extemporanea: a picture of the Trifid Nebula (Default)
I didn't sleep at all well last night, despite being really tired and I woke up this morning feeling pretty rough; the cold I had anticipated yesterday seemed certain to be a reality pretty soon - but it never showed up and I felt better and better throughout the day.

First thing this morning, I tried to arrange a test drive for a car. It cannot be said to have gone well. I called up and asked if they spoke English; the guy I spoke to obviously didn't have amazing English skills but he knew enough to understand me when I said I wanted to arrange a test drive and he transferred me through to the appropriate person. I then asked him if he spoke English. A little bit, he said. Now in my experience so far, everyone answers the question with "yes, a little bit" and then they are amazing at the whole English thing. This guy was the exception that proves the rule. I said that I wanted to arrange a test drive and he replied in German. I told him that I didn't understand and repeated slowly and clearly that I wanted a test drive (hoping he would understand and that "a little bit" meant he would understand phrases related to his work and that I am not the first English-speaker to want a test drive) - he replied again in German. So I just said (again) that I didn't understand and thank you and hung up because otherwise we were going to go around in circles.

This was somewhat frustrating. Mostly, I was frustrated with myself for not speaking the language, because I really don't know anything - I am taking lessons (more on that in a bit) but I can't say anything useful yet. And yeah, I was kind of pissed off at the guy, not because of the German thing (because it is totally me who sucks here - I am the one who is at fault for not speaking German, he is in no way at fault for not speaking English) but because he said yes he spoke some English when he obviously didn't. All he needed to say was no, and then I would have said okay, thanks and moved on with my life. Instead there was horrendous confusion with us both speaking different languages at each other and getting absolutely nowhere and I ended up just feeling like shit. I could have done without that.

After the phone debacle, I took a tram out to Eppelheim as I had seen a nice flat advertised there but didn't know what the area was like and wanted to have a look around. It seems okay but I don't think I want to live there; a little too far out from Heidelberg for me, and the flat was actually on the main street, which isn't ideal. The pictures did look nice though, so maybe I will have a look anyway - there's not much to be had by way of flats at the moment, so I can't afford to be too picky!

When I finally got into work, I went and got some stationary from the receptionist, my desk is looking more like someone lives there now, it's good! And then after lunch, I had my first German lesson. The teacher is great, he spent a lot of time bantering with the class, so it was a really relaxed atmosphere, but we actually got through quite a lot. I have missed the first four classes, but was able to pick things up okay, so it's not the end of the world.

After the lesson, I had a meeting with Glenn, who continues to be awesome; he's such a nice guy. At lunch (after I had explained about my telephone woes this morning) he had offered to call around for me if I needed help and then gave me lots of advice and info about cars and related issues in Germany and also offered to give me the details of the guy he went to for car insurance as he spoke good English and got good deals. So the first thing he did when we started the meeting was give me this insurance guy's details. And the repeat the offer to call around if I needed help, or just generally offer to help in anyway. Did I mention how he is awesome?

And the we chatted about science and he suggested some good papers for me to read, so it looks like I'm going to be busy reading next week. And we've arranged a time to go over the data and code he has (that I will eventually be modifying) a week monday.

Now though, now it is the weekend and I so need one of those!
extemporanea: a picture of the Trifid Nebula (Default)
My day today was filled with talks; first there was Galaxy Coffee in the morning and then a Theory Meeting in the afternoon. Neither were on topics I know very much about or am particularly interested in and I was so tired, so I honestly didn't pay that much attention, though I tried! I met some more people though, which is good, and everyone seems really nice and everyone seems to get on reasonably well.

The rest of my day, as yesterday, was spent working on my thesis corrections - I think I'm nearly done!

I think I might be getting a cold though, my throat is just beginning to hurt and I'm exhausted (which also could be attributed to the busy week I've had - or maybe this is chicken and egg). Do not want.

First day

Oct. 4th, 2010 07:29 pm
extemporanea: a picture of the Trifid Nebula (Default)
Today was my first day at the MPIA and, as I suspected it was mostly filled with admin tasks and no actual work was done at all.

My day started with some fun and games with the buses. It turns out my watch is a couple of minutes slow and so when I decided I had time to go and buy breakfast before getting on the bus, I managed to miss the bus I had intended to get to Bizmarckplatz. No worries, I had planned to get the earlier bus than I needed just in case this happened, and they run every 10 minutes so its not like I had to wait long for the next one. Only the next bus was a couple of minutes late and got stuck in traffic so I just missed the bus up to Konigstuhl. The bus timetable said there were buses at 00 and 35 minutes past the hour, so I went and found myself a coffee then waited and waited.... No bus arrived. Ten minutes after it was due, I gave up and decided to walk through the old town and get the funicular instead (actually, this possibly took slightly longer than waiting for the next bus, but it was a pretty journey and I was less bored by waiting). This only reinforced my decision to buy a car because one bus an hour - not so useful.

When I arrived, I was met by Glenn (my new supervisor, who is completely awesome) and also given a list of people+offices+jobs - the idea was that I went to visit each person in their office, introduced myself and then learned what they do and how they can help me (and also got them to sign my form, which I then had to hand back in to prove that I had completed all my tasks!). So I had a tour of the library, met the travel people, the admin people who gave me more forms to fill out, the computer people and got myself an email account and the technical people who also gave me a key to the department. While I was busy collecting signatures, I also met Remco, the other postdoc Glenn has hired; he also started today and was wandering around clutching his form too and he seems cool.

Once I had seen everyone, it was lunch time, so we all met for lunch; we being Glenn, Remco and me, and two PhD students he is working with - Ronald, who has been at the MPIA for a while and a-girl-whose-name-I-have-forgotten who was also new today. Everyone is really nice and it seems like a fantastic group! It should be good. I'm sharing an office with two other people; one wasn't in today, but I met Tatiana and she seems nice and very friendly so that'll be great too.

Once lunch had been accomplished there wasn't really much I could do in the department as I didn't have internet access at that point, so I went back to town again. I need to register because I will be living here for more than 3 months and had thought to get that done but they closed at midday so I'll do that first thing tomorrow. Once that's done I can get a bank account and then I can start to get health insurance and a mobile phone and other fun things. There's so much to do! I did manage to do some useful things with my afternoon though - I bought myself a monthly bus pass and finally went food shopping :)


extemporanea: a picture of the Trifid Nebula (Default)

October 2010

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