See you later, Japan!

I spent four weeks in Japan and had the adventure of a lifetime. From meeting many new people to eating traditional Japanese dishes, Japan was everything I expected and more!

During my art class, a mangaka, Junya Inoue came to visit and talk about the industry and drawing techniques. Mr. Inoue is the author of a manga called Btooom! which has also been adapted into an anime. The class was divided into three parts. For the first part, he introduced himself and answered some questions we had about the industry. Second, he drew one of his characters for us and taught us about the different pens and paper used. Third, he had each of the students draw our own character and come up with some backstory. IMG_3679.jpg

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He was very nice and got a selfie with me!

I also made it to the Ghibli Museum. It’s very tricky to get into the museum, so I hardly got in. One of the professors knew some people living in Tokyo who got us tickets (locals are allowed a certain number of tickets per month they can purchase). Studio Ghibli is the animation studio behind many famous animated movies such as Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and PonyoIMG_3836.jpg

One of the field trips with Saitama University was to Kawagoe, a small town often known as “Little Kyoto.” It had a very small town feel and there were many historical sights. IMG_4053.jpg

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I also got to experience wearing a yukata, which is a summer kimono.

The most memorable historical landmark would have to be the Daibutsu (Big Buddha), found in Kamakura.

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The environment in Japan is so different from the US. The streets are much cleaner, even in big cities like Tokyo. The trains are on time to the minute and it’s very easy to get around once you get the hang of it.

While my time in Japan has come to an end, these memories will always be with me. I am so thankful to Saitama University and all of the wonderful people I met for making my dream come true. I will certainly be going back one day. Until then, my Japanese language studies will continue!

I’ll see you soon, Japan.

Thanks for the unforgettable experience,

ジェイダ

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Südpark Pictures and Goals Update

Finally, some of my favorite pictures from Düsseldorf’s Südpark! It’s a generous piece of land with everything one could want from a park: open space for picnics and lawn games, paved paths for cycling and jogging, plenty of shade trees, luscious green paths, assorted mini-gardens, a lily pond, and even a petting zoo and an ice cream stand. Who could ask for more?

A quick update on my goals:

3 random interactions in German per day: success

I can’t say whether I’ve been hitting three per day or not, but I definitely got in lots of German conversation time this week. Here are some of the more notable ones:

  • On an IIK outing to the Schiffahrtsmuseum, I chatted with the German guide while waiting outside and also with fellow German students during the tour.
  • I went to a weekly Tuesday language cafe for students of German and Spanish and chatted more afterwards while watching the France vs. Belgium soccer game.
  • On Thursday I went to a different speaking practice meeting.
  • Google Maps lied to me and I could not find the entrance to the doctor’s office, so I asked someone on the street. We had a 2-3 minute conversation, admittedly short, but I spoke smoothly without hesitation, answered her questions coherently without long pauses, and successfully maintained the formal register throughout the conversation. I didn’t need to ask her to repeat herself, she didn’t ask me to repeat myself, and she didn’t ask me if it would be better to speak in English. It was one of my best successes in spontaneous conversation so far. And yes, I found the doctor’s office!
  • I chatted with a German teacher and her boyfriend at the IIK party on Friday night.

Read 15 minutes a day in German: fail

I must confess that I haven’t picked up my German book once since I made this goal. Since my July class has been very vocabulary-focused, I’ve been a little bit overwhelmed with new words lately. But reading more would definitely help me cement more of the new vocabulary into my brain, so I’d like to focus on this goal more this week. Since just saying “15 minutes a day” didn’t work, I’ll set aside a specific time: every day right before lunchtime, I’ll read for at least fifteen minutes in German.

I also need to remind myself that I don’t have to limit myself to the one book I have on hand at the moment. I can also go to the giant bookstore and read in one of the comfy lounge chairs for a while, or I can read articles, news, and web comics online.

