Monthly Archives: August 2010

Answer me

I remember seeing a play in Bucharest called The shape of things. They even made a movie after the play but I don’t really know anything about the author (nor the movie, haven’t seen it). The only things I can tell you are that I loved it and that there’s one particular quote that I remember. I don’t know it by heart but I will paraphrase: Art is the only subject in which two persons can have two completely different opinions but they can be both right at the same time.

Yesterday I went to see the play entitled Answer me, the one that I mentioned before. Watching it reminded me the previous quote. It made me feel that someone could say this play was amazing while another person could think this sucked and they could both be right at the same time… I don’t know which person I would agree with. Probably I would be somewhere in between.

There were some things I liked about the play, in particular the end of it: a woman’s monologue about… us. Us as human beings. And one thing she said will stick in my mind: We don’t know what we don’t know.

I think one of the points of the whole play was to make you think. Think about yourself, about who you are, what you want, what are your ideals or… do you even have any?

Do you know how to answer that?

Aarhus festival

Every year at the beginning of September the city of Aarhus holds a week long festival. The first time I ever went to Aarhus was during the festival, and the city was so full of life and interesting things. It is a good occasion to listen to some (good) music, see some uncommon art or just watch how the city is transformed.

This year the festival started on Friday the 27th of August. Yesterday I went around the city to see what’s on and what I should go see in details.

The first thing that I ran upon was the Nature back to town. It is placed in the city centre  next to the biggest cathedral in Aarhus. They created a small forest with trees, grass and moss in the attempt to bring the nature back to town (I guess the title speaks for itself). It was nice to see so many people enjoying the temporary nature. I have to admit though that Aarhus does not lack forests, it is surrounded by them and  quite a lot of people go there to run, to have a small barbecue or just enjoy their time.

Close to the chapel they installed a big stage where Denmark’s Most Beautiful Festival is taking place. The thing I liked the most was the small crazy rocky viking that is their mascot.

One of the things I definitely want to go see is the Mirazozo: an inflatable walk-in sculpture – a luminarium designed to give children and adults an exceptional experience of light, colour and sound. At first I wanted to go in yesterday but the huge queue made me decide I should come back one of the days in the week, before people get off work. I really expect it to be an exceptional experience, as they advertise it for.

When I got back from the city I also checked the website to see what I missed. After taking a look I decided to go see a play tomorrow – Answer Me. I think it will be one of the only times when I can see plays in English in Denmark so I decided to take advantage of it. When I was back in Romania I used to go see plays with my best friend quite often and now I miss it. I clearly have to do some cultural activities from time to time.

This is it for now. I will let you know how the play and Mirazozo turn out to be.

Wednesday’s breakfast

One of the things I like a lot about BiRC is the social activities they have (recall the Mols meeting). Among these activities is also the Wednesday breakfast. Every week one person is responsible for buying things to eat and we meet up at 9.00 in our coffee room and have breakfast together.

I must admit that today was the very first day I attended. A bit of a shame considering that I’ve been here for a year now. I do have an excuse though: I was insanely lucky to have classes on Wednesday’s mornings every quarter.

Oh, about the quarter, I know I mentioned it in the previous post and didn’t really explain what it is. At Aarhus University, the Faculty of Science divides the year into four quarters instead of two semesters. The total teaching time is the same as for other Universities (14 weeks per semester which means 7 weeks per quarter) but the total examination period becomes longer and this leads to an extended year: from late August to late June.

But back to the breakfast! It was very nice to attend it. I have begun to feel more and more like I am a part of BiRC. Before getting an office I would mostly spend my time at home, studying and working, and because of this I didn’t really get to interact with the people here. But now I have a proper workplace, and this made it easier to integrate.

I also love our coffee room with it’s fancy coffee machine. It makes it way easier to get some nice coffee, hot chocolate or even the sophisticated Wiener Melange.

PS: Luckily breakfast was so exciting I completely forgot to take pictures. So instead I snapped some while we were having lunch. But this time everybody had their own food… and there is no fixed time for the lunch break.

A brand new year

I’m back from Copenhagen now. It was certainly an entertaining experience. The party was not really a party, just some drinks and chips that we enjoyed outside the University building.

