Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Presentation Day

(That's hello in Swedish! Sounds kind of like "hah-low-a"

So today was in fact the big day, and I think we did pretty well! Professor Lair of course rocked it as usual; I feel like I did alright but there's definitely room for improvement (as always). We did have quite a few questions and suggestions from the audience, but, in Lair's words, no one eviscerated us, so that was good! haha. It was super intimidating to be up there in front of a bunch of academics who make their living doing research, but at the same time really great experience for me. It was helpful to be able to observe Professor Lair and the other presenters ask and respond to questions and to get a feel for the way other conferences work. After seeing several other presentations I feel like our research fits in really well with the other topics in this conference and at the same time is something new that no on else is really looking at. I was actually surprised that there weren't any other studies on the minimum wage! In any case, it went well and I think it was well received. From observing other presentations I also feel like I've gotten some good ideas about how to and how not to give an effective presentation which is extremely helpful. 

Doing great work! 

After our presentation we took a break for coffee and delicious carrot cake! We also made a friend, a lovely economist from the University of Vermont with whom we chatted about academic things for a while and then she gave us some tips on what to see in the city on our day off. Before lunch I went to a session on gender bias in recruitment which was really interesting! The presentation that was most interesting to me was a comparative study of women in IT jobs in Germany and India, ask me when I get back and I can tell you more about it if you'd like.

After lunch I came back here to the hostel to do some work before the big gala dinner this evening. Professor Lair and I made plans to meet at the train station so we could head over together (the best laid plans...). Turns out we both had different meeting places in mind and I forgot to bring my directions to the place with me so the fancy dinner didn't happen unfortunately. But, I did go to another kebab place and had a fun interaction with the waiters there. I handed the dude my credit card and a copy of my passport and he looks up at me and goes "United States of America!" with this big goofy grin on his face and I said, "yep." Then he says, "91! Young!" with the same goofy grin. I laughed at this (attn.: Sarah & Brian). Finally he handed me back my card and ID and asked if I was working in "the Stockholm" to which I informed him no, just visiting. After getting my food I sort of wanted ketchup and although I knew it was kind of a long shot I got up to look at the counter to see if there were condiments. The waiter saw me and was like "what do you need? salt? salt? the salt is right here! salt!" So although I really didn't want any salt, I felt obligated to take a couple of packets haha. Despite that weirdness it was cool to sit in there and listen to everyone speaking Swedish around me and have no idea what was going on. It is a really neat language to listen to, to me it sounds like a combination of French and German and before you ask, no, they don't all sound like Beaker or Dr. Bunsen. 

So that was my day, now I'm back here at the hostel about to do some reading. Tomorrow we're going to explore the city for a bit which I'm really excited about! That means I'll have more cool pictures, which I hope you're excited about too! :) 

Goodnight everyone! 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Swedish metro, Swedish President, Swedish hors d'oeuvres, but no Swedish meatballs.

ILPC Conference - Day 1

Today. was. awesome.

7:30AM: Breakfast, a delicious ham, cheese, and lettuce sandwich with a glass of orange juice, barefoot in the most adorable trendy hostel cafe.

8-9:40AM: Chillin' in the hostel, reading some Weber, updating the blog, etc.

10:15AM: Meet Lair at Cityterminalen (the main bus station) and (SUCCESSFULLY) navigate Stockholm's super easy metro (woo hoo!). Observations: Swedes seem to be quiet, reserved people and dogs are allowed on the metro. Also "upp" seems to mean "up" and "under" seems to mean "under." 

10:45AM: Arrive at Stockholm University and on the way to the Aula Magna meet Joan Greenbaum from CUNY, one of the keynote speakers. She's sort of lost too, so you bond over that (cool). Here are some pics of the campus:

several of the buildings on this part of the campus were done in this same kind of lodgy-lots of windows style

the next two photos are of the hall where the opening reception and key note speeches were held, very rustic feeling!

