“if this isn’t good, what is?” and a very nice surprise…

“if this isn’t good, what is?”
(as Kurt Vonnegut’s uncle said to him while he sat beneath a shade tree drinking lemonade one summer)…
I got to know Kurt Vonnegut’s books here in Amherst, I bought a book and then somebody told me he had lived in Northampton and he died last year at age 84. I liked his sense of humour and his critical attitude about his country.

Anyway, I just wanted to post my last story from Amherst. I’m leaving to the airport in one hour and I’m sitting in Amherst Café (having a nice torta Ines Rosales and some tea) for the last time this summer. Three guys are playing and singing and many of us are with the computer or reading a book. I’m going to miss this place, and also my long walks on the campus before breakfast. “if this isn’t good, what is?”

I also wanted to tell you very shortly that as an unexpected culmination of this travel I met the inventor of the WWW two days ago at the MIT in Cambridge, Tim Berners Lee. I didn’t expect him to be there in front of his computer. For me, what is more important about him is his natural and generous attitude, and among other things “he made his idea available freely, with no patent and no royalties due“.

So, “if this isn’t good, what is?”

Time to leave…… Goodbye America,

One of my last pictures of Amherst College

Last visit to Cambridge and Boston, ………..

Hi all,
este puede ser uno de los últimos posts antes de irme a casa, estoy visitando Boston por tercera vez en este viaje, la primera vez con todo el grupo, la segunda con Pavlina y Athanasios, evitando las lagrimas de la despedida del sábado 2 de agosto, y esta tercera yo solita, haciéndome a la idea de que todo vuelve a su lugar. Estoy en un hotel que me ha gustado, está en Cambridge, que está a una estación de metro de Boston, al otro lado del rio Charles. Justo a la salida de la estación de metro Kendal/ MIT. El hotel es de principio de este siglo XXI pero han utilizado una casa del siglo XIX, que en su día fue cuartel de bomberos “the Engine 7 firehouse“. Es una mezcla de hotel moderno con wifi gratuita y hotel victoriano decorado con detalles de la época y con referencia a su original uso como firehouse, he puesto algunas fotos en picasa . Y la relación calidad precio también me parece buena. Además quería que estuviera cerca del MIT, ya os contaré luego por qué.
Una de las cosas que he hecho aquí ha sido visitar el Museum of Fine Art , hay colecciones de todas las épocas, mucho arte egipcio y griego y también arte Europeo (Kokoschka, Renoir, Gauguin, etc.), asiático y americano (Winslow Homer, John Wilson, John Singer Sargent, etc.). Aunque no en exceso, tienen algunas joyas que me han encantado. Una de las obras que más me ha gustado ver ha sido este automaton alemán del siglo XVII , en directo es una maravilla. Como iba sola me he pasé allí todo el tiempo que me interesó. La tienda del museo tiene además libros muy interesantes y no sólo sobre arte, también historia y otros temas, merece la pena echar un rato allí.
Por otro lado Boston es una ciudad interesante en sí misma, buena para para callejear y ver todo tipo de gente y no sólo en los sitios turísticos como Quincey market es como Covent Garden en Londres, muchos turistas (muchos españoles), y espectáculo. No está mal pero cualquier otra parte me gusta más. La foto que he puesto aquí es del cuadro de Kokoschka “two nudes”.
Por la tarde después de mucho callejear me decidí a entrar en MACY’S, un negocio comparable al “Corte Inglés” en España, o al menos eso me pareció porque además está en todos sitios. Todo el mundo ha ido a Macy’s pero yo he ido a comprar menos y prefería siempre las tiendas más pequeñas o los stores concretos como el de Apple. Pero había que echar un rato en este sitio antes de irse de aquí. No sé bien si las cosas están baratas o caras, un poco más baratas imagino, por el cambio con el euro pero tampoco me parece que sea una ganga, no obstante yo tengo poca cultura de shopping en España así que no me hagáis caso.

