28 July 2008

Guess what I forgot...

Looking at my last post, I find it quite funny that I actually managed to forget my toothbrush, but hey, whatever - I remembered my labcoat & glasses and that's the important thing.

Anyway. No medals for Norway this year, not even an honourable mention (10% receive a gold medal, 20% silver, 30% bronze, 4% honourable mention), so we're amongst the 36% worst of the best in the world (already I'm not making any sense). Whatever. Someone needs to end 212th. I sort of messed up the practical exam by knocking over some acid and my burette was being very evil so I didn't have enough time to do a thin layer chromotography. The theoretical exam was even worse - forgot everything I knew about organic chemistry (which is very little anyway) so I got very little points there. Well, anyway, I'm just happy I didn't end last. I actually got 29 something points, out of a 100, which means I managed to do almost 3/10 of it. w00t!! Lowest exam score ever for me!

But I did have fun, obviously! Easily the best ten days of my life! First two days in Switzerland (/France), to see...
Mont Blanc (I'm on Aiguille du Midi, 3842 m above sea level. We took a cable car up, btw, lol)

CERN (ATLAS is way too big for my camera)

Then Budapest itself: beautiful!

They put our mentors into a 4 star spa hotel on an island in the middle of the Danube, with beautiful views of the city, while we (that is, the students) were shipped off to a uni campus complex an hour's drive from the city. Probably a good thing *coughcheapwinecough*
We had a sightseeing-filled programme. As the only chemistry-related things were two 5-hour exams, there was plenty of time. Basically we were kicked out of bed before 7 AM each morning, then after a rather dodgy breakfast in the even dodgier campus cafeteria (the non-veggie food died sometime back in the 70s by the looks of it and the veggie food was swimming in salty oil) we were hounded into buses each bearing the name of a chemical element. I wonder what I did to deserve the beryllium bus? Oh, don't get me wrong, the other people on the bus were great, but beryllium is one of the nastiest elements around.
The sightseeing left something to be desired, to be honest. Of course we all tried to sleep on the bus but this guide kept telling us to look left and right to look at various huge buildings (which were usually rather uninteresting, big glass & concrete things that were the HQ of some company or other, jeez). And then... "...to the left you can just glimpse the ruins of a Roman amphitheatre, and to the right more Roman ruins, but now they're gone. We're not gonna stop here." Yeah, all right, whatever. We had a busy schedule. Had to go to Visegrad to see the medieval knight show.
Rotflol. Actually it was rather good - they could fight pretty well (though it was quite obviously fake) and there were a couple of good archers (plus guys throwing ninja star things, yaay).

Despite the sightseeing (or maybe because of the sightseeing) there was plenty of time to talk to people. Not everybody spoke English very well though, but we became good friends with the Swedes, the Danes, the Germans, the Slovenians, the Canadians, well just about everyone we met and talked to (there were some 250 students there, no chance of getting to know everyone, unfortunately).
Funny things happened at the olympiad. The Dutch team started getting anonymous letters from a fellow Dutchie... *grins* Guess who. I had 'forgotten' to tell them I was Dutch, and spoken English to them from day 1. Amongst other things I failed wonderfully when "trying" to pronounce Dutch words (they were the ones laughing then... but not for long) so that I would not seem suspicious. It was brilliant. Though I deliberately messed up my handwriting they were still comparing it to the team games list (where everyone was supposed to write down their name). Luckily I had, in a moment of paranoia, asked someone else to write my name there for me so my handwriting would not be on the list. Mwahahaha...

All in all, I had an absolutely wonderful time and did not want to go back home. Going from a campus complex filled with chemistry geeks from all over the world, and back to my boring hometown where people don't even know what a molecule is, is probably the most depressing thing I've ever experienced.
To be completely honest - I was having doubts about my uni application. Why the hell am I not going to study chemistry? I had applied for a chemistry study at NTNU (Trondheim uni), but in the end I decided to continue with the ancient history thing in Amsterdam (but damn, I *will* study chemistry as well, even if it means staying up half the night!!).

I thought I had the uni application mess sorted out, but nooo.... I still haven't got a room. I've subscribed to this room organization, and I will get a room sooner if I can prove I live in Norway. Unfortunately, the city council is being unusually slow. Then there's the scholarships. I decided to get a Norwegian one because Dutch bureaucracy sucks. Now I need to prove that I am a student at Amsterdam uni. I have a proof of admission thing from the uni, but it's in Dutch, and it doesn't say what I have to pay in tuition fees (which the Norwegian scholarship people want to know, obviously). So I sent the uni a very nice email asking if they could please send me some proof of admission in English, where it also says what the tuition fees are. The reply: "We sent you a Dutch proof of admission. Get it translated".