11:30AM - 4:45PM: Listen to a couple of keynote speeches, be really lost when they start talking about theory; thankfully Prof. Lair the theorist is there to fill me in! (THANK YOU!) Attend some really cool presentations about work life balance (more on those later, I left my notes with Professor Lair), learn a new (British?) term: banana time (google it!), and pal around with some real life sociologists. Turns out there are delegates here from 26 different countries, 6 of us are Americans! Eat a small cheese, lettuce, and red pepper sandwich, the cheese here is SO GOOD. Start to get really excited about the presentation tomorrow.

5-6PM: Work feverishly on calculations for the presentation tomorrow. 

6:30: Reception at the Stockholm City Hall (complete with wine and interesting hors d'oeuvres) in the Golden Room where they hold the Nobel prize ball every year, nbd. Learn there are "over 18 millions of mosaics" tiles and 10 kilos of gold in the room, cool. Be welcomed by Margareta Björk, Madam President of Stockholm city council, super cool. (Fun facts: of the 12 city council members, 6 of them are women and of the 101 city council members, 54 of them are women!) Get your picture taken with Madam President of the city council, NBD. This day: boom, roasted. 

 Stockholm city hall from a distance
 some other cool building (perhaps the congress hall?) across the road from city hall
 inside the Golden Hall, this is the goddess of the lake who holds Stockholm (the center of the world) in her lap
 Professor Lair and I with Madam President!!
 view from the back of city hall. you can see the old town to the left of the photo. 
 more city hall. it was finished in 1923 but a lot of the architecture is strangely Arabic/moorish looking. 
the old town

8:30PM: End the day with an apple and a giant chocolate chip cookie from the 7/11 down the street? Feels just like I'm back in Gettysburg. 

Presentation tomorrow morning at 9, wish us luck! 


I made it! (Or the adventures of Katie and the astounding globalization machine)

Hello everyone!

As indicated by the title of this post, I'M HERE! Professor Lair and I made it successfully through three airports (Heathrow is HUGE) and the accompanying security checks, two flights, and the first night here in Stockholm. The hostel I'm staying at (City Backpackers) is awesome, very clean, very cool, very friendly. It's only been one night and already I'd highly recommend it if you're looking for a cheap place to stay in Stockholm (free pasta 24/7! attn. Brian Denu: tonight there is a thing called the "Swedish Meatball Experience" in which we get to learn how to make traditional Swedish meatballs!! the picture on the flyer is in fact of the chef from the muppets.)
super grainy photo of the outside of the hostel
my home for the next couple nights

Anyway, here's an observation: Sweden looks like Earth.(i.e., looks like Maine, looks like Spain, etc.) I'm not sure why, but I always expect each new country I go to to look in some way distinguishably different from each other country I've been to, but this in fact has not been the case.

#2: Holy globalization, batman! Now I experienced this feeling on multiple occasions last semester while studying abroad, but it is still a little disconcerting to me to travel a day and an ocean away and arrive in a place that quite frankly looks like it could exist anywhere. On the bus ride into the city and during the short jaunt to our respective hotels last night, we passed HP, LG, Ford, Burger King, 7 eleven, what appeared to be a large shopping complex just outside the city, McDonalds (of course), a handful of kebap places (one of which we ate at) that looked just like the ones I saw in Spain, a whole slew of Chinese restaurants... you get the gist. However, we did see one thing that I have never seen anywhere else, a place called Holy Monkey! Is it uniquely Swedish? Who knows.

