On the border between the second and third phase

In the last two months, I have twice took the bus from Prague to Rotterdam. On both occasions, I had mixed feelings – on the one hand, I felt like I was leaving home, on the other hand, I felt like I’m returning home.

According to sociology scholars, such schizophrenic feelings are absolutely normal. After 6 months living in a different culture, one is supposed to be found on the border between the second and third phase of a cultural shock – partially frustrated by the change of environment, partially already accommodated to the local customs. And that is exactly how I feel most of the time. However, if I neglect occasional sources of true frustration, such as unsuccessful outcome of a recent hairdresser appointment, which occurred due to an apparent language barrier, I must consider my acclimatization process as relatively successful.

I am also doing well in terms of my academic results. At this moment, I have completed two blocks of subjects, which also means two exam periods. Both of them have ended quite favourably for me, in few subjects, my grades were the best from my entire year of 180 people and in the remaining ones, my scores were in the top 5%. In my previous blogpost, I wrote about the subjects I took in the first term. Now I would like to elaborate on those I took in the second term. Again, that block consisted of three subjects – two were merely theoretical, the last one was more practically oriented.

In Media Processes and Influences we learnt about the principles that today’s media world is based on – what are the structural constraints faced by journalists and media producers, what one needs to do to convince media professionals and event is worth reporting on, or what degree of autonomy does the audience have in the process of interpretation of media outlets. The second theoretical subject was Key Concepts of Social Sciences, in which we over the course of eight weeks stormed through the history of sociology, from Marx and Weber up to now. Considering the extensive amount of content covered, there was only half of the tutorials than usual – the rest of the time was meant to be devoted to reading of almost thousand pages of compulsory literature. The lectures took place every week and they were also structured differently – every time there was a different lecturer, sometimes from another faculty or a different university, talking about their sphere of expertise. The last subject I took was Introduction to Statistical Analysis. This may sound terribly boring, however, it was the exact opposite. Thanks to an excellent professor we had, I came to realize that statistics is a discipline, which in its basics doesn’t require complicated mathematics and which is extremely helpful in explaining many phenomena we encounter in our everyday lives.

The fact that we only take three subjects every term doesn’t mean I don’t know what to do with my free time. Aside from reading the literature, there are usually one or two extensive written assignments or presentations every week. Considering these assignments usually make around 40% of the final grade, it is better to pay them appropriate attention, but they also provide an opportunity to stay on track with the course materials so that one doesn’t have to push the limits too much when the exam time comes.

I try devote most of the remaining time to informal education – I attempt to visit as many interesting cultural events as possible. In the recent weeks, I have been to a debate with the Pussy Riot protest group, a debate on artists’ autonomy in the contemporary society, or a lecture on human mind’s perception of probability given by a professor from the Imperial College London.

The Pussy Riot debate

With the beginning of the second semester, there has been a number of free positions in a few student associations, which are oriented on volunteering and social entrepreneurship. I have applied for some of them and I should know the results of the recruitment process in the upcoming weeks. I am also looking forward to nicer weather, so that riding a bicycle will stop resembling exercising on a stationary bike due to rather unpleasant (head)wind. I keep realizing there are many places in and around Rotterdam that I would like to visit and since it is necessary to take study breaks from time to time, I would not like to miss these opportunities).

Spring is already peeking into Rotterdam

Na pomezí druhé a třetí fáze
Na pomezí druhé a třetí fáze

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