02 November 2014

Bist du nicht müde, nach so vielen Tagen?

"Die gefährlichste Weltanschauung ist die Weltanschauung derer, die die Welt nie angeschaut haben"
- Alexander von Humboldt

Moin moin liebe Leute!

Wo ich jetzt seit einiger Zeit wieder in die Vereinigten Staaten bin, wollte ich nochmals schreiben und ein bisschen über mein Auslandsjahr in Regensburg (und Rückkehr) reflektieren.

Da sind ein paar Punkte die vielleicht nicht so nett ausgedrückt sind, aber im Großen und Ganzen ist dieser Post eher Pro-Deutschland!

(Ich sage schon mal im Voraus Entschuldigung für die (viele, viele) Fehlern, die sich im Text befinden.  Meine deutsch Fähigkeiten haben ziemlich schnell nachgelassen !!)

Die Kirschen in Nachbars Garten schmecken immer süßer

Ja, das ist  tatsächlich so!  Ich habe am Ende (oder vielleicht das ganze) des Jahres immer davon gesprochen, dass ich UNBEDINGT wieder nach Hause wollte und, dass ich NIE wieder nach Deutschland wollte.  Nun ja, ich bin seit ca. 14 Wochen wieder im Lande und ich suche schon nach Möglichkeiten der Vaterland wieder zu besuchen.  Wenn man weg ist, vergisst man das was einen schon immer gestört hat.  Jetzt wo ich wieder hier bin erkenne ich alle Sachen die mich mal aufgeregt haben wieder und will so schnell wie nur möglich wieder weg!  Ich bin mir allerdings ziemlich sicher, dass es mir genau so gehen wird wenn ich erstmals wieder in Deutschland bin.   Man kann ja nie zufrieden sein!  Ich mache im Moment so viel wie nur geht auf Deutsch, was hier aber ziemlich schwierig ist.  Ich lese Bücher nur noch auf Deutsch, gucke so viele Filme und Fernsehen wie möglich auf Deutsch, der Tagesschau ist natürlich dabei und ich bin nicht weit davon alle deutschsprachige Lieder die ich habe auswendig singen zu können, ich besuche (mit-veranstalte) ein Deutschstammtisch an der Uni und bin Präsident von unser Deutschklub.  Mein Leben geht also immer noch um Deutschland.  Die Sprache ist das was mir aber am meisten fehlt.


Ich bin allergisch gegen Dummheit

  Leider gibt es dumme Menschen überall auf dieser Welt.   Ich würde nicht sagen, dass die US-Amerikanern grundsätzlich dummer als die Deutschen sind (was viele Deutschen gerne behaupten).  Die Menschen sind einfach anders dumm.   Ich saß, zum Beispiel, vor ein paar Wochen in einer Vorlesung indem wir eine Frage über eine Stadt in Österreich beantworten sollten.  Die Antwort war gaaaaaaaanz klar Wien! Ich dürfte dann zuhören während ca. 25 Studenten sich gestritten haben, ob es nicht vielleicht Oslo oder London wäre (da sie gemeint haben das Wien ja keines falls richtig war, weil es sich natürlich in Italien befindet).  So sind die "Ami's" dumm.  Sie wissen gar nichts über die Welt und wollen auch nichts über die Welt wissen!  Darüber kann ich mich nuuuuur aufregen.   Doch die Deutschen sind nicht allzu viel besser, sie glauben allerdings sie wissen mehr über die Welt als sie es eigentlich tun.  Ich habe (zum Beispiel) von sooooo viele Deutschen hören dürfen wie die NSA ihre persönliche Telefonate (bestimmt über Pläne für's Wochenende oder ein neuer Pullover, die sie gekauft haben) abgehört, ihre E-Mails gelesen und (bestimmt auch) durch ihrer Wäsche gesucht haben und, dass sie das gar nicht okay fanden und, dass es überhaupt kein Grund dafür gäbe und, dass die Deutschen sowas nie machen werden und blah blah blah.  Okay erster punkt: Ich sage nicht, dass ich alles okay finde was die USA angeblich gemacht haben soll (bin persönlich kein großer Fan von der gute alte Herr Snowden), doch ich glaube nicht alles was mir gesagt wird, kann einiges nachvollziehen (Einige Anschläge in Deutschland verhindert und vielleicht könnten sie helfen deine verlorene Socke wieder zu finden) und weiß, dass Deutschland nicht ganz so unschuldig ist wie sie sagen (Clinton und Kerry abgehört, und Jahre lang Daten von der NSA weitergeleitet bekommen).   Ich weiß, dass dieser Thema mittlerweile etwas veraltet ist, doch sie verdeutlicht meinen Punkt. 

