Favourite blogs for Riks blog

My favourites » All entries

September 02, 2006

Livin' it up in Lux :–D

Woohoo! Not only do I now know where Luxembourg really is… I’ve been there and got the jeans!!

I must confess, I was also in Aachen for a couple of days beforehand – wandering around, trying to see Tokio Hotel (if you don’t know, don’t ask) over a fence, and generally having a crazy time with Erika! But, leider, no photos from that part of the adventure.

Luxembourg was amazing: catching up with a couple of friends who showed me the sights, sounds, and smells of the city and countryside. Check out the photos in my latest and greatest gallery (I won’t even give you a clue as to what it might be called..) and be amazed :-)

Hmm, not the longest blog entry ever – I’m kind of surprised I can still access this and make new entries! – but feel free to comment, or hunt for gossip if you’re a certain cousin of mine… ;-)


Another random test

Your Seduction Style: Au Natural

You rank up there with your seduction skills, though you might not know it.
That’s because you’re a natural at seduction. You don’t realize your power!
The root of your natural seduction power: your innocence and optimism.

You’re the type of person who happily plays around and creates a unique little world.
Little do you know that your personal paradise is so appealing that it sucks people in.
You find joy in everything – so is it any surprise that people find joy in you?

You bring back the inner child in everyone you meet with your sincere and spontaneous ways.
Your childlike (but not childish) behavior also inspires others to care for you.
As a result, those who you befriend and date tend to be incredibly loyal to you.

April 03, 2006

The Last Post

Well, oh loyal reader (or dearly beloved, as Kipling would say), 'tis the end of an era. I am no longer a student at the University of Warwick. Admittedly some of you have been questioning whether I've been a student of anything of late, but now my time is up, my lease expired, my welcome finally outstayed. After nearly 10 years in this hallowed institution, my 7-digit university number existence bites the dust.

So, this blog's for the chop. Not a great loss to human-kind, as my postings here have been sporadic to say the least. And I don't hear many cries of "Oh no! But where will we read Stu's latest news now?!". We shall see, but email and MSN usw. exist for a reason..

Life update

The last few months, like the last few years, have been filled with changing plans, fleeting ideas, and random dreams of the future. The current situation, in convenient bullet-point form, is…

  • stay in Barcelona until the end of June: including such highlights as studying German, maybe visiting some local schools for experience, maybe some work-shadowing at Barcelona zoo (with an emphasis on training dolphins, if possible)...
  • teach the NAGTY summer school @ Warwick (July 23 – Aug 12, if I remember rightly)
  • start a PGCE (Lehramt, 1 year teaching qualification, for those not acronyminously-minded) in September, secondary maths

So there you go, the next half a year of my life reduced to 3 measly points. That's rather depressing…

Ok, dear family, loyal friends, trusted companions, vague acquaintances, and poor unfortunates here by accident, I wish you all much love and happiness… don't shed a tear for the end of my blog.. brighter days will come!!!!

Oh, and I couldn't resist one last quiz thing:

You scored as English. You should be an English major! Your passion lies in writing and expressing yourself creatively, and you hate it when you are inhibited from doing so. Pursue that interest of yours!





























What is your Perfect Major?
created with QuizFarm.com

March 01, 2006

Parties and Pancakes

This week's crazy, in such a good way! Saturday night out partying till 7am in Barcelona; Tuesday spent preparing costumes (even making bell-bottoms.. you'll never guess what the finished costume was…) and heading off to Sitges for major carnival fun :-) Rolled back to Barcelona around 6am this morning. It was sooooo cool, but the night went by so quickly. Pics will follow soon, I promise!

And now I have to catch up on pancake day – and despite buying the wrong kind of flour ("integral" if that means anything to you), having no scales, measuring jug, or whisk.. I managed to make the best pancakes I've had in the last year…

February 23, 2006

New News

I'm twenty-friggin-eight! Of course, I only worry about these details around birthday time – but when I think about it, everyone in a similar situation to me (ie, enjoying a reasonably leisurely life) is 5 or more years younger than I am! Those friends around my age are mainly in full time work, and wholly in full time stress. People wonder if I'll "grow up", "act my age", and even "get a bloody job!", but the more I see the effects of these things on people, the less appealing they become. Ok, sure the money is going to run out – I'm amazed how well I've made it last so far – and working for a living is almost inevitable (save perhaps a lucky lottery win in the near future!), but I'm going to hold out as long as possible!

Current plan: German and Spanish classes in Barcelona. Actually, German starts this evening, which is quite exciting. Spanish I'm still looking into the cheapest option but should be starting within a week or two. After that, back to Warwick for NAGTY 06 - wouldn't miss that for the world! And then, assuming applications etc go smoothly, it'll be PGCE time for me. I couldn't resist one more year of full-time study :-)

In other news, I finally have my own web domain. Not very exciting, but stuart-price.net will soon be my new home on the web.

That's all I think.. will write again if I remember anything else :-)

February 08, 2006

Escape from course work to Barcelona

Everyone seems to love Barcelona – I couldn't understand people's fascination and obsession with this city until last weekend when I visited myself.
The visit was awesome despite the facts that we had no hot water, we had ants in the apartment, I had my money stolen on the first day of my stay and the local cashpoints discriminated my debit/credit cards to an extent that I could get no money out.
But still, the city and its people are so great it makes up for all of thatl!

