Research, Produce, Circulate

The Philosophy and Science of Roger Bacon

What a pleasure to finally see this book published!

Yael Kedar and I have edited it in honour of a very special person, Jeremiah Hackett, who has given so much to scholarship and to whom I owe an huge debt of personal gratitude.

I am also grateful to all the contributors that made this volume possible. And it is a very good book indeed, in honour of a fantastic scholar whose studies have marked indelibly the understanding of medieval philosophy and science.

Milestones, Research, Produce, Circulate

The Elusive Substrate

It took more than a year to organise. And it will take more than one year to be completed. It starts with Julius Cesar and ends with Yongzheng, more than eight thousand kilometres away and seventeen centuries later. And it is all about matter!!

Here’s the poster of The Elusive Substrate: Prime Matter and Hylomorphism from Ancient Rome to Early Qing China. It’s going to be quite a journey, historically and philosophically.

Scattered Thoughts

Some reflections on the notion of “psychological safety” in academia

Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have been reading some recently published papers marked by some harsh rhetoric bordering on personal offence to other colleagues in the field. Something similar is happening with peer-review reports from referees with whom we are collaborating – a situation that some colleagues at other journals have told me they have experienced as well. It might be just an outcome of the pandemic, which is affecting so much our daily lives in ways that are not fully realised or processed. Yet, it made me think of a notion that I consider central to my activity as scholar, although it is mostly nurtured in the private sector: the notion of psychological safety.

Elaborated and discussed by Amy Edmondson (2018), psychological safety is the basis of an inclusive, creative, and caring work environment. Broadly speaking, it corresponds to the mindset by which every member of a working team feels free to speak their mind freely, without having to fear any consequences at either personal or professional levels. This – of course – does not imply that there are neither wrong or right answers nor bad or good decision. It just makes clear that the way by which feedbacks are given is directly related to the construction of any work environment. In turn, a positive work environment is crucial because the output of a collaborator is profoundly affected by it in terms of motivation, attachment to and caring for the business, and creativity. The latter in particular is central to academia. If any advancement of knowledge is to be found in the elaboration of different points of view and the divergent interpretations that change the way by which we look at something, then, it is evident how important a creative approach is. Yet to properly been nurtured, creativity requires a constructive, positive, and open environment – it needs psychological safety. Only in this way scholars – especially young scholars – can feel free to propose something new without fearing ostracising consequences.

In my opinion (and it is a very humble opinion, since I am not a psychologist nor a pedagogist), the construction of a psychologically safe environment in academia implies the adoption of two simple and correlated “practices” that are very well known by academics – or at least, they should be. Firstly, (1.) any feedback should always be a constructive feedback since it has to correct a weakness by instructing (i.e., making them understand, not just execute) a different point of view. This is a basic approach of teaching and, accordingly, one should expect academics to apply it constantly, with both students and colleagues. Sadly, this does not appear to be the case, at least not very often. I believe that one of the causes of this attitude is the lack of proper training of the teaching staff (and, therefore, it affects students before fellow scholars, which is even worse), but I will leave this point to another time. Secondly, (2.) when giving a feedback our mindset should be grounded on another notion, that of divergent thinking (first proposed by Guilford 1956). We should be open to consider another point of view, even the opposite stance, with an open mind. In most cases, there is no need to even mention this fundamental aspect. I know many colleagues that have humbly changed their positions after having considered things from a different point of view and I have myself done the same. However, this scientific humility is something that has to be nurtured by each one of us. The reason is simple and connected to the interpretative stratification of our work.

Let’s suppose that A elaborates an interpretation of x during their early career. A receives good feedbacks and uses the A-interpretation to read also y and z. Throughout many years, A has written very much about x, y, and z using the A-interpretation. This allows A to use it in further cases and that piece of knowledge (the A-interpretation) becomes a given of A’s reading of the tradition, as a first layer of a stratified interpretative knowledge that A uses while teaching and doing research. Now, let’s think that B proposed a radically different interpretation of z. The B-interpretation impacts not only on A’s interpretation of z, but also on the A-interpretation of y and x, changing the way in which z, y, and x are considered. Finally, let’s suppose that the B-interpretation is more valid than the A-interpretation, for it is based on more data and is more philosophically sound. And imagine what would happen if A is the referee of B’s article, the reviewer of B’s book, the respondent of B’s talk, or a member of the hiring committee of a post for which B is competing. Deontologically, we should assume that A, appreciating the work made by B, positively (i.e., without biases, whatever A’s final decision is) evaluates B’s interpretation. However, why should A do so, considering that B’s interpretation corresponds to the weakening of the work that A has done during the past decades? We tend to trust personal ethics in this, and we should. To that end, however, it is necessary for A – for all As – to preliminarily understand the transitional status of any interpretation and that interpretations and theories are not absolutely right only because they have been accepted now or in the past. This corresponds to practicing divergent thinking, to open our perspective to alternative readings without any unjustified pretension to hold preliminarily the truth about that.

