Category Archives: Excursions

deutsche bahn.

Since I spend a lot of time on the train, I took a short clip of what the scenery looks like so you all can see it.  So picture this looking at this for 3 to 6 hours…  The song in the background is a very popular song here in Germany, called Alles Neu by Peter Fox.

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spreewald.

On Saturday, I woke up and headed to the train station.   I was going to Spreewald, a huge national park area south of Berlin.   Professor Neumann, his wife and son were there to meet me on the other end.  They were awesome, and I really enjoyed their company.  As you can see from the pictures below, this area was GORGEOUS!!! It reminded me of Venice, only Venice as a nature preserve. We drove to the town, took a boat ride tour of the area, got a traditional Babbenbier that is only brewed in the area, saw the castle turned hotel, grabbed coffee and cake, and headed back to their house.

They have sheep!!  In their back yard! One of the little sheep was only born 3 days ago, so it was really tiny.  It was funny because it couldn’t figure out who its mom was!  I was in for a treat because it was the city festival that happens once a year.  As we were walking through the carnival booths and food stands, Professor Neumann commented that this is the only time of the year you actually see people in the streets.  We went back to his mothers house who lives right across the street, and since we had some time to kill before my train came, we had champagne and chocolate.

It was good to be talking in German the whole day.

I mixed up the train times and ended up getting stuck in Berlin for 2 hours until 11pm.  I decided that instead of just sitting there and waiting, I would walk around.  Berlin at night is amazing.   All the lights, people, energy in the city… There ended up being this ritzy party thing going on with live music.  Then at the end, about 15mins before my train came, there were fireworks!! I LOVE fireworks, so this almost made my 2 hour delay worth it.  I immediately thought of 4th of July, so these were my 4th of July fireworks.

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.

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.

göttingen.

Last Sunday I finally got around to visiting Liz in the town where she studies, Göttingen. She met me at the train station and we walked back to her adorable apartment that she shares with two friends.  One of whom, Michelle, who will be studying at Hope next year! So hopefully I will be able to connect with her back home. She gave me a tour of the little city, the university, we got ice-cream and met up with her friends for dinner.  It was a beautiful day outside.  But even better, it was so great to connect again with her! She’s great. Here are some pictures from the day.

main square goettingen

the main square in goettingen.  tradition is, once you graduate, there is a big procession and you have to come and kiss this statue and bring her flowers. haha i love it.

university square goettingen

a little square/garden that has univeristy buildings around it.  a favorite hangout place among the students.

pools cafe

pools cafe, where liz and i went for coffee and ended up getting ice-cream.

me and liz :)me and liz. 🙂

termine.

Ok, german word for the day:  Termine = appointments.

As I said earlier, I had an appointment with Herr Ball to go see some sort of Bio-gas plant.  Ok.  This ended up being a private hour and tour with the head of one of the largest bio-diesel plants in Europe.  I was shocked and flattered.  First, we [me, Herr Ball, and I don’t remember his name], sat in a conference room where he talked about the whole process, got out props, the specific plant, the problems and advantages of bio-diesel and the future of it.  He gave me some literature and then I got a private tour of the plant.  It was incredible.  It was hot, the machinery was fascinating, and the head of the plant [I wish I could remember his name!!] was really nice.   As I walking through, I was just thinking about how lucky and privileged I have been!!  And the fact that Herr Ball would go through all this trouble just to set this up!  I thought that he had some other motivation with this trip, like he had to check on something or talk with someone in particular.  But no, this was just for me.  Just for me to learn and experience.

MWGI thought we were done.  Earlier in the week, Sylvia had mentioned something about a meeting on Thursday with the MWG.  But then she said that it fell through, and was going to happen later on in July.  While we were touring the bio-diesel plant, Herr Ball got a call saying that MWG wanted to take a picture of me, like now.  For the MWG newsletter.  For an article… featuring… me.  As he was telling me this, I was kinda confused, but just went with it.  So we get to the MWG headquarters and head upstairs.  We end up having a meeting with the head of MWG, who was charming and would throw in random English words that he knew.  It was great.  He didn’t really know anything about me, and asked straight up, “Why is an American doing this project?” Haha I was like, good question. It was cool hearing Herr Ball talk/kinda brag about me, and describe how I came to find this project.  After he named dropped Professor Neumann, it was crazy.  The head of MWG immediately seemed to approve of me.  So apparently Professor Neumann is kinda a big deal around here.   I got the basic history of MWG and we talked about the difference between now and the DDR [typical].   He had to leave a few times and when he was gone, Herr Ball would crack jokes about him, saying he thought he was such a big-wig.  Haha I was loving it.  All this time I sitting here like… ok, once again, we are at a meeting, completely focused on… me.  His secretary brought in water, coffee and a bad of MWG paraphernalia for me, including a baseball cap.   Herr Ball was late for another meeting, so he had to rush out.  I was left with the head of MWG.