Die Frage ist also, ob man eine Diskussion mit Jemanden führen will der überhaupt keine Ahnung hat, oder doch mit Jemanden der bloß eine "Mitläufer" ist und dir nur das sagen kann, was er von den Medien gehört hat ohne selbst nach zu recherchieren.  Wenn ich die Wahl hätte mit eine Ami oder mit einer Deutscher mich zu unterhalten werde ich immer mit für den Deutschen entscheiden.


Universitätsausbildung

Alle die mal einen Blick auf die Uni-Regensburg geworfen haben wissen, dass es nicht gerade das schönste Ort auf Erden ist (Hässlich könnte man sagen.  Könnte man.).  Mein liebster Universität North Dakota im Gegensatz ist sehr schön.  Hier gibt es klassisch aussehenden Gebäuden aus rote Backsteinen mit Bäume und Rasen überall auf dem Campus zu finden.  Es sieht einfach klasse aus (außer das sich vier Baustellen zur Zeit auf dem Campus befinden).  Aber die Uni geht nicht nur um das Aussehen!  Auch die Organisation ist viel anders!

In Regensburg fand ich alles sehr kompliziert und unübersichtlich.  Für manche Veranstaltungen musste man sich schon im Voraus anmelden, für andere erst zum Klausur, für manche Veranstaltungen gab es keine Note und für andere keine ETCS punkte.  Als Ausländer der kein festen Studiengang hatte fand ich alles viel zu kompliziert!  Vor allem weil man auch mehrere Internetportale brauchte um alles zu machen.  Wenn man es aber geschafft hat die "richtigen" Veranstaltungen auszusuchen und zum richtigen Zeit (Wirklich c.t. und s.t.?  Was soll der Scheiß) im Hörsaal saß fing alles wie üblich an.  Die Professoren in Regensburg waren in der Regel recht nette Menschen und haben mir auch geholfen wo sie auch konnten (wollten).   Das was mich an das System am Meisten gestört hat war aber, dass es in der Regel keine Hausaufgaben gab und, dass die Gesamtnote bloß von eine (sehr sehr schwierige) Prüfung am Ende der Semester abhing!  Okay, man geht also Monate lang in einer Vorlesung, lernt über eine Vielfalt an Themen und soll aus dem Empfohlenen Literatur Tausende von Seiten lesen und dann am Ende der Semester alles über alles was jemals besprochen wurde wissen?   Bitte.  Ein bisschen Hilfe wäre schon hilfreich.  Die Studenten dürften wohl wissen ungefähr welche von die 30 Themen in die Prüfung dran kommen werden.  Ich bin sehr Leidenschaftlich wenn ich sage, dass ich das komplett unfair finde.  Die information Wiedergabe ohne Anwendung bringt doch nichts im Lernprozess.   Es ist ja toll, dass einige es schaffen,  genug für die Klausur zu lernen um durchzukommen, drei Tage später wissen sie aber nichts mehr von!

 Fazit: GIB MIR HAUSAUFGABEN WO ICH DIE INFORMATION AUS DER VORLESUNG ANWENDEN MUSS!

In die Vereinigten Staaten läuft alles ein bisschen anders ab.  Man meldet sich Monate vor dem Semester beginn in jeder Veranstaltung an.  Man geht dann zum angegebenen Zeit in der Hörsaal und bekommt am ersten Tag einen Syllabus auf dem alle Themen und Termine stehen (wirklich an welchen Tag was besprochen wird).  Darauf findet man auch die Prüfungstermine (Ja, PLURAL) sowie als auch eine Liste von Themen die in der Prüfung dran kommen könnten (werden).  Da sind auch andere hilfreiche Informationen drauf, doch das sind erst mal die Wichtigsten.  Es gibt dann in fast JEDER Veranstaltung Hausaufgaben, Quizzes, und mehrere Prüfungen die verstreut über dem Semester stattfinden.  Die Gesamtnote entsteht dann aus der Durchschnitt von alles.

