Quinta-feira, 25 de Fevereiro de 2010
Trikala's room

If you're have been keeping track of this blog, then you'll recall about my initial shock when I first entered the this bedroom.


I may show you pictures of the house later, but for now, this is what my bedroom looked like when I arrived:



I'll let you take your own conclusions. Personally, I thought I had just arrived to a prison' cell, except more spacious and white. I lived in Aveiro for around, what, six years, and if you compare the photos from my old bedroom found in Level 7 with this... yeah, let's keep it at that.


And more than a week later, and this is what my bedroom looks like now:




Amazing what a new kit of colorful blankets, a small carpet, and things pasted on the walls can do to a bedroom, right? The bedroom itself had the bed, a small table + two chairs, and a closet not seen in the pictures (it's in front of the bed). I added to it the sheets + bed cover + carpet + scent candles, for a cheap price. Also, in the second photo, those are the photos of my family and house pets.


The thing is, this is an investment that won't last long, and I don't know if I'll take this stuff with me to Portugal. I'll most likely leave this stuff behind for exclusive use of the following Erasmus students.


Anyway, back to work. Oh, what am I doing right now, you ask?



Geesh, I don't know, what does it look like to you, Sherlock?




Domingo, 21 de Fevereiro de 2010
What I learned about Trikala in one week

- My first impression? Insane traffic. Greeks are experts in anarchist driving styles, and using cellphones while driving, whatever is a car or a bus. (which, as you know, it's illegal in Portugal and some other countries);


- The quantity of coffee shops in Trikala is insane. They're nice and good looking, it is not hard to pick up a favorite one, due to the different decorated environments. But the coffee is ridiculous expensive. No edible item in those coffee bars costs less than 2 euros. Fast food is cheap, restaurant food is expensive, etc;


- Their Internet is stupidly cheap, and the concept of "X GBs per month" is only known to mobile operators. But with the one year contract deal, which we have to pay for if we cancel it, I don't know. They're also smarter than I thought, I was expecting to find tons of unprotected wireless networks, but I was wrong.


"Ey Rosie, what is that downloading in the background?"


I don't know what you're talking about *hides Backtrack's torrent*


- As I told before, our concepts of comfort and minimum basics for living are quite different. A bedroom with almost no furniture, with a prison bed, inside a house coupled with more technical problems and filled with nonfunctional design mistakes, is A-OK in their books. It's gotten better now, but damn, that was a shock;


- College canteen food is free, but I fear they go by the "It's free, don't complain." motto. Ey, it's edible, it's a reasonable meal, but I now realize UA has been spoiling us this whole time.


- On the other hand, TEFAA (the department where I'm staying), stays in the middle of nowhere, with a nice view over the mountains. It's quiet and nice. And they taught me how to make a Frappé! :D Delicious caffeine intoxication.


- If the streets become suddenly quiet, there's one reason for it: Football. Greek will concentrate themselves insides taverns and coffee shops, in front of a single TV. They're football fanatics.

This calls for scientific experiences: how will Greeks act if their TV is turned off during a critical point from a football match?

Requirements: One TV-B-Gone. You know this will end in tragedy.


- The streets are also ridiculous safe. I have seen kids wandering in the streets during late Friday and Saturday night, like if's playground time. I don't think there's such thing as a curfew, like in France.

Two days ago, I saw a bunch of kids carrying giant boxes down the main street. Maybe they wanted to build a fortress?


- Roses are red

Violets are blue

The Greek Alphabet is a mess

P is R

v is n

H is I


- If you go to a grocery store, and say "Portugal", they may give you an orange.



That is all. I'm going to the Clock Tower today, and will deliver photos tomorrow.

Sexta-feira, 19 de Fevereiro de 2010
Short update

As the title says, short update is shrt. Ok, maybe not that short.


Conditions have improved slightly. With a short budget, I was able to buy decent bed sheets, a pillow, and even scent candles for my bedroom. It looks more like an ordinary simple bedroom now, less depressing, and the landlords were nice enough to provide another mattress. But I think our definitions of comfort are way offtrack, because the new mattress is made of foam, and I'm buried inside it. And I don't have the heart to tell them the other mattress I complained about is actually better than this "new" one (it looks old and used). They're nice people, and even taught me a few Greek words, but yes, our definitions of comfort are incompatible.