I truly believe that a conjunction of these two basic practices – giving constructive feedbacks and nurturing divergent thinking – can help us constructing a better academia marked by openness, inclusivity, and, crucially, focused on the advancement of knowledge. It allows to correct mistakes and misinterpretations in a positive way, fostering a constant-learning attitude in everyone, from PhD students to full professors. It leads to sounder, steadier theories and interpretations, whose evaluation is grounded on a consideration of opposed readings and points of view. It requires us to become reflective practitioners in our work as researchers and teachers. And it creates a global work environment in which everyone feels safe to speculate and interpret, create and recreate, without biases.

Research, Produce, Circulate

Available soon: Philosophy and Science of Roger Bacon

The Philosophy and Science of Roger Bacon: Studies in Honour of Jeremiah Hackett. Edited by Nicola Polloni and Yael Kedar (Routledge, 2021)

I am particularly fond of this volume. Firstly, it is a very interesting volume that disentangles Roger Bacon’s philosophy very nicely. Secondly, I have had a lot of fun editing it with my dear friend Yael Kedar. Thirdly, the volume is dedicated to a very special person, Jeremiah Hackett, that has given so much to so many people in terms of research and beyond.

I can’t wait to have a printed copy of it! Routledge did an amazing job: the volume is already on Amazon and in April will be available to everyone. In the Spring, we shall definitively find a moment to celebrate Jerry Hackett’s contributions and discuss this volume, too.

Research, Produce, Circulate

MeLO Seminar 2021 (Winter-Spring)

After much work, the first meeting of the MeLO Seminar is going to be tomorrow. The reason why Christophe and I decided to create this seminar was to get together and talk medieval philosophy during these trying times. We could not foresee such enthusiasm and willingness to get involved. The resulting programme is very promising. And I look forward to starting the seminar tomorrow, with Dominic Dold’s fascinating discussion of the medieval intertwining of zoology and metaphysics.

Mapping the Journey, Research, Produce, Circulate

Medieval Logic and Ontology

After so many socially distanced months, we all hope that 2021 will bring something different (and better) than this tormented 2020. Quite in line with the hopes of a brighter (or at least more social) future, there is some news I shall give here.

Christophe Geudens and I have started planning something new and very promising for 2021: the MeLO Seminar! The acronym stands for “Medieval Logic and Ontology” Seminar. The plan is to bring together people from all over the world to discuss papers, ideas, and new interpretations of medieval theories from these two disciplines.

Thanks to the enthusiastic replies from many friends and colleagues, the programme looks amazing (you can read it here). We are going to meet fortnightly – lots of fun ahead! If you want to participate, just drop us a line.

It is our hope that the MeLO Seminar will help to soften the loneliness of the next few months, which are going to be quite demanding, as we wait for this pandemic to end.

Mapping the Journey

Twenty-nine kilometres away

I couldn’t resist. After all, it was my first time ever. And it is so close to here. Notwithstanding the bad weather and the pandemic, guided by two brave historians of philosophy (Jenny Pelletier and Nicolas Zeks), I have finally (yet shortly) visited Brussels! Further explorations are needed in the (hopefully near) future.

During this horrible pandemic, getting onto a train for a 29km ride to Brussels seemed like a real trip! Especially thinking that this year, for the first time in 36 years, I won’t be able to spend Christmas with my family in Tuscany.

At least, 2020 will be over in a few weeks.

This makes me think back to last December, when Alexander, Pedro, and I were writing the introduction to the new issue of Revista Española de Filosofía Medieval. And I – foreseeing a bright and sweet new year – suggested to joyfully wish “a special 2020 to everyone!”