The 10 year reunion

Most of the people in our group left on Saturday 2nd, only 6 of us stayed for the 10 year reunion, but in total we were about 42 participants. You can see some of them here. And more pictures from the reunion will hopefully be at this site. In this photo from left to right you see 5 of the 6 staying in the reunion from the group in 2008: Gaby, Aliaa, me, and then Alli, Abril and Owen (the three of them from ITD staff, most of the times the “dd” – designated driver); After them it is Pavlina and Athanasios.

There were three lectures during the reunion, the first one by Bruce Laurie about American studies methods, the subtitle was “getting the isms through the specific”, that is, studying a small event that might be representative or generalised. He gave an example of how to research about many aspects such as: class formation, money and class, gender, and also learning to learn, through the study of a particular case, the case of Lizzie borden, the crime of the century.

Then, on the second day Frank Couvares talked about the American elections in the States, from the past till now. I enjoyed it, partly because I have more background knowledge now and also he used a projector and the web for the first time in a lecture, what makes it easier to follow his explanation if you get lost in your own thoughts. By now, I understand everything Frank says, but, it is much easier when you see something written somewhere, because history has never been my strong subject. I used to take my laptop so that I could search for what he was talking about and got some more background understanding. This helped me a lot in the beginning.

In the afternoon, David Stanley talked about the West, he seemed to have a pesimistic perception of what is going on there. Water is one of the main problem to face by the West. He also used the site National Atlas.

On the third day, we had a session where the teachers from previous programs explain how their personal and professional life has been affected by their participation in the American Studies program. It was useful and enriching to hear all these experiences.

The rest of the reunion were some visits and informal meetings and the final banquet. I have enjoyed it also, though 3 or 4 days was not much time to get to know everyone. Apart from me, in the reunion there were three more Spaniards, all women: María Belén Rozas from Asturias, Pilar Santos from Navarra and Lucia Magaldi from Andalucía (Córdoba). It has been very very nice meeting here and spending some time with them, I’m sure we will keep in touch.

Then, almost everybody left yesterday, and I came to Boston for a few days. But that is a story for next post.

I want to be a student at the MIT


Ayer sábado se estaba yendo todo el mundo del “dorm”, la verdad es que no es sencillo despedirse después de 6 semanas intensas de compartir todo. Así que Athanasios, Pavlina y yo decidimos que lo mejor era irse a Boston para evitar el mal rato. Después de NY es la ciudad que más me ha gustado de las que he visto. Nos pasamos mucho rato en la libreria COOP, primero en las que hay cerca de “Harvard University” y después en la que está frente al MIT, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Harvard no me ha impresionado, pero sí el MIT, aunque era sábado estaban las puertas abiertas y pudimos pasearnos tranquilamente por los pasillos de los edificios, que están interconectados de forma que puedes evitar ir por la calle para cambiar de edificio. Muchas clases y laboratorios con cristaleras de manera que se ve lo que se trabaja dentro (no había nadie trabajando, anyway). También habían algunos turistas, pero parecían más bien padres visitando el centro donde sus hijos iban a estudiar. La entrada principal tiene delante un espacio cubierto de cesped que hay que atravesar para llegar a la puerta, habiá alguna gente jugando lanzando un plato volante (¿cómo se llama eso?) y también algunos con balón, otros simplemente tumbados en el cesped, y luego el interior, amazing!.

En este sitio trabaja mucha de la gente mas importante en el campo de la ciencia, y me encantaria encontrar al padre de la Web, Tim Berners Lee, o con Minsky. Aunque bueno, lo mas seguro es que esten de vacaciones o trabajen a distancia en algun otro lugar, . Ya he hecho la reserva en un hotel junto al MIT, Hotel Kendal very convenient.


Me dieron muchas ganas de ser un student en el MIT (a senior student). A lo mejor es idea mía pero se respira el conocimiento. Bueno, habrá que dejarlo para una próxima vida, por ahora me conformaré con pasar un par de noches cerca del MIT y with a t-shirt and a sweater I bought yesterday in the COOP shop.

