Friday, August 28, 2009

My first Friday evening in Chapel Hill: a reception

Tonight is a reception at John Stephens’ house. John Stephens is the executive director of the Centre of European Studies and, for those of you who attended Andre Krouwel’s course in Political Sociology, the first Stephens in Rueschemeyer, Stephens and Stephens; the authors of Capitalism and Democracy. He and his wife Evelyne Huber (also a professor here) host the TAM beginning of the year reception. TAM is a master’s programme which requires students to spend one year of their studies at a European University. One of my classmates (the TAM students attend PhD courses) is going to stay in Amsterdam next year and has just had his first Dutch class. Some of what he says sounds indeed a bit Dutch….

By the end of this first week I have more or less sorted out my classes. I will attend Liesbet’s class in European politics as I wrote before. Furthermore I will take a Statistics/ Math course and Gary’s course in Scope and Methods. The other students take four courses (one TAM student even six – but the other students have predicted he will not survive the end of the semester), but since I have VU-obligations as well, three will give me a busy enough schedule.

I am about the finish my Starbucks breakfast and it’s time to do some work.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

First day

And here I am, at UNC Chapel Hill North Carolina. It took about twenty hours for me to get here and for my suitcase about 35 hours, but now we really are in the Southern United States. I have been told that I am lucky that it is not so humid and hot anymore, but as a snow- and ice-lover I am waiting for Fall (I have decided that I will need to use this American equivalent of the true English word for this season, since they won't understand me if I use the word Autumn) to set in in about 6 weeks time when temperatures will no longer reach 30 degrees Celsius and humidity will really have dropped.

At the moment I am at the Centre for European Studies where they have set me up with passwords, an ID card and internet access. The Centre is my host here and Erica has kindly showed me around campus this morning. It is a bit different from the VU campus. It has more buildings, more cafes, more trees and parks and more students and staff. The buildings vary enormously in their beauty. Where the CES is only a few years old and very modern, the Political Science building is quite horrendous. It was actually built as a fortress in the seventies to be able to withstand any new student revolt. Some of the rooms don't even have windows.

That is it for the surroundings for now. Tonight I have my first lecture about European Integration, Political Parties and Multilevel Governance. I am really looking forward to getting to know Stein Rokkan a bit better!