New goal: journal in German

In my weekly Thursday German practice, the organizers always start off with an open-ended question such as “What do you consider art? What kind of art do you like to consume? What kinds of art, if any, do you produce?” My limited vocabulary usually prevents me from answering these questions as thoroughly as I’d like, which often leaves me a little bit frustrated. It’s a good frustration though, since it’s pushing me to improve my ability to speak on these kinds of subjects.

In order to do so, I’d like to start writing a little bit every day in German. Instead of just writing letters and fictional stories for class assignments, I think I need to also write about more personal subjects. This will arm me with personally relevant vocabulary and  prepare me to better express myself in conversation.

To make things concrete: I’d like to write at least one page a day on a personal topic in German. Topics can include personal experiences, plans, thoughts on a book/television show/news article, etc.

I’ve got two weeks left in Düsseldorf. Let’s see how they go!

Top 10 Cultural Differences

I have not uploaded a blog post in a while and I have not done anything interesting lately (unless you consider my day job to be interesting). So I have decided to write about the top 10 (in absolutely no specific order) cultural differences between the United States and Germany that I have noticed so far!

Without further adieu:

10) Do you have no manners? Knock!

In the office and at home, your door remains shut. No one wants to walk down the hall and see what you are doing and you sure don’t want anyone to be able to see you while they walk by! In the United States, most offices are open spaces or people leave their doors open- not here. Everyone loves their privacy and the closed door policy is everywhere.

9) Lunch time!

In the United States, workers are generally required to take their lunch as quickly as possible and get back to work. Here, it is not uncommon to take over an hour! My office has a cantine where you go to get lunch (very much like the Caf) and sit with your colleagues. This builds comradary within the office and gives you a much needed break from your hard work. In the United States a lot of workers bring their lunch from home and eat at their desks, but here, we eat together and talk about non work-related things.

8) Is hydration really that important?

When you go out to eat in America, the first thing they bring you is a free glass of ice water. Not only is ice nonexistent here (a topic for a point all of its own), there’s no such thing as “free”. My first day in Berlin I ordered water and I was asked if I wanted still or sparkling (tap water is not to be consumed- ever!), I requested still assuming they would bring me a free glass of water. Nope! I paid 2,99€ for a 200 mL (tiny) glass of plain, bottled, lukewarm water!

7) On the topic of water…..

There’s this thing here called Minealwasser (mineral water) and the Germans cannot get enough of it! It is regular water, just with more carbonation in it than you could imagine. Let that bottle sit still all day thinking it is safe to open and you’ll be in for a wet surprise! I always have a towel on hand when I am opening my daily 1.5L bottle of the stuff. At first, I was scared to try it (why would you carbonate WATER?), but it’s actually pretty good! You can buy a huge bottle at Aldi for 0,19€ plus your 0,25€ deposite on the bottle (you get a quarter back when you return your empty bottle to the recycling center).

6) ICE-ICE Baby

I said I would get to it, Germans do not know what ice is (except when the whole counry freezes over in the winter time). The refridgerators do not have an ice maker, and they would never, ever take up the valuable real estate in their tiny glasses with frozen water. I guess when you are paying 4,50€ for a soft drink (without refills) you want to get every last drop of soda possible. The German word, Eis, pronounced as we say “ice” actually means Ice Cream, because that’s the only frozen concoction they want.

5) The bill, please?

When you go out to eat and are ready to go home YOU are responsible for asking for the check. The waiter will never bring it to you, because to Germans, that would be rude. When you seat yourself at a table (you always seat yourself), you get to keep that table for as long as you want. If you need something (drinks, food, etc) make eye contact with a waiter (who will HOPEFULLY be somewhere nearby) and beckon them. They will not check in on you, and they will not ask you to pay. I have grown to like this seemingly poor service as I often find it annoying in America when waiters come by every 5 minutes and interrupt my conversation to ask if I need more free ice water.

4) You mean we aren’t here to make new friends?

