Saturday, November 18, 2006

I know its been over a month since ive updated... and so a fake post will be disappointing but....


Sunday, October 15, 2006

There is one movie theater in Frankfurt that plays movies in their original verson. It's called Turm Palast and these are my choices this week:

The Devil Wears Prada (have already seen it)
The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (that stupid Will Ferrell movie, so no thanks)
An Inconvenient Truth (I really don't think I can ask anyone to go see that with me if I wanted to)
The Black Dahlia (I heard this was bad but I could be convinced)
Barnyard (not for me)
World Trade Center (another one of those that no one would see with me even if I wanted to see it in the first place)
Click (I didn't see it when it came out and I still feel the same)
You, Me and Dupree (see above)
Cars (seen it)
Thank You For Smoking (also seen this one)
Miami Vice (see You, Me and Dupree and Click)

Everything else is in German, but pretty much the same movies.
Science of Sleep is out here, and I might be able to handle German subtitles.
Also a German film called Das Parfum, which might be a little hard to understand (I can handle Batman Begins and Bruce Almighty, but this one looks a little tough)..

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I made it!

I have been here in Darmstadt for a week, and after some (im) patient waiting, I finally have access to the internet. How I missed it!

However, from the beginning!

Unfortunately, the airport was not a great place to say goodbye to Pat, Mom and Dad, but it had to be done. Security was no problem, and all of the sudden, I was on my way. The wait was fine and I ended up breaking out my laptop to check how to catch the bus when I arrived in Frankfurt. The flight was fine. It was a pretty small plane, but I only had to sit next to one person. I could not sleep, as usual.

Our plane did not pull into a gate at the airport, so we climbed down the stairs and took a bus to the airport (not very long). I got through customs with no hassle and the wait for the bags were not very long. I apparently had just missed a bus to Darmstadt but they leave every half hour so I just took the next one. The bus stop was moved back a little, because of construction, so there were a few people looking confused standing around. One of them looked like a student, but it turned out that he was going to the Fachhochschule (read: college instead of university). When I arrived at the main train station in Darmstadt, Michelle Cunningham from the North American Study Abroad office was waiting for me. She took me to my room and explained a few things that I'd be doing over the next few weeks and told me that she was taking a large number of personal days, but her office usually had graduate assistants there to help.

My room was pretty bare when I first moved in, but now it's filling up nicely.

I live in an apartment with 3 other people. When you walk in the door, you are already in the kitchen (no living room). There are two doors from the kitchen and each goes to a tiny hallway. The hallways open to two bedrooms and a bathroom, which has a tiny but pretty good shower.

I have met two of my 'suitemates' so far. There is Erhan, with whom I share a bathroom, and there is Mischa (whom I have not yet met) and Dorota. We don't really hang out, which I gather is not uncommon; we have no common room in which to gather, but also the placement is pretty random.

The first day, I went out a bought sheets, a pillow and a little food, then slept for the next 36 hours. The weather was pretty nasty and the second day (Oct 3) was the holiday for German Reuinification, so I did not really leave my bed. Wednesday was the Welcome Day for the Erasmus students (the program for European students to study abroad) and most other international students. We got divided into groups of 10 students randomly and had a student tutor who had already studied abroad. The groups met, and still meet, almost every day to do administrative stuff and to do other fun stuff.

On Friday, IDEA had a Welcome Grill for us. IDEA is a group of students who plan parties and outings for the international students to get to know eachother. The grill was in this little hut in the woods across the street from my apartment complex, where there was a little party the last time I was in Darmstadt. I sat at a table full of French people and there were only a few minutes they lapsed into French and I couldn't understand them.

Saturday there was supposed to be a breakfast a noon and then a walk around the city, but the Polish students and I went to find some big stores where we could get some things for our room. We found this store, Segmueller, that was kind of like IKEA, but we had to take a few buses. We spent most of the day navigating, but we had a good time.

Sunday, we left for the Get Together Weekend in Wiesbaden and Ruedesheim. We first all (120 of us) took the train from Darmstadt to Wiesbaden. Wiesbaden is the capital of Hessen, the state that Darmstadt is in. Wiesbaden is a site of lots of natural hot springs, so it was pretty popular before the first world war. It has Germany's oldest hotel, the very same hotel that had the first telephone in the room. We saw the capital building and took a huge group picture (coming soon) and saw the hotsprings in the middle of the city. We then had a picnic of sandwiches in the really nice park and were late for the train taking us to Ruedesheim.

We caught the next one, though. Ruedesheim is the second most touristy place in Germany (Neuschwannstein Castle being the first). It lays right on the bank of the Rhein River and is surrounded by vineyards. We walked around the city a little but, but since we were so late, we didn't have much time. We hiked up the mountain to see the Niederwalddenkmal, which is a GIANT memorial statue of Germania, the German spirit. It was built in 1870-ish after the Germans took the mountains from France to remind those coming for attack of the power of all the German 'kingdoms' united. It is absolutely massive and very incredible. You can see it when you're on the river, and when I saw you can see it, you can see that it is a woman holding a sword and orb, not just that there is someting up there. It was a pretty steep hike, but it was worth it. After taking group pictures in front of it, we hiked over to our youth hostel.

We had a well deserved dinner at the Hostel. Afterwards, we had a wine tasting. It was not quite like the one I did in California... there were 4 wines from the Rhein area. We sat at a table and half were blindfolded and had to taste and tell whether the wines were red, rosee or white. This does not sound hard, but all Rhein wines are pretty sweet. I guessed all four correctly, which not everyone did. The red wine was pretty sweet, and the rose also. Our table tied with two others for the most points, so we won a bottle of 'champagne,' also from the Rhein area. It was pretty good, but not like the ones in California, of course.

