2009 was not as special and exciting as 2008, but it was close, so I really do not have any reason to complain. Now specially for my non Hungarian readers, I will present a review of my last year in English. It will probably not be short, so grab a good beer (e.g. a Rochefort 8) and some cheese, and enjoy ;)
January: I spent the New Year’s Eve alone at home, thinking about life, but it was really bad, I hope it would not happen ever again… Then – as usually in every January since 2004 – I had to study a lot for my exams. Endless, monotone days of working on the given topics and learning them later on. But I managed to stay much calmer and stress less then before, which was a success already. Not for me only, but it made things much easier for my parents too. In the meantime, we had a small one-day floorball tournament, which shoved again that we were much better than any other team in the Hungarian 2nd League. I wrote about the first official smog warning, the International Year of Astronomy and the weather of Budapest (based on public data covering 1971-2000). Somehow during exam periods, I tend to find much more interesting stuff on the Internet… I got the highest possible mark for my “big exam” (an exam covering several semesters, 4 in this case) in Astrophysics, which made me completely satisfied and happy, as this was the most important exam during my university studies. Right after my last exam I sold my wide-angle Sigma lens and bought a Canon compact from the money I got for it – at that time I was a bit fed up with serious photography… I felt love again for a short time…
February: I went to the First CoRoT International Symposium in Paris, which was my first conference abroad. I have to come up with something against falling asleep in dark seminar rooms… Coffee does not help me at all. I will never forget the first morning: it was snowing, the city was still dark and quiet, and I watched this beautiful scene from inside, enjoying a nice breakfast; warm croissant with milk and honey… After Paris, I had to write my CV and send my PhD application to the K.U.Leuven in Belgium, where I had spent a semester as an ERASMUS student earlier. After my first ride of the year I got ill (in Budapest, it is not at all common to use your bike for commuting, and when you do it during winter, people probably think you are insane), so I spent a lot of time in bed watching DVDs. Later on we became champions in the Hungarian Floorball 2nd League, 5 rounds before the end of the season… One week later, we lost in the semi-final of the Hungarian Cup, but as we were playing against the leader of the 1st League, the result was OK.
March: I participated in a charity ride, when activists of the Bike Kitchen gave 10 self-made (repaired) bikes to children having the Down syndrome. It was really heart-warming to see the true happiness of these children, when they first rode their bikes with the help of the activists. I started to write my thesis. I bought my first SPD shoes and pedals. I had my last “hike which has to be completed in a given time on a given route” (we have a word for this in Hungarian, but I have no idea about the English counterpart, but it could be e.g. performance-hike…), it was only 40 km, which is nothing compared to the 100 km one which I did in 2007 (within 21 hours and 48 minutes). Since the beginning of the month, I became a hardcore bike commuter, riding among the cars to the University and the Institute of Astronomy (which are not the same in Budapest) every day. I bought narrower tires for my bike to be even faster, and I won real money playing poker on-line ;) There were three things in my life at that time: my bike, floorball and writing my thesis…
April: The weather started to be very nice, sunny and warm, and I saw more and more riders on the street – it was a real revolution. We had a short but nice excursion with the astronomy students in the mountains (we call them mountains, but they are not like the Alps), and I started to organise NightRides in Budapest. I bought a new mobile phone, a Nokia E51, and I still like it very much. I rode my bike to our friday night floorball practice to Felsőgöd, adding an extra 49 km of cycling on top of the 2 hour training session :) I made a comparison study on the precision of different hand-held GPS devices, allowing me to deepen my knowledge in cartography. I participated in the CriticalMass for the first time in my life, and it was really fantastic – riding among 50000 cyclists through the car-free capital is awesome. I was there also on the unofficial and not completely legal real CriticalMass on the Earth Day, but it was needed to remind car drivers that air-pollution is a critical problem, and cycling is part of the solution. The NightRides became exceptionally popular, with more than 50 participants every Saturday night. I had my video-interview for the PhD position in Leuven. This was my first interview ever. On the last day of the month, I had my last real classroom lesson as a master student…
May: It started with the best NightRide ever. I tried Windows 7, but it was not convincing enough, so I still wanted a Mac. I got a PhD position in Leuven starting from the 1st of September, and this was enough motivation for my last exam period. Our last “ZH” (it is a written test, usually there are two in the semester for every practical course, one at the middle, and another just before the start of the exam period) was much easier and less strict than usual ;) I am not at all into rap music, but there was a very nice music video by Animal Cannibals (one of them is a relative of mine), elected to be the music video of the summer of 2009 later, which I really liked for several reasons. We finished on top (unbeaten) of the Second League of the Hungarian Floorball Championship, so I got my first gold medal. Just before I started to study for my last exams, I went on my first real full-day cycling tour with one of my fellow astronomy students. We rode almost 125 km through two countries and two mountainous regions! I finished my thesis in time, then I had to sit all day long at my desk learning from morning till midnight… Because I had no time to anything else, I started to use Twitter to be able to stay connected with others without turning my laptop on.