The first time I went out with some colleagues for drinks, we went to a pretty casual bar in Braunscwheig. By the time we got there, it was past midnight (prime party time in the US of A) but the dance floor was empty, and every group sat at their table, with their friends, not interacting with anyone else. Having never been “of age” in America, I can only go off what I have heard- but that is that going out to bars is a great place to meet new people and even dance a little if you want to. Not here! You go to the bar with your group of friends, and sit and try to scream at them to have a conversation (the music is very loud).

3) You are 30 and don’t have a driver’s license?

Cars exist here. Germany manufactures some of the best cars in the world, but because public transportation is so advanced and efficient, a lot of Germans never bother getting a car- or even taking driver’s ed to get their license! The streets all have bike lanes, and thats how everyone gets around on a nice day. The buses, trams, S-Bahns, U-Bahns, and long distance trains all have regular schedules- usually in intervals of 15 minutes or less. In fact, even the scheduled train between Berlin and Munich (hundreds of miles) operates several times per day. Gas is also very expensive- around 1,50€ for a liter- so it is no wonder that most folks bike or take the bus.

2) The yellow form! The other lady told me it was the blue one!

Ah, bureaucracy. In the United States you deal with those grumpy folks only at the DMV and the Passport Office. In Germany, bureaucracy is in every aspect of your life. Need to change your address with the bank? You have to go to the city office to get a form verifying where you live. Moving? Go tell the city that your are leaving. Need to get on payroll at work? Go get a NEW tax ID number for your new job from the state. Nothing is simple here, but on the bright side it is almost impossible to slip through the cracks or mess something up.

1) Drinking? You haven’t even had breakfast yet! And you have work in an hour!

Germany has about the most relaxed alcohol laws of any country. The other day I biked past some dude holding onto the handle bar with one hand with a beer in the other- at 8:30 am! Drinking in public is fine- no brown bags here. In fact, I have never even been carded and I barely look like I am above the 16 years old limit. People here are very responsible though, and rates of alcoholism are actually far lower than in America.

I hope these little tidbits were interesting! I will probably do more posts like this soon as I had a lot of fun listing out my ideas.

Cheers from Braunscwheig!

Luxembourg, a French festival, and more

 

IMG_7645I’ve had a busy weekend. I spent all Saturday on an excursion to Luxembourg, and today I went all over the place. This week I’m going to let photos do most of the talking and just add some commentary here and there.

Luxembourg

It was a three hour trip by bus to Luxembourg City. After a guided foot tour through the city, I explored some more with a classmate and another friend from the IIK. The town was very pretty and romantic, but very small. I thought it was a nice destination for a one-day trip.

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When I saw the food prices, I became even more convinced that one day in Luxembourg was enough. Most of the restaurants had menus with prices outside their entrances, and the cheapest dishes we could find were salads starting at 16 euros! No thanks. The only exceptions were a McDonalds and another generic burger place right next to it.

We went to the generic burger place, where we found that the staff spoke only French. I wished I remembered enough French to understand when the waiter told me my bill. But according to the menu prices, he gave me the correct change.

After lunch we explored the network of tunnels making up the Bock Casemates, a UNESCO World Heritage site. There were openings all along the walls through which cannons used to fire. There were also plenty of spiral stone staircases, so tight and steep that it was impossible to see how far down or up they went.

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At the end of the day came the three hour bus ride back to Düsseldorf. We got to enjoy a beautiful sunset over southern Germany along the way.

Sunday: getting on the wrong trains

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This morning I was on my way to Hillsong church, which is about 45 minutes away by U-bahn. I took an train to Heinrich-Heine-Allee, then transferred to the correct platform for the next train. Just as I arrived at the platform, a train arrived and everyone started boarding. For some reason, I didn’t check the train number and boarded with everyone else on autopilot. I must not have been fully awake, because it took me a full twenty minutes to realize I was on the wrong train. Good job, Keilah. I got off and boarded the next train back to Heinrich-Heine-Allee.

By this time it was too late to get to church, but I didn’t feel like heading back home either. I got out at Heinrich-Heine-Allee and walked through the Aldstadt to the Rhine promenade.

