Monday, March 30, 2009

Berlin is the second most populous city and the eighth most populous urban area in the European Union

Just got back from Berlin, and I’m starting classes today! It’s been such a whirlwind these past few weeks- more has been going on than it seems should be come this time of year. The AJY visit to Berlin marks my second trip into the city, though I must say that I saw much more and came back with a much fuller understanding of the city this time. I of course still have not seen anywhere near all of the city, but I feel familiar with a good portion of it now, in part due to all of the walking my group did. Some of my personal highlights would have to be seeing the Berliner Dom (a massive baroque-revival cathedral that begs for multiple visits), the Reichstag (Germany’s parliament building), the Pergamon Museum, and getting to know a café that seems geared towards the area’s student populace. We saw so much, though, that it is difficult to summarize it simply.

German term: Genosse is an important term to know when discussing east Berlin or the GDR; it means “comrade”. It’s easy to presume that Komrad would mean comrade, because it does, but more in the sense of a comrade at arms or a Schulcomrad (a “class comrade” at school- a classmate).

Berlin pics!
And more!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

London's history goes back to its founding by the Romans

It is a pleasure to be back in Heidelberg once again~ I spent the past six days in London and England seeing all that I could with a friend in the little time we had at our disposal. (My “spring break” just before the start of the summer semester!) I had originally harbored hopes of finally seeing St Michael’s Mount in the south east of England, but the combination of the train ride there taking forever, no airports making flights back to Frankfurt Hahn from there, and the cathedral being CLOSED for the days we were traveling caused me to sadly set this hope aside. Instead we did quite a lot more off trains rather than on them, although we did have a few lengthy train sittings as well.

On our first day out, we grabbed a two-our bus to the Frankfurt Hahn airport and then skipped over to London Stansted before finally taking bus, this one with an hour ride, into London. We dropped our things off at our hostel, which was actually the upstairs of a nice local pub before heading out to see what we could of the National Gallery. After that we grabbed some dinner at a pub and promptly returned to our lodgings to die before starting our trip in earnest. We had ordered “London Passes”, which help one avoid lines and can result in a hefty amount of savings. The next morning we hopped onto the underground and sped over to St. Paul’s cathedral before popping by the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the HMS Bismark, AND Southwark Cathedral. We kept ourselves busy. On Saturday we intended to start with seeing Westminster (churches in the morning = PERFECT viewing with the lighting), but underground construction forced us to start with the arch before walking down to Buckingham Palace, where we looked through the Queen’s Gallery (largest collection of unnecessarily gilded things I’ve seen in quite a while! More than a few gorgeous paintings, though) and the changing of the guard. We ended up dropping by Westminster and the British Mueseum before the day was out as well, and I must admit that my feet were beyond dead with aching by the end of it. On the final day of our London Passes (one must use them on consecutive days for however many days one has purchased them for) we headed out to see Windsor Castle, where the queen was hanging out for the weekend. When we came back into the city we walked about and saw the Churchill Museum as well as the Cabinet of War Rooms. The next day, our final true day in the UK, we stopped by the Church of All Hallows before catching our train out to Salisbury. Here we grabbed a tour bus that informs the riders of Salisbury history as well as he history of several other towns and the area before dropping one off at Stonehenge, which I believe is perfectly described by one of OWU’s art history professors- Stonehenge is there on this big field, and right there is the overpass. I did hear that the Heritage Foundation is planning on moving the overpass, though, which would be brilliant. Whose idea was it to put it there in the first place? It was dreadfully windy that day as well, and the cold sliced through everything. We then hopped back onto the bus before stopping off at Old Sarum, another local ruin, before finishing the Salisbury adventures off with Salisbury Cathedral and another local church that has a Medieval doom painting of a uniquely large, complete, and well preserved sort.

German Phrase: Ich bin erledigt! is pretty much saying that you are dead tired and are done for the time being; I definitely was erledigt by the end of my adventures, and now I get to go on the AJY trip to Berlin! I swear the excitement never ends over here.

