SpaceUP NL

science communication

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Last month, I attended my second Space Up event with some friends. As an unconference, it challenges the usual constraints found within a traditional conference environment and invites the participants to shape the topics and structure of the day.

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Space Up NL took place at the Space EXPO, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) museum on the space campus here in the Netherlands.

Featuring a model of the Columbus module of the International Space Station, satellite mock-ups and more, it really was the perfect location to discuss why space matters, what’s next in the space industry and how to inspire the next generation.

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Of course, I had to take advantage of the Cupola module. Here I am, pretending to be an astronaut and posing with a cardboard cutout of one too!

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There was a great variety of talks on the day. A particular highlight of mine was on ESA’s Asteroid Impact Mission – which intends to crash into an asteroid to understand it. (Bruce Willis eat your heart out!)

Other talks were more personal, triggering discussions with the audience on topics such as entrepreneurship, science communication and whether we should ban commercial spaceflight.

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Space Up NL just so happened to fall on 3 October, or 3 Oktober – a national holiday in the city of Leiden where fellow Leiden blogger Molly and I live. Our neighbourhood turned into a funfair for the weekend, making for both a beautiful, if not fairly random end to the day.

If you’d like to take part in a space unconference too, the next Space Up is in Tokyo on 22 November, with the next European Space Up taking place next February 2016 in Helsinki.

-Nikita

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Easter Weekend

All, life, personal, Travel

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This Easter, my folks paid me a visit in (sometimes) sunny Holland. It was a wonderful long weekend filled with cheese, chocolate, Indian food, boat trips and general tourist-like behavior.

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The tulip and cheese museums were a big hit. Unlimited cheese sampling + tulips = a winning combination in my books.

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Standing by the Amsterdam sign without being photobombed by several other tourists is pretty much near impossible on Easter weekend, but I’m glad I finally took a photo by the famous sign after having lived here for over 3 months already!

Easter and food go hand in hand (just like Christmas, calories don’t count during Easter remember)! After a spot of baking, I ticked off two other Dutch delicacies as I tried Dutch pancakes and Hagelslag .

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Nutella and banana is one of my favourite food combinations so I had to get that on my pancakes. Next time, I’ll be sure to try some traditionally Dutch toppings.

Hagelslag is the wonderful rainbow-sprinkled bread shown above. These sugary sprinkles eaten on buttered bread are a common children’s breakfast in the Netherlands, something that I could definitely get used to 🙂

Hope you had a wonderful Easter wherever you are in the world!

-Nikita

The Rainy Afternoon

Travel

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There’s something strangely reassuring about the sound of rain. When you’re inside and have a cup of something warm to wrap your hands around – that to me is the best way to spend a rainy day. Recently, I ventured to Starbucks and did just that. Usually I’d prefer to find a cute, local café to support but this time we found the first place giving us shelter from the rain.

This particular Starbucks is in fact the coffee place I visited the most during my first trip to the Netherlands back in November, so it was nice to be back now that I live here 🙂 As the winter days seem to merge into one rainy day, occasional bursts of sunshine are starting to break through the clouds, putting a smile on everybody’s face. Spring, I’m ready for you!

-Nikita

From London to Leiden

All, Travel

Hello and Happy New Year!

With January almost over, I’ve spent the first month of 2015 getting settled into my new home and it’s about time I shared it on my blog 🙂

New Year, new country, new job. It seems that every year has brought me to another part of the world. This time last year I was living in southern Germany, where I interned at the European Southern Observatory in Munich. This year, I have moved from my home in London, to the picturesque city of Leiden.

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Located in South Holland, Leiden is a beautiful part of the Netherlands around half an hour from Amsterdam by train. Situated almost too-close to the UK, I flew across the English Channel to Amsterdam a few days after the start of 2015. We were delayed in the aircraft for a few hours, however the pilots let us take a tour of the flight deck while we waited 🙂

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I’ve been living in working in this quaint city for almost a month now and have attempted to capture the beauty of my surroundings in a few (mostly rainy) photos that I’ll share with you in this post. The weather may not be that different to home, but that’s all that London and Leiden have in common it seems!

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Dotted with cute flower, cheese and bread stores, the cobbled streets of Leiden are a world away from the London skyline. With a bridge over one of the many winding Dutch canals around every corner, my new home is an enchanting European city with a little character and a lot of bikes!

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I’m working as a Science Editor at communications company EJR-Quartz, where we do the web content and editorial work for clients including the European Space Agency (ESA) and the German Aerospace Centre (DLR). It’s a great place to be working in the space industry, with ESA centre, ESTEC situated nearby.

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The winter is a cold yet beautiful time to be here. The frosty morning air is a great wake-me-up on my walk to work and the icy canals make for perfect photos – framed at night by old-fashioned street lanterns.

Leiden will be the first place I’ll be living in for more than 5 months in recent years. Travelling as often as I do, makes you appreciate the contrary notion of settling in one place and making it home.

I’m looking forward to seeing Leiden in different lights as the seasons change throughout the year 🙂

-Nikita