Ein blogging mannschaft!

I first believe it is appropriate for me to explain how I met the two wonderful people who also contribute to this blog. I don’t generally blog but today I suppose I am writing for my friends in Darmstadt as much as for myself. I am not totally sure who reads this other than the three of us but I hope you find this post entertaining if anything. Perhaps at least one person in Hamburg will read. J I also apologize if I get too philosophical. Sometimes it happens haha.

I flew to Deutschland to take a German language course from the DID two week before my internship started. The class was really helpful and I am very gracious. There I met two French Canadians: Mathieu and Nadège. This meeting seems uneventful, sure, but I assure you, that could not be farther from the truth. For the three of us on this blog I will not indulge myself much further on this meeting. I will only just say that our craziness in Berlin could be summed up in 3 words: Bier, Mannschaft, und Kartoffel.

Meeting Valkyrie was slightly more interesting than just going to class on Monday morning. If you will, I would like to relay a pseudo dialogue between myself and Mathieu about this (sans dialogue though) haha.

Mathieu had told me that we were meant to meet his friend from Indiana at the Berlin Hauptbahnof on Friday afternoon because she was visiting for the weekend. To this I was rather astonished. I think I only know 5 people from Indiana and I grew up in Iowa! Though I’ve never spent a great deal of time there. Mathieu explained to me that the two of them were studying in the same lab for their RISE internships this summer and that Valkyrie was also bringing him a new computer. Again I was relatively surprised that this person had bought Mathieu a computer without ever having met him. This was a good amount of trust which was, of course, warranted. I suggest reading Valkyrie’s post on trust. It is well worth it. At this point I asked Mathieu how we were going to know what she looked like at the train station. To which he replied: “she will be wearing a bright pink skirt and rainbow socks”. I lost it completely haha.

 It was at then, when we entered the train station that day, that I remembered why I love traveling. Picture this scenario: I was standing on the platform of the main train station in Berlin with a good friend from Quebec who I had just met the week before. We were waiting for a warrior goddess from Indiana to get off a train wearing a bright pink skirt and giant rainbow socks and possibly a Pokémon hat. Tell me that isn’t a ridiculous situation! Haha. At the time it seemed completely normal. I will refrain from describing the remainder of the weekend’s activities here.

I would like to comment on traveling a bit. I believe the word that best describes how I feel about traveling is: liberating. Forgive my grammar please; I’m writing quickly. I choose to live by the relatively cheesy and over used motto: “you only live once”. I am, however, currently working on a way to live two or three times at least, and if you had been in Berlin with us, you would surely have thought we had died a couple of times. There is too much of the world out there for me to stay in one place very long. It is part of the reason why I chose geology as my field of study. Traveling is addicting. The situations I find myself in are sometimes so far fetched that I scarcely believe I’m actually in them. Yet somehow, at the time, the circumstances make perfect sense. For example: Last spring I was on a train from Prague to Berlin. We were meant to stop at the boarder to change trains. Upon arriving at the boarder of the Czech Republic and Germany we gathered our bags and made to get off the train. Before we were even half way down the corridor the train began moving again. The 3 of us (not wanting to get lost) then leaped off of the moving train, one of us basically doing a dive role, only to find that we had jumped off the train at the wrong station!! Upon pealing ourselves off the pavement we realized that we were across a river from a small Vietnamese market called Schuna. Instead of waiting for another train we decided to take a small boat across the river and visit the market. Interestingly, the only things on sale at this market were brass knuckles, knives, cigarettes, and knock – off lacost shirts. My friend got hustled by an old lady for a t shirt. That was hilarious. We then decided it was in our best interest to climb a small mountain which overlooked the valley. Again I found myself on the top of an escarpment overlooking a river and a small Vietnamese village in the Czech Republic holding a pirated tshirt that just cost my friend 3 times as much as it was worth.

The moral of this story: if you had told me I was going to partake in such an adventure, I would have just laughed. At the time though, it all made sense.

The best part about these stories is they are universally understood by travelers. Every person I meet while traveling has a story of a similar nature and never for a moment would doubt my sincerity when I tell mine. I am truly glad that my friends have asked me to write on this blog now because I fear I would never write about my experiences otherwise.

One more thing I might say about traveling. A small hobby of mine (was ist dine hoby??) is sociology. I am a scientist but for some reason am enamored with meeting people. I enjoy the construction of social scenarios and interpersonal interactions. I also think they are important. In this context, however, I find meeting people while traveling to be the most interesting. Often is the case that I meet people who oddly share the same types of ideas and theories on how the world works (or should work) while traveling. Even just seeing someone wearing a moderately large backpack and walking around a train station predisposes that person to having something in common with me. A corollary to this is in the realm of hospitality. I have met many people who have allowed me to crash at their place or who I would not hesitate to ask for a place to stay if I happened to be in their neighborhood. I would, of course, recapitulate. If anyone who I have met on my travels takes the energy to visit my country, I will ensure they have a place to stay. This is not common nor expected where I come from.

Mathieu has asked me to write about our time in Berlin. I am in the process of doing this. He believes it is good to have the stories written down so we don’t forget. I too agree with this and so I will write. I have spoken with my friends about this, but I will reiterate here. I find that in the end of these crazy travels, even with all the souvenirs and pictures, the only thing I will truly have in the end are the friends and memories. If I can hold onto those two things, or even just one of them, I will be happy forever. Interestingly (and part of the reason why I am writing) is that the memories sometimes fade. Sometimes there are too many things happening to remember all of them. I don’t mean forgetting complete chunks of time. I mean, instead of the total mental clarity one has while an event is transpiring or just after, the occurance becomes somewhat of a blur of actions and people and places (at which point friends are needed to recreate the entire story haha). At a certain point the memory is reduced largely to a feeling: a feeling of “that was fun” or “that was crazy!” or “what the hell is industrial techno?”.  Luckily the feeling is really all that matters.

I went on an “excursion” the other day with two other students and one of the geography professors in the department I am working in. We went to the church where Martin Luther posted his 95 theses and began the reformation. That was pretty cool. The town of Wittenberg is very nice and I believe quaint is the word. It is a medieval town and so has an open waste water drainage system. Somehow, as gross as that sounds, the drainages is actually aesthetically pleasing. We also went to a place north of Wittenberg and visited the terminal moraine from the second to last glaciation in Northern Germany. To me this was very interesting but I realize most people don’t consider a large pile of Scandinavian rocks in north central Germany very interesting.

I believe one of the more fascinating aspects of the trip was our return journey on the Autobahn. This road is the smoothest road I have ever been on, and luckily so. Our average speed on the Autobahn in the land cruiser we were in was about 175km/h. I believe that translates into close to 105mph. The relative normality of these speeds on the autobahn was most astonishing. While I was a “white knuckle” passenger for 45 min, the driver of our car was discussing what he had had for dinner last night while we were going 110 miles per hour in the biggest car in Deutschland! Quite an experience I must say. The next step is, of course, driving myself.

The last thing I will write about today is the BBQ I attended the other day. It was designed for international students to get to know each other. This was great as I had just arrived and didn’t know anyone in Halle except for my supervisor. I met two people from Montana at the BBQ. For those of you who have never been to Montana or don’t know rough estimates on population densities in the USA, there are approximately 900,000 people in the state of Montana. Montana is additionally larger than the entire German republic which has 82 million people in it. There are two people from Montana living in the same building as I am in Halle! Haha I thought that was amusing. 


Valkyrie Savage said...

I have to say I'm quite jealous of your job, still. *sigh* If only CS majors could hike the Alps for money...

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