Archive for the 'Summer break' Category

My first plane ride, chocolate, and Germany…

August 29th, 2010

Hallo!  This is how they say it in Germany.  I was happy about that because I know probably no more than 10 words in German.  At least I could understand a friendly greeting!  Also, I’ve found that German and English are very similar, so you can generally get the gist of road signs and train maps.  So yeah, the flight from New York’s JFK airport to Frankfurt International in Germany was my very first plane ride ever.  Fortunately, I liked it.  I think it might have also helped that I flew with  Singapore air, and they are quite a nice airline.  I was handed a hot towel by one of the flight attendants before the plane even took off.  I was also impressed with the vast selection of American and other international movies I could watch on my personal 6×8 screen.

So when I landed in Frankfurt, I was obviously extremely jet lagged (it was 10:30 local time, but 4:30am back home) but I was also super energized.  It kept going through my head over and over “I’m in a foreign country, I’m in a foreign country!”  I wasn’t quite sure what I was expecting, but I definitely was surprised to find that the Germany was full of white people, just like Vermont, and that the landscape was very green and mountainous…just like Vermont.  I guess I had expected to feel more out of place, if that makes sense.  I think I would have if I hadn’t been picked up at the airport by my aunt.  When we got on the Autobahn to drive to Stuttgart, where my cousins live, I was fighting to stay awake, but I was also like, “Oh my gosh I’m on the autobahn!”  Actually, my perception of the autobahn was that it was this vast highway with lots of cars driving at ungodly speeds, but what I found when I was actually riding on it was that yes, there is a speed limit (usually between 100km and 120km per hour, or 65-75mi/hr).  There are some stretches of highway where there isn’t a speed limit, but most people don’t seem to speed up too much.

I’ve actually seen a lot of sights in the short time I’ve been here.  I’ve been to the oldest concrete television tower, which is located in Stuttgart.  That was pretty cool.  The tower itself pales in stature compared to the tower in Toronto, but it is still very impressive.  You can see absolutely everywhere from the top of the tower.  Another day my cousin took me to the Ritter Sport Chocolate museum, but there was a mix-up and we ended up in a modern art exhibit.  We walked into this big room with a painting with a white background and a single word printed in the middle that translated from the German as “painting.”  Needless to say we were kind of confused, but decided to make the most of it and take a look at the exhibit.  There was a piece that looked like a giant version of the game Pick Up Sticks, and an exhibit of five painting that were all the same sized square shape, and were all painted the same color blue, but had different titles underneath.  That’s interesting….I guess.  Actually it was kind of cool, and the important thing is that we did get to the Chocolate Museum eventually, and we each bought WAY too much chocolate.

I also visited Strasbourg, France yesterday as part of a day trip I took with my aunt, uncle, and cousin.  It was only a two hour car ride, which I thought was really awesome, and entirely new country in only 2 hours!  Then I realized that Montreal is only a two hour car ride from my house, and that’s in a foreign country as well 🙂  I did not realize that the Parliament building of the European Union was in Strasbourg, and I really wanted to go and see it, but the tourism offices said that the tours were by reservation only.  Too bad.  Still, I got to see a good part of the center of Strasbourg, which is absolutely adorable.  The central part of the city is situated on an island with a small canal running around its entirely.  The streets are winding and many are cobblestone.  It feels like one of those stereotypical European towns.  The Cathedral in Strasbourg is one of the most impressive buildings I’ve ever seen.  I really love going into old churches because the whole thing is just one grand piece of art.  The details are so ornate, and the entire church is extremely detailed, not just one section or one window, but the entire cathedral.