Ich glaube tatsächlich, dass das Studium in Deutschland schwieriger ist!  Ich glaube aber nicht, dass die Studenten dadurch schlauer werden (sind).  In Deutschland arbeitet das System bloß gegen die Studenten, wo in die Vereinigten Staaten, im Gegensatz, das Uni-System arbeitet für die Studenten.

      Beispiel:
      In Deutschland:  Man fällt in einem Kurs durch (nach der 3. Versuch): Sag "Tschüß Studium"
      In die VS: Man fällt in einem Kurs durch:  Man kann es so oft wiederholen wie er auch will.

Es ist auch (meiner Meinung nach) wichtig zu Erinnern, dass man in Deutschland ab 50% "bestanden" hat.  In die Vereinigten Staaten muss man mindestens 70% alle Punkte haben um weiter zu kommen und 80% um eine "gute" Note zu bekommen.

 Es gibt allerdings etwas kleines, dass ich Deutschland vermisse und zwar das Wischen der Tafel.  Ich halte es zwar für unnötig, fand es aber immer sehr lustig. 


Fazit:  Die beiden Systeme sind sehr unterschiedlich.  Sie haben beide ihre Stärken und ihre Schwächen. Ich bin gerade am überlegen, ob ich nicht vielleicht meinen Master in Deutschland machen will.  Die Uni-Kiel hat ein Programm wofür ich mich momentan interessiere.  So schlimm kann es in Deutschland also nicht gewesen sein.  :D  Ich glaube, dass mein Problem eher was mit das was ich studiert habe und weniger mit das Studieren selber zu tun hatte.  Dieser Abschnitt ist in sofern etwas unfair von mir.  Ich bin mir sicher, dass die meisten Austauschstudenten wundervollen Jahren ohne Probleme haben, ich bloß nicht :D

Ach ja!  Ich habe (=werde) mein Chemiestudium ab mitte Dezember abbrechen.  Ab Januar werde ich dann Deutsch (B.A.) und Internationale Beziehungen (B.A.) mit dem Schwerpunkt Deutsch(land) studieren.  Wenn alles nach dem Plan läuft werde ich mitte Dezember 2015 mit dem Bachelor fertig sein.  Eine etwas späte Entscheidung, aber durchaus das richtige.  Habe bloß Angst mit dem Studium fertig zu werden und in die Welt einsteigen zu müssen!  




Kein Weg ist lang, mit einem Freund an der Seite

Das Jahr in Regensburg hat die Bedeutung von Freundschaft für mich nochmal geändert.  Die Leute mit dem ich Wohnen dürfte und die Leute aus aller Welt mit dem ich Studieren und Feiern dürfte sind einfach klasse.  Es ist immer so traurig, dass Man ein Jahr lang Freundschaften aufbaut und pflegt, geht aber am Ende wieder weg ohne zu wissen wann Man diese tollen neuen Freunde wieder sehen werde.  Das ist aber sehr schön.  Es ist so eine Kunst.  Man lernt viele Leute kennen, doch es ist erst später wenn Man weg ist, dass Man erkennt welche wichtig waren und welche weniger.  Auf jeden Fall gibt es einige Menschen mit dem ich auf jeden Fall in Kontakt bleiben will und hoffe, dass ich alle Freunde in Regensburg, sowie im Rest Deutschlands, bald wieder besuchen kann!  Auf jeden Fall werde ich ab Dez. 2015 Zeit haben!