I have meet my Greek dissertation coordinator, a fine one, and I already have stuff to do. But right now, I'm not really in the mood to write a required short list of game creation guidelines. Maybe I have become too attached to the Greek coffee, and now I feel sleepy. And my back has seen better days too, almost every night, I take my laptop  to the pubs and bars zone in Trikala, to get at least one hour of free Internet, but I still end up paying around 2 euros, because the only fitting places where I can sit are inside the coffee shops, where I have to at least order a drink. And keep in mind I'm short, I have back problems easily, and my laptop backpack, even reduced to its essentials, can weight 6kg.


And this wouldn't be necessary if the Portuguese who were in this apartment before us didn't cancel out their Internet connection, even knowing there were other students coming who needed it. Because they had to give their ID/passport information for the connection, they're afraid we would not pay for the Internet, and they would be the ones with the debts. They also didn't bother answering my email sent in January, which they say they never received, yet my Gmail says otherwise.


So, dear previous Portuguese Erasmus students who were in Athinas Erganis, 26: I owe you a baseball bat against your foreheads.

Terça-feira, 16 de Fevereiro de 2010
I see greeks everywhere.

It's almost 5 PM here, and there's not much time. By convenience, I should be getting the bus as soon as I finish writing this, and try to drag someone along with me for an urgent shopping spree. For now, I'm sitting in a corner on the local library from the ΤΕΦΑΑ (read: TEFAA) building complex.


I'm tired, and my first night in Trikala was unfortunately a little depressing as well. Let me try to pack up in a nutshell what has happened so far.


After giving my final farewell to my family at 5 AM in the morning, I took the airplane from Porto to Frankfurt.



I arrived at Frankfurt around 10 AM at their local time (GMT + 1). It was my first time in Germany, and the Oktoberfest country made sure it would welcome me with lots of snow, which I couldn't play with, because I had to stay inside the airport during the following hours, while waiting for the next airplane.



After a quick stomach fix (one sandwich and one water bottle for 7 euros), and Internet fix (one hour for 8 euros), I took the airplane to Thessaloniki at 2 PM, and arrived at 17h30 in greek time (GMT+2). Waiting for me, was one of the Erasmus coordinators who I had already meet before, during her visit to UA.



The coordinator was kind enough to give me a ride to Trikala. All I can say is that is way a 4-5 hour ride, with lots of snow in our way, and curves too.


And finally, Trikala. Waiting for us was another Erasmus student, from Finland, who gave an a warm welcome into the new apartment.



And that was where all my enthusiasm accumulated all the way from Porto to Frankfurt, to Thessaloniki, to Trikala, went down the drain.



I haven't uploaded the photos to Sapo Campus yet, and I'm seriously considering again and again if I should do it. Before you tell me "there is worse", I'll tell you I was aware of the current situation in Greece, and I was ready to live with the basics of basics, survivalist style. Like my father told me over the phone, "Throw yourself into the adventure!"


But I wasn't ready for depression. I began to cry over the phone with my family.


My bedroom consists of a bed made of rusted iron frames and a less than 10cm thick mattress. The closet is alright, but there was no desk table or chair at first, and I have no idea where they came from, I just know they're small. The closet is alright, and I have access to a balcony, from where I can view older buildings, and a newer, pretty one, on the other side of the street, as if mocking with my current conditions.

The walls may start decaying soon enough, there are signs of humidity, and whoever painted them was most likely painting and catching flies at the same time. Most electricity sockets are almost detached from the wall and look unsafe. The bathroom is ok, save for some functionality problems, the water heating system makes the wannabe designer side of me scream in rage, and the kitchen needs a microwave, a kettle, and a team of urgent decoration makeover. The living room consists of a sofa and a garden chair. And that's it.


We meet the landlords, and they were nice enough, and I probably shouldn't say this about them, but I find it hard to swallow that someone who lives in a well decorated and fitting home, won't care if the people living in their apartments has a bed that looks like it was taken from a prison.


Maybe I should not be complaining. We have a heating system, we have four walls and a ceiling. We have where to sleep.

But I spent my first night in Trikala sleeping with odd-smelling sheets full of stains, and nobody else seemed to care. I kept telling myself "Maybe with scent candles, colorful curtains, posters, and a new mattress, this can be a nice place to sleep", but I couldn't get past this first impression and initial shock. And I'm venting in this blog as a warning sign for all future Erasmus students: living in another country, even in a financially unstable one, can be a rewarding experience, but you deserve minimum decent conditions.


I'll write more later, when I get used to this, and my mind becomes clearer.