For those WGS 120 kids out there reading this, I am made acutely aware of the privilege I enjoy as a result of being a native English speaker (invisible privilege!). Find me a major city in the US where every street sign/restaurant menu/important info sign is written in Swedish as well as English (good luck with that). It's crazy to think that I've come to a country that speaks a language I have zero experience with  and still get around with very little trouble just because I had the great fortune of being born in a country that speaks what is quickly becoming a universal language (although Prof. Lair and I did establish that we can say 'thank you' (tack) and 'exit/out' (ut) if necessary). Oh and you know that whole adage 'when all you have is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail'? Well that's me, my hammer is Spanish and all foreign languages I don't understand are nails; every time I hear someone speaking a language I don't understand I start speaking Spanish in my head as if I spoke any other language besides English they might understand. Weird, huh? haha.

For my Urban Soc friends reading this, check out this cool building! I think it's a great example of the whole 'now we can build with steel and glass and it looks really cool so we're going to build it that way' thing:
I apologize for the bad image quality, I couldn't get my camera ready in time to get a better shot.

It's kind of hard to tell but the entire building is made of glass and it of course has the whole flat roof thing going on. Also it's out in the middle nowhere! Somebody show Gibbons and see what he thinks. On a related note, the streets in the part of Stockholm I'm in are very much done after the Parisian model we talked about, wide open and tree lined for the most part.

I know, at this point I'm sure you're just blown away by my picture taking skills. 

In other news, I blew up my hair dryer! 1875 watts > the 1500 watts my adapter apparently supports.  

Well, today is the first day of the conference, hopefully we don't get lost on our way there and I will have more interesting/nerdy things to talk about soon! 

Thanks for reading and enjoy your Tuesday everyone!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

On the road again...

Hello all!

As some of you know (and some of you don't), I am off travelling again! I'll be spending the week in Stockholm, Sweden which is located here:
and looks like this: 

I am writing to you from Dulles airport (which is oddly quiet right now) where I'm waiting to catch our first flight over. I am travelling with my academic and research adviser Professor Craig Lair and we will be presenting our summer research on time and the minimum wage in the European Union at the International Labor Process Conference. We will be arriving in Stockholm at 5:00PM their time on the 26th, which will be 11AM your time. It should be a great week, there are a whole ton of interesting presentations I want to check out as well as just explore the city a little bit. For those of you that have Facebook I'll be posting the links on there, but for those of you that don't, check back often, I'm going to post once a day while I'm here. 

Hope you all have a fantastic Sunday evening and I'll be back tomorrow with  a (hopefully) more interesting post!


Thursday, December 29, 2011

existential crisis

So, I went to Spain. It was pretty cool.
Now I'm back and I have this blog and I'm not really sure what to do with it. I don't really want to post just to throw stuff out there into the interwebs, and I don't really have a vision for this thing as of now, but I have really enjoyed writing the entries. So I'll be thinking. Maybe once I'm working/studying again something will come to me, I'll keep you posted (ha. ha.). I did recently come into quite a few thought-provoking books so maybe this will become my stream-of-consciousness outlet working through those. I don't know, we'll see. Anyway just in case any of you out there were on tenterhooks awaiting my next post (ha. ha.), this is your cue to chill out, take your mouse off the refresh page button, and return to one of your normally scheduled online haunts. Unless of course you've got an idea for this blog, then lay it on me! And thank you for reading, it's been a trip.

Peace out, kids :)

ps. I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Spanish lessons

This is sort of a stream-of-consciousness post, I hope it's not too scattered to follow, and I hope you laugh. Or at least crack a little bit of a smile.

So my dad has taken a sudden interest in Spanish and has asked me to teach him some phrases. Those of you that know my father will probably take great pleasure in reading this. Those of you that don't, this is my dad:
No, that is not his real hair. Yes, he is a BAMF, and yes, he is a gun-toting, immigration disparaging, hegemonically-masculine, "if you come to America you better speak English," conservative republican. Although we rarely see eye-to-eye on such matters, I love him and he'll always be my hero. 

