RSSA, Day 2 (7/2/2012)

Today was the first real day of the summer school!

Naturally, it had to start in a special way. I realized I had no idea how to use the freaky shower-like thingie. I tried everything I could think of and then went to C.’s room, following our typical scenario (me asking if her shower works, her replying it doesn’t, both of us freaking out and then going to the reception to ask for help). Fortunately it turned out that the shower works and the issue was with our technical abilities.
In the morning, we had a small tour around the faculty of medicine. We saw a lot of interesting things! (Skip the following paragraph if you just ate or are kinda sensitive). Fetuses’ skeletons, real conserved veins and arteries, brains, feet intersections etc. Since I’m not a medicine student, it was my first time seeing this kind of thing, which was really interesting.
Then we introduced ourselves and our research experience and interests and tried to make our new logins for internet work.
An adventurous experience was the visit of the university restaurant. What we understood clearly was how many dishes we can take for our ticket (an entrée, a main dish and cheese OR dessert). What we didn’t understand at all was when to get these. There were tons of counters and tables with tons of things and it was crowded. To be systematic, I joined the first queue I found. When I was almost at the counter, a lady said that this queue was only for the conference participants (who, by the way, were just as lost as us and stood in all the wrong places as well). So I joined the next one, only to be reminded later, that it was the profs’ queue and students should join the last one. The reward for all the peripeties was a plate with rice (with some herbs), broccoli (ew) and some fish with a mushroom/shell sauce. I picked some salad with salami as my entrée and a vanilla pudding with whipped egg white and caramel as my dessert. I was surprised that he food was a lot better than in our university restaurant. I’m not a big fan of cooked fish (I prefer raw or grilled ones), but the sauce was great. Something our university should learn as well: jugs of fresh water on the tables. Seriously, no one wants to drink the disgusting wannabe tea they serve at Albertov.
In the afternoon, we had the first lecture. It was about vaccination (and smallpox) and it was BRILLIANT. If all of our lectures at my uni were like this, I’d probably fail the exams on purpose to be able to go there again. Prof Gareth Williams was not only amazingly smart, but he was a superb speaker as well. It was perfectly clear that all 40 or so of us were excited and paid attention the whole time. I adore lectures that aren’t a loud reading of a textbook, but where you get to see a lot of the professor’s personality, his views and opinions. That’s why we have live lectures after all, I can read perfectly well myself, I don’t need any readers. At the end, we had a workshop, divided into groups. I was in a group whose task was to persuade anxious parents to vaccinate their child. It was quite interesting. We had a lecture about vaccination during my virology course as well, but trying to use the arguments IRL was really interesting. I got picked as the group representative, which meant I was the one pretending to be a doctor. Fortunately, another member of our group was picked to play the anxious parent and he was a really great actor. Some other groups had to pretend to be a researcher on TV talking about the advantages of vaccination, and some had to persuade parents of a child that suffered from side effects of vaccination that it’s not a reason to never vaccinate their children again. Seriously, people, don’t refuse vaccination! Most of the stuff the anti-vaccination groups say is complete rubbish that only works with psychological weapons that make people emotional.
Anyway, the official beginning of the RSSA 2012 followed and the dean and the vice-president of the international relations office gave a wonderful speech.
In the evening, there was an amazing barbecue. Seriously, I feel sorry for the French students who take care of us, because they’re so busy and yet they’re always super nice! It must be really tough. The barbecue they prepared was splendid. I was stuffed, because I wanted to taste everything. A surprising thing was when I was talking to some people, suddenly a lady popped behind me and said “You’re American!”. I was really taken aback, because my English is nowhere near a native speaker and I have a horrible Slavic accent. She said she worked as scientific article editor, which was really interesting (I always wondered how come scientists seemed to be good writers as well, this explains it!). Also, the vice-president made sure to talk to every one of us during the evening, that was really nice and considerate! It was obvious that everyone really cared about us and was happy we came, what a huge difference from how one gets often treated at my uni.
After the barbecue, several of us decided to go the supermarket to get some drinks and food for the next day. On the way there, we met a guy from Casablanca/London who asked us to join him for a drink. So we went to the bar after we were done with the shopping (the bar was really nice!). It was me, K. and S. Me and S. (girls) got a beer cocktail called Le Presbytere.
It was really cute! Anyway, at first it was fun and interesting, talking to another foreigner who wasn’t part of RSSA. But gradually, it became a lot less nice and a lot more weird. First of all, I don’t like being hit on. Even more so if I don’t fancy the guy, he could (almost) be my dad and switches between annoying me and the other girl. Thank god K. would always distract him when he got too annoying. And second, I didn’t like the way he talked about stuff. It’s really hard to explain, but it’s a kind of “I’m a saint, I’m different” and being too open and simply sounding really fake and emotional at the same time, just weird.
Gradually, we left, because there really was no point in staying. We went to the tram stop and looked at the map. There was a big red arrow pointing to where we were supposed to be. We rejoiced, since it looked like we were really close to our bus stop. So we walked. And walked. And there was no river (that was supposed to be there). And we looked nothing like a bunch of young scholars - we were kinda drunk, carrying shopping bags and speaking really funny French. Somehow though, K.’s natural charisma persuaded a nice French guy not only to give us directions, but also to give us a ride to a bus stop where many night buses come. It turned out that he red arrow was wrong, we were at a completely different tram stop and walked in the wrong direction. When we got to the bus stop thanks to our savior, we couldn’t figure out what bus to take. Another nice man informed us that we kinda missed the last bus and the next one was coming in about 6 hours. And he called a taxi for us! Seriously, we were so lucky! The taxi was kinda expensive though, because we later learnt that they charge extra fee for taking you someplace at night. So, if you ever go to Angers, make sure not to miss the last bus that leaves before 1 a.m. No wonder there was almost no one on the streets at night! The city goes to sleep right after watching the bedtime story.

Yours truly


  1. Oh my, I would have loved to tour the faculty of medicine. Skeletons, veins, and brains! Good times!

    Vita, I would like to inform you that I nominated you for two awards. I hope you'll accept them, the post is on my blog. Congratulations :)

    1. I should have taken some pictures. XD Thank you very much, I really appreciate it. But I'm afraid I won't get to it until I come back from Croatia in 3 weeks. :(

    2. Oh, the pictures would have been lovely ;)
      And of course, I love to read your blog, so nominating you was a natural decision. Excited to see what you will write :)