As I have recently said to Alexander and Pedro, this year I won’t write a single word of the introduction to the December 2020 issue of Revista Española de Filosofía Medieval!!

Milestones

Lots of good news condensed in one general update

Finally, 2020 is almost finished. It felt like a decade. Just thinking that January, when I was moving to Oxford for my research stay, was only eleven months ago, well, it just doesn’t seem right. In the months following the beginning of the pandemic many things have happened. Many more were supposed to happen (from the second Berlin workshop on matter to my trip to Asia), but they didn’t. And between the first lockdown and lockdown 2.0, I didn’t feel like it was the right time to give any updates. Needless to say, now I have to give many news at once – lots of good news, actually. I will do my best to be as concise as possible.

ALEXANDER VON HUMBOLDT

Sometimes, one has to take life with a bit of Aristotle and admit that “totum et completum est quod habet principium et finem”. Started two years ago, my experience as Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow is complete and the fellowship over. In my life, I have never felt like this before. The Berlin years have given me so much in terms of research, creativity, friendship, and much more. Thinking of how my approach was when I moved there from Durham and how it is now, well, the comparison is impressive, at least to me. I will be forever grateful to Dominik Perler for his gorgeous guidance and remarkable patience during these past two years. And I will keep with me for the rest of my life a sweet and thankful memory of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

It is true what they say, that “once a Humboldtian, always a Humboldtian” – the Associazione Italiana Alexander von Humboldt will be my new home now. The spirit and example of Alexander von Humboldt will continue to inspire me and so many others in the world. Yet, something will be missed. It is the unparalleled sense of belonging to something truthfully unique and good in the widest meaning of this term. It is the memory of days spent between Bonn and Berlin with my Humboldtian friends, plans to explore Germany that never were concretised, chats with professors, researchers, and MPs while sharing some canapés in beautiful building in Mitte. Proudly and gratefully, I will keep these sweet memories with me for the rest of my life and taste them every now and then to counter the usual bitterness of academia.

LEUVEN

A new adventure has started. I have left Berlin and moved to Leuven, where I am FWO Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Philosophy of KU Leuven. Amazing, isn’t it? And in fact I am excited, delighted, and still struggling to believe that I am really here (also because the pandemic is having me working from home). Lots of new ideas and plans are currently been shaped – you will see. New promising collaborations shall be mingled with old ones into a boiling cauldron the likes of which have never been seen since Hermann of Carinthia’s. Above all, I am thrilled at the opportunity to work with scholars like Russell Friedman, Andrea Robiglio, Pieter d’Hoine, and Jan Opsomer – the best of the best!

The new project, The Shadow Within Nature: Epistemology and Ontology of Prime Matter in the Late Middle Ages (1250-1430), follows the outcomes of my Berlin project but with a different perspective. Ontology comes back at the centre of the stage. And with it, the trickiest of all hylomorphic problems: how can hylomorphism be applied to the study of nature and explain a plurality of natural phenomena and theoretical assumptions that seem to contradict it? Moving within the coordinates set by Pasnau and Maier – but sometimes daring to break them – I will try to disentangle matter from matter and element from element of this long history of ontological controversies.

HABILITATION!

The last big piece of information of this Autumn is very good news, too. Working in academia is often weird, especially during this pandemic. You do your research, write your articles, give your talks on Zoom. But you are so very often alone – even when you are not. I guess another specificity of non-tenured scholars is to wonder whether other scholars truly appreciate your work beside the good feedbacks one receives. This is why it has been unusually delightful for me to have been habilitated for associate professorship in history of philosophy by the Italian Ministry of Education! Terrific news, I know, and it means so much to me. Most importantly, I now feel like I do belong. Many will think that such formalities are not important, that it is the work we do that define us both as people and academics. And that being habilitated doesn’t give you a tenure. Both points are true, but they do not have any impact on the unique moment of being finally habilitated. It is a matter of recognition and acknowledgement, something of which I am deeply grateful and honoured.

I said above that I had two pieces of information. And I do. I have also been certified as assistant professor of philosophy by the Spanish Ministry of Education! Such a fantastic news, I am proud and flattered. Another demonstration that sacrifice and work are never in vain. I look forward to collaborating even more with my Iberian colleagues in the near future. And duly celebrate with them this good news and the others!

