Day 6: First day ‘at work’

Groningen 365 6

Originally uploaded by girlwithtrowel.

.. a day early, but we have a lot to do and somehow I don’t think I’ll be in much tomorrow with all the moving in I need to do!

We had a big meeting in the afternoon to discuss the classification of the sites in the fieldwork area, to help us choose targets for the more intensive work for our particular project. The area has been subject to pretty intense fieldwalking for the last decade or so, so there is a lot of material to work through to understand the present picture. The PhD student I am working with is focusing on defining and understanding the different protohistoric site types in the area- my job is to help investigate them using geophysics and geoarchaeology. Tomorrow, after moving house and meeting the P.O. to finalise my contract I’ll sit down to discuss my research plan for the next 3 years. I already know this involves writing two papers (at least!). Exciting times 🙂

Sleet and snow today

Groningen 365 5

Originally uploaded by girlwithtrowel.

I think this might turn into a bit of a photoblog- partly because a lot of my friends don’t use flickr and it doesn’t talk to facebook very efficiently, but wordpress does.

So today I went for a long walk in the fog first thing, and tried to find somewhere to grab some food, but everything here seems to close on a Sunday- they still have restricted opening hours from most types of shop. Apparently some little ‘corner shop’ type places are open, but I couldn’t find one.

I came back and tidied up a bit- living out of suitcases is /not/ an aid to tidiness, and I’m not that tidy to start with! It started to rain so I waited for a lull in the weather, which didn’t come, and then got too hungry so went back out.

Mmmm chicken kebab 😉 ….. but on my way back it started sleeting, and now it’s snowing quite hard but it’s been wet all day so I don’t think it will lay. So I’m going to camp out in my room, do some work and catch up on my diary this afternoon and evening. I’ll be on Skype if anyone fancies a chat!

I’m looking forward to next week and moving in but Tuesday is going to be more than a bit hectic- my building manager has classes so I can only see her first thing, then I have to belt it back for my meeting to sign contracts etc (technically it’s my first day at work!), then I have to go and pay my first rent, then get back to the house to meet the removal company (if they can deliver that day!)… been looking at Ikea things too, but need to see exactly what the space is like before I order things. A bank card would also help!

Squid, rain, homesickness & lists

Groningen 365 4b

I woke up today feeling pretty blue and the weather matched my mood. It rained on and off all day, but after a long Skype session with Matt and my parents, I felt better and resolved to head out to explore some more.

Despite the rain lots of people were out and about and the Vismarkt was on again! I went to the tourist office and picked up some small city maps and guides. I noticed with some amused interest that there is a whole book of self guided bike tours of modernist architecture. Something for me and Bebrowed to do perhaps?

I mooched about looking for a particular bookshop. I didn’t find it but I did find one with and English section so bought myself something to read- I think the homesickness is more loneliness brought on by not having a lot do as all my stuff is still in transit and I’m living in a hotel. So something to read might help. I also had some calamares as a treat. This really has to be the last of the fried foods though! They were soooo good. I think it’s probably for the best that I can only obtain then twice a week!

So, lists:

Foods tried (look them up!)
Belgian frites, stampot, vla, kaas, kaas broodje; rookworst; metworst and bittebollen

Words attempted:

Dank u Wel, Bedankt, Alstubleift, Morgen, Dag, Koffie, Calamares …

no really- as soon as I struggle people switch to English. It’s embarrassing so I really need to make a concerted effort!

Things yet to sort out:
Moving in! Getting my stuff back from storage, an internet connection, a Dutch phone number, where I can do my laundry, … yep. Still a lot to sort out….

Arriving in Groningen

So, I made it! I’m here in Holland sitting in the University Guesthouse having had a couple of days to explore and get my bearings.


It feels like longer than 48 hours though, not sure why. Possibly partly because it’s been jam packed- travelling, meeting new colleagues then running about all afternoon to sort out bureaucracy like a BSN (Dutch equivalent of a National Insurance Number) and a bank account. I am very glad Jack did this all before me and was able to help me before I came. Legalised birth certificates are needed for a number of important things! I also ran out of room for some things in my packing, and forgot other things, so that needed a certain degree of fixing. I went to my new boss’s home for dinner with his family, which was lovely and very welcome as I was very tired and a bit lost by that point! I tried Stampot (mashed potatoes with other things added, in this case spinach), these vegetarian meatball things and Vla, all of which were delicious. I also got to play with kittens! They have 5 six week old kittens at the moment, of an oriental breed which is very angular and bony with short hair and big ears- gorgeous, Egyptian looking cats.


Yesterday was project meetings. I don’t officially start work until Tuesday but I’m taking most of the day off to move, and we have a huge number of things to do before we start fieldwork in April, so we need to start making decisions about what techniques we want to employ and what equipment we are going to need. That lasted most of the day because I also got to meet many of my new colleagues, and had a tour of the GIA, including a basement chock-full of amazing artefacts (and replicas) from the first half of the 20th Century. I had an invite to the pub last night but just needed to crash.



Academy Building, RUG




Today has been frustrating. I want to get on with sorting out my new place but so many things require me to wait for my bank card to arrive- to set up the internet and a Dutch mobile contract requires a swipe of the card and a pin entry from me as part of the identity checks, so that’s all on hold until next week at the earliest. This is doubly annoying as it takes about 4 weeks to get connected to the internet here, so I’m not likely to have internet at home until after I come back from Italy in mid April. My office shuts at 6 as well, so no really much chance to Skype from there in the evenings. I might have to start lurking in internet cafes. There is a big food market here on Fridays which includes fresh fish. Matt is going to love it. The fish stalls all have their own cookers and sell squid, prawns, scampi and little fish in batter on the street. It smells amazing. There is a huge variety of fish, all very very fresh. I need to start to learn the dutch names. I walked out to my new flat today as well. I got rather lost on the way there, but worked out the right route on the way back. It’s about 10 minutes from the start of the city centre, and about 25 from my office, walking, and even faster on a bike. As I’ve already said the area is a bit on the interesting side, but it’s cheap and pretty secure and it seems that nothing here is very far from anywhere- it’s quite a compact city. It’s also got vast numbers of shops. only about 20,000 less people live here than in Southampton, but it’s much more compact, and the city centre has so many shops! I’ve seen everything from a shop specifically for mens underwear to little local bakeries that have a ‘Broodje-mat’ – a vending machine for their bread, outside, so you can buy bread 24/7!


While my current phone doesn’t have the best camera, I can take snaps, and I’ve decided to start a ‘365’ project on my flickr. You can find it here. I’m cheating and uploading a few from today, but I think it would be a cool way to record my first year here.


This afternoon I am tired and sorefooted so I’m going to lurk in my room, do some reading on the project and possibly play computer games. I’m trying to take advice from @tag and blog little and often, so I shall try to add more tomorrow. Though, I’ve just been invited to the pub with the PhD students, so Ciao for now!

Neko/ Kayt x