October 22, 2012


Cu ocazia împlinirii a 5 ani de când am venit la Kassel mi-am amintit cu drag de vremurile de acum 5 ani și de motivele care m-au mișcat să mă mobilizez la Kassel. Începusem să scriu draftul cu vreo două sătămâni înainte de publicare și pe parcurs am citit un articol care cred că m-a motivat să mă scufund mai mult în amintirile de demult. Citisem  un interviu despre începuturile CROS pe blogul Friends for Friends Foundation. În timp ce scriam, mi-am notat niște idei pe care vroiam să le scriu despre CROS. 

E extraordinar ce fac cei de la CROS. Cinci ani... cinci ani în care de fiecare dată când îi întâlnesc sau de fiecare dată când citesc despre ei mă încântă cu ideile lor, cu viziunea lor, cu motivația și dedicația cu care lucrează înspre împlinirea viselor despre o Românie a viitorului. Mă încântă și în același timp îmi dau deseori porția de motivație de care am nevoie. Învăț de la CROS de la multe sute de kilometrii departare și ori de câte ori am ocazia scriu despre ei pentru a-mi potoli dorul.

Prietenii mei de la CROS conduc astăzi cu success revoluția educației în România (și poate nu doar în România). Pun bazele unei universități a viitorului și abia aștept să am ocazia de a-i vizita la deschiderea anului universitar alternativ întrun viitor foarte apropiat.

Fingers CROSsed! ;)

October 17, 2012

I came to Kassel for one year... five years ago

It was a time when me and my friends from ANOSR and ASPR were instigating against the Romanian higher education system. It was bad and we wanted it to be better. We wanted our education to be relevant for our future, we wanted to learn, to develop and to be able to do what we like to do and what we're good at. So we thought we fix it. We found the Bologna Process a good tool for that, so we took it. Since there was no higher education reform in Romania for the past 40 years, this couldn't go wrong. We started at the bottom. I guess my friends who led the whole movement tried before from the top, but you can't really change something where people think nothing's wrong. Ministers, rectors, deans... they were happy. So we went to the others who were not or who soon learned that they were not. During the so called Bologna week we informed students and teachers about how it could be, we researched and presented solutions and scratches from an education model which seemed rather attractive. We knew quite much about student centered learning and we we based everything on that.

I've been just coming back from Ludwigsburg in Germany, where I've spent a semester studying abroad. It was then my last year of my bachelors studies and the year was going to be extraordinary... I know it now, but I learned soon enough that it will change my life. I've been traveling a lot all around Romania and abroad, learning and later teaching others about education, about their role and responsibility in their own education and about decision making, about things you like to do in your life and about passion (it's just that at that time we did not really formulate it like this... but it was exactly that).
At some point, it was my turn. I did everything I could and I knew, I learned and I taught, I developed and helped others to develop. Working with these young enthusiastic people was amazing and I decided that higher education is what I am going to do.  I was aiming high but I knew I need to continue learning and the environment at that time could not offer me everything I needed to know... it was just not enough to keep my arguments up. So I started looking... where can I become more knowledgeable in the area of higher education? Google it! 
This was in spring 2007, when I googled for a Master in Higher Education. And guess what, among the first hits was the International Master Programme in Higher Education in Kassel...

... and that's how it all started.

I wrote my application:
"(...) My future plans for my professional career are also in the area of higher education. I want to be teacher at one University in Europe, at the department for educational science, but in the same time I want to continue to do research in higher education and higher education reforms and to involve students as well in doing research during their bachelor studies. I would also like to work in the department for university development and improvement of educational policies and strategies. My course of educational policies during my studies, but also the research I started for my theses brought me much closer to this area, which makes me more curious about it. (...) I can say that this Master Programme is the possibility which opens the ways for my wishes and plans and helps me and the students and researchers I will work with to improve education in Romania and, why not, in Europe." (Statement of objectives, 2007)
And yes, they took me!

I arrived in Kassel on October 1st 2007; my Persian tutor waited for me in front of my building in Ottostraße 1, opposite to the Police building, next to the National Employment Agency, where I was going to live with an Indonesian and a Vietnamese girl from my international masters programme. 
And here I was, starting my new life chapter in an international setting like I never experienced before. 