Then we got down to business.  It was time to take the picture.  So we went outside and took one in front of the big MWG logo.  Haha I could tell he felt completely awkward and I was eating it up.

Two things to comment on regarding these events.  Everyone is shocked, and I mean really shocked that I am an American and I know German.  Like the head of the Bio-diesel plant would tell everyone we ran into that, “She is an american- and she knows german!”  The second thing.  I have been to three outside field trips/meetings, and every time I am the only woman there.  And every time, someone has commented on my looks in a joking or sarcastic way.  I have gotten three different words, schoen, hubsch, und attracktiv, which all basically mean the same thing.  For example, one guy said something to the effect of, “Oh yea, Herr Ball always arrives with beautiful women”.  And the head of MWG made a comment twice that he didn’t want to be alone in a picture with such an attractive woman.  It’s like, ok, I’m flattered.  But somewhat inappropriate?  I assume it’s just a cultural difference.

delinquent.

Ok.  I know I’ve been delinquent.  I never even talked about last weekend and my description of work is pretty pathetic.  But I have some time now, so I’m going to attempt to remedy this.

Last weekend the plan was to meet up with Liz, go to Hamburg and see Frau.  Frau is my German teacher from elementary school.  I have not seen her for years.  She is leading an exchange program for a couple weeks with students from the public high-school by my house.  Well it turned out that they were not in Hamburg that weekend, but up on an Island in the North See.  It all just felt too pressured for some reason, especially since I had plans on Sunday that I didn’t really want to miss.   So we didn’t attempt to find them.  Saturday instead I went to an open-air Jazz festival for the evening with my friends from the dorm.  The picture below was taken there; Magda [Poland] is on the left and Andre [Brazil] is on the right.  It was really great, just lounging in the grass and talking, while all the locals buzzed around us.  The bands sang more than half the time in English.  andre and magda Sunday I got up early and went to Berlin.  Diane was going to be there with two of her friends and I wanted to join them for the day.   We went on the free tour, which was pretty much all we had time for.  I’ve seen everything in Berlin, but hearing the history over again is never a bad thing.  Plus I learned something new- that after WWII, Hitler was dug up from his bunker/grave, and his remains were kept in Magdeburg until 1971! After that, they put his body in the Elbe! Like 20 feet away from me.  Kinda crazy.  Anyway, I had to get back to Magdeburg in time to see the Conferdations cup – aka a soccer game.  Why you ask? Because it was USA vs. Brazil.  And I have make a couple of brazilian friends here, and needed to faithfully represent my country.  USA started off strong, had a 2-0 lead, but then Brazil kicked it up and won 3-2.  But we watched the game downstairs in the IKUS lounge, good to have everyone together.

This week at work has been kind-of ridiculous.  Never have I felt so unproductive and inefficient.  Sylvia has been under a lot of stress for another project she is working on, so I naturally take second place.  And I totally understand that.  That’s just how internships work- when the person in charge of you doesn’t utilize you, it can feel a little frustrating.   She has commented twice now that I am working faster than they thought I would be.  And all I’m thinking is, I just spent the last two hours looking up information about grad schools… I am clearly not being productive and you still think I am accomplishing things ahead of time.  I guess it is a tribute to my Calvin education [shameless plug for Calvin].

On Tuesdays, I have been playing basketball with my american friend Cody.  And lots of other people.  It’s a huge group and we play pick-up for a couple hours.  I have absolutely been loving it.  I haven’t played pick-up like this in forever.   It’s funny though, because some of the guys are such babies!  And it’s not like I’m playing that aggressive!! I box someone out, not even that hard, and the guy starts complaining about it.  They always call fouls on me too, it drives me crazy.  They make fun of me like, “oh, where are you from, Detroit??” haha.  It’s awesome.  But the boys are all so sweaty and gross, and since I’m not afraid to get a little more physical I get really nasty.  A shower has never felt so good as after those games.

Today is Thursday.  Herr Ball is picking me up in a couple hours and we are going to visit some sort bio-gas plant.  I think it’s different than the one I saw earlier.  I’m not exactly sure, but he offered me to come along and I jumped at the chance.   Anyway, I’m excited to go.  Plus I really like Herr Ball and he is rarely in the office.

Ok peace and love! I’ll try to be better at staying up to date.

XX