Johannes-Kepler Universitat Linz
After Vienna I went to Hannover, Germany to visit my friend Madison! I was beyond excited to get to see her. When I got there though apparently we both kept walking past each other at the airport because it took us a while to find each other… It was really great to see her, especially because I’ve been in such a new environment with new people in my life. It was really refreshing to be able to see someone I know from home in person. We went back to where she lives in Hannover and I got to see the University she goes to and the dormitory she lives in. After dropping off my things we went to the Hannover city center to look at some of the shops and stop for a coffee. We decided to make plans to go to Hamburg with another friend of hers to take her laptop to the Apple store there because it had just stopped turning on. Having had that experience back in the US, I could not imagine having to deal with that soon after arriving in Europe.
I enjoyed Hamburg, but unfortunately it was pretty rainy and cold the entire day. I got to ride on a train again! I’m right there with Sheldon – trains are the best ever. (Sorry, I love “The Big Bang Theory” and miss it dearly.) We stopped at a café to have lunch and some amazing pancakes! It’s really amazing how you can be in an entirely different continent and some things are always the same – I’ve experienced it with Starbucks and now the Apple store. I guess that’s what they go for. We got Madison’s laptop taken care of (they ended up fixing it the next day!) and spent the rest of the time shopping.
Ok so I had a little bit of a hiccup in my plans because I realized that registration for Maryville classes was going to happen while I was traveling during the break. Unfortunately, since Madison’s computer decided to give up the ghost, so to speak, we didn’t have internet access. I had to end up changing some of my classes at an internet café down the street, and after some hurried emails to my advisor eventually I got everything sorted out (fingers crossed) and registered for senior year. Madison was able to do this too, and I’m glad we were able to be together to deal with that. That night we had dinner with some of Madison’s friends, and we made fried chicken! We just had to have that good ol’ tribute to the south! I had never made it before, but it turned out purty darn tootin’ good.
Even though I only had a short time to stay with Madison, I’m so happy I got to see her at all!
Next stop: Dublin, Ireland. I think I can officially say that Ireland as a whole is my second favorite place I’ve been to (just right on the tail of Budapest). I really enjoyed Dublin, and what made it even more awesome was that the wonderful Michae was able to meet me there! Seeing another one of my friends from home was amazing! Exploring Dublin was incredible – we got to see St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin Castel, Trinity College and the Book of Kells (which blew my mind – along with the Old Library), and of course no trip to Dublin would be complete without seeing the Guinness Brewery! We toured and got to learn how to pour “the perfect pint of Guinness.” One of the best beers I’ve ever had! We also ate the best fish and chips I have ever had. Now, I haven’t exactly had a lot of fish and chips during my life, but I can say that these were the most delicious fish and chips probably in the entire universe – with salt and a little vinegar they were absolutely heaven. I think they must have been the food that angels eat. If I were an angel I’d eat it all the time. Heaven is probably just a giant fish and chips place.
But anyway, even though Dublin was absolutely amazing, I think my favorite part was being able to get out in the countryside. We decided to take a day tour to the Cliffs of Moher, which are way on the other side of Ireland (on the west coast, actually). To get there we drove through small towns and villages and vast, rolling, green landscapes. What really made that tour though was our driver and tour guide. He told us old Irish legends and sang Irish songs for us and was pretty much the most amazing tour guide I’ve ever had. The cliffs were absolutely beautiful, and I left feeling that I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time there.
I was really sad to leave Ireland, but I was also excited for my next stop: The Netherlands!
Madison Elkins Leibniz Universitat Hannover Things You Will Miss that You Never Thought You’d Miss 1.
Your cat. You have no idea how much you will miss your cat. 2.
Publicly accessible drink machines. You never realize how blissful that sprite-on-the-go can be until you aren’t allowed to have it. In public places your eyes will always seek the fluorescent back-lit image of a sweating coke bottle that cries, “Refresh
yourself!” Your ears will forever strain to hear the gentle hum of refrigeration that whispers, “Oasisss.” Let’s imagine that you have been running errands all day. You are parched. You’ve probably never been this thirsty in your life. You think maybe no one has ever been this thirsty. Your tongue is crying dry little tears of sand. So you decide to find a drink.
Let’s weigh your options.
- You can stop in a restaurant to “purchase” (aka “donate left arm”) a drink. In a cute little glass. Let’s call her Half-Pint.