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There was apparently some kind of French-related festival going on. There was a long line of stalls selling all kinds of cheese, crepes, and wine.

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One stall was selling giant skewers of pork topped off with a piece of bread. They smelled good, so I decided to get one for lunch. It was juicy, tender, and flavorful, and the roll of bread complemented it nicely. As I looked out over the river while eating it, my pork skewer invited several admiring looks from passerby. One German gentleman even pointed it out to his toddler son and gave me a big approving smile.

I found this amusing. Most of the time, people on the streets pass by me with a quiet stare or occasionally a 你好 (ni hao). But with a big skewer of meat in my hand, suddenly lots of people were smiling in my direction.

Südpark

I still wasn’t ready to go back home, so I decided to visit the Südpark, one of the few major parks in Düsseldorf I still hadn’t visited.

I’d found the Nordpark disappointing, but I fell in love with the Südpark. Unfortunately, however, the pictures are refusing to load, so I’ll save the pictures and descriptions for a day when the wifi is working a little better.

Tschüss!

British Isles – Part 2

Ok. So, it’s been a crazy month and a half since I got back to the states, so I am just now getting around to posting pics.

Ireland was incredible. I loved the places, the cities, the accents, the people, etc. The air is so much cleaner than the air in the US. You notice it. It was the first thing I noticed after we landed. I breathed, and it was clean and clear, as if I had just gotten my first breath of fresh air after being underwater so long I forgot what it was like to breathe. The food was better, too. All of the ingredients are fresher and mostly grown or raised locally, so the meat was higher quality, the vegetables tasted more natural, and even the beverages were better. I loved the place.

First Castle in Ireland
This is the first castle we got to explore after a jaunted carriage ride through the country out in Kilarney.
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Bagpipes!
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Trinity College, home to the book of Kells, and free tuition, just like all colleges in Ireland.
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This is called Dublin’s Viking Pub, because it was actually established by vikings. The food was pretty good.

Wales was an unexpected gem on the trip. I never thought that Wales would be a place I would want to visit again, but it is now near the top of my travel list. We drove through Snowdonia National park which has some of the most beautiful mountains I have ever seen. I didn’t get any good pics of the park, but I did climb to the top of a mountain behind our hotel right as the sun was setting, and the views were spectacular. Pics are below, but they don’t do it justice. You could see green for miles. I definitely need to go back and visit so I can hike in Snowdonia.

Holyhead ferry
This was our ferry from Ireland to Wales. It’s huge, and felt like a luxury cruise.
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A nice tea party at a small restaurant in Wales.
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That’s me. At the top of a mountain. Amid the ruins of an old castle. Yep.
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Top of this mountain. The castle ruins are so old, that only pillars of rocks were left and a couple structures.
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Just look at that view.
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Sunset is the best time to climb a mountain.
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Some more structures during sunset.
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The path up the mountain
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Just wow.

England was nice. I got to see some incredible places, like Stonehenge, Buckingham Palace, and so on. I didn’t get to see Big Ben because it is under repair and will be so for the next few years, so the entire tower was encased in scaffolding. Still, The tour of London was worthwhile. There’s so much history everywhere you look.

 

The best part of England, however, was the natural history museum. I could spend a week in there. As it was, we spend nearly five hours, and were only just able to see every exhibit almost at a run. The place is huge! The fossils were incredible. I almost cried. I grew up loving paleontology and natural history, which is why I am now studying biology, so this place was like heaven on earth. The research going on there is amazing. I spent a long time on their website learning about their efforts to digitize 20 million specimens by 2020. They are creating 2D and 3D models of these specimens, both wet and dry, and providing open access to anyone around the world with a computer and internet. The best part, that’s only 1/4 of their specimens! There’s so much research going on, from fossils to conservation biology, to genetics, to molecular biology. I might consider this place for my post-doc, because it was awesome!

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That’s a real blue whale skeleton. 

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That’s the blue whale skeleton from below. 

