Friday, June 14, 2013

Another interesting evening....

Overdue post. I really should name this blog "Adventures and stories" because thats what the past 2 weeks have been. I meant to make a post mid last week and then over the weekend but it was just non-stop and then I needed to sleep for work. So expect a long retro-active post. Also future blog posts will be less detailed...sorry, its a lot to remember exactly!

Best parts of yesterday (June 13th)

Coming home from work on the S-Bahn, and I get into a car with 6 rowdy guys from Liverpool. Sitting quietly by myself, trying not to outright laugh and seeing if I can record some of their ruckus. One guy asked a woman for directions on where to get off, misheard her, and so I had to let him know the real answer. That was it.

"He's a Yank this one!!!" And before I knew it I was sitting with them, watching them pass around a bottle of Jaeger, and something else they picked up when they got off their plane a few minutes ago. And I had 2 at a time up in my face telling me a story, or asking me questions in an accent so thick I could have probably understood it better if it were in German. It was really hard not to laugh, but they were friendly (VERY FRIENDLY). And I heard some Liverpool football chants (soccer), and we all sang the "I'm a lumberjack and I'm ok!" Monty Python song and things were good. :)

Got home and cooked dinner with my flatmate Jakob, and his two friends Jahn, and Tosten (not spelt like that though). Really nice guys and we had really good conversations about German politics, and life in America, and all sorts of things. Also during dinner Tosten got a call from his girlfriend in Africa and found out that he just became a father!!! How crazy is that? He had just talked to her a few hours before but didn't realize she was already in labor. 22 years old, finishing up school, working to save money, and getting things set up here so she and the baby can come live in Germany. Wild.... Thankfully college in Germany is paid for and then some....

Today I'm meeting this kind older gentlemen for lunch at supposedly the restaurant with the best view in Hamburg. I met him last week at the IBA (international building exhibition) and then he invited me to a dinner with the American international society of Hamburg which was great (those posts are coming retroactively). And tonight I'm going to see St. Pauli's (the working class neighborhood where I live) football club play Kiel (a city to the north - I'm going there next weekend) at the stadium a few blocks north of my apartment. Should be wild. And tomorrow morning I'm taking a 7am bus to Berlin! I've heard really great things about Berlin, so I'm very excited :)

Jubel! (Cheers)!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

I'm here. 

After an almost 9hr flight from JFK to Frankfurt, of which I slept none of... I did however sit next to two really fantastic woman who I talked to quite a bit. One was a stem cell researcher, born in the Netherlands but living in Hieldberg Germany, and the other was an Toledo, Ohio native named Amy a year past her masters at Yale, and taking a month to travel Europe after quitting her first job! Thats how its done (except she was starting in Istanbul, which is kind of a tricky place to be right now). She being an architect, we had a lot to talk about. From the similarities of redevelopment and renaissance that Columbus (home to her alma matter Ohio-state) and Pittsburgh are undergoing, to her work with two big name architects (Richard Rogers & Peter...), to my tentative Fulbright project ideas. Talking with those two woman really comforted me as I was preparing to go to this brand new place without any contacts. Maybe I could do it, I could get through the next 9 weeks without any safety network of people close by, maybe I could thrive! As I started to get tired, and remained too uncomfortable to sleep, my optimism subsided just a smidge. Also of note, I watched Les Miserables in flight and enjoyed it! Not incredible? I've seen many a musical, but never have I enjoyed it. I've enjoyed components (acting, songs, plot, costumes...) but never the musical as a whole. Another sign? Maybe.

Frankfurt airport, tired and waiting for the connecting flight to Hamburg. Two great things - #1 connecting to wifi and being able to send Group-me messages back to the States!! Technology is wicked. And #2, these:

Pittsburgh wasn't that far away, even after crossing the big blue.

And then a quick 1hr flight to Hamburg. Got mistaken as a German (yea light brown hair and blue eyes!) But butchered saying "Sorry I don't speak German" - Sorry ich sprechen kine Deutsch. I've got it down now though... Slept like a baby on that flight.

Hamburg Airport. Had to find baggage claim. Met a Jordanian med student who was as equally lost as I and we discovered our destination together. Learned about him and his family of 5 brothers and how they're all engineers except him. Told him how I'd been to Doha in the Spring. Another interesting conversation. And off to meet my host/flatmate Jakob who had been generous enough to meet me at the airport and take the train back to our apartment.

Jakob speaks english pretty well, but seems a little quiet - maybe its because I'm the stranger he is trusting to live in his apartment who doesn't speak his native tongue. Regardless we talked about traveling (why I'm in Germany, when he's been to the US, and his recent biking trip in Scotland), and about biking, our academic programs, and more. He showed me around the apartment and let me know all that the guy whos room I'm staying in said I could use almost any of his stuff (including guitars) if I so wanted. That guy, lets call him Lukas, washed all the bed sheets, folded all of them so I could use them on his/my KING SIZED BED. Jakob gave me a map of the metro system - just took it off the wall where it had been pasted as a decoration, and made sure I had everything I needed before heading off to his job as a bike tour guide.

I settled in, sent some emails, and got in touch with some other interns who were already in Hamburg and made plans to meet up for dinner. Then I napped for 2.5hrs. I left to meet the other interns between 4-4:20 but I got lost and took a train and met them at 4:30 (I was there first still). Then we went to and met another intern at a different train station and right next to a Turkish protest outside. We walked and talked through the city, stopped by a Redbull sponsered tug of war contest. Ate little fish and shrimp sandwiches and I had my first Bier in Germany!

We stopped by a grocery store near one of the other interns places (because almost everything is closed on Sundays), Then we went to his place and played cards and talked until the wee-hours of the morning!! Even had some level three convo's which was unexpected :) Such a great start to the Trip. Already met some really fantastic people who I'll be seeing a bit of in Hamburg and hopefully if we travel together over the next few weeks!
Today June 2nd. I've chilled for most of the day. Walked around early in the afternoon. Cooked dinner tonight and listened to German Radio Stations :) Tomorrow is my first day of work and I should really be asleep by now so I'll end here.

Be back with more in a few days!