Today, I went into a little university town called Tübingen with my uncle.  This was an extremely picturesque village.  It was built on a hill below a fairly sizable Schloß (the German word for castle).  The old part of the city has lots of winding streets and you are either going up hill or downhill on these cobblestone roads.  We walked up to the Schloß, which was still being used for academic lectures.  How cool would it be to attend class in a castle?!  The cool thing about Europe is the age of your environment.  You walk past these buildings that were built in 1488, and are STILL being used as restaurants or shops or whatever.  If a building in the US reaches its 200th birthday its basically closed down and reopened as a tourist attraction.  The buildings were actually a lot taller that I had imagined.  In some places I had a really weird feeling of being shrunk down a couple sizes because the buildings were so tall.  I guess I’m used to skyscrapers being that tall, but tall houses with peaked roofs was quite unfamiliar to me.  Another thing that Tübingen has that I think is really cool is they give gondola rides down the river.  Now, I’ve always assumed that all gondolas “live” in Venice, Italy (another city I would love to see), and never expected to encounter the boats in Germany.  Apparently it’s a pretty popular tourist attraction.  I think it would be fun to ride in a gondola some day, but we didn’t because we were to busy strolling around town.  My uncle pointed out to me that Germans like to take walks, and he’s right, I saw a lot of people out strolling through the park and along the streets.  I guess when everything is so close by walking is the only logical form of transportation.  I wasn’t complaining.  I wish I could walk more places back home.  It would be healthier, and would make not having my own car not as bad.

That’s really it for now.  I’ve been in Stuttgart six days so far, but it seems like a lot longer!  In the next couple days I hope to explore some of the museums that are in down town Stuttgart before I leave for Morocco.  It won’t be such a big deal if I don’t get to them because I will be coming back and spending the Christmas season here before heading back to the States in mid January.

Farewell Fair Fishies, So Long

July 19th, 2010

I’m devastated to say that two days ago, both my poor fish kicked the bucket.  They were such hardy little things, they survived the trip between Wooster and Fremont, OH, twice, and the slightly longer journey (about 12 hours give or take) from Wooster to Vermont.  My little sister graciously offered me the use of her slightly larger and vacant fish tank.  I took her up on the offer thinking the girls (yes I found out my fish are both girls) would enjoy a larger apartment.  So my other sister Maggie and I transferred my little darlings to the larger tank and set them down in their usual space back in our room.  Maggie was going to take care of them for me while I’m in Morocco, so she needed to learn how to properly care for them.  It was later that night that Libby noticed their tiny little bodies floating lifelessly around in the tank.  It was weird, one was doing the classic belly up at the surface act, and the other was floating vertically, just like it was standing, or hung up on a hook.  Poor little things.  I must admit I didn’t do anything at first, I couldn’t bring myself to deal with their death at the moment.

So I just left them to float for a bit, actually an entire day.  That evening I booked them tickets on the porcelain throne.  I hear it takes them to a better place.  When I went to scoop them out of the tank rigor mortise had set in and they were all stiff and frozen in the same position with their fins sticking straight out to the sides.  It reminded my of a crucifix, which was a little eerie considering one of my fish is named after the late great Pope John Paul II.  And so they floated awkwardly in the bowl for a little bit, then my mother came in to salute them and I flushed them away.  So long, and thanks for all the fish.  God I love Monty Python.

What’s more, I realized today that my cat Jemima Fish officially qualifies as a SENIOR KITTY!  She’s eight years old, and that means that she technically should be eating senior cat food.  *tear*  My baby girl is getting old!!!  I don’t want to think about losing anymore pets!  They are probably what I miss the most when I’m at school.  No offense fishes, but you’re not very good cuddly comfort buddies.

So that’s all the interesting stuff that has taken place since my last entry.  Not much I’m afraid.  Research, car trips and visiting family members are not really blog worthy material, at least not for this goals of this blog.  I don’t think anyone would be terribly interested in reading about that aspect of my life.  So I must bid thee adieu and go finish some paperwork, write a few emails, and make a phone call or two.

I have no entertaining name pertaining to the content of this post…sorry

June 20th, 2010

Um, what has happened to me since I last wrote??  Nothing remarkable actually.  I’ve been going to work, reading both novels and the news, watching TV,  grocery shopping, cooking, and listening to reruns of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me!  The NPR News Quiz, all in varying orders and degrees of intensity.  So, I haven’t been really doing anything exciting extremely noteworthy, or interesting.

One event of personal significance and excitement is that Wednesday, my dad booked my plane tickets to Morocco!!  Soooo exciting!!  I’m leaving on the 23rd of August and flying to Frankfurt, Germany to spend 10 or so days with my uncle and his family in Stuttgart.  Then I’ll fly to Rabat where I’ll get to start my program!!!!  I’ve turned in the last of my paperwork and just have to finish up a few minor details, like buy new walking shoes.  Booyah!