June: Sometimes I really needed motivation, and I found it in a video. After two and a half weeks of endless and almost continuous studying I got the highest mark on my big exam (covering 5 semesters) of theoretical physics, so I think on that afternoon I was the happiest person on the planet :) I can not tell how hard that exam is… To celebrate this success, we went on a 111 km ride to one of the hilly regions nearby. We had headwind in 2/3 of the time, so it completely tired us out. I went to a demonstration for better bike infrastructure on the Danube-bridges of Budapest. A dream came true, and I got a MacBook!!! I had my final exam in astronomy (it is like a thesis defense in the sense that it is the last step in your studies, but there is no presentation just questions, plus you have to explain 2 out of around 20 given topics covering almost the whole field of astronomy – one of the two is always the closest to your thesis topic) – it was perfect.
July: Right after my final exam I went to a floorball training camp for one week. We had 6 practices per day, so no wonder I was extremely tired after it. I bought a single-speed bike, which I really love. I spent my days working at the Institute (on the same data which I used in my thesis) and watching the Tour de France. I did listen to music from The Sounds. I realised that I could not ride a bike anymore without SPD shoes, and when the temperature dropped below 30°C around sunset I went cycling regularly to our newest bridge and back to train my body, not just the mind ;) I celebrated the anniversary of the flight of Apollo 11 with some nice HD movies and a picture. One month after the final exam I received my Master degree (with Distinction). That is the second best one can get, and I missed the highest ranked “Red Diploma” only because I had refused cheating on my first exam in quantum mechanics… Yeah, that is a long story showing the dark side of the higher education in Hungary…I closed the month with a nice diploma-afterparty with some of my fellow students at our home.
August: Right after the party with the astronomy students, I made a farewell-dinner for my best friends. I wanted to get out the maximum of the last weeks in Hungary with NightRides and a last one day cycling tour of almost 132 km with Dávid. I scanned some of my analog pictures from my childhood. I had to get a memory module changed in my MacBook, but after the service I had no problem with it. I rode my bike in one of the oldest velodromes of Europe. I could not finish the accomplishment (65 km out of 1105,9 km to go…) of the Hungarian Countrywide Blue Tour (I suggest visiting this link especially), but I got acknowledgement from the Hungarian Nature-Friends’ Association. My last week in Hungary was extremely crowded. I visited my grandparents, I went to the dentist (brrr…), I participated in a demonstration for cycling lanes, I watched How I Met Your Mother, and I had to pack my stuff for Leuven (which was not a one hour task). Then I flew to Belgium, I managed to find a good studio to rent in less than three days, and I started to live as a Belgian ;) Chocolate, beers, cycling and painfully slow administration…
September: I started to work as a PhD student, I got to know the others and some of the master students, my parents brought the rest of my stuff and my bike with car, we went to IKEA, etc. I rode my bike to Mechelen – I enjoyed the weather and the perfect bike-infrastructure. We decided to have a gathering every month with the old master students back from my ERASMUS semester (3 of them are now fellow PhD students). I worked a bit on the design of my blog. I presented my studio in stills and motion too. I started to play floorball in the amateur team of the city – Leuven United. On the last weekend, I rode my bike to Antwerp and back (almost 140 km) on Saturday afternoon, then on Sunday I went to Geel for a beer tasting event with Steven and Paul (that resulted in the first English post of my blog).