Sehr wichtig war diese Jahr auch meine ehemalige Gastfamilie.  Sie waren und sind immer meinen Ersatzfamilie die mich immer unterstützen und Rat geben können!  Ich bin unglaublich froh, dass ich wieder so viel Zeit mit sie verbringen dürfte und hoffe, dass ich auch sie bald wieder sehe!  Dankeeeee! :D


Wenn du es willst, dann schaffst du es schon

Und zum Schluss muss ich nur sagen, dass das obwohl das zweite Jahr in Deutschland für mich schwer war, ich fand es auch unglaublich hilfreich.  Es mag ja etwas Klischee klingen, doch ich bin als Mensch gewachsen und kenne mich selbst viel besser!  Meine Deutschkenntnisse haben sich auch massenhaft verbessert (und sich auch wieder verschlechtert).  Ich weiß auch jetzt in welcher Richtung ich mein Leben führen will und, dass ich mein ganzes Leben in die Vereinigten Staaten eigentlich nicht verbringen will.  Deutschland wird vielleicht nicht das Endziel sein, aber vielleicht doch.  Auf jeden Fall bin ich froh die Entscheidung gemacht zu haben.  Wenn ich es nochmal machen könnte wäre ich sofort dabei!

Fall's ihr Fragen oder Kritik habt, lass mich wissen!  Danke für's Lesen und mach's gut!

- Der James




28 June 2014

Das Ende ist mein Anfang



I just realized that my last blog post included both Thanksgiving and Christmas, which is how I knew that it was probably time for an update. 

Quick updates from end of last post:

  • I mentioned having exams in February, which for the most part went very well, but you can’t be successful in everything all of the time.

  • I spent a week in ‘Munich’ with YFU!

  • I interviewed for a job at UND, and didn’t get it.

  • I completed a 4-week internship at a surgical station at a hospital here in Regensburg.  The internship was definitely one of the major highlights of my year.  Basically I spent the whole time assisting nurses with their rounds, listening to the doctors on their rounds, and I also managed to slip in observing a few surgeries.  All in all, a really great time. 


After my internship, I headed up to Cologne to visit the Mr. Johannes, where we went and sat in the audience for the filming of a late night talk show.  We then headed up to good old Ostereistedt where I spent about a week hanging out with the Meyer game.  I also managed to redeem a gift certificate that I got from Christoph and Janina, in which we went to a museum in Bremerhaven called Klimahaus (Climate House), which takes you through a few different climate zones on earth.  It’s really cool as the rooms are set at the temperatures and humidity’s that the countries have too.  It was, however, a super long museum, so I was sufficiently exhausted after walking completely through. 
But the week went by quickly and soon I was headed back to Regensburg where a friend, Julian, came to visit for the weekend.  

 After Julian’s short visit, I took a quick trip to my new favorite vacation place, Portugal.  Yes, a friend and I took a quick five day trip to Lisbon before the second semester started on April 8th.   Lisbon is a really pretty city with lots to see!  The best part, I think, is that it’s a lot different than the US/Germany, but at the same time it is so similar.  The weather wasn’t really the best, but there was still some sun everyday.  The highlights of the city were probably:  Giant Jesus statue (Christus Rex), Castelo de São Jorge (a castle above the city), and the awesome designs all over the sidewalk.  And the beer of course.  Anybody considering a trip to Europe should go to Portugal first, trust me.







After a week and a half of class, it was time for Easter Break already!  But, since I live oh so very far away from any form of Family, a friend and I decided to head to Vienna for the weekend.  It was a good choice.  Vienna is a super cool city.  It’s a lot like being in Germany, except you aren’t.  We had a good time though, we went to a couple of cool museums, visited a castle, an “amusement park”, and experienced a bit of the night life.  And most importantly of course, ate Wiener Schnitzel (Wiener = Viennese)





Three weeks into the new semester, and about a month after having left Ostereistedt, Heike and Andreas came to visit me here in Regensburg.  We spent a weekend checking out the city and drinking cappuccino, the good European life as it should be.  It was a fun weekend though, and I’m very glad that, they were able to come and visit. 


Food side note:  The Germans don’t really have Tater-Tot’s.  They have something that is kind of similar called Kroketten.  They look similar, and are made of “potatoes”, but it’s kind of like really heavily packed mashed potatoes, and breaded.  Anyway, due to the lack of Tater-Tot’s I’ve been more or less unable to cook my all-time favorite Minnesota meal: Tater-Tot Hotdish.  If you don’t know what Hotdish is, google it.  It’s similar to casserole, but it’s more Minnesotan, and therefore much better.  I decided, however, that I really need some good home cooking, and made my Hotdish with the Kroketten.  And it was a success!  The Kroketten ended up being a little bit harder, and just a little bit dryer than Tater-Tot’s would have been, but it was awesome!  This will be a meal that I will cook again a few time before I leave here so that I can spread the greatness that is Minnesota Cuisine here in Germany.  (For some reason everybody here thinks I’m crazy for eating ‘Red Hot Dish’ [a specialty of my father containing elbow macaroni, tomato juice, hamburger, and more pepper than you could ever imagine] on bread, with peanut butter.  Try it!