I need to tell you a story from my first day on campus: This international programme felt like something really special to me and somehow I had the impression that these students will be the only international students in Kassel. So on my first day on campus, the first student who came to me to ask me for directions was an international one, speaking only English. So what do I think... he studies higher education. And I ask him that. And of course he says he studies higher education, because for those who do not know the master programme, everybody studies higher education in a university. So when I stared chatting with him about home country, living area and reading materials, he tells me he studies something else and I am totally confused... hmmm, there are more like me? Later that day I visit the language center with my new flat mate. She wants to register for a German language course and I wait for her on the corridor. One student gets out of the registration office and she gets in. What do I do? "Are you studying higher education?" And he says yes. Luckily this time it was really a student of my master programme. We started talking about our countries - he was from Oman - about the masters programme and spent the whole day shopping and walking through Kassel. That way I had no chance to kidnap other students on Campus with my weird question "Do you study higher education?", but according to my experience that day, I could have concluded that 50% of international students on Campus were from MAHE :)

Meanwhile I finished my masters (after 3 years and 3 months) and became one of the few qualified higher education researchers in Europe. I've been tutoring international students almost the whole time during my studies, which was probably one of the most exciting things I've ever done, after being a kindergarten teacher and instigating against the Romanian higher education system. I've been working in a world renown institute for higher education research for long time as a research assistant and later as a - guess what - higher education researcher. I've learned so much about research methodology that it often makes me feel like a nerd. Today I work as a higher education professional in the International Office of the university and coordinate, improve and develop the support services for international students. I love my work...it's challenging, it's new, it gives me the possibility to be flexible and creative, to develop new stuff, to help students to find their way. I have an amazing team and some really great colleagues. 

I made many very good friends... some of them still here, some others very far away, back to their home countries or elsewhere... but that's the deal with making international friends, they are not gonna stay here forever, but you can always visit them in all parts of the world, like Almelo in The Netherlands, Brussels, Geneva, Barcelona, or even India. And when I don't do that, I spend time with my Kasseler, Kasselaner and Kasseläner friends or with my imaginary friends. When I want to be spontaneous, I travel to Vienna to visit my brother and Alexandra (and Eusebiu, the imaginary dog) or my König-family in Nürnberg and Stuttgart, that when I don't travel to Berlin, Bielefeld, Dresden, or my favorite city, Bonn. Meanwhile I became Godmother of my cousin, René, and recently Tante of little Peter Casimir, son of my very best roomie.

Long story short... I like it here, it has become my home (like the newly received gift for my fifth anniversary indicates) and when it gets complicated I eat an "Ausdauer"-candy (these Germans have everything... really)

Grüße aus Kassel ;)

Read also:
"Ce pot eu pentru asta?" (in Romanian)  
4.Y.i.K. (in English) 

September 6, 2012

Out of Kassel: Bonn

I almost forgot how beautiful it is to travel by train to Bonn on the side of the Rhein, watching the ships passing by, admiring the castles in the sunset, driving through pretty German villages, almost smelling the aroma of the grapes in the vine yards on the “Rheinhang” and eventually getting to the Loreley rock.

It’s been one year since I was in Bonn, but last time, it was a great time. I keep remembering
  • the people, who are as helpful and talkative as I don't really experience in Nordhessen,
  • the Rhein-Promenade, where I love to walk in the mornings, watching people jogging, riding, inline skating, while I just enjoy the sun rise and perhaps doing some stuff... (like now writing this post)
  • the friendly employees in the Romanian embassy 
  • and even the people in the organisation I was visiting for a job interview, because I still think they are very nice, but not my type :)

Rhein this morning
Today I’m back, in my new role, but for another purpose,  and in Bonn... nothing changed.
I’m sitting on the terrace of Rheinpavillon on the Rhein-Promenade; there’s not much going on, people are walking by in a quite relaxed manner... birds are flying around, there's a bee giving me a hard time... but she is a "bönnsche" bee :)

I like this place. There better be a good reason for me not living in Bonn today :)

August 25, 2012

Să ne amintim de Felix

În fiecare an, de când am învățat diferența dintre munte și deal, am mers în vacanțe la munte. O vacanță a fost mai deosebită și anume cea din 2005, când la întoarcere ne-am orpit la niște prieteni în Codlea, cărora tocmai le adusese pe lume cățeaua câțiva cățeluși de brac german frumoși foc. Noi pe vremea aia o aveam pe Peggy, o cățelușă frumoasă tare și răbdătoare și cuminte, dar care și avea grijă de curte și de animalele din curte. Peggy era puțin bolnavă la momentul respectiv, motiv pentru care idea de a adopta unul dintre micuții tocmai veniți pe lume nu părea tocmai nepotrivită.
Printre cățelușii ăștia frumoși foc era și unul negru complet cu o pată albă mare pe piept. La scurt timp după această vizită, el devenise micul nostru Felix.