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오늘부터 한국어 수업을 잘 받아요!

As you can tell by my title, I’m hyped and fully charged into the Korean mood! Here in Seoul it’s currently the night of the 4th, so happy July Fourth from one side of the world to the other!

I’ve had such an amazing time since my last post meeting new friends, exploring new alleyways and sights, and starting classes for this semester. So before I dive into my homework, I figured I’d update you all on how classes started off and give some cool facts about Seoul and things that I’ve noticed in my two weeks since arriving.

For my summer studies, I’m enrolled in three courses that meet Monday-Thursday from 11 AM until 6 PM each day; International Management, Marketing, and a Korean Language course. Among the language courses, there are many levels to take – three beginner’s levels, three intermediates, and two advanced. I had my sights set on Intermediate 1 – after reviewing the syllabus and noting what grammar was being covered, I felt as though I would learn the most in that class without sacrificing having to sit through principles and ideas that I already had taught myself. Therefore, if you have some experience with Korean, you had to take a placement test to see what class you should be taking. This happened on the first day of classes, and was something I was super stressed about as I really wanted to place as high as I possibly could.

The placement test itself took about an hour and a half to conduct. We were given tests with both multiple choice questions as well as short answer. As we took the written test, we got called out to do an “interview” for our oral and listening skills. While I was aware this was going to happen, I wasn’t banking on it happening during the written test, especially as I was called first. I became very nervous in the interview because of this, as I didn’t have near as much time to prepare mentally as I thought I was going to have. That being said, I left the placement test once I had finished discouraged and jostled, almost betting that I didn’t place where I wanted, but to my luck and fortune, the results came out the next day (today) and I got placed into Intermediate 1 just as I had hoped!

I was a little intimidated at first, but as I settled into the class, I do feel as though I was correct in estimating the level I sit at and will learn a lot in the next six weeks.

So that’s been my school experience so far! But what about my other experiences outside academics?

Here’s a fun fact: South Korea absolutely LOVES coffee. It’s estimated that there are about 19,000 coffee shops in the country, varying in the types of coffee offered as well as atmospheres. Many of these shops account for singular, unique shops littered throughout Seoul, but South Korea does have its chains. One of these chains I’ve noticed is Paris Baguette. Just within my two weeks since arriving, I’ve spotted at least ten of these shops – two of which are within walking distance of my dorm on the Yonsei campus! This is what they look like – courtesy of Google Maps as I haven’t taken a picture of them.

Paris Baguette

I personally have only visited about five different coffee shops, but I have high ambitions to try out many more during my time here.

Another cool fact about Korea: their money! The Korean unit of money is known as the Korean Won and uses the ₩ symbol. There are four types of notes and six types of coins, although three of the coins don’t seem to be very active in exchange. I find Korean money to be really cool because they are so easy to tell apart. Each kind of note is a different color and has a different length depending on its value. So the ₩1,000 note (~90 cents) is the shortest, while the largest note in use, ₩50,000 (~$45) is the longest. As for the coins, the most popular coins seem to be ₩500 (~45 cents), ₩100 (~9 cents), with the ₩50, ₩10, and ₩1 much less popular. This is because many prices end in double zeros (i.e. ₩4,500 or ₩3,200 or ₩17,900), so unless you are out of ₩500 and ₩100 coins, there is really no need for the latter three coins.

Here’s an example of what some of the money looks like!

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So this whole time I’ve been expressing how much fun I’ve been having, how exhilarating it is to finally see Seoul and experience being completely out of my comfort zone and in a country that doesn’t speak English predominantly, but every experience to another country, no matter how long one has wanted to go there, has some downsides.

Something that I still have trouble adjusting to that I find a bit annoying here is that there are almost no trash cans anywhere – outside or inside. They’re very hard to come by for some reason, and many of the receptacles I do find are for strictly recyclables only, and a majority of the time it’s 일반 쓰레기 – normal trash – that I’m looking to discard, not something that can be recycled.