Sure, no problem. Dutch to Norwegian translation by an authorised translator. Cheapest thing in the world *urge to kick something*

Ah well. Two weeks till I leave! Somehow I'll get it all sorted out (payed my tuition fees today... tuition fees suck. Education should be free!) and find a place to sleep. I'm looking forward to seeing my Dutch family again, plus the Dutch chemistry olympiad team (though one of them is still a bit pissed at me because of the letters, lol).

Buda castle by night! They'd hired a luxury river boat for the evening after the last exam, and we got to see our mentors again. Except for the rain storm that came out of nowhere, it was wonderful :) And no, it wasn't just the wine (which wasn't cheap on that boat, it was free, lol)


Kirsten Campbell said...

Sounds like you had a great time, even with the lack of medals. All that cheap wine should've compensated for that, anyway. ;)

Not to mention Budapest looks absolutely beautiful, judging from the pic.

Re: the medieval show. Were there many ninjas in medieval Budapest? Unless they're stalking you. :)

Hjørdis Johanne said...

Aiguille du Midi!!!!
Det er vakkert..Rett og slett nydelig. Neste gang du er i de trakter, kommer jeg til aa vaere meg deg, og da skal du paa Mont Blanc, banna bein!:)

Gabriele C. said...

Lol, you're one evil, sneaky girl. You should write Roman mysteries. Marcus and the Mysterious Letters. :)

I studied Biology and Literature / Comparative Linguistics for some time but gave up on Biology eventually. The buildings for the Natural Sciences were out of town while the Philological Faculties were in the centre, so I spent what I got in the way of breaks getting there and back again, living off mars bars and coffe which was too unhealthy in the long run.

Hjørdis Johanne said...

CERN!!!!!!!jeg vil dit.....!
hadde mitt forste mote med hasj her om dagen forresten..for all del, det var ikke jeg som royka den, men ei hjemlos dame som ville ha litt hjelp me aa knyte paa seg skjerfet sitt.
altsaa, det var IKKE jeg som royka jointen. godt, da var det klargjort. kommer aa besoker deg i lopet av vaaren 2009, skal dsessverre bare vaere her i et halvt ord. pensum er en del annerledes en det norske, for aa si det saann. 17-18 aaringer som laerer hva et drivhus er i forbindelse med en INNFORING i global oppvarming. trenger jeg aa si mer??
aa, jo..en ting til. elev: "miss bishop, who is that bishop that you've got hanging on your wall"?
miss bishop:" that is gregor mendel. we was a european munk that did a lot of scientific research."
elev:" wow..."
miss bishop:" ja, he was an interesting man, girls. you'll be learning about him next year, so you might get some questions about him in your matric(senior) paper".
huff, de har ikke en gang laert elementar bioteknologihistorie. skal ikke disse skolesystemet, men du skjonner vel at dette ikke gaar.
snakkes til jul, iallfall! hoho. spesielle onsker for julegave fra sor-afrika?

det bor nevnes at mamma og pappa er skeptisk til det hele. jeg provede aa fortelle dem det samme jeg forteller deg, men tror ikke de skjonner at dette er stoff vi laerte i 8.ende. huff.

Smarty said...

Kirsten - the ninjas were *everywhere*. At one point one of our mentors even tied a ninja-band around his head (one of the Japanese mentors had given him a tablecloth or something as a souvenir, but we figured it was cooler as a ninja-band).

Lol, Gabriele, I can totally picture Marcus writing anonymous letters in the hope it'll confuse Civilis in some way. Maybe I'd better strangle that bunny before it has a chance to grow :P

Hjørdis, klart vi skal opp på Mont Blanc sammen en gang:D Tror jeg trenger et fjellklatringskurs først - for tida bestiger jeg bare Raudhammarn :P Og så vil jeg bruke litt tid på komme meg opp - altså ikke fra 1000 m til 3842 på litt over en halvtime *altfor tynn luft*
Og herregud... Jeg trodde det norske skolesystemet var tragisk (og det er det også, når man ser på resultatene i diverse realfagsolympiader...). Kanskje like greit du kommer hjem til Phollo ;) Oppfordrer deg forresten til å lese kjemi til du dør av utmattelse :?
Er ikke sikker om jeg kommer hjem til jul (kanskje det blir julefeiring hos oma, kanskje det blir jobbing i ferskvaren hjemme), men du må komme innom i påska :D Ønsker meg noe tja... sørafrikansk til jul? haha... stoler på deg :) Hvordan går det med Kvikk Lunsj-abstinensene forresten?
Og så, lady bob, må du sende meg adressa di sånn at jeg kan skrive brev (har et 9-siders ett liggende på pulten, men konvolutten mangler adresse!)