Saturday, November 25, 2006

Meetings can be fun. ESIB's board meetings are among the funniest. They're also more detrimental to health than a three-day binge in Tr√łndelag.

ESIB stands for The National Unions of Students in Europe. It started out as the Western European Student Information Bureau (WESIB), but as its members became more numerous (45 national unions today), agreeing on a new and more logical abbreviated name became impossible.

Until next Sunday, I'll be sitting in a meeting room or wandering around in the Parisian night, arguing a bit, listening a bit more and make a few humble contributions to the greater discussions. The debates tend to last long and are never finished on time, which in practice means that we are lucky to get out of the room before ten PM.

After the meeting closes for the day, a few members of the board get drunk. After all, this pan-European general assembly only takes place twice a year, so it's important to catch the debates as well as the parties.

And so the story goes for the week that the board meeting lasts. We meet interesting people, learn a lot about each other's countries and we also like to believe that we are one of the actors that are shaping Europe's future.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Star struck

MOSCOW: Barred by closed doors, this the closest I got to the ultimate centre of power in Russia: the Kremlin. The shining Soviet red star on top of the citadel's spears leaves no doubt: Vladimir Vladimirovych Putin's Russia is not quite finished with the era initiated by Lenin in 1922 and brought to an end by Gorbachev in 1991. (Photo by Bernadette Farrell)

Most of the three days in Moscow was spent with Sjur Bergan (left) and other hotshots of European higher education at a conference at the People's Friendship University of Russia. The theme was the role of students in higher education. Most of the speakers seemed to agree that student involvement is a must. It will probably take a quite a few years before students are truly recognised as equal partners, though.

The Russian capital is cold in November. Katharina, Bernadette, Tamara and Rossella were happy to find plenty of knitwear vendors in the famous street of Stary Arbat.

We searched in vain for a cheap meal at what appeared to be one of the most expensive restaurants in the city...

But the entertainment was impeccable. This guy was singing his heart out.