I went with Helen, Chloe and Kim. They seemed very shocked about the scary little narrow alleyway we lived on. I suppose it didn't help that we arrived at night and our taxi driver said to us with his strong Spanish accent"Watch out for these people!" pointing at some dodgy men outside the taxi and dumped us at that spot. I thought the first apartment was fine, but the cold shower was too much for the others so we moved to a hotel next door. It didn't solve the problem of living on the dark alleyway. In fact, it was right next to Las Ramblas, so it was that dodgy after all.

On the first day I managed to have my money stolen by 2 sweet old lovely ladies. Clearly you cant trust anyone! Well, I panicked without my money and went to this policemen who did not speak English. For those who don't know, my Spanish vocab contains about 20 words and consists of very useful phrases such as "Falta papel de baño!" exactly what I needed in this particular situation!
Well, they put me to the police car and drove me to the station. I think I have to get used to police cars, it was my second time within a year. They made me fill in forms in Spanish and were pointing at me and saying something "chica" all the time. luckily i got out of there in the end.

I headed to Parc Güell. I was quite exhausted having walked up a steep hill and having gone through the trouble of getting money etc. but this place was truly amazing. The park is overlooking the city and I could see the big cathedral Sagrada Familia(and very numerous houses).
I walked down and saw houses designed by Gaudi. they are so pretty and look so much better in real life than in photos. Walking into the park was like entering a fairy tale: ginger-bread houses with sugar-coating on the top. Exotic birds flying around and children playing. Someone was playing the guitar.

I met up with Stu and he showed me around Barcelona Uni. They have fish ponds and orange trees in the university garden. I'm so envious! That's something we must get to Warwick(however, I think they might slightly suffer when the English winter arrives…)
Soon afterwards Jordi joined us. We were just chatting and hanging around. We walked past Sagrada Familia and went to Stu's place for a bit. In the evening we went out for a meal. It was exotic – the menu was in Catalan and Italian only. We had pasta and risotto with balsamic vinegar and pears. Sounds weird but it was surprisingly good.

Next day I visited the Gaudi museum and walked around loads. We went to see "Breakback Mountain" in the cinema. I'm grateful it hadn't been dubbed into Spanish. I bought chocolate with bergamot and with 100% cocoa content. We went to a bar and to another later. Their Swedish friends joined us. Always embarrased to admit, my Swedish is pretty dreadful. We had a little crash course.
Can you imagine, you can buy cakes and croissants at 3.30 in the morning in Barcelona!? We walked along one of these little dark alleyways packed with drunk people. All of a sudden there was a door. No sign, nothing. It was ajar and we entered. It looked like a warehouse storage room and there was a pile of boxes with cakes inside and a guy selling them. Very tasty and I could sleep well after eating them. The Swedish girl Petra kindly walked me home because it was dark.

I don't think I saw half the stuff the city has to offer. Which means I don't have a choice – I have to go back at some point.

I forgot my camera in Finland on the xmas break but luckily I had my mobile with me. I love this modern technology, I truly do! I took a few photos with my phone(in the gallery).

TAlking of christmas, I'm aware that I have completely forgotten to update my blog for a century, that's covering last christmas. I'm still in one piece as you may conclude for this entry. I shall try and be more active in terms of writing here!

On Monday I went to Sharon's to Birmingham. She does photography and it was the opening of her exhibition. It was good, nice art and even a band playing. Afterwards we went to a Moroccan cafe, had some mint tea and then had a Chinese take-away when watching Moulin Rouge at Sharon's. It's so relaxing to spend time off-campus.

With so much relaxation in my life, my course work is piling up! So I better get on with it.
Academically excellent news, a professor in my department has agreed to take me into his research group next summer and is sending an application for project funding, which is really exciting!! The project is based on marine microbiology. Now I just have to wait until May and see if it gets funded.

February 06, 2006

Kein Plan.. or one too many

I'm going to cheat with this entry.. it's going to (hopefully) grow and evolve as I find out more and reflect more about what the hell I'm going to do with myself over the next 12 months.

For those that don't know, my time at Warwick is almost over (nearly a decade after I started.. you can imagine how scary that thought is!). And now I need some good ideas on what to do next… Ideas welcome! Please feel free to contribute here!


I need to get some applications in very soon – think I have to take numeracy and literacy tests too.. must check dates etc and see when I'll be in England. Southampton's an option; probably not Warwick.. I really need to make a clean break from there! Where else?!

International School (teaching maths)

Teaching at an English school somewhere on the continent (probably Germany) is quite appealing.. I get to live in a foreign country, but not the added pressure of needing fluency in the language to work. Pay seems quite generous (I've seen 40.000€/year starting salary).

Only problem is I see teaching as a "one way" option – I mean I have the impression that it's always quite straightforward to get into teaching at any stage in life/career, but moving out of it into something else could be difficult?


Of course I love studying.. why do you think I've been in full-time education for 22 years?! Linguistics or foreign languages / philology (does this word exist in English?! It's filología in Spanish anyway..).

At the Universitat de Barcelona, a degree is 300 credits and the current rate is 9€/credit. This takes about 4 years full time studying. Working part-time (which of course I would have to do) would probably double this time.

Filologia Alemana for example: splits into 2 "cicles" each of 150 credits.

