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Monday, December 31, 2007

Spanish un-dictionary

As I wrote yesterday, I don't want to end this 2007 with bad feelings, since I'm in a good mood lately. That's why I have a funny present for you all, it's a dictionary of Spanish sexual bad words. The translations to English can be actually improved, so I encourage all of you to do so and share it with us.

I was sent this document by my friend Samir (nationality unclear, but he appeared once in Time magazine).

Warning: if you click on the link below, it's at your own risk. I don't take any responsibility on any prejudice that the misuse of this knowledge may provoke :D

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Winter trips

Starting lessons a month earlier has a very good side: a month of holidays in February. And of course, no way that I have a month of holidays and I don't spend it travelling. So I will visit Estonia again :). February is the coldest month over there, last year I could experience how does it feel to go from sauna (100 ºC) to the snow outside (-20 ºC). Priceless. Moreover, this time there will be somebody to take good care of me :)

And after Estonia, if everything goes as planned... MOSCOW! I'll finally have the chance to visit Russia and meet old (and new) friends over there. The Red Square and the Kremlin will be waiting for me after a long train trip from Tallinn. For sure it will be another unforgettable trip. (If you are wondering how did I get the chance to visit Moscow, I will co-organise a winter course on Laser technology).

But before all this travelling, studying and exams. Nobody said it was going to be easy! :)

PS: Every new year I write this kind of depressive posts, with all this 'another year goes by and all that I have done has been getting older'. I think that I will start 2008 in a better mood.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

1st class, 2nd class

Not only trains have 1st class and 2nd class wagons. There are different classes also among Universities. I always suspected it. When I saw the campus of the Technical University of Kaiserslautern or the Technical University of Eindhoven, I didn't suspect anymore, I was sure of it.

But there's no need to travel outside Spain to notice this fact. I spent my 4 first years of studies in the University of Valladolid, and since September, thanks to an exchange program, I study at the Technical University of Catalonia, in Barcelona.

Well, I went back home for Christamas holidays, and since my exams start on the 7th of January I have to study here in Valladolid. As I am taking part in a exchange program, I have full rights to use UVa facilities. The problem is that... they decide to close for Christmas. Only the 'Aulario' ('Classroom building', a place with several classrooms with chairs and tables, nothing else) is opened... until 19.45. And just until Thursday. Which means that from 29th of December till 2nd of January, the University is just out of order, and all of its buildings, just closed. (Moreover, the server of the library, which you can use to browse through IEEExplore, for instance, is down, and it won't be repaired until the 2nd of January, since the university is closed!).

If I had stayed in Barcelona, I could have gone to the library of my campus, which remains opened until 2.30 AM (and 'library' means 'library', not 'building with classrooms'). This is just a small thing. But after a while, you notice so many small things that you understand why some people talk about 1st class and 2nd class.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry FSMas

As a supporter of the Pastafarian religion: MERRY FSMAS TO ALL!!!

FSM

(For all those who don't know what the hell I'm talking about, check the link above :))

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Spain is different (from Finland)

Education in Spain has never been good, all of us know that. But lately it's getting worse and worse. The results of the PISA Report (which assesses the abilities and knowledge of students in different fields) shows the poor performance of Spanish high-school students. On the other hand, Finland kicks ass in the 1st position.

Why? Well, in this article (in Spanish) they travel to Finland and try to find out the reasons. But I think that two of them are the most important:

1. Quality public education: in Finland, 95% of schools are public, and their quality is the same as private schools. What's more, there aren't significative differences among public schools, all of them have the same quality standards. In Spain, only 65% of schools are public... and most of the private schools are also funded by the government! In some regions (since education is controlled by regional governments) private schools are being favoured instead of the public schools, and sometimes it's just because of political reasons: the understanding between the ultra-conservative Catholic bishops (which control almost all the private education) and the right-wing politics is total.

The results of this kind of policies are obvious: degraded public schools, sometimes with more than 90% of students coming from other countries or belonging to ethnical minorities like gipsies (public-funded private schools usually don't have this problem, what a surprise) , with overloaded teachers who cannot deal with crowded and conflictive classrooms, and so on. And our "brilliant" politicians seem not to give a shit about all these problems. They prefer to argue about compulsory Catholic Religion lessons (!), "Citizenship education" (?) or the number of hours that regional languages should be taught (everybody knows that in a globalised world, speaking Basque is far more important than knowing Physics).

2. Skilled and motivated teachers. Studying to be a teacher is easy in Spain. The University diploma which allows to teach in primary schools is probably the easiest to get. It takes 3 years and the requirements to enter are usually the lowest. So, obviously, our teachers are not the most skilled in the world. And besides that, it means that we have more teachers than we actually need. So if a teacher with his brand new diploma wants to work, he will spend a long time until he finds a place to do so, and he will spend years teaching in the worst possible places begore getting a permanent job. So of course their motivation is not the highest. And, how can we have good students if we don't have good teachers?

On the other hand, Finnish teachers have to pass hard exams to start their Univeristy studies, and once they have entered, the way until they get their diploma is not easy. Afterwards, they have good working conditions and they are socially well considered (whereas in Spain, being a teacher is not especially appreciated).

But I guess that Spain is different. Newspapers and TV news will talk about this issue for some weeks, they will get tired of it in some point and then everybody will forget. In the end, c'mon, we have sun, good weather, potato omelette and nice pubs. Not like those Finns.

/I heard in TV news that 'introducing the Electronic ID, Spain will be at the forefront of European technology'. They should know that Estonians introduced it years ago and they are allowed even to vote online. Besides the fact that all the country is covered by public and free wifi, even grandmas use computers, you can pay everywhere any time using your credit card, and to park your car and then pay you just need a cellphone.

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The first milestone in the way

Yes, I guess that I needed to do something different, after more than 3 years posting in my first blog, Arquitecturas Imaginarias. And to make the challenge a bit more interesting, I decided to wirte not only in Spanish but also in English (I will try to write more in the latter, but I might get lazy :)).

Why 'milestones'? Besides the fact that it's a word that I like, it depicts what I want this blog to be: just a place to share the small (or big) milestones of my life. And by the way, a couple of days ago I noticed that 'mil estones' means also 'a thousand times' in catalan (not easy to translate, it's not like 'mil veces' in spanish, but it means 'mil ratos'). I like also this hidden meaning.

If you are curious about me, well, there's not much that you should know. You can browse my old blog, but if you need a small 'picture' of myself: I was born in 1985 in Valladolid (Castile, Spain) where I lived most of my life (with short breaks in Vigo and Logroño) until 3 months ago, when I moved to Barcelona. I am finishing my Master on Telecommunications (although the concept of time is very flexible for me, it might happen to get my degree this summer, or the next one, or in any moment in the meanwhile). And there's one thing that I like the most: travelling.

Keep in touch.

PS: The header image is a composition of two pictures taken by me, no Flickr this time. First one is from a tramway in Krakow, Poland. Second one is from one of the nicest squares of Lviv, Ukraine. Both of them were taken in September, 2006.

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