On the 9th of May I left Regensburg for a total of 16 days to go to the capital of Germany, Berlin, with YFU.  Our first seminar was for a group of Germans who will soon be spending a year in the United States thanks to the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) Program [Parlimentarisches Patenschafts Programm].  It was a really cool week, with a fun group of people.  We went to the Bundestag (Capitol) a couple of times, were able to see some of the city, and we (the team) tried to teach the kiddies a bit about the US!  Contact YFU at 1-800-Teenage or yfu-usa.org to learn more about hosting or becoming an exchange student!  After the first group of students left us in Berlin, the rest of the team left me too.  A day later the next team arrived and we prepared for our second seminar, which was for the U.S. CBYX students who have been in Germany for the last year.  It was also an awesome week!  We were able to see a lot more of the city with the kids and had some fun program points too!  We spent one morning in the Embassy of the United States in Berlin, where there was an acapella (?) band, and American food.  Afterward, we headed over to the Reichstag for the next part of the Program with members of the German parliament in which the Students were able to ask questions about politics and related topics to the members of parliament and were able to present gifts also, as a way to say thank you.  We also had some food, it was food.  The evening ended with a trip to the top of the Reichtstag Building where we walked through the dome atop it.  The next day we went again to the Reichstag to attend the official celebration of the 60th anniversary of the German ‘basic law’.  The best part was that I, along with 6 students, was/were able to sit in the chamber where the parliament debates, which nobody is allowed to do, so it was awesome.  But this trip too, although somewhat longer, came to a quick end. 



After returning from Berlin there was some more time to be had at the University, although in May/June we had a bunch of days of for miscellaneous holidays.  I was supposed to go to Paris to visit a friend who was doing an internship there, but at the last minute I realized, I didn’t have enough money.  So I instead went to Salzburg (Austria) for a day with Anete (Lativa) and Wyatt.  We had a good day, it was really exhausting though, as it’s about a three hour train ride each way, but we were able to see the main point of the city including a big rose garden, a natural science museum, and the military hold above the city.  And we ate the cake, which is supposed to be wonderful, I wasn’t impressed. 



And finally, it was June.  As June began life got a little bit back to normal.  My trips were done with and now it’s time for preparing for the next round of exams which start here during the second week of July.  The last few weeks have really just been going around Regensburg with friends and since the 13th, it’s been a lot of soccer.  If you’re in the United States, and you aren’t watching the world cup, you’re missing out!  




As I post this I have exactly 30 days left here in Germany (22 in Regensburg).  30 Days.  I can’t believe it.  In two weeks my parents will be here for 16 days, in which I’m hoping to show them a good time in Germany.  But really it’s crazy to think that after 23 Months in Germany (total time!), that I’ll be leaving and not returning for the foreseeable future.  700 days, and in 30 days it’ll be over.  But it’s bitter sweet, as I am of course very excited to return to Minnesota! 

So the rest of my time here will consist of me studying for me exams (Genetics, Organic Chemistry, and Political Extremism in the European Union), watching soccer, taking my exams, traveling with my parents, visiting my host family, taking another exam, Berlin, Regensburg, Bavaria, going away party, packing, moving out, flying home!  The next 30 days are sure to be a quick, stressful, fun, and hopefully unforgettable 30 days. 

As always, thank you for reading!  If you have any questions or comments, let me know!  This will probably be my last post for a while, but hey, maybe I’ll write another one up once I get back home.  

Bis demnächst! 




17 January 2014

Winter is Coming (?)

For everybody who may have been wondering if I am still alive, the answer is yes, I am alive and well.  And for anybody who enjoys the post, you can thank my grandma and the Z for reminding me to write it!