There would be much more to say: more news, ideas, and updates. There will be time for that, as I will try to update this section more often.

Milestones

New job!

After months of uncertainty (a secondary outcome of the pandemic), finally some splendid, fantastic news: I have been awarded a FWO senior research fellowship at KU Leuven! During the next three years I will have the much consequential opportunity to work on late medieval theories of matter (both ontological and epistemological) mentored by Russell Friedman!

I could have hoped for nothing better than this! The next three years are going to be a unique experience – I am so excited! And although I will miss Berlin (especially, my amazing colleagues here), I can’t wait to move to Leuven in the autumn.

Research, Produce, Circulate

Reshaped, cancelled, and postponed events due to COVID-19

Due to the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak, many aspects of our lives have been or are about to be affected. In this moment of grave concern, academia must do its part to contribute to the efforts put in place by governments all over the world to delay the spread of the virus. After much pondering, I have decided to do my part rescheduling, postponing, and cancelling most of the events I had planned for the forthcoming months.

Matter Reading Group
The reading group “Matter and Nature: Robert Boyle and the Criticism of Aristotle” will take place regularly from 24 April 2020, yet we will meet on Skype rather than in person. This can be a great occasion to extend the reading group to many other interested people. In case anyone wants to join the party, just drop me a line.

Prime Matter Workshop II
The second Berlin workshop on matter (“Prime Matter: The Metaphysical Foundation of Reality”) was supposed to take place at HU Berlin on 14 May 2020. Unfortunately, I had to cancel that date and I am currently looking for a suitable date in late July 2020. HU Berlin has recently cancelled all meetings and events until 20 July 2020, so it is not an easy task.
HU measures against COVID-19 can be consulted at this link.

Neil Lewis Seminar on Richard Rufus
Neil Lewis (Georgetown) was supposed to come to Berlin and give a splendid seminar on Rufus’s theory of prime matter on 26 May 2020. Considering the current situation, we are considering other options online.

Medieval Philosophical Gatherings
I had in mind a fantastic series of talks for the upcoming semester but, with almost no flights over Europe, going ahead with the organisation of the Medieval Philosophical Gathering would have been just an exercise of wishful thinking. I have therefore cancelled the series of lecture for the Summer Semester 2020. A few scholars will give lectures during the reading group (that is, via Skype).

Book Presentations
Also the book presentations that were planned for the semester – starting with Nikolaus Egel’s new edition of Bacon’s Opus tertium – are cancelled. This is a shame, also because I wanted to discuss my own new book! But there will be time in the near future, once the storm has passed.

Launch of the Roger Bacon Research Society
Much effort and weeks of planning did not save the launch of the recently founded Roger Bacon Research Society. The meeting was supposed to take place at the Warburg Institute in London on 29 May 2020, hosting the first RBRS Annual Lecture by Jeremiah Hackett. We will reschedule the meeting later in the Summer or Autumn 2020.

I know, a lot of changes: the next months are not going to be easy. Yet we must do our best to keep healthy and strong, both physically and mentally. It must not be a moment of despair. As an Italian living abroad, I am myself very concerned especially for my family and friends living under lockdown in Italy. Unfortunately, it is very likely that similar measures will be taken also in other countries in Europe and elsewhere. Considering all this, a change of plans is nothing but a trifle.

Nonetheless, this does not exempt us from trying to soften the rigidity of the situation, if we can do so. For this reason, I am thinking about possible virtual activities (i.e., on Skype or YouTube) that can help breaking the solitude and boredom of home quarantine, especially if the situation were to further deteriorate. I invite all my colleagues to do the same. Let’s find ways to stay together even if we cannot do so physically. Let’s try to convert this moment of concern and limitations into a moment of shared discussions and human closeness, as much as we can.

Mapping the Journey, Research, Produce, Circulate

Berlin Prime Matter Workshop

It has been exhausting, but so rewarding! The first Prime Matter Workshop has been an incredible success. Splendid talks, awesome speakers, brilliant discussions, and a lot of people attending.

Below, some photos taken throughout the day.

Can’t wait for the second Prime Matter Workshop, on 14 May 2020!

Mapping the Journey

The New Semester is Here!