Lost in Newport

I still have more than 6 drafts to post (the days in New York, the final lecture, the project, etc.) But today I feel more like writing a short message on what is going on here in the house. The week went on as fast as usual. On Thursday we presented the projects in which we had been working a lot in the final week. Then, on Friday we had the last lunch with everybody, received some gifts and some nice words from ITD. Then, yesterday most of the people left, the program got to an end. Only six of us are staying for a 10 years reunion with people from the years before.
And as you can imagine, we were all quite sad (maybe not everybody,😉. Of course we don’t want to stay for ever in this “Newport” land, but we have shared a lot of things, 29 people living in the same house for 6 weeks. Now I understand better the “Big brother” TV Program. It is kind of similar in some aspects.
Today, the six of us left are registering for the 10 years reunion and new people are coming to the dormitory. Most of the people are from Western Europe, which is understable, I think. My floor will be full with people from Spain and from Mexico. Some of them are coming with partners and children. It will be a different meeting.

What else?………….
I’m completing a list with the name of the 29 of us and the place we came from so that we can have a look to where we live and maybe one day we will visit these places.

Lost in Newport is the feeling I have today, Newport is the name of the student dormitory we are staying. I miss everyone,………………………I hope all of them are flying safely home.

NY – Music and Art Deco

Our second day in NY started with a visit to Harlem, we enjoyed the tour with a wonderful guide called Robert. He was a retired actor and knew a lot of curiosities about New York. He had a very clear accent that made it easy; in fact he told us that one of the things he did for a living was teaching immigrants how to speak with a good accent, business people from Asia mainly.

In our way to Harlem; we passed Central Park, too. This is one of the most famous and biggest park in the world, “Central Park covers 843 acres, which is 6% of Manhattan”. Robert explained to us the evolution of Harlem throughout the decades and that at this moment it is a district that is slowly recovering from a depressing time.

When we were in Harlem we walked around and went to a church to listen to a Gospel Choir, everybody sang and danced “Oh Happy day”, of course.

Then, we had lunch in a place that I would recommend if you happen to come to Harlem Sylvia’s restaurant or “Sylvia’s Soul Food“.

Later I went for a walk with David that took me to the Grand Central Station and to The Waldorf Astoria Hotel, that is representative of Art Deco.

In the evening we had tickets for a Show at Shoenfeld Theatre in Broodway, A Chorus Line we enjoyed it a lot, for me the story was a bit boring in the beginning but they were excellent singers and dancers, brilliant!. The only thing that disturbed me there was the air conditioning that it is always very high for me here, even if I have a sweater.

Then, it was raining heavily and we run and run until we entered a Mcdonald.

New York, New York! I Love New York!

Martes por la tarde, llegamos a NY, estaba previsto llegar antes pero la tormenta a la salida del Capitol en Washington nos ha retrasado bastante y tendremos que dejar la visita a la Statue of Liberty para el viernes. Nada más llegar y ver los edificios a lo lejos me quedé prendada de esta ciudad. En principio no se parece nada a Roma, pero me ha gustado casi tanto como la ciudad del Vaticano, y los que me conocen saben que Roma es mi ciudad favorita.

After two days here, some of the people like more Washington than NY, but I do love it here, I love the buildings and the busy streets. So this city deserves more than one post and I’m going to take some time to write about it. The first thing we did was to go up to the Empire State Building (86 floors high). It was very close to our hotel (called Hotel Metro, in 35 East street, just next to the famous Fith Avenue). I went there with Hisato, Suhad and Jenie.


.

We were exhausted after Washington, but still Suhad and I walked for more than 4 hours, had a nice burrito in a Mexican and went to “Time Square“, ………… Later, we spent some time in the “terraza” of the hotel from where I took this picture of David. It gives you an idea of how well situated the hotel was. I can only be happy and grateful. To be continued……………

The following unit about New York by Pilar Santos can be of your interest. She was one of the participants in previous year and told me she developed this materials after she took part in the program.