After nearly 10 hours preparing our Thanksgiving meal for 24 people, I was very happy to be able to sit down and enjoy some good food with a group of really great people.  Turkey, Stuffing, Biscuits, Green Bean Casserole, Mashed Potatoes, Gravey, Beer, Wine, and Spiced wine, everything is there everything was great!  After eating we spent some time in the kitchen, digesting and drinking some beer to help, before heading to a bar to bring an amazing evening to a perfect end.


Sadly, he couldn't be saved

So I took his heart out




The Saturday after Thanksgiving I went with a friend to Munich to the Tollwood festival, which is kind of a culture and art festival in which you can try and buy food from all over the world, as well as buy all kids of different handmade things in multiple giant bazaar tents.  I decided to be original and got Mexican food, it was expensive, small, and really it wasn't that great.  Lesson learned.  I was, however, successful in finding a few Christmas presents for both Heike and Andreas' moms.  The both got a few 'Tee-flowers' (Click for picture) from me which I, and they, thought were really cool.





On December 6th, I, once again spontaneously, decided that I would take up a friend on the offer and headed back to Niedersachsen for the weekend, battling through the 'hurricane'/windstorm named Xaver.  This was a little more planned than the last trip, I had consulted with my (former) host family about my coming and talked to some friends about possible things that we might do.  Conveniently Lennart, a good friend of mine, had his birthday the day before so I was able to celebrate it with him and a few other friends.  The rest of the weekend was pretty relaxed which was good.

Returning back in Regensburg on the 8th we headed to a bar as we had planned to "celebrate into my birthday".  At midnight I was surprised when some friends came walking in with a cake with '20' on it.  Everybody sang and the bar tender played Happy Birthday Mr. President (which fitting for my future political career).  All in all it was a really fun night.  On the 9th, I first of all slept in before making lunch with a few people (toast).  In the evening we went to a Mexican restaurant for dinner where I received a book (Er ist Wieder da) (Click for info) as well as a University of Regensburg hoodie from my friends in my building.  It was great.  After eating a few of us headed back to the bar in which we had celebrated the night before.

On the 15th, I received mail from YFU-Deutschland, telling me that I would be part of a team facilitating a seminar for 23 exchange students (and some of their host siblings) from the U.S. in Possenhofen (by Munich) for a week in February.  I am very much looking forward to this trip! 

After two 'normal' weeks in Regensburg, including the occasional trip to the Christmas market  it was time to head back to Niedersachsen for Christmas break.  On the 21st it was finally time.  After a long and (as always) not so enjoyable (or punctual) trip with the German Railways system, I finally arrived in Bremen where I was picked up by Christoph and his girlfriend.  We then made the trip back to Easter-Egg-Town stopping on the way so that I could buy a toothbrush and a bottle of off-brand Bailey's (which has become my new favorite drink).  After arriving it wasn't long (20 minutes?) before I was off with Johannes to a friends house to watch a soccer game before heading to the Disko for the evening. The next evening my dear brother Markus also "celebrated into his birthday".  It was a good night with a few friends and some fun games.

On Christmas Eve I spent a good part of the morning in bed before waking up, getting ready, and making the final preparations for the evening.   At 6 Pm it was time to head to church, where we saw the youth service which included a small play.  Afterward we headed back home to eat dinner.  Everybody else was happy about the traditional smoked salmon, but as a non-fish-eater, I was less excited, but I had ham and was more than happy with that! :D  After dinner we played a bit of play station and waited while 'Santa' placed the presents under the tree.  After three rings of the infamous bell we headed upstairs to begin with the opening of our gifts.  All in all it was a great evening with many wonderful gifts.  Highlights including tickets to a TV show, tickets to a play (Rocky), tickets to a museum, a gift certificate for dinner, and a key.  After a glass of whiskey it was off to bed to prepare for round two.

On Christmas Day (#1) Andreas' sister and family came.  Earlier in the day I made peanut blossoms as I finally and the appropriate chocolate pieces to do so. After Coffee and Cake we went for a walk to the cemetery and back before enjoying some wedding soup.  After they had left I was lucky to Skype with my family, grandmother, and great aunt which, as always, proved to be a good time, with the people on both ends hectically switching.  Instead of heading to the Disko, as originally planned, we then stayed in and played 'Ticket to Ride', which was probably more fun anyway. :D

On Christmas Day (#2) we left late morning to head to Heike's mom's house where we celebrated with her siblings and their families.  After enjoying some great steaks prepared on the 'Ring of Fire' as Christoph has coined it we went for a stroll before coming back and once again playing Ticket to Ride.  After gifts and a second round of dinner we headed home.

