Monthly Archives: July 2009

21.

Today was my 21st birthday.  I am offically an adult – everything is legal to me now as an American citizen.  Crazy.

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I do wish I was home so I could have celebrated with my friends and family.   I had a typical day in my Magdeburg life, with one suprise! Feco’s parents are here!  So I got back from work, took a little nap, went and played volleyball at the beachbar, Feco’s mom made some killer Hungarian food for dinner and then we all went back to the beachbar where I enjoyed a Gin and Tonic.  It was a very pleasant night; weather was perfect and the people were fun.   What else is there to say really? I don’t feel any older haha but now I have to get used to saying that I’m 21!

last real week.

This is my last real week of work.  Im making steady progress on my powerpoint. Today I went to the Fachhochschule to meet with Professor Neumann.  He has a special program that I used to complement my analysis for the PV (photovoltaic) section of my project.  It went ok… its hard to do such a large analysis on over 200 buildings! So I starting to realize that my data is not going to be as accurate as I would like.   And without any actual building data, how accurate can one be?  But the goal of this summer project was just to get a basic underlying foundation for the continuation of the whole project and to project the first feasibility analysis.

Sorry I have been anti-blogging lately.  It’s just that I stare at a screen all day.  And then I come home and get distracted with friends or go play volleyball.  The past couple weeks have been busy with goodbye parties because everyone is leaving.  By this Friday most of my people will be gone.

pics and cardsHere is my wall!! It is shaping up nicely. Filled with pictures, a Uni Magdeburg Calendar and birthday cards!  Shoutout: Em! I tried to copy your picture wall, haha… a pathetic attempt!

end is in sight.

example pp slide

That is an example slide from the final presentation I have to give.  I worked through about half of it today, so this is very first draft – in fact, I already see two mistakes just on this slide!  I am trying to use the power-point style that we use at Calvin in our engineering presentations… I’m not sure what my employers will think – hopefully they will like it!  It is very different from a few of the power-points I have seen that Sylvia has made. On Tuesday, Aug. 4, I will be going to the MWG headquarters to give this presentation of my work from this summer.  So MWG employees, Sylvia, Herr Ball, and Professor Neumann will be my audience.  I think it’s a very good thing that I have to do this, even though I don’t really want to prepare for it.  If this were in English, I would kill it.  But the fact that I have to do it in German… it’s going to be interesting.  I’m just going to have to practice… a lot!  This will be different from my night speech class last semester, where I would run thru a speech I had just written two or three times while eating, running out the door and walking up to class… and then have my professor say that I was one of the few that ‘clearly prepared extensively’.

But I’m trying not to look that far ahead yet, otherwise I will miss out here.

Things are simmering down in the dorms as people continue to leave… Or maybe it’s just me getting anti-social and removing myself a little more. Or I think I’m finally used to living here and the initial dorm excitement has finally worn off.  Despite this feeling, I know that I have made some friends here that I will keep in touch with.  And it’s great, because the invitation to stay with any of them if I travel has been extended.  I have also given the Chicago/Grand Rapids invitation… so we’ll see if anyone ever comes to visit!

elevator friends

bread and blanketsa few pictures of friends before and after we grilled in the park one night. countries represented: hungary, italy, poland, latvia, uruguay, united states of america. crazy huh?

OK really funny story.  So in the top picture, in the elevator, the guy on the far left is my hall mate.  He lives right across the hall from me.  He is the first person I ever met here, so he has a special place in my heart.  His name is Ferenc Kun.  His nickname is Feco.  This is pronounced ‘Fatso’.  Im not kidding.  When he first introduced himself as ‘Fatso’, I thought he was kidding.  He wasn’t.  The other day, I was in his room and he was skyping with his brother.  He said goodbye to him and I almost started dying of laughter.  His brothers nickname is ‘Chubby’.  No joke.  Feco didnt understand why I thought it was so funny, so I had to explain what being ‘chubby’ meant, and how it was similar to ‘fatso’.  So there we go, Hungarian brothers by the names of ‘Fatso’ and ‘Chubby’.

I have already gotten a few birthday things in the mail 🙂 I just open them – I can’t wait for longer.

Side-note: I hope it’s okay that I created my own Calvin logo up in the corner by cutting and pasting different images together… If it’s not, someone please let me know.

bremen und cuxhaven.

It was weird being back in Bremen.   Certain benches, stores, corners, statues, buildings, bars, clubs – they all have memories from two years ago.  It was overwhelming to be flooded back with all these memories of a joyous past time. Getting off at the Hauptbahnhof and walking outside – it was almost as if I never left.  But then again, things are very different from when I was 18. I felt immediately comfortable and at home, proud that I still knew the city.

bremen teerhofOn Saturday, I met Diane at the Hauptbahnhof and we walked to where the group of sophomore Calvin students are staying.  These are all the boys that I had in my German 101 conversation groups this past spring; I love them and they are a great group.  We met up with Chris and Eric, two other Calvin seniors who have internships in Bremen.  A group assembled and we went to grab a drink along the river.  Diane and I went to see where Chris and Eric lived, grabbed some dinner, explored the city, went and got another drink along the river and headed to bed.

Our alarms were set for 6am for an early departure to Cuxhaven.  Cuxhaven is a city on the North Sea known for its high and low tides, which produce really cool mud flats.  It took us an hour and a half of walking to make it up to the mudflats. We went and played on them for a couple hours – walking about a half mile and the water getting no deeper than mid-calf.  Plenty of men in speedos, crabs and cargo ships were seen.

mudflats cuxhaven

The group was really fun, we had a good time; lots of laughs and good conversation. Solid weekend. Diane and I parted ways at the Bremen Hbf and realized that the next time we see each other will be in Venice!! It was really sad actually, I’m gonna miss that girl for the next 3 weeks.

a game.