These are the words/phrases he has asked for: 
     Cauliflower: what? why do you want to know how to say cauliflower? ok, well, in anycase, it is coliflor. He didn't try to pronounce this one, just nodded his head in acceptance.
     "my child" or "my daughter": mi niña (mee nee-nyah) or mi hija (mee ee-hah). His attempts at pronouncing these were as follows: " that it? am I saying it right? mee neeena? what was the other one? meeeha? heema? mee-ha!" Yep, close enough.
     "the dumb dog" (directed at our puppy, Pauly. My father has always had a strange way of showing affection): la perra tonta (it's a she, also I don't recommend using this phrase unless it is explicitly clear that you are actually speaking of an actual female dog). "meeaa pero tonto...tonto pero! what is it again? mee peara tanta...(followed by several other variations on this theme, but finally) mee peara tonta!" Go dad, look at you learning Spanish!

     To preface this last one, my dad is a little obsessive compulsive about the bathroom we share. The other night around 11 he rousted me out of my warm snuggly bed in order to instruct me on the proper way to enter and close the shower curtain (I wish I was kidding). This is the conversation that followed: "Let me show you something, let me show you something, how do you get in the shower?" Through the side farthest from the showerhead of course. "No, that is not acceptable, you go like thiiiiiissss (showing me how to open the shower curtain from the side closest to the showerhead), and then like thiiiiis (how to get in), and then you go like thiiiiis (how to close it), and everything is hunky-dory. Kate, say this, 'I am a slob.' I'm going to call up that lady you stayed with in Spain, how do you say 'Hello! I am the father of the slob that just left your place!' in es-pan-ol?" I did not translate this for him.

In other news, I made my first tortilla española today!

And another photo of my dad just because it's a good one, he loves that thing. 

Peace, ladies and gents.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Shock of Teapots

"...Travel returns us in just this way to sharpness of notice; and to be saturated in the sight of what is entirely new - the sun at an unaccustomed slope, stretched across the northland, separate from the infiltrating dusk that always seems about to fall through clear gray Stockholm - is to revisit the enigmatically lit puppet-stage outlines of childhood: those mental photographs and dreaming woodcuts or engravings that we retain from our earliest years. What we remember from childhood we remember forever - permanent ghosts, stamped, imprinted, eternally seen. Travelers regain this ghost-seizing brightness, eeriness, firstness.
     They regain it because they have cut themselves loose from their own society, from every society; they are, for a while, floating vagabonds, like astronauts out for a space walk on a long free line. They are subject to preternatural exhilarations, absurd horizons, unexpected forms and transmutations: the matter-of-fact (a battered old stoop, say, or the shape of a door) appears beautiful; or a stone that at home would not merit the blink of your eye here arrests you with its absolute particularity - just because it is what your hand already intimately knows. You think: a stone, a stone! They have stones here too! And you think: how uncannily the planet is girdled, as stone-speckled in Sweden as in New York. For the vagabond-voyeur (and for travelers voyeurism is irresistible), nothing is not for notice, nothing is banal, nothing is ordinary: not a rock, not the shoulder of a passer-by, not a teapot.
     ...This is what travelers discover: that when you sever the links of normality and its claims, when you break off from the quotidian, it is the teapots that truly shock. Nothing is so awesomely unfamiliar as the familiar that discloses itself at the end of a journey. Nothing shakes the heart so much as meeting - far, far away - what you last met at home. Some say that travelers are informal anthropologists. But it is ontology - the investigation of the nature of being - that travelers do. Call it the flooding-in of the real...When travelers stare at heads and ears and necks and beards and mustaches, they are - in the encapsulated force of the selection - making art: portraits, voice sonatinas, the quick haiku of a strictly triangular nostril.
     Traveling is seeing; it is the implicit that we travel by. Travelers are fantasists, conjurers, seers - and what they finally discover is that every round object everywhere is a crystal ball: stone, teapot, the marvelous globe of the human eye."

     -from "The Shock of Teapots," Cynthia Ozick

Just found out I will be traveling once again, in March I will be off to Stockholm, Sweden for the International Labor Process Conference! woo-hoo!