The Winter Semester 2019 has just started. And with it, a fresh new reading group, this time dedicated to exploring Nicholas of Autrecourt’s Universal Treatise (more here). Also the Medieval Gatherings have started again with Elena Baltuta’s talk on Kilwardby’s intentionality of pain (you can watch the video here). The semester couldn’t have started in a better way!

Extensions of Reality

Extending Reality

Terrific artistic time with Rosie Reed Gold at Tate Modern! Olafur Eliasson’s exhibition has been the most beautiful, captivating, metaphysical exhibit I have ever seen in my life. It is just unique!

My immense gratitude to Rosie for this splendid experience and her unparalleled artistic guidance! A lot of inspiration for new explorations of precarious ontologies with Rosie and the Extensions Project Group (https://extensionsofreality.com/) – more soon!

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Research, Produce, Circulate

Mattia Cipriani on Thomas of Cantimpré

Shots from the enlightening talk given by Mattia Cipriani on Thomas of Cantimpré’s Liber de Natura Rerum. Almost two hours discussing source and aims, manuscripts and circulation, intricacies and implications of a fascinating author that contributed so much to the history of medieval science. Video available very soon!

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Mapping the Journey

Multi-Cultural Borderlands of Toledo

A multiplicity of perspectives on a very special subject – medieval Toledo. The former capital of the Visigoths. One of the most prominent cities in al-Andalus and one of the most relevant reinos de taifa. For centuries, the most important town in Castile.

Organised by Yasmine Beale-Rivaya (Texas State University) and María José Lop Otín (Universidad de Castilla La Mancha), the conference “The Multi-Cultural Borderlands of Medieval Toledo” has been a unique occasion to discuss many aspects related to the uniqueness of medieval Toledo and its borderlands. Borders – political, cultural, and religious borders – that are superseded and rediscovered within a town that was perilous and illuminated, shelter and prison, heavenly and infernal at the same time.

A unique conference for a unique subject, fascinating and intriguing. More info at https://www.worldlang.txstate.edu/toledo/

As always, some photos of the conference and its awesome venue.

Mapping the Journey

AAIWG in Pisa

Amazing conference in Pisa. It was the Spring conference of the AAIWG—but bigger, juicer, and more impressive, if that’s possible. For four days, we have explored the intricacies of the philosophical tradition in its intertwining of languages and problems, shifts and ideas.

So many inputs in such a short time—something unique. I have reencountered many old friends (some for the first time in person after years of emails and Skype-calls) and made many more. New ideas have arisen and I will scrupulously nurture them. And new collaborations have started or are about to start—and you will see their outcomes hopefully soon.

For now, some photos of smart people (and I) having fun in different ways.

Research, Produce, Circulate

Early Franciscan Psychology

Last Friday, we were intensively discussing the many problems arising from the study of Early-Franciscan Psychology. Lydia Schumacher (KLC) gave a splendid talk on her research on this fascinating topic. And we all were eager in trying to understand the reasons behind a very intriguing reception of Avicenna’s theories of soul and knowledge.

Research, Produce, Circulate

Structuring Nature: Our Summer School in Berlin

The programme of our Summer School is ready! Readings and lecturers are also ready. And a lot of students have applied from Europe, North America, and Asia. Just a few more days and everything will start (can’t wait!).

Questions concerning the structure of nature, and the structure of our knowledge of the natural world have long occupied philosophers and scientists working in the Western tradition, up until the present day. Especially in the ancient, medieval and early modern periods, Greek, Arabic, and Latin writers have developed a variety of approaches to construct ordered, rule-based frameworks to divide and study nature in all of its complexity.

As a result of enduring interest and continual developments, in both theoretical and practical knowledge of nature, various thinkers from these traditions have introduced novel criticisms to these systems, and others have shown through experiment and observation that long-standing preconceptions about the natural world, and our knowledge of it, do not stand up to scrutiny.

Over the course of one week, this interdisciplinary summer school will provide a conspectus of some of the many historical and modern problems associated with any attempt to formalise boundaries between minerals and other inert substances, plants, animals, and humans. It will also consider how some thinkers pushed the epistemological limits of natural science, attempting to fit new abstract theories and mathematical approaches to the study of the natural world.