  • 1r cicle: 108 core credits (Llengua Alemanya I-IV; Intro a Literatura I-II; Lingüística i Lingüística Alemanya I-II; Comentari de Textos; Teoria de la Literatura.. totals 144?!), 18 specific options, 12 filologia I options and 12 lliure elecció.
  • 2n cicle: 72 core (Llengua V-VI; Literatura I-IV; History, Culture, Grammar), 42 specifics, 18 filologia II, 18 lliure.

Language Classes
  • 4 weeks intensive German class with the Goethe Institute ~1000€ plus accommodation. Start dates throughout the year.

  • Spanish DELE exams, approx 120€ (level Superior). 40 hour course ~400€

I.T. Career

I think I have the skills and the experience to get into IT. Not sure if I have the motivation though. Perhaps I could do it for a few years to "give it a try" and earn a solid wage and some savings. Then move on into teaching or whatever appeals at the time. Possibility of freelance / short contract work?

February 02, 2006

It's only money…

… but it's disappearing fast!

Too much shopping these days – haircut 19€; CDs 55€; Ikea bed clothes and other house stuff 35€.. looking and feeling good, priceless. There are some things money can't buy; for everything else there's student debt.

Maybe I should get a job like everyone keeps telling me…

January 25, 2006

Out with the old, in with the new

Hmm, so January has less than a week remaining. That's quite a scary thought. Where the hell did it go?! Most of you reading this will probably already know about the stresses, highs and lows of the past couple of weeks.. and for those of you that don't, just consider yourselves fortunate! ;-) I'm eternally grateful to Nico and Petra – two friends here, who put me up (and put up with me) for a few nights each while I was homeless!

So, what's new? Everything! Life is finally going great. I'm well-settled back in Barcelona, and have the motivation to get on with thesis-writing. I promised pictures of my new place, and finally got around to taking some and uploading them now – they're in the Casa Meva gallery. Just a couple of pics of my room and balcony – maybe I'll add the kitchen and my flatmates someday soon! Also one of the "neighbours" might be in order.. c'est à dire the Sagrada Família :-)

Well, don't know what else to say right now.. time for me to get on.. Want to buy a nice big houseplant and then write some more of my 'dictatorship', as my dissertation has been re-christened…!!!

Love y'all – keep in touch!

December 09, 2005

More, more, more!

Just added another bunch of photos to that Barcelona II gallery after the last couple of days' expeditions. Some people ask me about this.. I don't bother cropping, touching up, or in any way messing around with the photos I take… mainly because I haven't got much of a clue how to. The black and white is a setting in my camera that's supposed to be for "scanning" documents! Works quite well though, I think. Oh yeah, I lie.. I did crop the one of my eye reflecting the Sagrada Familia so that it didn't have icky iggly red veins in it!

December 06, 2005

The End of An Era

Hey good people.. well in less than 2 weeks I'm out of here and flying back to England. Rather depressing thought really.

Anyway, today is a public holiday here and the weather is amazing – I wandered round town this morning and took a few more photos… Check out the Barcelona II Gallery!

December 01, 2005

Mango Chicken

Many people complain that I'm such a fussy eater – I always claim it's simple.. nothing from the sea and no cheese. But then they say, so what do you eat? Tonight Matthew, I'm going to make mango chicken.

Most of my meals are based around whatever happens to be on the point of mouldiness in the fridge. Tonight, this happened to be a mango and 3 carrots. For those that want to follow along at home…

Fry a bit of onion until it's soft (not until it's almost black like I did today), then add diced chicken breast. (You hardly need any oil at all.. sorry olive-guzzling Spanish people!) fry gently till it's almost brown, add a squeeze of lemon juice (oh yeah, had some lemons left over from Saturday's cocktiail party!), and then diced mango. Keep frying till the mango's a tiny bit squidgy. A splash of orange juice helped make it a tad more liquidy. Ok, then I got bored and just left all that in the fridge.

Later on, boil some rice and add some carrots and sweetcorn. Fry diced green pepper slowly, until it's a bit soft. Then bring the chicken out of the fridge and dump it in the frying pan. Heat it all up again, adding a bit of white wine (come on, I know you have all these things in student fridges!) to keep it juicy.

Voila. Dinner. Truth is, it didn't have quite as much flavour as I was expecting, so all suggestions welcome!

Sorry Dave…

I just saw that Dave had taken another of those blog tests… I tried too, and now feel rather smug.. even though everyone tells me I talk like a foreigner these days!!

English Genius
You scored 100% Beginner, 100% Intermediate, 100% Advanced, and 100% Expert!
You did so extremely well, even I can't find a word to describe your excellence! You have the uncommon intelligence necessary to understand things that most people don't. You have an extensive vocabulary, and you're not afraid to use it properly! Way to go!

Thank you so much for taking my test. I hope you enjoyed it!

For the complete Answer Key, visit my blog: link.

November 23, 2005


Just another quick update.. last weekend I had a great time visiting England again. My flight landed about 45 minutes late (so, at 00.15) and it was -2 outside while I was waiting 20 minutes for a taxi. Not the best start, but things very quickly got so much better!!

Catching up with Erika and Laura after so long was really cool – a combination of schlager, card games, and general silliness was just what I was after :-) I spent Friday at uni, catching up with sooo many people and taking the odd picture around the place.