Photo by me
"E născut pe 19 iunie 2005, noi l-am primit când avea o lunâ, era mititel, se pierdea în curtea mare cu iarbă prea înaltă pentru piciorușele lui. Dormea mult, ca un copil, se trezea să-și bea lăpticu' și se mai uita din când în când la noi. A crescut, i-au ieșit dințișorii, a început să roadă, să muște, să tragă, să rupă, să se răsfețe, … era adorabil. A crescut mai mult și mai mult și a ajuns să fie aproape cât mine. Era ascultător și totuși era rău… avea un glas puternic de-ți era frică să te apropii de poartă. Nu intra nimeni în curte, nici măcar ziarul, că-l făcea ferfeliță." (Tamoeta, 2007)

Între timp a devenit mai mare și mai puternic, mai obraznic și mai îndrăzneț și parcă pe zi ce trecea mai destept. Avea jumătatea lui de curte pe care o împărțea cu celalalte animale, cu Ghiță și eventual Geta, cu găinile care nu au avut niciodată nume, cu albinele, și de curând cu Rilă, Riluța și Riluții. Mai vâna câte-o pisică vecină care se încumeta să intre în curte, dar în rest nu avea treabă cu prietenii de curte. Cu cei de afară avea multă treabă... nu prea era el împăcat dacă treceau cai și căruțe cu cai prin fața porții sau dacă aveam musafiri nepoftiți. Era și tare simpatic când venea vreme mare și tuna și fulgera... se certa cu tunetele fugind dintro parte în alta a curții de parcă vroia să le raspundă... și credeți-mă că le răspundea cu vocea lui puternică de-l auzeau chiar și tunetele.

Yiceam că era și tare destept. Nu cred ca a învățat niciodată că dacă muscă, pe noi ne doare și dacă vrea să se joace cu noi, respectiv ca noi să ne jucăm cu el, să muște mai puțin. Dar cred că mai degrabă l-am învățat că noua ne place când el mușcă, că atunci când era mic și ne prindea de mâneci sau de pantaloni, noi tare ne distram și mai degrabă îl lăudam, în loc să-i spunem că "pe noi nu!" A mai învățat dragu de el că nu are voie să intre în casă și până în ziua de ...marți el știa că nu intră în casă, oricât de tare și-ar fi dorit asta. Își întindea gâtul cât putea el, avand grijă ca lăbuțele să rămână pe pervaz și dacă din greșeală ar fi picat vreun picior în casă, repede îl trăgea înapoi. Era singura mea șansă să mă aduc în siguranță când se bucura foarte mult să mă vadă și iarăși nu facea diferența între a mușca pe cineva care e rău sau a mușca din joacă.

Photo by Marius Mureșan
Photo by Marius Mureșan
Da, ia uite ce câine frumos și parcă și mai cuminte. Ultimele dăți când am mers acasă am reușit să conviețuim fără să ne mușcăm: am mâncat salată de fructe împreună (înafară de pepene roșu) am stat pe terasă la soare, ne-am băut cafeaua pe trepți, am admirat iepurii care deveniseră tot mai mulți și ne mai și ne jucam din când în când. 

Azi ne mai rămân doar pozele și amintirile scrise și nescrise despre cel care a fost Felix.

August 22, 2012

Out of Kassel: Vienna

In spite of the amazing weather in Kassel at the beginning of august, or as the Austrians would say "Kaiserwetter"[1], I decided to spend my summer holidays again in Austria this year. I say again, because I do this for the last 2 or 3 years and few winters before. But since my brother, known as MM, and Alexandra recently moved to Vienna (I still say recently, even though it's more than one year ago), I use to travel quite often to visit them. Even though my project "once a month to Vienna" was not quite successful, I made it on average one every two months, which is not so bad either. Everything is a good reason for that: holidays, own birthday, friend's birthday, friends want to visit Vienna, attended conference, not-attended conference, meeting mum, meeting dad, eating Apfelstrudel, playing with Eusebiu :))
And visiting my brother and Alexandra, of course!
Therefore I was entitled to receive a warm welcome on their white board:

And yes, except of the fact that they recognized my mayorship on their apartment, they did not hesitate to make fun of me not using Facebook at that time... the whole day, and the day after, and the other days as well. About that, it was a little weird not to be able to contact people, to check the message history about stuff that is important in my daily life, to share stuff, to see what people share (some people). What I did not miss, was the information overload. But then I said, I can restart my blog; and then Alexandra made a point: how are you going to promote your blog?

Back to being out of Kassel: Being in Vienna is quite cool... just think about the Wiener Melange, the Sachertorte, the Apfelstrudel mit Schlagobers, the Germknödel, the delicious Palatschinken, the great Kebab from Lamm and the great Ottakringer Radler Johannisbeere. I see, I am talking about food and drinks only. Well, I think I passed the time when I was amazed by the buildings which look quite impressive, the language that sound like the German my grandma taught me, the people who are not always grumpy, the non-existing mountains (no, you can't be amazed by that), the city atmosphere, going shopping on MaHü (no, actually you can't get bored of this), the night life in MQ, the night life outside MQ, and I think much much more. 

