My first week has passed. Today is saturday; and the move took place monday. So far, I’ve been running around doing bureaucracy and little else (I managed to leaf through the first 5 pages of Evens: Cohomology of Groups). Along the lines – I’ve received a summons to appear in front of the immigration authorities to explain my moving in, I’ve ran circles around the city trying to get someone to approve my swedish birth certificate et.c.
My apartment is small, neat and nice. It’s some 4×5 meters, with bed, bookcase, two tables, wardrobe, kitchenette, toilet with bath, balcony. And then all the things I brought with me – including a bookcase, three tables, computer, books-books-books, and much much more. I’ve gotten around to some interior decoration as well – putting up my swedish and my franconian flags on a wall. The endeffect is pretty – although I periodically have to remind myself that my putting up a swedish flag is no longer a sign of right-extremism but rather a sign of keeping in touch with home.
Now that my blog returns to its status of a PhDiary as I actually got a PhD position, I will introduce one flavour of regular postings. Instead of keeping in touch with people by mailing lists, livejournal, and everywhere else, there will be weekly postings here about life as a German PhD student.
So far, my entrance into German academics has had one feature above all else. Bureaucracy.
In order to even look at my contract, I needed to go, specifically therefore, to Jena, to fill out a questionnaire. This questionnaire is geared towards ascertaining that I am a good representant of the German state and its ideals. So, there are questions upon questions upon questions about my involvement with Stasi, my involvment with former DDR, whether I went to party schools, whether I’ve held party offices, et.c. et.c. Not to mention the centimeter-high stack of papers I got home to fill out on my own. With complete curriculum vitae from the age of 14. And Gods only know how many different obscure decisions to be made and forms to be filled in.
Once upon a time, I wasn’t passionate about mathematics. Up to grade 6, I even disliked it quite a bit – it consisted of only mechanical plugging away of numbers, and training of multiplication tables that I had the feeling I already mastered.
Then something changed. Subtly at first – in grade 7, it started to gain texture, it got beyond the rote calculations ever so slightly. And so I started devouring the old popular mathematics texts my father kept in his bookcases. Soon, I stumbled across a new word – “integral calculus” – and of course asked my father to explain it. And thus it was that I, at the age of 13, got introduced to limits, derivatives and integrals.