Saturday, Erika and I headed over to Birmingham. We caught up with Andy and (after losing horribly at some playstation music quiz show!)ventured off to the Frankfurter Weihnachtsmarkt.. a mug or two of Gluehwein, Feuerzangenbowle, a Bratwurst, and other such Germanic treats, and learning the lyrics of "Im Wagen vor mir". =)

It goes without saying that Saturday night was a rather drunken experience – paying £10 for an open bar. But I still made it up in time on Sunday morning to catch up with Caroline and Dave and his family. It's great to see everyone again.

Monday morning I was up bright and early to head back to Warwick. I had a perfectly pleasant, but not especially insightful careers interview… yes, the world-renowned self-proclaimed lord of laziness himself is facing the prospect of finding employment in the not too distant future! In the afternoon I stocked up on some of those old British favourites (ie Twiglets and Cheeselets!) before heading off to Cov airport.

Well, then disaster struck. I checked in before 5pm, and wasn't too surprised to hear that the airport was closed due to fog. I spent the £5 of gift vouchers they proffered, buying a soup and a smirnoff ice and then we were all bussed up to East Midlands. Ground staff there seemed a little bemused, but by 7.30pm I'd checked-in (again)... to be told the flight would board at around 10.30. Well, killing 3 hours in East Midlands airport is no mean feat, but a few phone calls and strolls around the cafe, duty free shop, cafe again, duty free shop again, managed to pass the time. Sadly at 10.30 there was no plane / boarding / any bright prospect in sight. Well, to cut a long story a bit shorter (too late) we eventually took off around 1am getting me home and in bed at 6am Tuesday morning – 8 hours late :-(

It sounds crazy, but I really feel like I have jet lag – my sleep pattern's screwed up again. But I did learn one neat trick – Thomsonfly flights between Cov and Barcelona don't seem too busy.. so, when they ask "Window or aisle, sir?" I respond "Can I have an empty row at the back so I can lay down, please?". Works a treat, and if you're enough of a contortionist, you can actually get quite comfy lying down!

Ok, that's all – enough rambling about days gone by! I've uploaded a few photos.. my gallery names continue to astound and inspire – this time it's.. Warwick . Check them out!

As for the coming days.. Beth and Rai are arriving on Friday and staying for the weekend. Planning an everybody-bring-a-different-bottle cocktail party for Saturday night, and maybe the new Harry Potter film on Sunday. We'll see!

See yaz all again soon :-)

November 16, 2005

The Lighter Side of Maths

Now that we can type maths here, I have to publish the highlight of Monday's real dynamics seminar here.. even non-mathematicians should appreciate what was written on the board…

\large F:U\subset\mathbb{K}\to U

I kid ye not!

November 12, 2005

New Pics

Ok, having a bit of free time today means I've finally sorted out some photos from my trip to the States. They're in the unimaginatively-titled 'USA' gallery. For those that don't know, the itinerary was Los Angeles, San Diego, Sunnyvale (just south of San Francisco), San Francisco, and Narragansett in Rhode Island. Amazing… but I'll write more another time :-)

I think my favourite is the trees by a lake in Narragansett.

I'm so bored

What did I always used to do on weekends?! Ah yes, recovering from hangovers, watching omnibus editions of Hollyoaks and walking RSPCA dogs. Well options 2 and 3 are out, so I guess I have to get drunk tonight so that I can feel sorry for myself all day tomorrow!

Meanwhiles I've been killing time on quizilla again…

You are blessed with the gift of tongues.
You are an extremely friendly person to be around with, and it's hard to ever hate you. You seem to make friends with everyone you meet. People are attracted to your charm, and can't help but feel comfortable around you. This also goes for the animals, who seem to understand your language as well as you can understand theirs. Whenever there is a language barrier blocking your way, you break it down with ease. You know how to communicate with those who can't speak your language, and in no time make a quick friend. Man are you happy-go-lucky!

Everyone has a secret ability. What is yours?
brought to you by Quizilla

Sounds like me.. I'll talk to anyone

Your element is Wind. You are the guy that is unpredictable. No one knows what you're going to do next and what you're in the mood for. Studying is not your thing and you would rather go to a party than stay home. Life is just for fun and you need to be free to live according to you. You waste no time on lies, if you feel or think one thing you say it even if it hurts. Of course, people may be quite upset but that doesn't really bother you. It's not that you don't care, because you do, but in these situations it's a waste of time. You live up in the clouds and are quite a dreamer about life. People often consider you beautiful, but harsh and they would think twice before getting to know you. But once they do, they'll learn that you are always willing to take yourself and your friends on adventures. Never will it be a boring time with you and your friends appreciate that. You are not often seen sad, but you have your times. If someone has been mean to you, you can quite easily trash-talk them for betraying you. Nevertheless, you are most of the time a good spirit who just want to have some fun.

Oooh, and such a big thank you to blogideas.com – their random suggestion for something to blog about….. How many pairs of shoes do you own? Um, four. That filled in a whole lot of time…

November 09, 2005


Follow-up to Amazon Recommends… from El Meu Blog

Of course, because I bought aforementioned Shrek 2, I would love to buy a Logic3 i-Station Docking Station for iPod and iPod Mini … if only I had an iPod to dock. But thankfully a little further on, the Black iPod 4Gb Nano also gets a promotion… the most logical thing for one to buy after acquiring A Short History of Nearly Everything..