Here is an update on my language situation.  In the dorms with all my friends, we speak English.  Only this is very poor, broken English.  In order to communicate, I think of what I want to say, then think of the dumbest and easiest way to say it.   And I have to talk slowly.  Doing this works, we are all able to communicate.  It’s really fascinating actually.  But this means my English is actually getting worse.  I will find myself using words incorrectly or saying things are grammatically atrocious.

My German on the other hand isn’t really getting practiced either.   My listening and comprehension is better from being at work, but I really don’t talk a lot when I am there.  So I would say that my speaking hasn’t really improved that much.  Which is sad.  Ok, I’ll be fair – my German is definitely improving, how could it not be, I am surrounded by it when I step foot outside of my dorm, but it’s not at the rate I hoped it would be.

So my English is getting worse and my German isn’t really getting that much better.

Here is the game.  A lot of the students here actually do have pretty decent English.  So when they talk in English, I try to see if I can express what they just said in German.   I usually can.  But then there will be some phrases where I really have no idea!  And then I get frustrated haha.  I think some people have seen me and been a little confused as why I am slow to respond to what they just said.   I just randomly started doing this in my head and then realized that I was doing it…  sometimes I think I am so weird.

and so it goes.

Right now I’m sitting on the roof of my apartment building.  I knew I was going to sit down and write a bit, so I thought, eh, why not go outside and catch the setting sun.  I hope I don’t’ ever get in trouble for coming up here.  I’m listening to Duets: An American Classic by Tony Bennett and feeling quite jazzy and romantic.  How could I not with Tony Bennett and Stevie Wonder serenading me? The only thing missing – a glass of wine.

I’m at the point in the trip where I have settled into life and routine.   There aren’t going to be anymore huge surprises or bureaucracy that I’ll have to go through.  I’m perfectly content to be here.   And at the same time, I can’t stop thinking about excited I am for my last year at Calvin.  I can’t wait to start my classes, my senior design project, live with my girl friends again, figure out what the heck I’m going to do with my life…

Today is Monday, July 13.  It is my Grandma’s 87th birthday!  I called my Grandparents from Skype to wish her a Happy Birthday; it was good to hear their voices and words of encouragement.   I’m glad I actually got through and they picked up!

Work went by surprisingly fast today.  My workstation has been moved though.  Instead of working from Herr Ball’s office, I will be working in the conference room with this other new guy.   I’m not sure if he was hired full time, or is just doing some contracting work.  But he has been around for a couple weeks now.  It was crazy though – he didn’t take a lunch break I don’t think he ever went to the bathroom!  I am constantly drinking (they have bottled water and juice available) so on my third trip to the bathroom I was feeling kind-of ridiculous.   Working in there will add a little accountability to not get distracted.  And I get to see and hear more interactions between the engineers, instead of being so isolated in my old office.

As to the status of my project, I am pretty sure I am done with all the basic busy work.  Ok, anything to do with this project will feel like busy work because I have to do it over 200 times.  But the most basic busy work is complete.   In the next part I will actually be producing numbers, not just presenting background information and collecting data.  This excites me, mostly because I actually have no idea if this project is feasible.  As the CEO of MWG said to me when we parted, “What you are doing here is very important; it decides if we move forward with this project or not.”  Yikes! Pressure is on!  But as with every project, in hindsight I can see so many better ways to accomplish what I have done.  I feel like one trip to MWG could have provided so much information that I am merely estimating.  A week working with an actual MWG employee would have been so beneficial.   But all in all, I am fairly confident I will get this project done.

In other news, my left foot has really been bugging me.  It started to hurt a couple weeks ago, but I just kept running and playing basketball on it.  Well I went for a run yesterday and had to stop because it hurt so badly.  I’m kind-of limping actually :/ I’m trying to take it easy for a while.  There is no way I am going to get tangled in the medical system here if I can help it.  I’m nervous though, because when I go to Italy I’m going to be walking a LOT.  I really hope it feels better in 3 weeks!

me on roof

And we have moved on to cello sonatas in my iTunes.  Now I’m feeling classy!  Well I’m going to read for a little bit up here.  I borrowed a book from a friend.  It’s Death in Venice and seven other short stories by Thomas Mann. It is in English, which is a cop-out since he is a fairly well known German author.  Gosh it is just so peaceful up here.   It’s nice to escape and be above all the hustle and bustle of the city.  The image to my right: windmills lazily turning above the tree tops with a hazy orange sky and a lining of clouds above them, and with a bright blue sky above the sun.

Thanks for keeping tabs on me.

shoemaker.

Last week I went into Berlin.  Just for Wednesday night to visit a friend who is doing some traveling with his Dad in Europe.  I took the train straight from the dinky little two platform train station in Schönebeck  to the HUGE, bustling, 5 story open air train station of Berlin.   After a couple hours I was there, ready to get see a familiar face and have some dinner.  Ben is a friend from Calvin and also the student body president.  I will be working with (for) him when I serve on Student Senate this coming academic year.

We walked around for a while before finding a cute little place for dinner.  I had fun talking with the man running the place (think: waiter/cook/bar tender/cashier/bus boy) in German, and we all had the infamous German Wiener Schnitzel because it was the special for the day.  Going out to eat in Germany is not a quick process.  So not surprisingly, after we were done eating and got the bill, it was already time for me to go!

me and ben dinner

me and ben schnitzel

Mine and Ben’s engagement photos – haha KIDDING.