- You can stop in a market to buy a water/juice/soda the size (literally) of your lower leg. I’m talking anklecalfknee. The same proportions of a newborn babe. This is sold at a reasonable price. But you must carry this bottle (until you finish it, which, I’m telling you now, will be next week) in addition to the purse and books you are also carrying, through trains, shops and crowds of people. When you aren’t whacking these people in the hip with your anklecalfknee newborn babe, whispering “Entshuldigung” like a fervent prayer, you’ll be dropping it in front of tiny old German ladies whose walkers and temperaments are simply not constructed to withstand that kind of shock. And then, entshuldigung (all-purpose German for “excuse me”) just doesn’t cut it.
- You can cry. Drink your tears. Repeat.
- You can find a bathroom, where you will sip tap water from the sink. But given the fact that public bathrooms are also lacking, you’ll either have to go to a restaurant (and buy something), or to a major train station, where you will be charged 1.50 to 2 euros for entrance into The Loo. So you might as well buy a Half-Pint Sprite at McDonalds. For about the same price.
- You can die of dehydration. If at any time you think you’re going crazy, be comforted by the fact that you are correct.
- You can go home, where there is a faucet and a mug and a refrigerator. There, you will manufacture your very own chilled tap water. Huzzah.
The last is the least unfavorable, because you will (probably, at some point) go home. And if Indiana Jones can go without an ice cold bottled water for three days, you can do it too. For three hours. But wouldn’t it be nice to see just one coke machine peeping around the corner, waving hello? 3
. Publicly accessible bathrooms that don’t require a $2 donation or a meal or a tearful supplication. 4.
Baking soda. You will try to find it. You will be convinced that it is around here somewhere, that it is simply eluding you, that you don’t have its correct German name, that you aren’t looking in the right places. Stop blaming yourself, and repeat after me. Germans. Do not use. Arm and Hammer. They use something else entirely, and it isn’t worth scouring the city for it. (but it is worth making puns about.) 5.
Krispy Kreme Donuts. You knew all along there was no alternative, you just didn’t want to face it. This is a time for moral support and listless consumer choices meant to fill that donut-shaped hole in your heart. (They won’t, but you can try.) I suggest the chocolate-covered coconut marshmallow fluffs. The pink ones. I like to call them bon bons. 6.
Your car. Nothing says, “I CAN!” like a Honda Accord. Nothing says, “I CAN’T!” like public transportation workers on strike. 7
. Quality canned soup. At least, canned soup that you know from years of consumer experience to be good quality. You may have a very clear internalized hierarchy of American brand names, you may speak and understand the language of logo design (nothing says crappy like comic sans), but all that amounts to jack squat when you’re operating on foreign soil. Perhaps Germany possesses the most delectable canned soups of all the world. But I wouldn’t know; they all look the same, and one looks as chintzy or as exotic as the next. It will take you 20 more years to establish another liquid lexicon. In the meantime, you must either do without, or purchase at will. Just select the one that sounds the best when you slosh it around a bit.
Leibiniz Universitat Hannover, Germany
I haven’t had Internet access for quite some time now, due first to a faulty Ethernet cable, then to a broken laptop, and now to an incorrect IP address. The very narrow office hours of the Internet guy here have been difficult to work with.. I always have class during his hours. Finally, I just handed over my laptop to a friend, who will go on my behalf.
In the meantime, Ive decided to write when j can (which isnt often), the logic being that it is better to have some blog posts rather than none at all, even perfunctory ones, with typos, without pictures.
Thinking that stereotypes are almost never true, I assumed the typical German would not actually eat that much bratwurst. Oh, my naivete. It is literally everywhere. Cheap, portable, and usually delicious (no matter how much you may want to deny it), bratwurst is the lifeblood of the young and the comfort of the old. Bratwurst is definitely the hamburger and french fries of German cuisine.
I’ve found that a few other stereotypes also grew from a grain of truth. The idea that Germans are never, ever, ever late, for example, is usually true. In fact, let’s change it to: “Germany is never late.” Perhaps there are one or two Germans out there (kindred spirits of mine) who tend to believe that arriving 1-2 minutes late is still basically “on time.” But they are few, and we have not met. It’s been a great practice for me. Everyone who knows me knows me to be at least a little late. Im never late for work, but in all other aspects I am perpetually behind. Here, the mentality is more like: you are committing a tiny crime against your fellow humans if you make them wait on your behalf. Also, you lied if you said you were going to be on time, and aren’t. I absolutely agree (only where my own lateness is concerned-I don’t mind if others are late), but it’s taken German punctuality to make my actions accord with my opinion. Friends and family at home, watch out! Im all kinds of on time now.
Next post, I’ll update about my travels so far- hamburg, Berlin, and Amsterdam. Tschüss!