Panasonic SD253 Breadmaker with Nut Dispenser and I quote, Recommended because you said you owned Shrek 2

Last time I admit to owning anything!

LMAO.. finally they recommend that I buy a DVD player – and not because of this damn Shrek 2 dvd, but the bloody digital camera I bought once upon a time.

Think it's time for me to hit the sack. 'Night folks

Amazon Recommends…

Just a random observation (well, that's about 90% of my blog probably!), but this evening I'm wasting a bit of time browsing through Amazon.co.uk, on the lookout for ideas for my Xmas list and what I might be able to get for those nearest and dearest to me.

Anyway, for the first time ever, I thought I'd investigate the "Amazon recommends…" feature – of course Amazon has recorded every purchase I've ever made, and now feels it's in a position to offer me top tips for my next purchase. But some of it is just so damn surreal!

Ok, recommending a pair of headphones because I bought Shrek 2 on DVD… I can see some tenuous link there. But Sin City on DVD because I bought "A Short History of Nearly Everything"? A book called "100 Naked Girls" because I bought.. wait for it.. a memory card for my digital camera (I don't want to know what the connection is there..); and finally, a Jamie Oliver Flour Shaker because I bought a book called "Watching the English"?!?!?!?! I'm not usually one for swearing, even in acronyms, but WTF?!

And if that weren't random enough for ya

I just read that we can now include Latex in our entries…

{\rm Post}(f) = \cup_{c\in C(f)}\overline{\cup_{n\geq 1} f^n(c)}

where of course C(f) is the critical set…..

Sorry, the mathematician in me just wanted to try it out!

October 13, 2005

The love–hatred–relationship with the Internet

Help! Until yesterday I hadn't realised my severe addiction to the Internet. Having lived in a house without the World Wide Web for three weeks I was already having clear withdrawal symptoms and anxiously looking forward to connecting to the Net.
Well, yesterday I managed to purchase a WLAN card in Coventry in hope of making friends with my laptop again. After installing the software and trying to connect for 90 minutes I was just about to explode of anger and frustration! Good job we didn't have a hammer in the house, otherwise there'd be nothing left of my computer!
We are looking into different internet providers now(no more wireless! ever!) and I'm counting seconds to the moment when our house moves on to the new modern era with a functioning Internet-connection.

Apart from this constant warfare between me and my laptop, the start of the new term has been good. This week we are having labs every day as well as lectures, which means I'm so knackered there's not much energy left for anything else.

My mum Ritva came to visit me last week. We celebrated her 50th bday in Birmingham by wandering around, going on the Wheel of Birmingham(Birmingham-version of the London Eye), visiting an art gallery and having a meal in a Chinese restaurant.
Afterwards we went back to mine for a glass champagne.
She brought me rye-bread and cheese from Finland, yummy!

Tomorrow we are celebrating Erika's 20th birthday and I promised to bake her a cake. We have cool neighbours. Me and Erika went around yesterday to ask whether the party is ok, than they just went "Oh, come on in! It's so lovely to meet our new neighbours" and we were chatting for ages. Sophie was worried and thought we might have been kidnapped by evil people next-door.
At least they weren't evil.

October 10, 2005

Lange nicht gesehen!

It's nigh on impossible to even try and catch up on the last month's highs and lows.. So I'll just leave you all with a couple of photos I took last night. Montjuïc is a little mountain here, with the olympic stadium and other stuff – the view of the sunset there was amazing… Photo 1 and Photo 2

September 30, 2005

.cat and the new Statute

Two weeks ago, my beloved country Catalunya (Catalonia) saw how the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) approved the .cat domain extension, which "represents those Internet users who express themselves in Catalan". According to puntCAT, the association that's been in charge of the actual bureaucratic business for .cat to be a reality, our brand new patriotic domain will be available from next January.

On the other hand, Catalan MPs approved yesterday —after months of give-and-take between the parties that form our current Government— the new Statute for Catalunya, said to bring us, in essence, greater autonomy (with respect to spain, of course) and economic powers. Even though it's passed the thorough Catalan exam, the new Statute must still go through the spanish parliament for it to be put into practice. Let's hope they don't mutilate it too much…

Oh well, however it ends up, the two things are anyway really good news for us Catalans!! :-)

(By the way, the last sentence of BBC News' version of the story about our new Statute is something like: "The militant Basque separatists of Eta have been waging a violent campaign since the 1960s," which looks to me completely random at the end of that article. But you see, 'autonomy', 'separatists', 'Catalans', 'Basques', 'Eta'... for some reason everything seems to lump together. Hilarious. I had to laugh.)

September 18, 2005

Canley, my home

Last summer days in Finland are over and I have now moved to my lovely new house in the scary Coventry. In fact, Coventry is nowhere near as bad as its reputation, and so far I’ve been mainly positively surprised at the house.

Before my return to England I spent crazy days with my international friends Julia(England!) and Katrin(Germany!). Julia’s written her verdict on the Finnish smoke-sauna, muurinpohjalettu, howling wolves and much more on her blog: www.spaces.msn.com/members/agueda
Check it out, it’s seriously funny!