October: Every time we went for a drink I tried to taste a new beer :) I wrote about commuting in Leuven. Dealing with administration was really annoying, but we got used to it… I went to the Gent Film Festival to watch (500) Days of Summer with Nadia. I received my student card (finally) and staff card (finally +1), I rode through two thunderstorms… I realised that I could not live without Photoshop, so I bought it again… (I bought the Windows version 2 years ago, now I needed it for Mac…) Usually I spent the weekends alone, but I always managed to find something interesting to do. A took pictures, watched movies, rode my bike, etc. The weather was still exceptionally good compared to the average Belgian autumn. It was so warm, that I had to wait a lot until I could try my new winter cycling clothes. I made 720p HD time-lapse movies about the Arenbergkasteel and the University Library, both were very popular :)
November: We started with a photo-session around the Arenbergkasteel to capture the colours of autumn. This pulled me back a little bit into serious photography. I tried indoor climbing, and I found it to be very good! So it happened not once that I had football on Wednesday, field hockey on Thursday, climbing on Friday, floorball on Sunday, and I went cycling on another evening… With this amount of sports, I was free to eat as much (chocolate) as I can without any kind of weight problems :) We visited the Photo Museum in Antwerp, I enjoyed the amazing weather on my bike, a picture of mine was displayed on the most famous photo-blog of Leuven, I bought a Canon EOS 7D, I tried how does it feel to ride a fixed gear bike. Finally I got my address registered at the City Hall, so I could open a bank account and I could arrange my health insurance… We visited Brussels to take pictures, and the weather was so great, we could eat outside – one month before Christmas… I started to learn Dutch, and I had the best waffle of my life in Domus. We participated in a small field floorball tournament with Leuven United, but of course we lost all games as the other teams were not amateur clubs… But it was fun, and I scored most of our goals :)
December: You coud really feel that Christmas is getting closer and closer, as streets and shops on Saturdays got more and more crowded… I bought 1.5 kg of chocolate for Sinterklaas from the best Belgian companies. There was a climate summit in Copenhagen, but… Yeah, there is no significant change visible on the horizon. I bought christmas lights, a new razor, but I could not get the Adidas indoor shoes I wanted – not even in Brussels (I found them later in Budapest). I hate the crowd of shopping people before Christmas… Jonas took pictures of me in my winter cycling clothes, and I took pictures of winter arriving to Belgium, and Christmas lights at night. I saw Leuven hit by the snowstorm of the century, I saw the car drivers struggling in the snow while we passed them quite easily on our bikes :) Riding in snow was one of the most memorable moments of the year. And there was Avatar in 3D just after our very successful poker-night, a shockingly awesome experience – the best movie ever. In the last week before Christmas, we had -13°C at night and -9°C during the day, 20 cm of snow, deep blue sky and sunshine – a really exceptional winter weather in Belgium. But students kept cycling ;) I spent a week in Hungary (24-31), had a very good time with my family, I could meet my best friend (who is my ex-girlfriend), we had delicious meals and desserts at home and in restaurants… I came back to Leuven for New Year’s Eve, which I spent at Roy’s place with Steven, Jonas and Roy himself. We tasted a Top 100 wine (of 2009): Royal Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos from 2005, which I brought from Hungary (among others). And in the last days of the year – after only two practices – I was signed by the Floorball Club Tigers Kraainem, so I will play in the Belgian Floorball League Adults Division 1.
Now I have a good job, nice friends, I live in a great country (just think of the chocolate), the only important thing I still miss from my life is love. Maybe 2010 will bring a change :) Let’s hope for the best! Happy New Year to all of my readers! Boldog új évet kívánok mindenkinek! Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!