Sexta-feira, 12 de Fevereiro de 2010
Add enthusiasm, anxiety and nervousness, stir.

"Doesn't your stomach hurt?"



The question came from the cheerful lady who was knelled next to me, marking the jean pants I was wearing at the moment. Being short and chubby usually means every single set of pants I buy always need to be cut. But that is beyond the point, as the question baffled me, while I was still semi oblivious and intrigued with the laundry mechanisms present inside the store.


"Eh... a little. I mean, I haven't had lunch yet."

"No, no." She persisted, still cheerful "I meant, the trip! Aren't you nervous with it?"


The trip...


How significant is it to live in another country for 4-5 months? Some will disregard as yet another complex life experience, which will be quick to pass, while others see it as something more important and of great nature, a unique feat, something to brag around, and be proud of.


Or, I think my parents are proud of me. My mother is the one who makes sure I'll take everything necessary with me, even if it means paying the overweight luggage tax at the airport, and she keeps mentioning about me to her friends "My daughter is going to Greece, for a thesis project!". And behind her back, her friends tell me "She's going to miss you". I'm fully aware of it.


Even my father is displaying behavior changes, hugging me almost every time he sees me, instead of being an asshat and throwing jokes everywhere like a mad ninja on crack throwing shurikens at random targets. My brother? I'm don't know if he cares or not, but I'm sure he'll join my mother in the creation of a new river. My grandma? Can only pray she'll remain safe and sound, and will still recognize me when I return. My pets? I'll miss them as much as I'll miss my family, but I know Hades won't notice my absence after a week, and continue with his illegal scavenging activities inside the kitchen's trash can.


Some say I look too calm for someone who's going to be away, as I mentioned on Twitter. Am I calm? Good question. During January, I had several stress and panic attacks, and my mom thought it was because of the trip, but I was more concerned about delivering a decent Investigation Plan and State of Art on time, and I thought I didn't have enough time and patience for it. (*update* And I had panic attacks during the first semester as well. Ask anyone who was in Estatisticas's last class). Right now, I am less nervous, yes, but wondering.

I was already used to be alone by myself, from the days my family used to be away in France for weeks, and I was able to survive in London for a week with little assistance.


I dreamed about studying outside ever since I heard the word "Erasmus". On my second year in the Design course, I applied for Erasmus, and my first choice was an university in Manchester with Computer Arts as one of its courses. I was delighted with the idea of focusing in 2D/3D digital drawing, but reality slapped me in the face when I realized only the students who applied with higher grades had a chance to participate in Erasmus. And I saw two students whose first choice wasn't Manchester, walk away and taking my dream with them.


Questioning once more: is this the final realization of a dream long denied? Is this trip important for me? I would be an idiot if I said this isn't important, because there's a Master Degree Dissertation involved, and it's about a subject which I hope it will become a prominent part of my career as a Designer/Artist. There are people counting on my performance, an article may be published, and this is going to be the end of my academic chapter, in case I don't follow with a PhD.


However, the trip itself, the premise of living in Greece for the following months... people comment how Greece is so far away, and how I'll be one of the few lucky ones who can boast about outside-country experiences. No. For me, this experience is but another stone placed in the path. I don't want to think of this a huge experience that'll last four months, but rather as a experience that is part of a bigger scheme, which will last for as long as I live. I don't know how to describe this, my English vocabulary is failing me yet again.


You know what I'm looking forward in Greece, besides the project? Harmony and balance. There's this one land called Meteora, where monks built monasteries over cliffs and mountains in order to avoid the chaotic wars taking place on the valleys. I want to go there during a weekend, find a quiet place with a nice view over the land, and indulge myself in solitude and philosophic thoughts.

And then, of course, resume my sketches and game design concepts.


I'll keep you froggies updated with my dissertation progress, and of course, lots of photos. See ya!



Domingo, 7 de Fevereiro de 2010
Γεια σου

Με λένε Ροσανα. Είμαι από την Πορτογαλία. Μιλάς Ελληνικά; Οχι ¬_¬.


... WHAT.


Quarta-feira, 3 de Fevereiro de 2010
Presentation (in Portuguese)

For whoever is interested, here are the leftovers from today's presentation. However, it's in Portuguese, and there are more images than text. I wonder if you'll understand the meaning behind those images ;P


EDIT: Há um erro num slide, onde diz "atitudes e atitudes". É "atitudes e aptidões".



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