On the 28th we left around 1 PM on our way to Hamburg to see 'Rockey the Musical' (Click for info).  It was awesome.   I'm not really a fan of Rockey or of boxing in general but this was really cool and definitely worth seeing!  After the play we ate dinner before heading back to Easter-Egg-Paradise.

After a few relaxing days of playing Ticket to Ride and Clue it came time to for New Years Eve.  I went with a few friends to a 'larger' party in a 'very small' town which was a lot of fun.  I saw a few old friends, some whom I hadn't seen in a number of years, and met a few new people too.  After the fireworks were shot off at midnight I spent a bit of time by the fire before we headed home in the wee hours in the morning.  I know that it was a great night, as the next day was not good.  I was lucky enough to spend the entire day (until 11 pm) in my bed with a bucket.  Yup, it was a great way to spend new years day.  Side note:  After returning to Regensburg one of my roommates gave me the bit of wisdom: "The way you spend New Years day, is the way that you will spend the rest of the year".  Let's hope that, that isn't true.  :D

After New Years I spent some time with Markus, playing some games, working on the infamous chicken coup, and redeeming my gift certificate for some dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Bremen.   I also tried to do some stuff for school, but in the area I was somewhat less successful.  I did, however, write and submit an application for an Internship at a hospital in February.  After a few evenings with a few different friends, it was time (early) on the 5th to head back to Regensburg.  Markus was nice enough to drive me to Bremen, as I seem to have a habbit of booking my trains at times, so that I cannot take a bus in time to catch them!  After another exhausting day with the German Railways system I was happy to be back in my own room in Regensburg.

Since being back I've kept a pretty low profile.  Wyatt's (U. NoDak) girlfriend was here to visit for a while so we went out to dinner with them and a few friends one night, which was really a lot of fun.  Yesterday I had my interview at the hospital and am happy to report that I will be working there for 4 weeks in Feb/March.  Other than that it's really just me struggling to motivate myself to start studying for my exams in February.  But the time will come where I will want to study.  I also submitted an application to be an RA at UND next semester so I will have a Skype interview with them after I take my last exam on the 7th of February.  From now until.....the end of march really, I don't have much planned.  The next few weeks will really just be getting ready for exams, then I'm in Munich for a week, four weeks of internship, then I'll be headed to Niedersachsen for two weeks before the second semester begins on April 7th.  Who knows, maybe I'll be able to sneak in a trip to Vienna or
 Amsterdam over break.










Questions and comments are always welcome.  As always thank you for reading.

Bis demnächst





25 November 2013

Two Weeks from Twenty



At the request of my grandmother and great Aunt, I've decided to take some time out of my "busy" schedule and give everybody an update on what I've been up to in the last few weeks.  

Towards the end of October there wasn't much going on.  I'd really settled in, met a bunch of cool people, and was finally in a normal routine, which was nice.  On Halloween, my favorite holiday, I didn't manage to think of a costume, but that was okay as I went with some friends to a non-costume party, which was a really good time.  

After Halloween the days seemed to flow together filled with going to University, walking around the city, cooking with my new found friends, singing the occasional karaoke, and of course sharing one or two beers.  But really, it seems like the whole two months that I've been in Regensburg have just been a few great days being played on repeat.

On November 8th I skipped my Dutch class to go to a question and answer session with the new American to Ambassador to Germany, who was nice enough to grace our (ugly) university with his presence.  After speaking for a few minutes he turned it over to the audience for questions whose topics spanned from the NSA to Iran and even a little bit about the new US-European Trade Agreement which is in the works.  All in all it was a pretty interesting conversation.  