Ok, I think I’ve pretty much exhausted my ability to describe my fairly uneventful, but certainly not boring, last few weeks this summer.  Sorry I didn’t have more stuff to tell you.  Next time maybe.

Summer in Wooster…so far

June 5th, 2010

Good afternoon all you lovely people!  I hope you have been having wonderful summers so far, and that you are finding time to rest, relax, and read some books… or at least catch up on your favorite television shows!! 🙂  This is my third weekend here at Wooster during the summer.  I have to say, the campus feels different without all the students, but it isn’t a bad feeling.  I’m actually sort of having a really great time.  First of all, I get my own room!  Now, that seems normal, one generally has roommates in college and most people tend to really miss their single room back home.  Only, I don’t have a single room back home; actually I share it with both my sisters.  That’s right. A TRIPLE.  It even looks like a college dorm room with the beds bunked and lofted, a shared boudoir, and desks and dressers crammed into every possible corner.  So for  me to be in a rather spacious single room is quite unnatural.  It was really really really weird and unnerving at first, especially since I didn’t have built in company who I could talk to because they lived there.  I had to make an effort if I wanted to have human interaction.  Thankfully, I’m rather introverted and don’t need to be around people every single second to be happy.  Actually, I’ve gotten quite a lot done in these few short weeks all by myself.  I’ve made some excellent dinners (including straw-berry rhubarb pie!), read three books and have started on my fourth one this morning, watched some really good foreign films, and made significant headway on my craft project.

This isn’t to say that I’ve loafed around doing nothing all day for the last three weeks.  I have a job.  I’m a research assistant to a professor in the Political Science and International Relations departments.  Every morning, Monday through Friday I walk over from my dorm to the main academic building on campus to my “office.”  It’s not really an office.  I believe it’s official title is “student worker room” and I share it with one other person who is also doing sophomore research, but for a different professor.  It’s really great because I’m learning how to conduct good research, which will come in handy when I have to start independent study in (gasp) a little more than a year.  So, I sit there from 9am until 5pm and do a myriad of things pertinent to his research, and he has a lot of interests/research topics, so I’m doing a lot of different things.  However, he was in Vienna this past week (lucky) and so I had some assignments to work on, which was fine, except that it kinda got a little tedious by Friday around 4pm.  So, I’m excited for Monday to come when my boss will be back and I can start a new project!

You know what else has been weird??  For the last month, I can’t tell you how many thunderstorms we’ve had.  I know that loud and scary thunderstorms are quite prevalent around the mid-west, but this is a little ridiculous.  The first week after school got out there were storms that were so bad tornadoes were forming and touching down and I got a lot of emergency emails, texts, and automatic phone calls from the school telling me to get to the lowest point of the building, even when I went to my grandparent’s house for a few days before I started work.  And this last week, it has rained, I kid you not, literally every day.  Around noon the sky would get really dark and there would be a torrential downpour for a few minutes, maybe some thunder and then it would go away until the evening when another storm would come along.  Last night, the storm was so big the lightning actually woke me up before the thunderclaps it was so bright, and if you know me well enough, you know that I can basically sleep through anything, so for something to be so bright that it woke me up at 1:30am, it must have been bad.

Also, I know this post is getting really long, but I really want to tell you about this dream I had the other day, it was kinda funny.  So I dreamed that I was already in Morocco and at my host family’s house.  Oh yeah, if you don’t know, I’m going to be studying abroad in Morocco this fall.  I leave September 1st!  Anyway, I was at their house and my host mom says (in French, cause my Arabic wasn’t that good yet), “Hey, come see this American show.  Do you watch it back home?”  Curious, I went over to see which American TV show she was referring.  I got into the TV room and found her watching Glee, dubbed in Arabic.  That’s right, Glee, which I must confess, I’ve actually never really seen.  Why Glee?  I don’t know, but if I do find out that you can watch Arabic-dubbed Glee in Morocco that would be just about the best thing ever.

Okay, I must know brave the fearsome weather and go grocery shopping/return some library books!  Cheerio!!