I will have to post some pics later.
As I said the other attendees are really all around nice folks, and even after the slight culture shock when I got off the plane, things have been pretty smooth. I didn't really prepare myself well for the trip in general, since I had so much work due right before I left, and walking around the busy airport in a foreign country can be a little overwhelming. But, I think I got the hang of it.
One thing that is somewhat strange is that I feel thrust into the middle of some quiet wars between different philosophies and techniques. Everyone wants to say that their system/algorithm/sensor/whatever is the best, and not insult others, so there are small smirks and whispers here and there between cohorts and the air of punches being pulled for the sake of civility. I don't know if that is for the best or not, or if things will slowly devolve as the week goes on, but people need to be, perhaps, a little less worried about one upping each other. I know I said some things because I felt I was a representative of the lab, and the discussion between the speakers was basically circling around things I already knew. In other words, questions were being asked that no one else seemed to know the answers to, and rather than speculate without all the data, get some other opinions first.
There was also one thing I really want to rail against, but will hold it until later. It was just, well, crap, and I felt bad for some of the students.
I'm excited about Rome now, and want to again thank Giovanni for hosting me. I'm sure we'll have a great time next week!