Another thing that I’ve found odd is that it isn’t customary to throw used toilet paper INTO the toilet. That’s right – when you use the bathroom, you don’t put the toilet paper into the toilet, but rather into the trashcan. Seems odd, right? There is a reason – allegedly the water pressure throughout South Korea is quite weak, so people are asked not to put anything within the toilet when flushing to prevent buildups and to assure easy flow of water, but I can’t help but feel simply disposing of the used tissue in a trashcan is a bit unsanitary.

However, if these are my biggest complaints, I would say that I’m getting along pretty well here! I’ve only been here a couple weeks and I’m already dreading the time when I’ll have to leave. I’m still amazed at the wonderful opportunity I have to be able to come abroad and pursue a dream I’ve had for nearly half my life now.

Unfortunately, it’s getting a bit late so I should go ahead and get a start on my homework. As I progress through my classes and try some more new experiences, I’ll keep you guys updated! 나중에 만납시다!

はい、いや、 ja: the juggling of words

You might have noticed that my latest post (here) doesn’t feature much German. In fact, it’s more about Japanese. What’s up with that? After coming all this way to Germany to learn German, why do I find myself talking Japanese so often?

That’s a question I’ve been asking myself lately. I’ve been going out with Japanese classmates and chatting with them in Japanese. Last Saturday, the highlight of my day was finding a pair of Japanese books. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with these things, but shouldn’t I be absorbing as much German as possible while I have the opportunity?

I was feeling guilty about this last week.

Then I realized something. A big part of the reason I’ve attained some level of proficiency in Japanese is the fact that I incorporated the language into my daily life. Even when I’m not actively studying it, I still use it when I read novels or listen to music in my free time. So it’s natural that I’m continuing to use the language. And why would I regret making friends with classmates from Japan? Connecting with people from around the world is one of my greatest motivations for learning languages. The opportunity to use both German and Japanese to do so is a bonus, not a drawback.

After thinking about it some more, I also realized that I do use a fair amount of German in my daily routine. I use much of my time outside of class exploring the city, which includes the occasional interaction with strangers on the bus or in the park. I’ve been reading a German graphic novel and watching German television in my down time. And I’ve been attending meetings for German speaking practice multiple times per week. Perhaps I don’t need to be so hard on myself.

On Friday, I was given another reminder that time spent on one language need not exclude my interest in the other. I went to a Japanese-German Stammtisch, or common table, at a cat cafe just a few blocks away from my residence. I had a pleasant conversation – all in German – with a Japanese expat and an older German gentleman who used to live in Japan. We spoke about language learning, Japanese novels, and compared notes on our perceived difficulty levels of English, German, and Japanese. It was especially enjoyable because I wasn’t speaking German just for the sake of practicing. I was having a conversation with people who shared similar interests, and the communication just happened to be in German.

The Halfway Mark

It’s been four weeks in Germany, which means I’m halfway through my stay! I think now is a good time to assess my progress and write down some new goals.

Things I can do that I couldn’t four weeks ago:

  • produce the different declensions of articles and adjectives almost automatically
  • converse more smoothly in German using conversational filler words
  • understand the meaning of certain new-to-me words by understanding their parts
  • read and understand a German graphic novel without a dictionary
  • watch German television and understand a significant amount without a dictionary
  • bag my groceries at Aldi within seconds before the very efficient cashier starts glaring at me
  • use the tram/u-bahn maps and schedules
  • know which side of the road has the correct bus stop
  • transition quickly from speaking German to Japanese and vice versa
  • think/talk to myself spontaneously in German (sometimes)

Goals for the time remaining:

  • read at least half an hour per day in German outside of class
  • 3 or more spontaneous interactions/mini conversations per day in German

Tomorrow I begin my second four-week course at the language school and my last four weeks of summer in Düsseldorf. Here’s to more adventures and language progress!

 

 

Some pictures from Berlin (Finally!)

I was finally able to get the pictures from my phone onto my laptop by emailing them to myself. I did buy a new digital camera yesterday (my phone camera has been acting up) so hopefully I will be taking a lot more pictures in the coming weeks!