I have been in Copenhagen before but I never used the subway. I was very impressed to see that there is no driver. Everything is automated which makes it a bit weird, a bit like one of those Sci-Fi movies. I particularly like that I could actually see the tunnel we were going into, through the front window. They definitely used ingenious people to design it, the tracks are going down immediately after the stops, to help the train gain speed without using too much power and when the train approaches the next stop, the tracks go up to help the train slow down. I though it was pretty neat, it was the first time I saw a subway with no driver!

I also had the pleasure to see a gay parade yesterday. Unfortunately I did not have my camera with me. But I can tell you that some had, to say the least, very interesting costumes (I would not call them clothes). And the funniest thing I saw at the parade was Policemen on bikes! I never imagined something like this would be possible, even though Danish people use bicycles quite a lot. Almost all the bikes accessories had a text saying “Police”. That was awesome :)

Tomorrow the new University year starts. I only have one course the first quarter of the year, it shouldn’t be very demanding. I will have to work on other things though and I intend to carry on with the project from Oxford. And hopefully I will start on some Danish courses too.

But for now the exciting summer is over. I can feel nevertheless that more exciting things will come, starting with me moving to a new place (soon!).

Next stop: Copenhagen

This has been a very productive summer. I started with a one week summer school in Italy, carried on with a six week summer scholarship for working on a project in Oxford which is now being followed by a one week PhD course in Copenhagen. The downside of this is that I get no vacation and no time to see my family and friends because lectures in Aarhus start next Monday. The good part is that I also get ECTS so I have to take less courses during the year.

I arrived in Copenhagen on Saturday. The very nice weather that Danish people had this summer suddenly changed to torrential rain and floods… I guess this is the luck I have now.

Apart from having classes from 9 to 17 everyday, drinking more coffee then ever (I never thought I will drink more than one cup a day) and getting to know Copenhagen University a bit (which honestly, didn’t really impress me – I like the one in Aarhus better), nothing much happened. Maybe the small party we will have on Friday after the end of the course will give me more things to tell you about.

BiRC’s Mols meeting

The summer school in Oxford takes six weeks, which meant that I was supposed to leave tomorrow, on the 14th. But BiRC, the research centre that I am part of, had it’s annual meeting on the 12th and 13th, where, among other things, the PhD students hold presentations to share to everybody the work they are involved in. Since I am one of the newest PhD students, I had to be there and tell them what I am doing.

One of the purposes of this meeting is to get to know each other better so we didn’t go to bed very early  on Thursday. I was supposed to have my presentation this morning which could have been a bit of a problem considering that it would have been after a short nights sleep. I don’t know if I was lucky or not, that the weather was so bad that it made us change our plans and move the Friday morning presentations to Thursday afternoon. Either way, only half ready, I had to give a talk for about 20 minutes. I presented my work from Oxford and I think the others seemed pleased with it.

This morning we went on a rather short trip to the highest hill in the region. The view was very nice and I think it would have been even nicer with some sun. The funny thing though is that the hill is called a mountain – Denmark’s highest natural point is only 171m over the sea. It sounds pretty flat to me, but Aarhus still has loads of hills which make it quite hard for me to bike…

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Tomorrow at 1 am I will go to the Gloucester Green station to get the bus to Stansted and go back to Denmark… I am both happy and sad that I am leaving. I think I had a great time in Oxford, made new friends and, of course, learnt some new things too. Therefore I decided the last two nights I get to spend in Oxford have to be special.

Tonight we plan to go to Jamie’s Italian restaurant. I have been told that they have nice food. I hope it will be so, I watched Jamie’s show a few times, my mother is a fan and I also got her two of his books. She’s also been cooking some of the recipes from there and they were delicious!

Last night, thanks to the initiative of one of the Danish girls, we went to see a Shakespeare play: ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. It was played by the Shakespeare Globe, who is on tour. The stage was placed in the Bodleian Quad. Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to take pictures during the play (you can check the website for some snapshots).

It was the first time in my life that I read the synopsis before a play. And it was a very good choice. I realized beforehand that I will probably have some difficulties to understand what the actors are saying (for various reasons, such as the fact that the play is in old English and the actors are supposed to have British accent) and I figured it would be a good idea to know in advance what was going on. And I could keep up with the main plot, but I think I missed quite a lot of details. I was less bothered by my lack of understanding when I found out that I wasn’t the only having trouble, including an English guy.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed my time there. And we were in luck with the weather too!

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