When we arrived in Luxembourg it was snowing, and it felt like a real winter wonderland. We used the public transport system to move around the city and later visit the different campuses of the University of Luxembourg. Our first impression was, that it is a very simple and clever system, which is understandable for every visitor coming to the city. It is very progressive that the government has decided that the public transport system is going to be free for everyone as of 2020. Already today a certain group of citizens (e.g. children, students or elderly people) do not have to pay to use it.
The main campus of the University of Luxembourg is located at Campus Belval near the French boarder and 30 minutes by train away from Luxembourg city. However, older campuses also still exist in Luxemburg city as for example the Campus Kirchberg or Campus Limpertsberg. It is the aim to move them all to the Belval Campus. The first three days of our exchange, we worked at the “Luxembourg Learning Centre“ at the Belval Campus. It is an impressive building, which was opened in September 2018. The workspace was created and designed for different learning settings (e.g. individual, small or bigger groups, working together on a screen). Even if you need to make a call or take a nap there are special places to go to. The building is very stimulating, modern and forward looking, which we find missing at our university at home.
In the middle of the week, we were lucky to meet our CETE-partner and supervisor Prof. Dr. Charles Max. He had organized our stay at the university, helped us to get our “external staff“ patches from the security and showed us our office in the „Maison du Nombre“ building on campus. Due to one of our patches only opening the buildings entry and the other patch only the door to the office, we had to stick together and were always known as the “scholar twins“. Fun fact: some of the walls in the building are to write on with a washable marker and were used by the staff as well as the students.
Discovering Luxemburg City
After the first week had gone by so fast, we were starting to discover our new home. Luxembourg is a multicultural and multilingual city with a monarchy. The city counts 114,303 inhabitants. In addition, thousands of people commute on a daily base from France, Germany or Belgium to Luxembourg, which makes the streets and public transportsystem very crowded.
For such a small capital city it has a lot to offer. In the old city center we visited the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Luxembourg from the 17th century. Next to it is the National Library and one of the many Christmas Markets of the city. Especially when it gets dark it looks magical due to the city’s Winterlights Festival. And even the faculty was decorated.
The museums of Luxembourg are free for students. We used this opportunity and visited the Musée national d’histoire et d’art and a special photography exhibition by the New York Times called „Hard Truth“ in the city’s town house.
Besides all the sightseeing we still focused on our academic work. We were able to reach our first mile stones of this exchange. These included finishing an article on the attributional explanations of primary-school pupils for individual success and failure on technological tasks as well as developing a coding system on technological problem-solving. We also had the opportunity to present our Ph.D. thesis in a private four-hour colloquium with Prof. Dr. Charles Max. It was a very productive consultation with new ideas and reflections on our work.
Work, work, work…
As noted before, the university is still divided in different campuses. We also wanted to have a look at the Campus Kirchberg and Campus Limpertsberg. While the Faculties Engineering Sciences are located at the Campus Kirchberg, the Campus Limpertsberg focuses on a Physics and Materials Science Research Unit. These two campuses were older and greener but did not offer any work space or libraries for students.
During this time, we wanted to reach our next milestones to write about the primary-school pupils concept of abilities in technology and test the developed code system on sample videos. To survive the amount of work, we tried many different coffee places and cafeterias. Charles Max recommended the Brasserie des Sciences Humaines. Tip for the next visitors: The best coffee place is in the Belval Shopping Centre right next to the University.
When we were discovering the city and its district Kirchberg a little bit more, we visited the Philharmonie and the Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean. From the Ascenseur Elevator at the Plateau St. Esprit at the city centre you could reach the district “Grund“ next to the river Alzette. There you can find the Musée National d’histoire naturelle, which is a great place for families. On our way home, we discovered the many different chocolate stores in Luxembourg, with delicious chocolate from Luxembourg, Belgium as well as France. With the end of the third week, we thought it was time to greet our colleagues and family at home and bought some postcards.
Academic talks and exchanges before saying au revoir
At the beginning of our final week, we started preparing a talk to present and discuss our research projects and first results with several members of the faculty. It was a great and intense exchange with people from different academic backgrounds. For this reason, we would like to thank Charles Max, Melissa, Haythem, Sammah and Zohreh. After hearing a presentation on a project that uses a robot to guide visitors around the Luxemburg City Museum, we were very curious about it and visited this museum as well.
However, after four weeks on campus, we had to say au revior and give back our “external staff“ patches and leave our office on campus behind. At the end of our time in Luxemburg we can say, that it is still not clear to us which language to use on a daily basis. We always switched between French, English and German. However, we could improve our French language skills and now understand a little bit more Luxembourgian (Lëtzebuergisch).
Text by Annika and Victoria