Katrin visited me in Helsinki and we went to our holiday house to Joutsa as well. Of all the things including weird Finnish dishes and sauna and even bio-toilet Katrin was most shocked (and amused) at Finnish alkies. She got to see this interesting side of Finland when we did a day-trip to Estonia across the Baltic See. The ship was loaded with part-time alcoholics, who were thrilled to buy tax-free alcohol. In Estonia the situation didn’t significantly improve, and probably half of the passengers spent the day pouring 80% Viru Valgee or similar down their throats. How surprising that Finns are known as _poro _(Finnish for reindeer) on the southern side of the bay…! Finns seriously resemble these arctic animals when standing, walking or crawling in the middle of the road with a confused look in their eyes. Apart from the fact that reindeer don’t swear of course.

Having survived this alkie-populated ship and eastern suburbs of Tallinn, where everything was written in Russian(!), Katrin headed to Germany and I to England.

I arrived on Saturday the 10th at Birmingham, where Chris and Matt were already waiting for me! It was really nice to see them and we drove straight to Leamington Spa to their place. We went to Kenilworth Blockbusters where I used to work last year and my colleague generously let us rent 2 DVDs free. We had then Indian take-away. The best Indian food in Europe is definitely made in England. YUM!
I was trying to call my landlord to find out when I could pick up the key to my house. There are 3 of us living together, but I was the first one to arrive and therefore desperately needed to collect the key. Well, the landlord didn’t come back to me, so Matt and Chris let me stay at their house over night. It was actually really convenient, because they had a spare bed(the German flatmate hadn’t moved in yet. They concluded it must be because of excessive usage of German beer) and we watched the film Aviator. If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t touch it! If you have made it to the end, congratulations! It’s 3 and half hours long(read: way too long!) and I kept falling asleep when watching it.

On Sunday I finally moved into my new house!! When I left England in June I left most of my stuff at Helen’s house in Kenilworth, so I had to collect that and then took a taxi with all my stuff in to Canley. The house is not huge but fair-size. We’ve got a kitchen and a lounge downstairs, and 3 bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs. There’s a garden on each side of the house. And apparently we have to keep mowing the lawn, this is stated on the contract. Sophie already moved in on last Tuesday and Erika’s coming on this Tuesday.

The only problem we have noticed so far is the shower. Water’s dripping so slowly that feels like standing in the rain. I and Sophie decided we are going to do a lot of exercise this year and shower in the Sports Centre. I also have the boiler in my room now. First Sophie was living in this room but couldn’t apparently sleep because of the noise from the boiler. Even now I can hear the cheerful rhythm from the boiler but it’s luckily so quiet it didn’t really disturb my sleep last night.
Surprisingly we haven't had any chavs, junkies, drunkies or any kind of dodgy people bombarding the house! I've only heard our neighbour sing a song I couldn't recognise and another one in the bathtub. Yes, the walls are so thin I can even follow their conversations and hear the water move! The reason I didn't know the song may be a gap in my music knowledge. Or more likely, because the artist wasn't perhaps fully qualified…

On Wednesday I traveled to north-England to Hartford to see Julia. The train station is right next to our house, so I didn’t have to walk far. I was really lost the Coventry station and got on a train to Aberdeen, Scotland. In the end I made it to Hartford.
On Thursday we visited Chester. It was raining quite heavily but we got on a city tour bus(open-top) and Julia got really wet sitting next to a leaking window.
Chester is a really old town, it was once governed by the Romans and there’s still an old Roman amphitheatre in the town. However, the Roman houses had been destroyed and instead the centre was full of Tudor houses. They typically have black cross-patterns on the white background as decorations, and I always had thought this style is typically German! The houses of Chester hadn’t been actually built in the Tudor era but a lot later in Victorian times. Then there was an interesting road system called “The Rows”. In this system you would have the roads in a way “inside the house” so the outer walls of the long houses were drawn back and the roads were covered with the ceiling of the house.
There were these roads in the ground and first floors. I guess, it’s a type of an ancient shopping centre.

On Friday we went to a salt museum in Hartford. There’s a big salt mine in Cheshire and a developed canal system they used for the transport. When they first started mining salt from below the town, it resulted in subsidence and the ground sunk. Nowadays the methods are better.
On Friday night there was a little “leaving-for-the-uni”-party and we cooked curry for lots of people. On Saturday morning we set off for Warwick again and Julia’s parents brought us here.

The Orientation Week for the new international students will start tomorrow at Warwick and I’m volunteering as a Helper. 850 new students will arrive and there are 80 Helpers.
Should be an interesting and fun week!
The term starts on the 26th with a gene technology lab.

September 03, 2005

My God

There can't be too many people that are beautiful inside-out…


?? Which Of The Greek Gods Are You ??
brought to you by Quizilla

And I still have a long way to go…

create your own visited countries map

Hopefully can add to this before the year's out..

create your own visited states map

August 17, 2005

Summer School IV

For those of you who I've studiously ignored over the past month, (and likewise, those of you who've ignored me..!) I've been at Warwick doing the NAGTY maths summer school.. for the fourth time running!

Not so much to say about it all really… it was generally quite amusing, though after 3 weeks of teaching 20 kids I was completely knackered! On Sunday, I left Warwick and headed down for a couple of sunny days in Portsmouth. (Why is the weather in Coventry sooooo bad?! There must be some reason! It's amusing to see their "Summer of Cov" signs being battered by torrential rain..)

