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IntlUni 2nd Partner Meeting at Warsaw University, June 5th-7th 2013

2013.08.02 | Peter Stear and Julia Cooper

Day 1. Hotel Metropol. Between Warsaw’s Frederick Chopin airport and the rather charmless Hotel Metropol, located centrally at Rondo Dmovskiesgo, is an approximate 27-minute bus drive. For most of us this was our first glimpse of Warsaw as we arrived in the course of Wednesday June 5th, an unpromising grey day accentuating the endless apartment blocks on the way to the city centre, with its landmark Cultural Palace, a post-war reconstruction gift from Stalin, now somewhat put in the shade by glitzy hotels and teeming shopping malls at Marszalkowska. 

Oddly, the huge plastic palm tree planted at the Rondo de Gaulle junction seemed to mark the end to the drabness and herald the beginning of another side of the city at Nowy Swiat. Some of us made our way down there, a quaint but noble neighborhood graced with cafés, boutiques, chapels, churches, statues, the beginnings of parks and university buildings, all peopled with students, clerics, tourists and other passers-by. Some of us may have even got as far as the old town, the Royal Palace and the big cobbled café square beyond that, all reconstructed from scratch, after their near complete destruction in the Second World War.

While participants from the 35+ partner universities were still making their way to the Metropol for the main meeting the following day, Karen Lauridsen chaired the opening round of discussions as the Management Committee met to finalize details. She opened the meeting by reviewing necessary changes and achievements since the MC last met in Copenhagen. In particular, Karen explained that the draft proposal needed to be revised with a view to the requirements of communicating our research to a wider audience. This included greater coherence overall to the three parts as well as more clarity and visualization of the data to facilitate accessibility. There was further discussion of the precise format required for the full partner meeting the next day. This was followed by dinner, also at the Metropol, where understaffed waiters did their best to get the orders out.

Day 2. Tyszkiewicz-Potocki Palace. At the university conference hall, delegates were pleased to receive the full red carpet treatment in the heart of the old quarter, in contrast to the cold shower treatment (literally and metaphorically) at the Metropol. The formal welcoming speech was delivered by the Vice-Rector of the University of Warsaw, Prof. Marta Kici?ska-Habior. As she explained, the university, founded in 1816 and with a long tradition of research, has more recently won prestigious awards for its efforts in internationalization.

The three main sessions that took up the remainder of the day – including reviewing Karen’s introductory chapter and the WP2 & 3 reports – were punctuated by coffee breaks and a lunch break in the lavish surroundings of the Billiard and Ballroom. Several of us took the opportunity to participate in a special a guided tour of the university and some went for a stroll down Krakowskie Pzedmiescie in what by now was turning into a beautifully sunny day.

In two of the main sessions, Kirsi Westerholm and Alessia Cogo (WP2) followed by Sharon Miller and Margot von Mulken (WP3) synthesized and presented the results of WP2 and WP3. Karen wrapped up the discussions of the reports by talking about the proceedings for the next 6 months. Delegates then headed off in the late afternoon knowing that they would be meeting up that very evening in Restauracja Polka, an upmarket eatery in the very heart of the Stare Miasto (Old Town).  And so the day ended in cheery vaulted chambers bedecked with draperies. Much was eaten, much was drunk and much was discussed.

Day 3. Tyszkiewicz-Potocki Palace. We all emerged the next day to listen to updates by Mette and Karen on the dissemination and budgeting side of the IntlUni project. Karen rounded matters off at the end of the morning with an action plan for June to November 2013 and the preparations for the next phase, the development of WP4. Our next meeting in November 2013 will be hosted by Essex University in Colchester (UK). Many thanks go to Jolanta Urbanikowa and Danuta Romaniuk for giving us such a fantastic introduction to Warsaw and their efforts in helping us find our way. Many thanks also go to Karen Lauridsen and Mette Kastberg Lillemose for tirelessly organizing this event.

Meeting, Conference
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Peter Stear and Julia Cooper

Revised 04.04.2016