Anyway, here is some of what I got to see in Berlin:

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The Reichstag in Berlin: the “Capital Building” of Germany. 
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The TV Tower at Alexanderplatz (Formerly in East Berlin) is the largest structure in Berlin. You can see it from almost anywhere. A gentleman on the subway (tourist) was asking me where it was, and when the train went above ground for a little bit I just looked around and pointed it out to him- we were miles and miles away from it too!
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I thought the Juxtaposition of the TV Tower behind an 800 year old church was very cool! Notice the stone work on the Church, the lighter work towards the top was reconstructed after World War Two.
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The view from my friends’ balcony in Berlin. Very great location! The parking lot at the bottom right is where Hitler’s bunker was, the Jewish Memorial can be seen towards the top on the left, and behind the far buildings is the Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate.

Playing the Koto

For this past week, I want to share my experience with the koto. My host mom took me to her high school on a Saturday when club activities were going on. I was able to play it myself! Now, I did not do very well, haha. The 先生 (teacher) had to guide and correct me a bunch, though, it was really neat to be a part of the activity! The students were super sweet and welcomed me to watch and play.

ジェイダ

Wow, time flies

Logging into my Word Press acount I noticed that I have not posted an update in over two weeks! Well, a lot has happened here in Germany during these two weeks so I’ll go ahead and dive in:

The start of the World Cup was very exciting, I went to a public viewing in Braunschweig to watch Germany’s first game (against Mexico). Unfortunately it was a tough loss, but the environment of the public viewing was great. It had several beer stands and they were handing out free hats and sunglasses.

The next week I continued my work at DLR, researching and coding a little bit. It’s hard work but I like the work atmosphere here.

Last weekend I took a trip to Berlin to see more of the city and reconnect with some friends I made at orientation a few weeks ago. My friends who live in Berlin have an incredible apartment- right next to Hitler’s bunker and a 4 minute walk from the Brandenburg Gate. It was a great weekend. I arrived in time for dinner on Friday and stayed until after lunch on Sunday.

To start off the weekend we got some beer (for less than 0,40€ per ‘tall boy’) and headed to a small street stand for dinner. I ordered a Schweineschnitzel (basically a fried pork chop) which I enjoyed alongside my German wheat beer (very dark and strong flavor- I am a huge fan). After dinner my friends took me around to see a few sights, then we went to buy more beer and got ready to head out to the bars. One guy knew of an Irish Pub just one U-Bahn stop away so we headed there. The bar was incredibly crowded and it was also late so we just stayed for a few rounds and mingled with some locals before heading back to their apartment for the night.

On Saturday I got up early and used my Berlin Transport Card to go around various places in the City. Notably, I went to the Apple store and got my iPhone camera repaired so I could take some pictures. I will upload a lot of photos in a future post, once I can figure out how to transfer them from my phone to my Laptop. Saturday was also the night of the big Germany vs Sweden match, so we went to the public viewing at the Brandenburg Gate. I can not overexaggerate how good our place to stand was. We fought our way to the very front, and were less than 5 people back from the front. It was an incredible experience to get to be a part of all of the energy with the win too. After the game several of my friends tried to go clubbing, but I was way too tired and went on to bed. They came home around 1 am (very early by German clubbing standards) and sadly announced they had been denied entry to every club they tried. This reaffirmed that going to bed was the wise decision.

Sunday morning we slept in pretty late, but had time to get lunch and visit Alexanderplatz before my train ride back to Braunschweig.

Overall, it was an incredible weekend and I will definitely be heading back very soon, I have not even seen half of the tourist attractions there yet!

So far this week I have had a lot of work, and got to witness the unfortunate loss of Germany to South Korea last night, meaning the World Cup fun is over for the next four years.

I have also begun my apartment hunt for Bremen this fall, I am hoping to get to move in about a month before my classes start so I have time to travel around Europe and see all that it has to offer.