But when you go to Vienna, you should also learn to "act like a local"[2] :
1. Be grumpy, or maybe look grumpy in order to fit in, but actually you and the Viennese don't have any reason to be grumpy.
2. Spend hours in a cafe and not any cafe, but try Cafe Havelka, or other traditional Viennese cafes.
3. Treat the waiter as a king, because he IS the king and he acts like that. Call him Herr Ober and don't **** him off, even when you sit couple of hours there.
4. Drink G'spritzer... everything: wine, juice, just mix it with water. It doesn't taste very good, but it's refreshing.
5. Order a Krügerl or a Seidl. It's the same like ordering Melange instead of Milchkaffee... it's basically just to make them understand you right away and be less grumpy.
6. Enjoy the smokers paradise... for those who need it.
7. Eat a Schnitzel, and Schweinsbraten with Semmelknödel and Kraut, Tafelspitz, Knödel mit Ei, Gulash...
8. Eat a Sacher cake in any cafe, it's simply delicious.
9. Eat a Frankfurter Würstl with Kren and Senf and don't ask why they call them Frankfurter and not Wiener Würstl like the Germans do.

Servas! ;)

[1] http://www.zeno.org/Wander-1867/A/Kaiserwetter
[2]  http://use-it.travel/_files/fileupload/cities/plans/2012_vienna.pdf

August 18, 2012

5 Tage und 5 Nächte

15. August 2012, 13:00 - Ankunft des Kaiserzuges in Bad Ischl
Anlässlich des 182jährigen Geburtages von Kaiser Franz-Joseph I hat's uns auch nach Bad Ischl geführt. Eigenglich war nicht das der Grund unserer Reise in die Kaiserstadt und die Stadt der Ischler-Törtchen, aber trotzdem eine schöne festliche Überraschung. Als wir nach dem Besuch der Kaiservilla den Bahnhof und die Post besichtigen und in der Trinkhalle den lang ersehnten Schweinsbraten mit Semmelknödel und Kraut genießen wollten, wurden wir bereits vor dem Bahnhof von den großen Menschenmassen  überrascht. Neugierig gingen wir auf die Gleise wo der Kaiserzug, eine alte Dampfeisenbahn, hielt und die Reisenden aussteigten.

Festgäste beim Kaiserfest
"Gäste aus aller Welt" kamen zum Kaiserfest, welches wir nachher erfuhren am Tag davor anfing und fünf Tage andauerte, bis heute an Franzl's tatsächlichen Geburtstag (geb. 18.08.1830) - im Angebot der Kaiser-Ball, die Kaiser-Gala und ein Kaiser-Bummel.
Unter den Gästen viele Angehörige des Österreichsischen Adels und selbstverständlich seine Kaiserliche Hochheit.

Kaiser Franz-Joseph I nach seiner Ankunft in der Kaiserstadt Bad Ischl
Nach kurzer Verschnaufpause stürzten sich sämtliche Photographen (die vorher das Photomuseum im Marmorschlößl besichtigt haben) auf den Kaiser und seine Begleitung (noch wussten wir nicht, dass sich die Kaiserin auch in der Menschenmenge befand). Er winkte uns sogar kurz zu bevor er in die Kutsche steigte und die Parade startete.
Und hier war sie auch, die Kaiserin Elisabeth, heute in lila und mit schwarzem Sonnenschirm, den sie dank der herrlichen Kaiserwetters dringend nötig hatte.

Kaiserin Elisabeth und Kaiser Franz-Joseph I
Am Bahnhof entlang, bei der neuen Post vorbei und weiter durch die Innenstadt marschierte der Menschenzug. Wir blieben an der Post zurück um unserer Mama zu telegrafieren. 
Hier endete das Kaiserfest für uns und wir machten und weiter durch Bad Ischl auf die Suche nach dem Schweinsbraten und den Ischler-Törtchen, die wir nie gefunden haben und mein Appetit danach so groß wurde, wie noch nie. Aber einen herrlichen Schweinsbraten haben wir uns im Restaurant Hubertushof gegönnt.

Grüß Euch Gott!

Photos: http://mariusmuresan.blogspot.com

August 17, 2012

"Ce pot eu pentru asta?"

Când locuiești câțiva ani în Germania și vorbești orice altă limbă decât limba română, pentru că la serviciu vorbești germană, cu prietenii vorbești germană sau engleză, faci cursuri de limbă spaniolă, există o posibilitate destul de mare să începi să creezi o  limbă română adaptată... respectiv să formulezi propoziții care se întind pe 4 rânduri :D

Cam așa mi s-a întâmplat și mie... și așa am devenit vestită pentru faptul că uneori tind să germanizez limba română și sună cam așa:


  dt: "Mach nicht mehr so viel Stress!"
dt: "Ich bin nicht auf den Mund gefallen!"

 dt: "Was kann ich dafür?"


Meme characters by Marius Mureșan