Day 4 – first day of class

This is my first post in a while and I have decided I’m going to change the way I’m doing this in the future. This is the last “daily” post where I describe a single day. I’m going to try and make future posts shorter, and cover bits from a longer span of time, only talking about the more interesting bits. Hopefully this shortens posts and makes things overall easier to read. I’d love to update more often, but I can’t due to all the good times.

I forgot to mention my living situation at the Bicycle Hotel. There are four people in this room, each of whom gets a twin sized bed.  Three of them are pushed together and I’m smack dab in the middle (lucky me!). The upside is that we get a bathroom attatched, where many people have to share a more public one, a window facing the cool side of the building, and, most importantly, a chandelier. After realizing how much less hot this room gets, I ceased to be bummed out at all.

My roommates were more jetlagged than me, and ended up waking at around 6am this morning. I tried to sleep in, but gave up and by 8 was ready and raring to go. Class wasn’t until 10:00 so I enjoyed a nice long (complimentary) breakfast. I chatted with a nice German girl and her mother, who had just concluded a week long holiday in Amsterdam. They gave me some good tips on stuff to check out, most highly recommending just getting on a bike and riding around town.

Still having some time to spare before class, me, Stephen and April went to the grocery and happened on a neat little playground. I should mention that playgrounds are everywhere here, and a lot of them are pretty legit. For instance, this one had an awesome system of nets and platforms that I can only imagine is for playing King of the Hill while pretending that everything beneath is burning lava, or at least an endless chasm.

As a little kid, I’d have fought to the bitter end to stay in the center of this toy.

Our first lecture was held in a nice park under the shade of a tree. We discussed research at a very abstract level in a way that was reminiscent of the early lectures of Info 470 with Dr. Wobbrock.  Our first assignment is done in groups. Each group is to “research” an excursion appropriate for the whole class to participate in on Tuesday evening, with the caveat that we may only gather and disseminate information via one means. In our case, we were limited to print as a means of information collection/distribution.

We had a little free time between class and the Wikipedia lecture, so we swung by the phone store so people could get phones and SIM cards. I was almost sure I’d get one but when faced with the decision, I decided to wait a while and see if I found myself wishing I had one. We got lunch at a little sandwich place and Ross was nice enough to buy me a Dr. Pepper. I own him one. Unable to read the menu, I went off the pictures, attempting to choose one that looked good and large enough for the price. I settled one primarily because it had “bacon” in the name but was disappointed to find out that bacon was just about the only thing on it. It was alright.

The Wikipedia lecture was in the lobby of the Bicycle hotel, which may sound like a fine idea until you consider how fun it is to cram nearly 30 people into a small and un-airconditioned room for over two hours. Some people were clearly not as enthusiastic about Wikipedia as the guest lecturers. Okay so nobody is as enthusiastic about Wikipedia as they are, but my goal for the lecture was to not out the degree to which I’m a Wikipedia nerd, while still contributing as much to the discussion as possible. I really liked the bits about Wikipedia’s history, and the way pivotal decisions were made, but they talked about other things, like Wikipedia’s future projects and challenges. It felt like a long talk, but I liked it, and would have liked it even more if we had held it in the park.

We had a big group dinner planned, and this one would be covered by the program (which means we’re still paying for it if you think about it). I was looking forward to this because I had not had a substantial meal since the airplane ride. Wait… That meal wasn’t substantial. It wasn’t that no food was available to me, but I had not had much of an appetite.

On the walk there, Lauren began crossing a bike lane without noticing a fast moving scooter headed in her direction. I was standing there determinedly (and silently) trying to calculate if they were on a collision course when Ross had the presence of mind to yell, “Watch out. Watch out!” She scurried out of the way and nobody was hurt. Not sure how close it actually was, but it got the blood flowing a little bit.

I wouldn’t have given her a hard time about it, but getting on the tram, a couple people didn’t realize that the side doors are only for people exiting the tram. On the way in the door closed on Lauren’s arm in a very harmless way. I asked her, “So are you trying to get yourself killed?”

Dinner was great but took forever. I started really not feeling well before the food even came. I was struggling to keep my eyes open and had to excuse myself and step out into the cool air a few times. By the time my pasta came, I already felt full (of appetizers). I really had to force down the food because I knew that eating a full meal was going to make me feel much much better in the long term, but I actually really felt awful eating it.

I got to know a couple of the grad students seated around me who were super friendly. After a few drinks they started playing, “Tell us about a really bad decision you’ve made.” By the time they were done talking about the stuff they had done in their mid to late twenties, I felt like I might have some rough times ahead of me.

I started feeling much better on the way back. It was my first walk through Amsterdam at night and it was quite pleasant.

  1. Dan Berke said:

    That playground looks like a lawsuit waiting to happen!

    So what program is this trip for? Is it some kind of journalism/new media class? Studying Wikipedia doesn’t sound like a typical school project… but certainly sounds interesting!

  2. This program fulfills class requirements for two graduate programs and/or one undergrad program. For me, it would have fulfilled the research methods (info 470) requirement for informatics (my major) if I hadn’t already taken that class. In my Info 470 class, we learned how to do research properly and all the different types etc. Our only graded assignment was to design and conduct an original research project.

    The two graduate programs are also within the information school, but are for librarian programs. Their programs are driven by some of the same philosophy, but in practice are quite a bit different from Informatics.

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