“Structuring Nature” brings together a wide range of experts from ancient and medieval philosophy, classical philology, and the history of science, whose research addresses these problems in a number of language traditions, across a wide historical range. These experts will introduce students to the foundational thematic and methodological reflections on the structures of nature from antiquity to early-modern philosophy and science.

By bringing together historians of the scientific and philosophical traditions that have developed on the shores of the Mediterranean Basin, the summer school will provide the students with a unique opportunity to appreciate the historical contingencies of approaches, methods, and perspectives in the human attempts at understanding the structure of nature. In the closing discussions of each day, students will have the opportunity to critically reflect on ways of combining different methods and approaches that may eventually overcome current fragmentations and departmentalisations in the academy.

As of July 28, the summer school will be hosted in Berlin, where the students will benefit from direct access to scholars at the three organising institutions, the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, the Freie Universität Berlin, and the Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte.

The Summer School program will officially start two weeks earlier, on Monday, 15 July 2019. At this time, articles and other relevant materials will be circulated to provide the students with the background necessary to take an active part in the activities of the summer school. A final assessment of the students’ progress will be given to their presentations on Friday, 2 August 2019, as well as to their active attendance in all activities offered by the School.

Mapping the Journey

Conference in Corfu… and a trip to Greece

I have been invited to give a talk to an intriguing conference in a most beautiful place: Corfu, Greece. This has given me the special opportunity to get in touch with Greek colleagues and be enriched by their perspectives on ancient and medieval science and one feature in particular: how rhetoric impacted on the scientific discourse. The organisers, Kostas Stefou and Athanasios Efstathiou, have been the perfect hosts. I have indulged in the many culinary, artistic, and historical pleasures of this unique island. And something more…

Indeed, if you have to go to Greece, well, why not staying a bit longer and go looking for Aristotle? That’s what I thought. So, I flew from Berlin to Thessaloniki and went to Stagira. Then, having to go to Corfu from Thessaloniki, the Meteora were so close that it would have been a pity not to visit them. In the end, it has been a splendid Aristotelian trip that I shall never forget!

Mapping the Journey

Back to Durham

I have been invited to give a lecture on medieval theories of prime matter at Durham University. It has been so good to go back to the North East for this fantastic occasion to discuss many intricate points of premodern epistemology of matter! And see again my friends and the many beauties of the best region of England (sorry, London and the South, but that’s absolutely true).

Mapping the Journey

All good things…

The reading group on Calcidius and Ibn Gabirol is coming to an end—our last meeting is going to be on Feb 15th. We had some great fun trying to understand many intricate doctrinal points on ontology and cosmology. It has been wild. But also incredibly pleasurable. My most sincere gratitude goes to all the brave participants, each one of whom has added very valuable insights and interpretative perspectives.

Here’s a photo from the last session of the reading group.

Looking forward to seeing you all next semester, with a new reading group on an equally peculiar medieval thinker: Roger Bacon.

Extensions of Reality

Uncovering Matter

My friend Rosie Reed Gold visited me this weekend. It has been a special visit. Rosie is a fantastic artist based in London (you can find here some of her impressive creations and here some of the amazing photos she takes). We met in Oxford last year and since the very beginning we knew that there was something fast growing from our conversations on philosophy, art, and medieval science. A strange idea. A collaboration was looming. And it is a very special collaboration, I would say.

Rosie and I exploring new exhibits at the Berlinische Galerie
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Mapping the Journey

AvH Network Meeting in Bonn

I just came back from the very first event organised by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation I participated in. Three days of meetings, discussions, brain-storming, and good time shared with so many colleagues from all over the world, all together in Bonn. That was fantastic! It just feels so good to be part of a network so huge and diverse, made of so many brilliant minds and sponsored by such a generous institution. Can’t wait to attend the next one!

With Houda and Mattia, enjoying the poster session and a “good” cup of coffee.
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Mapping the Journey, Milestones

From Durham to Berlin

After two years, it’s time for me to leave lovely Durham and move to the big city, Berlin. This is going to change so many things. I feel proud and honoured to become a Humboldtian and am so grateful for this opportunity. I have just started my German course at the Goethe Institute and, so far, it’s quite weird to be back to the other side of the desk. Can’t wait for the proper thing (i.e., my new job) to start in a few weeks. But I am also having much fun with my fellow Humboldtians at school – all together in this linguistic and cultural adventure. Wish me good luck, or better, viel Glück!