And now I'm back in Barcelona. After more than a month of being away, and of that only 1 week's good weather in Germany, I was kinda hoping for glorious sunshine and cloudless skies. The rest of you will be glad to hear that we have neither right now :-(

Well, that's life in a short and not-very-sweet summary! Uni here starts up again in September, so I still have a week and a half of freedom… just need to find something to do now….!

August 14, 2005

From Berlin to Helsinki

I know haven’t updated my blog for about half a century and people probably think I’m either dead or have been abducted by the aliens…
Tons of things have happened to me. There’s a “little” summary(more of a novel) of my last 4 weeks in Berlin written already at the time I was there. Unfortunately I never came round to putting it on my blog, but better late than not at all.

Sunday 24.07.05

Right, it’s 2:44 am and I just got back from Soda-salsa club from Prenzlauer Berg.
I must be insane since I’m writing blog diary instead of falling asleep in my cozy bed. It’s probably thanks to Crazy-Carlos at the internship and Swiss-Thomas behind my wall that I discovered this fun latino music and my enthusiasm is so overwhelming that my little report cannot wait till tomorrow.
A half-Japanese, half-German student called Taro mentioned they organize salsa classes always before the parties. So we decided to go together today. And besides, I desperately needed some tuition as have never danced salsa before and am all over the place with my big feet. Considering that I’m usually destroying my dance-partners’ feet if they dare to come anywhere close we thought it’s probably safer to take some classes first. So I went with Taro tonight and Thomas, Carla and Corinna joined us later.
Salsa’s really fun and the basic steps are actually not all that difficult. Merengue is also good as I don’t have to know any steps and men lead the dance anyway. I danced some salsa with Tora and then merengue with Thomas. After 6 hours of dancing I was absolutely knackered and realized that I’ve just missed my last underground back to Tiergarten where I live. Conveniently the night buses are real sight-seeing trips and circle around and about in central Berlin before finding their way to Zoologischer Garten. Luckily Tora offered to give me a lift and we went to get the car.
It was cool to walk around the dark streets of Prenzlauer Berg and visit an old Berliner building. Apparently all the buildings in the area are built by the same pattern. I imagine it’s a bit like all those student houses in Coventry in Earlsdon which look exactly identical to each other. The ceilings are really high and on the street-side there’s a huge lobby. We went through tall doors with decorative windows and all the colours and shapes in the lobby were really pretty. Then typically comes Innenhof, a gap surrounded by walls of the house on every side. These Berlin houses are really tall so the lowest floors in this type of houses are very dark. The flats sometimes have windows only on the Innenhof-side so living in such a flat must be as depressing as November in Finland.The flats are also weird, can you imagine originally there was no shower. In Taro’s flat the shower was randomly built later at the corner of the corridor next to the kitchen. Strange! And very picturesque, when exiting the building I spotted 2 holes made by a bullet in these decorative windows. So that’s what the ex-DDR houses are like.
I never can get used to the fact that Berlin was divided. We were driving along Gleimstrasse, where this house was located. The house was initially on the east-Berlin side and after driving under a bridge we were suddenly on the west-side of Berlin without even turning off the road.
Siegmund’s Hof is random. I got back and couldn’t get out of the lift as the door-way was taped up with cellotape. There was a piece of bread taped to my door as well without any sensible reason! This house is full of freaks but at least they are nice ones.
It was such a beautiful day today. We sat on the balcony in the sunshine. I made pancakes Finnish style, with strawberry jam and whipped cream on the top and we ate water melon. We dragged our dear sofa to the balcony and I, Philip(Poland), Afroditi(Greece) and Christian(Cameroon) squeezed on the sofa and started singing Beatles as loud as possible. Philip even had some notes with him so we could read the words even if we didn’t know the melodies for all of them. It’s a strange feeling as all the people are leaving in a week or so and traveling back to their home countries. I might not see these people ever again. However, the moment at the balcony today was so gorgeous that any description doesn’t make it justice.

On Saturday we had a big party in our floor to celebrate the end of exams. Indeed, the poor German students still have to take exams at the end of July! When getting ready for the party, we headed to Aldi, the cheapest shop around. The 5 of us carried a massive load of drink and food back to Siegmund’s Hof. We suffered some losses though when we had a little break and I set my crate on the window sill for a bit. Of course it had to kip and consequently there was a bottle of wine on the ground. Laa-la-laa-la, it wasn’t me…
Unfortunately that wasn’t the end for my destruction derby. At the start of the party Enrico brought a football to our common room and showed us so cool tricks. I wanted to have a go as well and smashed the glass of boiling hot Raki Afroditi had just poured for me and hit the bowl of peanuts. So we had pretty Raki decorations on the wall and the ruins of the glass in the floor which was now covered with peanuts. Enrico thought I’m a walking disaster, which is not too far from the truth. So still surprised I wanted to take some salsa classes before dancing?! Just out of respect to my dance-partner’s feet.

Our halls are very international. In fact, I believe there is one single German person living in this house and there are 140 rooms. And there’re no guarantees for the state of the mental health of this particular person. I found some real Berliners in the Bierkeller on the Saturday night and was absolutely excited. In the end, I’ve come to Berlin to see some German culture and practice the language etc. and I had met just 1 Berliner before. So I invited the real Berliners to our party.

