Surviving The Hurricane

I came to States as research fellow at Rice University in Houston, hoping I will dive into serious academic work and move frontier of area I am interested in. So between ups and downs, clean and dirty code we, my fellows from Serbia and me, planned to spend a weekend in Vegas. As “good” kids, we scheduled plane and accommodation days ahead. But two days before our trip we had realized we wouldn’t be able to fly because of the predicted storm. As “good” kids we forgot about Vegas and went to supermarket to buy enough food and water.

Well, not exactly.

We’ve booked another plane and that’s where the adventure started. Hurricane Harvey had hit hard and we were not able to fly back to Houston at all for the next two weeks. Long story short, totally unexpected, I visited Los Angeles, had fun in Las Vegas, traveled alone through Pittsburgh and Baltimore, enjoyed with wonderful friends in Philadelphia and Wilmington, felt like at home at New Jersey and left my breath in New York. Most of the times, I felt overwhelmed with uncertainty where I am going to sleep tomorrow and when I will be able to come back. Travelling alone through country I barely know was not part of my research expectations at all, but that was one of the best things that happened to me.

Running from hurricane Harvey, I was running out of my comfort zone.

Exploring new places helped me to find some profound truths about myself and I want to share it with you.

I reminded myself how important is to monitor yourself. Observing what excites you and what rejects you is the first step in defining your values. If we do not recognize our truth, we cannot shape our life according to it, thus cannot feel long term happiness. I have traveled before, but this was the first time I have felt with laser precision what was driving smile from my face making my mind, although tired and nervous to enjoy the moment. Maybe all that pressure did make crystal clear diamond thoughts in my head.

As Gandhi sad, be sure you live according to your values, but monitor yourself to realize what those values are.

Beautiful harmony of melody, light and water at Bellagio fountains, dazzling pinkish blue sky and hot wind from desert made my lips to open and my heart rate to go up. It was not just composition that took my breath but all circumstances which brought me there. A girl from small Balkan country on computer science research encouraged by her insane companions and rushed by storm is standing in front of this magic. Like our story was not the most logical and probable one, it was not too logical for Vegas itself to be there. The shiniest place on Earth in the middle of desert! But yet, here we are, standing together against odds, trying to find our own harmony. Hoping that with our vision and knowledge we will make sparkle in the world.

Do not wait for hurricane to experience the incredible things. Go ahead, be brave and fierce.

Let your wish for excellence be the strongest storm in your life.

When I realized that I can’t go back to Houston, I was lucky enough to have wonderful friends in States who invited me to their home. These couple days at New Jersey, surrounded by love and laughter, I felt like at home, safe and sound. With no particular reason, I was really happy.

Sometimes, while chasing our goals we may become unaware of the many beautiful things. We take for granted parent’s care and love, friend’s patience or partner’s understanding. We focus, because it is so important, but sometimes that focus doesn’t actually sharpen the bigger picture. I had many accomplishments which made me incredibly proud and happy but I also have couple persons in my life who are making me happy each day. So, it is good to bear in mind to be grateful to those kind of things because that could be the strongest driving force.

Many things can push you forward. Anger and ambition even disappointment and sorrow. But only meaningful relationships can be the good wind while sailing through challenge and soft pillow when failing in the same time.

Be grateful to love you have and try to give your love not only to ones that deserve but also to ones that need.



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Ljubica Vujovic

Ljubica Vujovic

Math and coffee lover, passionate for data science and encouraging girls in STEM