Saturday, September 12, 2009


No, I did not go on a field trip to a rainforest. This is the view just behind my apartment building and it is not a extraordinary spot in Chapel Hill. As soon as you have left campus and are past the two shopping streets this is actually what it looks like here. A lot of green and hilly (although the slope is difficult to make out in the picture). For it to be so green with these temperatures it has to rain regularly of course, and it does. I have not been caught in any heavy showers yet, but that is just luck judging by the abundance of umbrellas in stores that can easily match the stock in stores in Amsterdam.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Swine Flu/ Mexican Flu

With Universities and schools starting after the Summer, the Swine Flu, as they call it here, has plenty of opportunity to spread around in dorms, libraries and class rooms. At UNC several hundreds of student have fallen ill and today I had the first empty seat in my class. He has not been tested positive for H1N1 yet, but the student of another Professor of mine has, so the virus is coming closer. UNC has sofar not created Swine Flu Houses as at Carnegie Mellon University where they isolate all victims in an abondoned dorm to keep the virus from spreading (New York Times, Sept 5). The University here advises us to wash our hands often and when you do catch the virus, to quarantine yourself until the fever has dropped. In the meantime the healthy students are pretty confident they won't catch Swine Flu - they don't keep swines at home.....

Saturday, September 5, 2009


The Comparative Politics course took me to Liesbet and Gary’s house where they teach their courses in their living room. We are with seven students and, if I am correct, only one of us is American. It was the first time I actually read a piece written by Haas himself. I am really looking forward to reading the other classics as well. It is amazing to realise what they imagined the European Community to become when it was only in its diapers and to see, with hindsight, which of their 'predictions' came through and where they went utterly wrong. Next week Moravcsik!

Key Lime Pie

It is been a week since my last report. That is not because nothing has happened, but rather because they keep me very busy here.

Let me first spend a short note on last week’s reception. It was at John Stephen’s and Evelyne Huber’s house as you might remember. At the beginning of the party I was rather intimidated being in the room with so many of the researchers whose work I have read and admired and with bright young students who got into the TAM program. But a few minutes later we got our food from the same table and our drinks from the same bar and we mingled (or sort of, I didn’t dare walking up to John Stephens and Milada Vachudova was busy taking care of her baby). I met the TAM students who will come to the VU next year and their Dutch professor with whom I talked Dutch for the first time in three days. He explained to me that he came to study Dutch and Dutch Culture and Politics because he liked the Dutch approach to politics; practical and not too polarized. I did not ask him when he studied.

I was also introduced to a Carolina specialty: Key Lime Pie. This desert is similar to a Limburgse vlaai with lemon flavour and topped off with whipped cream. I must say it is quite delicious. Nobody could, however, explain to me what kind of keys gave their name to the pie.

The rest of the weekend I spend searching for a supermarket, finishing my research proposal and doing my Math homework for the Statistics course. It had been some time since I had to simplify and fraction equations and although I had never before ‘completed the square’ and the quadratic formula looked only slightly familiar, I decided to drop this course and challenge myself a bit more by entering the Time Series Analysis course. I have had my first class and I will have plenty to do the following weeks!