(two days of information for you!)

Yesterday we had the opportunity to watch an astronomy student defend here thesis and receive her PhD!  It was held in an old building of the university - and as someone told me, it actually is old, not just pretending to look like it's old.  There were really neat paintings covering the walls too.  As for her defense, there was only an allotted amount of time for questions, and once they were up, the faculty left to deliberate upon returning with granting Isa, the student, with her doctorate degree.

a wall in the courtyard of the university building

The building shared a courtyard that led into the Hortus Botanicus, the botanical garden in Leiden.  While I was in Washington, D.C. in March attending the National Space Grant Directors Meeting, one of the Wisconsin representatives had shared with me that the botanical garden was definitely a place to go while here, as they have an Amorphophallus titanum, also known as the Titan arum.  This plant, takes 10 to 15 years to flower and only flowers for two days and nights.  During this time, to attract lots of insects, it gives off a smell of rotting flesh.  They're also pretty giant in size, about 2.5 meters tall.  I won't be here during its "smelly" time, but it will definitely be cool to see.  I plan on going soon and will post pictures of course!

In celebration of completing her PhD, there was a get together at a jazz bar in town.  It was really fun and I got to meet many of the astronomy PhD students.  They have almost 60!  (a HUGE department if you ask me!)  The music was very nice too; the singer was a friend of Isa's and performed at her request.  Isa is from Brazil so when giving speeches and their congratulations, one of the last gifts was given to her by a fellow student that had volunteered to be dressed in feathers and glitter.  Thereafter, everyone ended up with glitter on their faces, including myself and some of the faculty.  They also re-did a song, here, with lyrics that made good fun of her research since starting her advanced studies.  

Today was another normal day at work.  It's Wednesday, so that means that the market takes place, just smaller than Saturday's.  This also meant that fresh stroopwafels were in the air.  For lunch, Maya and I biked into town and got some wafels and ate our lunches along one of the canals.  It was a little chilly today but very nice sitting in the sun.  It was her first stroopwafel, and I think we will both be getting another stroop on Saturday.
One of my shining moments today too, totally ran into another biker.  We were both coming around a corner of a building and yep, that explains it all.  It's all ok though, just maybe one of my more clumsy or embarrassing moments!

This afternoon we met with George Miley and another student from the US (she is from California) about the idea of creating and implementing a program in the US.  I think we are all just itching of excitement and ideas; I know I am!  I think some great ideas were tossed around as to where to find the funding and where/who would be the best to target to run the programs.  I don't want to leave Leiden, but at the same time, I'm dying inside to return to start sharing UNAWE at home.  Other than that, we are continuing with progress on the website and board game.

I also created a list of all the museums that I'd like to go to and other 'must see' Dutch things.  I am going to recommend, further from a recommendation that I've received, that if you are going to be traveling to the Netherlands, you should buy a 'museum card'.  They are about 40 euros, but get you into, what I believe, 100+ museums in the Netherlands.  If you are visiting even 4 museums, it is worth the cost and I have already found 7!