On November 9th I woke up at some ridiculous time of day before the sun was up (I think it's called morning) so that I could spend a few hours in a bus on my way to the super awesome and infamous Neuschwanstein castle.  Upon our arrival the weather was cold and rainy with fog hanging in the air.  Although the weather really wasn't that great, it all looked pretty cool with the mountains as a backdrop.  Our first stop was the castle Hohenschwangau.  Despite being much less known, at least to me, was really interesting to see considering that it is a lot older than Neuschwanstein, it was actually lived in, and that 99% of everything was still original.  The tour that lasted about an hour, but sadly I don't have any pictures, as photography in the castles is prohibited.  After our tour we walked through the woods back into town where we stopped to get some coffee and lunch before making the hike up to Neuschwanstein.  Now for the record, Neuschwanstein was never really something that I wanted, or rather felt the need, to see as I always considered it to be more of a touristy thing.  That being said, it's great.  I can totally understand why people flock there, it is really a super cool looking, completely original castle built by a crazy man with too much money, but it is just an awesome place to have been!  The only part about Neuschwanstein that annoyed me is that it seemed almost as though we ran through the castle.  Although the castle is quite a bit larger than Hohenschwangau, we were inside for a much shorter amount of time and had a much less personal explanation as to what exactly we were seeing.  After the tour it was a quick walk to the hill back to the bus for another multi-hour drive back to Regensburg.


Schloss Hohenschwangau


Schloss Neuschwanstein


After Neuschwanstein I spent a few weeks trying to motive myself to study and get my homework done which wasn't always possible or easy.  Often I was stopped or distracted by the impossible to pass up offers to drink a coffee or tea with somebody in the building, which always seemed to turn into a multi-hour affair.  But I still do find the time to get the things done that I need to get done.  I'm not always sure that I'm studying the right things,  and even more often I'm not really able to see what some things have to do with others, but I'm hopeful that as the semester continues to progress,  that everything will start to make more sense for me.  

On the 15th I spontaneously decided to try and find a ride to Bremen so that I could surprise my host family with a visit.  Everything ended up working out great!  After class on Friday I met with some folk who were headed to Bremen and who were nice to enough to let me tag along.  Around 10:30 p.m. I arrived at the bus stop where Markus (somebody had to know that I was coming) picked me up.  When I walked up the stairs and into the living room I was greeted with confused faces and warm hearts.  After sitting up and talking for a while we all hit the hay.  On Saturday, I hung around with Christoph and Markus for a while before making my way to a birthday party of one of my friends.  As it was a surprise visit, everybody at the party was also surprised and happy to see me, which really made for a great evening.  On Sunday we took the dog for a walk and had an awesome Lunch.  In the evening Markus and I took the dog for a walk in the now empty field, Holly (the dog) at one point came flying out of nowhere at full speed, ran into my leg, and left me laughing on the ground.  Monday morning I was back on my way to Hamburg before making my way back to Regensburg and real life.  All in all the weekend was great.  I'm glad I made the decision to make the short visit and am excited for the end of December when I will get the chance to visit again.  

Last week I tried to keep a little bit lower profile and to spend a little bit less money that I seem to have been giving out lately.  Between going to class, I also found the time to prepare and send off a few Christmas packages and also enjoy a few more beers.  On Friday evening I went back to the University as for my politics class (Foreign Policy of the US) we commemorated the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination.  The US Consulate General from Munich was supposed to come, but didn't end up arriving until the last few minutes.  It was interesting, but as I sat there I realized that I know much too little about JFK to really follow/understand a lot of what they were saying.

And already it is a new week.  On Thursday I am going to attempt to cook Thanksgiving dinner for the first time.  For 22 people.  I'm hoping it will be good, otherwise I'll have a lot of disappointed people on my hands, but I've a lot of helpers who have a little better idea on how to cook, so I think that everything should go well.  Also on Thursday the Christmas markets in Regensburg open!  I'm excited as they've been setting them up and lining the city with lights for the last few weeks, so I can't wait to see how it will all look when it's finished and full of people.  The best part is that one of the markets is literally next to our door, and I can see it from my Window.  

On Saturday or Sunday we're planning on going to Munich to the Tollwut Festival.  Sunday is already December.  Crazy.  The weekend after that we're planning on going to the Christmas Market in Nürnberg, then it's my birthday already.  Another week of University and then it's back to good 'ol Norddeutschland for Christmas the New Years.  The time files.  

Anyway, I hope that you all enjoy reading this.  Questions and comments are always welcome.

Bis demnächst,

- Der James