It’s not Amsterdam, it’s called Science Park

The main building in Science Park: The UvA Science Building. Source: Swimmerguy269, CC-ASA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The main building in Science Park: The UvA Science Building. Source: Swimmerguy269, CC-ASA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Let’s face it; apart from the special curriculum and “unconventionality” of the liberal arts and sciences degree offered at AUC, many of us (including myself) came here to experience what Amsterdam has to offer.

You are in for a big surprise.

Practically, you are living in a place called Science Park. Technically, it is in Amsterdam, but it doesn’t feel like Amsterdam. With its own petite supermarket and “snackwagen” just across AUC, with a fairly decent pub nearby, Science Park has it all. Whether you need to work, sleep, eat or drink, you’ve got everything here in just 500 sq meters. On the other hand, if you feel “adventurous”, you can always check the Turkish shops on Molukkenstraat or explore the mysterious jungle of Flevopark.

Of course, but what exactly is keeping us stuck in Science Park?

In a word: work. Lots of it. If you would like to achieve some sort of performance as a student (and I’m sure you want to), you need to do all your assignments and all your readings. There’s absolutely no mystery in that. The problem is, all this work can barely leave you time to do something else.

Secondly, we are contractually obliged to live in the dorms build by DUWO in Science Park. I know I shouldn’t be touching upon this subject since the rooms are nice and the rent is incredibly small, but it severely impairs the “Amsterdam experience”. I’m pretty sure that beyond the huge financial gaps, actually living in Amsterdam would have a different impact on how a student (a foreigner) would perceive the city.

From what I’ve seen/read so far, Amsterdam has a whole lot more to offer (talking here, of course, beyond the commonly known attractions); crammed along the canals, there is always something else to be discovered just beyond the corner: a cool shop, a nice pub, an affordable restaurant, but as a “Science Park”-er I feel that Amsterdam is hidden from me.

Also, when you “force” different people from all over the world to live in 3 blocks of flats, the effect is not that of cultural interrelationships or exchange, but the exact opposite. What you get is very fragmented groups bound mostly by geography and/or cultural similarities.

That being said, how many times have I seen a person in one of my courses but never before on campus? Even more so: how many people haven’t seen or don’t know me? Even in a place like Science Park, where you inevitably bump into everyone, this proves to be quite a problem.

Returning back to the question of time, when you don’t have it, you simply make it. Sacrificing some coursework for a night out might be the right choice as long as it doesn’t turn against you later on.

Then again, this might be just bad time management.

Either way, I need a break from Science Park, Amsterdam.

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In the Media – News articles

Soyuz TMA-5 launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome, O...

Since I am trying to transform this blog into a hub for all my other writings, I have created a few category pages to make my job easier. Without further ado, I would like to share my news articles @Coffee & Couch Philosophy. Because I’d like to keep it short, I will only try to give the headline, the introduction, and the link.

With that out of the way, our first piece takes us to Japan:

Headline: “Japan launches ‘affordable’ Epsilon space rocket”

Introduction: Two days ago, “Japan launched the first in a new type of space rockets particularly designed to make future space missions more affordable.

The new features of the Epsilon type space rocket include a size decrease (about half the size of its predecessors) and the artificial intelligence software used in safety checks.

 
Read more here
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Vampires and Literature

Little vampire

Little vampire (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since I am coming from the land where Dracula was born, I figured I should explore the connections literature has with vampires. To my surprise, you don’t necessarily have to be a vampire in order to have a good vampire story.

Summary: “Nowadays, it seems the vampire is again setting the trend not as a scary monster but as a model of cheap romance. This article explores vampires in literature with an eye to their symbolic meaning.”

You can find the rest of the article on vampires and literature here.

P.S. If you’re really into vampires, you should definitely check some of the other links bellow:

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A Legacy of Going Sideways

Sideways – Photo courtesy of Victor Botezatu.

  To be honest, it is a bit difficult for me to write this post. It is almost as  if I am writing my own obituary. Not because, seemingly decades ago, I founded this band; not because, as time went on, I became really close friends with its members; what is frustrating is the acknowledgement of the fact that there are some things or events one cannot control.

My pursuit of an academic degree in another country is one of them.

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Nobody’s perfect *guest post*

Part I

One month ago I came home disappointed and frustrated with my life. My boss (well, one of my two bosses) didn’t give me the money he owed me because of a misunderstanding. The one who misunderstood was me, of course. Anyway, what made me so angry was this idea that someone can promise you something and not go through with it.

