I found out since being here that the French, being the French, have been the only country to rename their Pokémon into more French names. A Psyduck for example has become a Psykokwak here. Totally bizarre and pretty useful information but I enjoyed it just the same. This is relevant today due to my Pokémon advent calendar my mum got me, and I would have written the word for Advent Calendar in this post but it’s pretty obvious and I felt like a bit of an idiot asking my housemate what the word was for him to reply “Calendrier de l’Avent.”
I learned this word (soul mate) while procrastinating during revision and taking a weird Facebook test that tells me who my soulmate is. Luckily, it turned out to be my boyfriend.
I’m a bit nervous for my exam that I’m revising for. It’s 3 hours long on one question and could be anything to do with Europe at all, from les Trente Glorieuses to Brexit. I’ve no idea the detail to revise so I’m just going for it as much as I can. It’s a Masters in another language so I’m hoping they go easy on us poor Erasmus students. Time will tell!
Today I felt very under the weather and I’m not sure why, but my housemate being the legend that he is gave me a pill called Doliprane, which (and maybe this is obvious I don’t know) is a type of paracetamol in France. The pills here are enormous though. But it helped and I hope I get better soon because I really need to revise.
I understand I am late to the party with starting my blog but wanted to get a really good understanding of my placement before doing so. I am working as a research assistant in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. I am between two teams, in two offices, on the site. I want to make research sound more appealing than it usually does as I am having such a good time here!
I started work here at the beginning of October, arriving alongside two other interns also from Bath. This was nice as I wasn't the only newbie in the department! Since then myself and the other two interns have become good friends, spending lunch breaks together most days. Oxford is a very social city with a lot happening, so there is also lots to do in the evenings and at weekends. Our work membership card allows us entry to all the colleges in Oxford which are lovely to look around. Since being here we have been to try out a couple of local bars, as well as having some fun meals out with the rest of our work team.
In terms of work, I have dabbled in SPSS which I never thought I would even begin to understand before but now can do multiple (very, very basic) functions in with the help of the support here. I have also written a literature review which will be published in a book next year and been invited to partake in some field work which starts in January. The work is really diverse and covers many areas, ranging from; early education techniques to parenting apps, child development to school design and also publicising papers. I run the department Twitter page which gives me a basic understanding of marketing, as well as being able to engage with 'hot off the press' studies. With my ideal career focusing around Educational Psychology and teaching, all the studies which our department are involved with are interesting to me.
There is also a huge amount of support for my Dissertation, with multiple Bath students interning here over the past few years there is a bank of their dissertation's which we are welcome to read, as well as the online Oxford library service we have access too. The staff here are also keen to help, and many have relevant and specific areas of specific interest which you can tap into in conversations. We have weekly seminars with the Professor of Educational Psychology here where we either look at past dissertations or papers which are relevant to our own areas of interest. This allows us to read the papers with the help of the Professor, which makes you see them in a different way. I have found these sessions to be near vital in steering my interests towards a specific theme for my final study. I feel I would have taken much longer to conclude what I wanted to research if just choosing alone.
The main thing I appreciate about the placement is the level of respect I feel from the other members of the team. We are not treated as 'interns' but instead given the same roles and responsibilities as staff who have worked here long-term. This is rewarding as much of the work you do is in relation to real life on-going projects, so the repercussions of your work can be seen in current policy and literature.
I will follow this post with others on I am working on, starting your dissertation while on placement and what it is like living in Oxford.
Seen you soon!
This is a phrase I learnt from my friend I went for a drink with and it means “train, work, sleep”, so it’s something similar to English “eat sleep work repeat”. I understand his point since he is doing a phd in physics, but he still gets out a fair amount if you ask me, and they seem to have the longest lunch breaks in the world here. It was a nice night except one strange drunk guy who wouldn’t leave me alone but I couldn’t help thinking that he was the only one drunk, whereas in England everyone seems to be; it’s a completely different culture.
Tonight walking home I witnessed my first French protest. I couldn’t quite work out what they were actually protesting because they just shouting and blowing whistles but I think it was something to do with the police.
This is a very specific word because it means “fillet of duck breast”. I ate with my family at a very upmarket restaurant, which was nice but probably not worth the money. I had the duck and my uncle had snail ravioli and he let me try some and it was disgusting but mostly because it reminded me of my “intoxication alimentaire” post. Yuck. But the sauce it was in was okay at least.
Today I was showing my grandma and uncle round Aix as they have come to visit me. I’ve shared some pictures below but I learned the phrase “faire la gueule” which means to pull a face or have a strop, as a very cute but very loud French girl was doing just that in the middle of the square.
This week I had the opportunity to attend for the second year in a roll the Prague Agenda Conference. Since President Obama’s 2009 announcement of his long-term nuclear disarmament vision in Prague - in his iconic Prague Speech - and the following signing of the 2010 US-Russia START Treaty, Prague has established itself as a venue for discussion and taking stock of issues related to nuclear arms control, nuclear security, disarmament and non-proliferation. Also, with the recent presidential election in the U.S., an expert workshop was organised on "The Future of the Prague Agenda under a new US Administration". It was in such a context that I attended both an academic and political conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Czech Republic.
The Czech MFA, headquartered at the Czernin Palace
The event counted with top level academics and officials, including the former UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Angela Kane. I guess it is needless to say that I really enjoyed being in such an environment, and also being able to informally chat with prominent academics in the field I want to write my dissertation on.
Yet, I have to admit that the most remarkable moment of this conference was the field trip to a former Soviet military base "Javor 51" in the region of Brdy, south of Prague. Javor 51 is one of the three military bases in Czech Republic where Soviet nuclear weapons were reportedly stored during the Cold War - and the only one that was preserved. It is also the sole facility of its kind in the world that is open to the public. Recently, the former top-secret area was made into a museum, which features a unique exhibition of historic artifacts and information panels about nuclear weapons and energy.
Inside the underground facility for 90 unforgettable minutes
Personally relating to nuclear weapons is not an easy exercise for someone who was born after the end of the Cold War. Even though we have North Korea occasionally performing nuclear tests, or Iran wanting to get hold of the bomb but being held back by the international community, nukes are just not in the mainstream media or in the daily conversation of an average citizen.
For this reason, I was extremely grateful for being given the chance to come down that steep staircase into what was a sobering moment that made me reflect immensely about the work I'm carrying on.
"Fat Man" cut open with its solid plutonium core visible
While watching our guide explain how the Nagasaki "fat man" bomb works - with a real model in front of him - I was reminded that all the destruction it caused 71 years ago is peanuts compared to the power of modern H-bombs and their improved delivery systems. The trip back to Prague was haunting.
This means respectively: spade, club, heart, diamond.
I learned this playing a drinking game with my housemates and his four friends that are visiting us. We were playing a game where you had to guess what suit a card was, and I couldn’t hear what ‘diamond’ was let alone pronounce it, so I always said cœur or tref. It’s really good practise to speak in an environment like that though because it totally forces you, and paired with the vin blanc we were drinking it made for a very French and surprisingly fluent night. I’m so glad I live with housemates my own age and I’d advise anyone else to do the same.