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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Stories across the sky.

12:35 am CET

So my cognitive psychology professor (well, technically she's a PhD student, but she's got a bazillion degrees already, so it doesn't really matter), Rosie, is kind of one of the most awesome teachers ever. Not only because she's crazy smart and engaging, but because she makes countless Harry Potter references while lecturing. Like today during her explanation of the Prisoner's Dilemma in game theory she used Bellatrix Lestrange and Lucius Malfoy stealing a wand from Ollivander's and getting caught by Aurors as an example. I think (for once) I'm going to have a fabulous week... it's so exciting.

After class I spent the rest of the afternoon reading articles and sleeping. Getting in some rest was wonderful, and I wish we could have the time every day, instead of having to stay at the uni for another three hours for Hungarian language or culture. Sometimes it's just too much for one day; we get really tired and just need a nap. At least, I do, haha.

At eight o'clock we all  met at the six tram stop in Móricz so we could take Niki out for two-day-late birthday drinks. We found a pub (after having checked two others for space for seventeen people with no luck; third time's the charm?) and basically took over its basement. I had my first-ever tequila sunrise (delicious) and then a few of us took shots of pálinka (not as strong as Niki's father's moonshine stuff). When we all had our fill of alcohol (I was fine, just FYI), we walked to the university for some stargazing. Since Gabor has a master's in astronomy, he has connections in the ELTE department, so he got us permission to go up to the school's observatory on the roof of the main building. They had set up a smaller telescope, and through it we were able to see Jupiter and three of its moons, which was awesome. If you looked hard enough, you could almost see the gases in its atmosphere swirling...

When the scientists who were working at the observatory finished with the larger telescope, they moved it for us so we could see the remains of a star 2000 light years away (I think) that had exploded a long time ago (in a galaxy far, far away). It looked like a blurry grey ring, but it was cool nonetheless.

What I found really striking was how gorgeous the city looked from the observatory (and how it looks at night in general). Even though there was a giant ball-thing blocking the view upriver, the parts that we could see were bright and shining and beautiful; the Buda hills in the distance were especially lovely.

As the night went on, the air became far more biting, but, even though I was shivering in my gloves and winter hat, Gabor said it best: "The universe is worth a bit of suffering."

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