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Pulling Teeth and Recent Events

My teeth

My teeth (Photo credit: LShave)

I should definitely apologize to my almost nonexistent number of readers for not posting anything in such a long time, but to be honest, I was quite busy these days. And for good reason!

For example, I’ve joined a metal band! Some old friends of mine got together and decided to have another gig back home. Their bass player has some issues, I’m having too much spare time, so… why not? Trash metal isn’t quite my style, but what the heck, I’m doing this for some friends. As the rehearsals were going on, I’ve actually come to appreciate their songs, their technique, and so on, and to be honest, it was quite the challenge to learn around 10 never-tried-before, picking-till-your-hand-drops-dead kind of songs in 3 weeks (this also gives me a nice excuse for not writing; I had to practice a lot). All in all, it was a great experience, both for me as a new member, as well as for them. I am glad they were patient with me as I was struggling to keep up, and I would like to use this opportunity to thank them for the lovely moments, both in and outside the rehearsal room.

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When in doubt…

I really feel I should write about something. I really do. Just to get a sense of purpose as I drag my carcass along the summer days. So far, my bucket list is far from over, but my batteries are almost fully charged.

Heat. That’s what cities mean to me. The heat in this town is very dusty. It is as if the earth sweats dust as the cars recklessly roll by in the Sun. The inevitable gathering of dark clouds, the disgusting smell of rain as it washes the heat, and dust, and rash, leaving giant holes in the tarmac, just like the post-acne scars. To cope with this everlasting issue, the authorities built roundabouts and created new intersections in order to make the traffic smoother.

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Ever had the Feeling you are Home…

… but not feeling quite like it?

Tomorrow will mark the end of the second week of me being back home. Although it was a bit too much for me to handle, these two weeks hardly gave me any time to meditate on the ordeal of being here (or there, as I’m writing this post from the seaside).

The thing that struck me the most was how the world changed around you; people that you once knew no longer say hi to you, or places you once went, are either gone or turned to something else entirely. On the other hand, lots of things come in your direction in a very short time: new people, new sensations, secret handshakes, cheap alcohol, and promiscuous women.

Coming home also marked a feeling of closeness that I thought forgotten; In general, I have come to notice that the young people from my home town are more lively, funny, and filled with some really nice positive vibes, even though the economic conditions are dire. This whole change and everything makes you aware of how unimportant your person is.

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roses.txt (guest post)

2 a.m. , thinking about you
standing at the window
staring at some… nothing, just looking down
(my sight could now easily get to China … or Australia, or something like that)

and I’m wondering
if the roses from my neighbours’ garden last ‘till you come home
(and if they do, will you still love them when I’ll bring them to you? or you’ve changed in the meantime, too?)
‘cause that’s the flower that you like, the rose

it makes me think that you’re so mainstream,
most of the time;
(and there’s nothing wrong about being mainstream…)

5 a.m. , after kind-of-an-argument with you over the phone
but the roses wither
so they won’t last
as long as we want them to last

and I can clearly see a petal detaching,
floating, surfing in the air,
touching the ground with a grave, but practically silent sound
when you say again
that I don’t know what I want
and that I’m acting like a girl…

(and what saddens me is that you actually may be right.)

Why Blog?

Before I started venturing in the blogosphere, I’ve read a couple of books about blogging in general. Nothing important, just some tricks and tips to get things going. However, the thing that is central to a blog, at least according to the books, is the community that forms around it. This doesn’t look like much but is that so?

The thing that really comes into my mind when I speak about a blog is loneliness. I simply feel that blogging is something for lonely and frustrated people. Of course, I’m not talking here about the blogs that are strictly focused on information about a particular topic.

How sad must it be to talk about yourself on the internet! It’s not as if everyone has extremely entertaining lives that are worth being written about. Why blog? Is it some sort of modern art? An act of a rebellious hipster? Or if you put your life (or cat for that matter) out there on the internet it suddenly gets transformed into something worthwhile?

The main advantage of a blog is that it offers a voice to anyone. It’s just a problem of separating the white noise from the actual sounds. I know I’ve moved away from the subject for a bit, but what do you think about blogging in general? Is it for sad people or not? Feel free to agree/disagree in the comment section.

Till the next burst of random access thoughts.