After the wine tasting we had a party in the basement of the hostel, and I got to see some good ol' fashioned European Discotheque-ing. The beer was cheap and the music was loud, so we all had a good time.

The next morning (yes, it was in the morning) we hiked down the mountain again to catch a river cruise. It was pretty cold, but there wasn't much room, so we had to stand upstairs. I had basically been on the same tour before, so I didn't take as many pictures. It was nice to rest, except there were lots of times when it got really chilly, and I wasn't sitting except for the last 15 minutes.

We landed in St. Goarshausen (across the river from St. Goar, where the Rheinfels castle is that I visited already) and hiked up the cliff to where the Loreley is supposed to be. There were a bajillion steps, and we hadn't eaten lunch, so we were pretty tired when we got to the top. There was a hostel up there where we ate lunch and watched the guys (french vs. spanish) play soccer. I played the German version of Bop-It (Simon Challenge: Klopfen, Rollen, Ziehen, Drehen und Tippen) with some other people.

We hiked down and waited for our train back to Darmstadt. By the time we got back, it was 9 pm and pretty cold out. I was pretty tired from not sleeping much the night before, but I made it home in time to meet the LAN-admin so he could give me internet!!

We'll be going to Heidelberg tomorrow, so there will be more pictures!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Let's see, I leave in... 17 days 10 hours and 20 minutes. Holy guacamole.

Have ALL my forms turned in EXCEPT the course approval form. I sent a package to Professor Lange so he could approve my courses, but that is not done yet. Nor will it be until at least Tuesday. That's past the two week deadline but yknow what? That's just too bad, because I can't do anything about it.

Anyway, I have purchased train tickets to Chambana. Leaving Monday the 18th at 4-ish and returning to Chicago Wednesday the 20th around 10-ish. So far the plan is this:

Monday I'll be (possibly) talking about internship stuff, but maybe on Tuesday. Tuesday night also includes study abroad talking. I have to remember to find as many pictures as I can to bring. On Tuesday morning, I'm meeting with Professor Lange at 9 (!!!) am. Who'da thunk I could get up that early, but shoo' its sleeping in :) No other plans as of yet, but will try to meet up with everyone I missed last time I went down there.

We have had tickets to LA for a while, but now we have a hotel. Mom picked a nice one, albiet expensive. She had such a hard time choosing because the ratings and reviews were bad or the place was expensive. But we found a place close to Marisa's place, so we're good. I'm really looking forward to visiting her. I've never been to LA.. I hope it's warm :D So far we don't really have any plans, but we were thinking about going to some museums.

Tomorrow is my last day at Bovis... strange to think. I've been here almost 4 months. Will miss the field. Not the office as much... I will try to come on Saturday to watch the tower crane jump. Don't know what time, but maybe I can convice Mom to come have an early lunch or something..

Very Very Very excited! I was reading a guidebook on Switzerland and the skiing sounds incredible. There was one place that had over 200 chair lifts. 200! I am definetly doing that during my break. Yayayyayay!

Friday, August 11, 2006

So I guess traveling abroad is even easier now... no liquids huh? The only qualm I have about that is contact solution. For me anyways. I guess I'll just have to wear my glasses when I fly for 8 hrs because I'm not even going to try to be in a plane for 8 hrs with contacts.

But next weekend, when I go to San Francisco for my aunt's wedding... will be a little crazy. My mom is wondering if we can bring, like, sandwiches... I assume we will be able to, but even if you buy a beverage in the airport you have to drink it before you get on the plane.

::sigh:: I dislike flying.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

According to the countdown I have going on my desktop at work, I have 54 days, 7 hours, 54 minutes and 1 second until my flight leaves for Germany.

So that's a lot of time, right?

I mean, normally, I would have to plan a few shopping trips to make sure I had everything (shampoo, toothpaste, etc.) but I plan on buying it all there so I have more room for other stuff. I would also go shoes and clothes shopping, for fun, but again, I liked shopping in Germany, so I'll try to hold off on that.

All I really have to get are maybe some new pairs of underwear (taking place of the old pairs, not adding to my collection), socks (same) and a few adapters (I have one for IPod, just need one at least for computer).

AND I have to go through all my stuff and decide what I'll bring. Will be tough as I have to bring winter stuff now... coat, gloves, hat, snowpants? For skiing? I'll bring my skiis after Christmas...

Also, Marisa bought a ticket to come visit (yay!) March 16th (she thinks). Maddie and Emily seem pretty serious about visiting me in Darmstadt during U of I's spring break, so I don't think I'll make it over to London to meet WIMSE girls... I will try but it's too far away yet.

Going to LA Sept. 21st thru the 25th (I think). Haven't bought ticket yet, but I will soon.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Right, so I haven't left yet (date is currently set at Sunday, October 1). But there's a lot that has to come before I travel, so you all will listen to me rant about IPENG, freak out about living on another continent for a year, look forward to going back to Darmstadt, etc.

Current problems:
  • Do not have my passport back yet. Not as major as it could be, because I assume it's on its way. I sent it in to be renewed July 1, so, in another month or so, it should get here.
  • Do not have classes approved. Waiting to hear if I have to get ones for both Winter and Summer semester approved before I go. I have Winter all picked out (except for the fact that I can't find Spanish 1. Looks like Italian? Polish? Turkish?)
  • Do not have a few forms in. This is not major yet, as they are due only two weeks before I leave, but I don't even know what some of these forms are, so... Hopefully they'll send me them because I don't have them.

Apart from those, anxieties include packing. Have not thought about it too in depth because it's early yet.

I started making a list of places I want to visit. Here it is so far:


Think I can get it done in a year? Let's hope so!