Sunday, May 9, 2010

My Week, in Reverse

Saturday, May 8th: Dresden

Yesterday I was a slacker tourist in the lovely town of Dresden. I had no guidebook, no map – not even a sense of what one would want to see in Dresden – when I arrived at Dresden’s main station around 2 pm. Since it was a pleasant, sunny but not-too-hot Saturday, I took the opportunity to wander around an unfamiliar city.

This cute little map from a 2006 NY Times article depicts quite nicely how Dresden makes me feel.

By far the most memorable landmark is the church Frauenkirche (rebuilt after being destroyed for the most part in the war):

But my favorite part of Dresden is off the map – a neighborhood up in the NE corner called Äußere Neustadt (“Outer New City”) which is the seemingly trendiest part of the city. I happened upon such fun finds as the Kunsthof Passage – a series of connecting courtyards designed by artists and occupied by cute boutiques and restaurants - and Alaunpark, where I rested and observed picnicking, Frisbee-playing, and Bachelorette-partying. And where I also tried to take an artsy picture:

Wednesday, May 5th: My Talk on Linguistics & Genetics

For me the big, defining event of last week was my presentation on the research I came to the Max Planck Institute to do. While the presentation itself went well and I got fairly good feedback, I was nevertheless exhausted after the stress of preparing and delivering a talk to an intimidating audience.

Oh, and what work did I present on? Well, as a Slavic linguist I’ve been especially interested in a few particular questions, such as: how did the Slavic languages come to be spoken over most of Eastern Europe? And, how and why did the Slavic languages change in the course of their expansion? I’ve relied mostly on linguistic, as well as some cultural historical, information to explore these problems. But recently I’ve started looking at how genetics research can help improve our understanding of the history of human populations. I myself don’t do the genetics research, but I’m instead trying to understand the field as best as possible to develop future research collaborations.

But I won’t bore you with any more details about this. At least for now. ☺

Sunday, May 2nd: Artists’ Colony in Leipzig

Wow. Leipzig is home to some nifty modern art movements that I am not qualified to say much about. What I can say is that I was blown away by the sheer size of the “artists’ colony” at the old cotton mill, or Spinnerei, on the western edge of the city.

As I said, an old cotton mill – no smaller than a city block – was converted into dozens of artists’ studios and workspaces. I was lucky enough to be here during their open house weekend on May 1st-2nd, where I was overwhelmed by the art and the interest in art here in Leipzig.

Here are some pictures of modern art & citizens interested in modern art:

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