Tag Archives: german

finished.

I sit down and am exhausted writing this entry.  I am in the middle of packing, but out of fear that I would procrastinate, I am giving an update now.

I had my presentation yesterday.  In the meeting were Herr Ball, Frau Westermann (Sylvia), Professor Neumann, Herr Fischbeck (Head of MWG), and this other guy from the MWG.  And Me.  So it was a small audience, but every important person from my summer was there!  I was pretty, oh I don’t know, not really nervous, but just antsy.   It was a 20 slide presenation, that when I had practiced it took me about 30 mins to get through.  So I had practiced it about 4 times… but that is almost two hours of non-stop talking!! I have never given a presentation for that long.  I was frustrated going into the presentation because I knew I would have to rely on my notes more than I would like.  All the technical words just aren’t fully in my vocabulary yet, like I know them when I read or write them, but to just think of them on the spot is harder.

We got all set up in the conference room at the MWG headquarters.  Herr Ball and Professor Neumann were both a little late, and after a few technical difficulties we were up in business.  I felt very comfortable with everyone in the room, the german word I would use is ‘sympathisch’.  I don’t really know how to translate it appropriately… But I really like all 3 people, Slyvia, Herr Ball and Professor Neumann, and I’m pretty sure the feeling is mutual.

I guess presentations are done differently here, because I stood in the back of the room with the computer.  No one looked at me the entire time I was talking.  I had printed handouts, so they were looking at them and the big screen.  But after a few slides of me trying to be all animated like I would be in America, I just started plain reading what I had written in my notes to say.  So HORRIBLE presentation in my opinion, but no one seemed to care.  Cultural differences.

After I was done, they talked for about an hour about what the next steps would be.  It was soooo cool to be a part of this meeting.  And understanding everything in German!  To watch them bicker back and forth, explain different things from engineer to business man, reason things out, and project a plan was really interesting.  I liked watching Sylvia, because she was the only woman, and so to see her battling right in there with the guys was great.   (I asked her about it afterwards, and she said that one of the frustrating things about being a woman engineer is that, for example, when she goes to meetings with Herr Ball, people just assume she is his secretary.)

After they came to a conclusion, the spotlight turned on me for 20 mins.  Herr Fischbeck, from MWG, started drilling me.  On personal issues… like if I siblings, what my future plans were, why I like engineering, what I thought of the American health care system, about Calvin College… It was kinda cool, everyone seem genuinely interested in what I had to say.  And the best part was, that I just spoke.  I mean yea, I stumbled and said things wrong, but I was embarrassed or worried of what they would think when I made these mistakes.

So we then took ANOTHER picture… haha, in front of the MWG building, in the exact spot that I took one with Herr Fischbeck earlier in the summer.  I can’t wait to get a hold of that picture – I made Herr Fischbeck promise to make sure I would get it. 🙂

Then Sylvia and went and got Ice Cream.

Then I went back and did laundry, went to the train station 2 times to say goodbye to people.  There are only a few people left here that I know, all my close friends are gone.  So perfect time for me to be distracted with the responsibilities with leaving.

Today is Wednesday.  It was my last day of work.  I went in, got everything organized, made a binder of everything I did and then was done.  I said quick goodbyes to everyone in the office.  As I was saying goodbye, it felt like I had only just arrived.  When I walking to the train station to come back to Magdeburg, I just had to talk to someone.  I didn’t know why… so I used my German cell phone to call my mom.  I started bawling right there on the street.  Walking, crying, talking in English… lets just say I got a few stares.  I was sad to be leaving, but at the same time glad to be done.  I guess I didn’t know how to handle the conflict- all of a sudden I was just over come and bawling!

Then I had to go and un-register in the city of Magdeburg at the Bürgerbüro.  So that I wont be getting mail anymore at Walther Rathenau 19, Zi. 528. No loose ends left in Germany.

I have been slowly packing and cleaning… very slowly.

My foot is huge.  It has really ballooned up.  I’m a little worried about the heat and all the walking Im going to be doing in Italy.

Which brings me to Italy!! Tomorrow, I’m going to pick up my dear friend Andrea Beukema in Berlin, because she is coming to Italy with me and Diane.  We will spend the afternoon in Berlin and then head back to Magdeburg. On Friday, we will get up early, and gut this room clean for my meeting with the Hausmeister [emmm.. Resident Director?] at 9am.  Then we will head to Frankfurt to catch our flight on Friday night to Milan, Italy.  Diane, Andrea and I will be conquering Italy until Aug 16.

Soooo after tomorrow morning, I won’t have internet.  So this is the last post for a week or so!

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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.

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.

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.