The only German people I had met here before that were Warwick students. There are so many of us in Berlin now that there’s no need to found the debated Asian campus. We already have an exchange campus here.

The fact how small Berlin is kept amazing me throughout my stay. On one these boiling-hot days, I traveled to Schlachtensee for a swim. As soon as I got into water a friendly familiar face was greeting me. Filip, my neighbour was there as well.
Another day I was standing at the Leopoldplatz underground station eating cherries. In Berlin, and in Wedding in particular, there are lots of little stands where fresh fruit and vegetable are being sold. Standing at the station lost in thought I noticed someone had put his hand in my bag! It was the crazy Carlos trying to steal the cherries.
In the city of 4 million people you would think you never randomly bump into people you know. I love the fact that such a massive city can be so friendly and feel so small.

Katrin visited me in Berlin for a weekend. That was a nice weekend of sight-seeing and chilling. And partying of course. My British neighbour Nik and the Italian Alesso offered to take us out as they know the Berlin night clubs way better than me and Katrin. However we ended up in this dreadful club called Q-Dorf absolutely packed with wasted and sweaty people. The only way to handle this disaster was to drink some tequila. After that the bar seemed ok actually and we were dancing till 6 in the morning. We saw a pretty sunrise at the broken tower of Gedächtniskirche as we walked back to Siegmunds Hof.

Xian, my Finnish-Chinese friend, came to visit me in Berlin as well. She is a hard-core tourist. We saw more castles than I’ve seen in the last 10 years altogether. And she even had energy to visit museums, which I didn’t manage. We found a really nice Singapore restaurant after about an hour’s search. This was thanks to Xian’s obsession with Chanterelle-mushrooms(Chantharellus cibarius). It was Chanterelle season in Germany and these mushrooms have not only a beautiful taste but a distinctive pretty yellow color. We didn’t find a restaurant with Chantarelle dishes so went to this Asian fusion restaurant in the end.

I visited Sachsenhausen concentration camp north from Berlin. That’s a scary place and made me feel very anxious and uncomfortable. It’s unbelievable that these horrors took place only a few decades ago. Concentration camps are a proof of the stupidity of the mankind. No other animal species treats the individuals of their community with such cruelty and insanity. I was walking around the camp for 4 hours, listening from the audio guide to the stories of people who had survived it.

In my last week in Berlin I had to move out and I was living with Erika for a few days. That was really fun and we spent our days doing the internships and the nights going out. We saw all our dear friends in the last week: Mahmout, Warwick-people, Taro, who made sushi for us(yummy!) I was constantly so knackered that kept passing out at inappropriate times and situations. Me, Erika and Taro were trying to watch a film and I saw 5 minutes into it before nodding off. And it seemed like a good film.
I got into a habit of taking my pillow with me and sleeping on the underground on the way to work and when coming back at night.

I returned to Finland on Friday the 6th of August and after getting pick up by my brother and his BMW we headed straight to Joutsa to our holiday house. On the Saturday we traveled all the way to North Karelia to my cousin’s wedding which was one of the best I’ve ever been to(this really telling something considering I have more than 20 cousins)
The groom is Austrian and half of his family was there as well. I think the Austrian’s were both amazed and confused with some Finnish traditions such as rubber boot throwing competition accompanied by sahti, Finnish home-brewed beer kind of thing. There was karaoke as well, and a brilliant afterparty at the cabin where the Austrians stayed. My cousin Riikka had particularly said she’d like to have SingStar Playstation2-game for wedding present and that was definitely a great choice. We were singing it in the afterparty so much that I could barely speak on the following day. The “highlight” of the day was probably when coming back from the church and getting on the car I heard a tiny “cratcsh”. I discovered it was my short dress breaking down and getting even shorter every time I moved! We had to drive to the centre of Joensuu to buy a needle and thread so I could sew my dress, otherwise the backside of it would’ve been open all the way to my waist! No joke and not funny at the time!
Brand clothes are a hoax anyway. This dress was probably the first one I’ve ever bought in Benetton instead of H&M or similar. At least I save money and thoughts when I can keep buying cheap, cheerful and long-lasting clothes in my favourite Swedish cloth shop.
I didn’t return to Helsinki until Wednesday and found my e-mail inbox full of Julia’s panicky letters trying to ask if I’m coming to pick her up on Friday. Poor Julia, I hadn’t said I’m spending a few days out of civilization and without the Internet. I guess, the fact that I hadn’t updated the blog for ages didn’t help…
Oh well, she got here in the end after two delays with terrible KLM flights and we visited Suomenlinna the see-fortress yesterday. It was a bit of an adventure because of the track-and-field World Championships which currently take place in Helsinki. Consequently all accommodation in Helsinki and the surrounding areas is fully booked. As a result I had 4 Austrians, my cousin Riikka and Julia all staying in our house at the same time. We had a struggle to find the ferry to Suomenlinna as the sport organizers had decided to put the marathon track in the middle of the centre and the marketplace and our multicultural Finnish-English-Austrian group was neatly stuck on the wrong side as the athletes ran by. Great! This is gonna make me hate sports even more!
We had a wet sauna as there was something wrong with the settings, went out and only returned after 2 o’clock.