extemporanea: a picture of the Trifid Nebula (Default)
[personal profile] extemporanea
Today was a very bitty day - broken up by a group meeting and a German lesson - so I planned to accomplish little tasks instead of big projects, and was generally successful. I sorted out health insurance (finally! and more on that in a minute), transferred all my data from my old department to my new department, organised my desk and made notes on the papers I've read this week.

The group meeting was good, and the first one EVER, actually, as the dynamics group is new and not previously established. My boss only started here 12, maybe 18, months ago, I'm not exactly sure. Recently, anyway. And he got a grant to form a new dynamics group here, which he has done. There are seven of us in total; my boss, three postdocs and three PhD students. One of the students is actually half way through a year-long visit here, and one of the postdocs has been here for three months already. The rest of us all started in the past two weeks. So the group meetings are very much what we want to make them, there is no precedent here - the idea is that we come along with anything of interest; stuff we're working on and stuck on/puzzled about, interesting results we find, interesting papers we read, reports on conferences we went to. If they continue to be as good as the meeting today then they will be great - everyone in the group is fantastic and the meeting was useful, can't ask for better than that!

The German lesson was okay; I find the pace of the classes a little slow. My first class was fine, but then it was the fifth class for everyone else so I had four lessons to catch up on (which I did fine). The group is great (although will be split in two as there are too many of us for the room, the smaller classes will be beneficial too), very friendly and the classes are a laugh. The teacher is quite a character too. The classes are predominantly in English (when we're not speaking German - I imagine (hope!) that the English:German ratio will change as we learn more) and I'm the only native English speaker out of 17 of us. It's quite fun because he'll often get people to translate things into their own languages (and occasionally he'll get me to say the English because he likes my accent!) - for example, we were doing jobs today and so he got everyone to say the job in their own language. All together we have people from France, Italy, Spain, China, Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, Iran, Taiwan, Sweden and India - I know this as "I come from ..." is one of the phrases we have learned!

Anyway, health insurance isn't something that I've ever had to deal with before, so this was all a bit new to me. People who get a salary get health insurance as part of the job, but people on a stipend (that's me) have to sort it out for themselves. The department gave me a list of health insurers they recommend and what they cover for what cost, etc, but I was still a bit clueless. They all seemed to cover roughly the same thing though. I ended up going with one company that had a package for visiting scientists as I figured that was designed for people just like me! I was a bit surprised to find something so specific, I guess it just shows how many people (scientists) come to work here.

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extemporanea: a picture of the Trifid Nebula (Default)
extemporanea

October 2010

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