Some London pics here
and some more here

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Speyer Dom is, by virtue of its proportions,the largest and the most important; by virtue of the history to which it is linked– the Salic emperors

The AJY recently took us out on yet another excursion- this one to Speyer, which is southeast of Heidelberg. I had no expectations and no idea what to expect as the train steadily took us there, but upon arrival I found it hard to want to leave. Speyer is a beautiful town with an amazing cathedral that used to hold the title of World’s Largest Building- something quite daunting if one takes into consideration how the mass of the building must have been humbling to those used to living in small huts. We briefly toured the cathedral and the crypts before touring a little of the town, seeing the Bishop’s residence and the remains of an old synagogue that houses the ancient bath house in the basement- a site remarkably unharmed in the whirlwind tragedies of the second world war. Most of the group left after seeing this, but I wanted to see more of the city and was pleased that several others did as well. We popped into one of the local cloisters- a beautiful experience, seeing a dozen nuns at prayer in such a setting. We walked around some more, taking it in, myself making mental plans of what to do upon my next visit. It’s only 45 minutes away by train, and during the week is peaceful and lower on the number of tourists- something I thankfully will take advantage of once my schedule here is clearer.

German term: I don’t believe I’ve taken a moment to explain the German term Dom. A Dom is a big cathedral that’s super special because it’s associated with the Kaiser for various reasons. (He may have had it built or something like that- it depends.) These are not to be confused with a Kirche, a church, which can verbally be confused with Kirsche (cherries), Küche (kitchen), and occasionally something as delicious as Kuchen (cake).

Speyer pics here

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Frankfurt is the financial and transportation centre of Germany and the largest financial centre in continental Europe

Off campus escapades continue!

Studying off-campus from OWU is a rather simple matter. It involves a few trips to Blake Michael’s office(director of studying abroad), the filling out of not a few seemingly pointless forms, and then some more forms to top it all off and to be sure it has a healthy dose of bureaucracy. Also, a few meetings in there. As well as a lot of other things I’m glossing over for time and interest’s sakes. It’s straight-forward, though, and there are a ton of programs to choose from. Being a language major, it narrowed my choices quite effectively down. There were two that I was looking at by the end of things, namely Munich or Heidelberg, and through some smashing decision making arrived here. It’s a very nice program thus far, and I’m looking forward to the rest of my semester here. There are nigh limitless possibilities for the student in the Heidelberg program; there are a ton of classes to choose from after taking the DSH, which is the German language proficiency test. That’s what the first month of study here is spent preparing for; the group that I am here with gets a go at it on March 12. One can also get a part time job, and internship, or any number of other exciting things. I myself just got an internship at a local elementary school, where I will be herding wee-ones about as a mystical Native Speaker of English. Quite a good time, to be sure.

Heidelberg is a lovely town, and exploring it has been quite a joy. I highly suggest a solo hiking of the Holy Mountain from the very bottom; none of this sissy tourist taking a car to the top stuff!! And please be respectful to the area while you’re at it; some of the tourists were less than understanding of the sights to be seen, and that’s just beyond the tacky Hawaiian button-ups the best of tourists are usually prone to. But more on Heidelberg another day. Recently we spent the day in Frankfurt, saw Goethe’s childhood home (if you honestly have no idea who dear Goethe is, please go Google him at the least; Germany’s Shakespeare disserves at least a vague awareness, don’t you agree? He’s a bit bawdy at times for my tastes, though, to be quite honest. Erlkoenig is a nice poem, though.) as well as some of the most important buildings in the Holy Roman Empire. Important stuff, really. After the DSH we’ll be taking a trip over to Speyer, a city near Heidelberg. We also have a group trip to Berlin as well as another group trip towards the end of our stay that will hit several cities, including Weimar, Goethe’s city of choice, in which not a few very exciting Ginkgo trees will growing, much to my delight.

A slideshow of some pictures from Frankfurt
More pics from Frankfurt

German Word: Germany has many options of public transport. You've got the Busse, S-Bahns, U-Bahns, Zuge, and more. It's fantastic. Bus is clearly "bus", but it's pronounced 'boose' like 'moose'. An S-Bahn is a fast train for traveling within a city, an U-Bahn is an underground, and Zug means "train". There are several types of trains, though, so one has to be careful of which one one uses depending on how quickly one wants to get where!

In an entirely unrelated note, Patrick O’Hearn is working on a new album, which makes me happy in ways that I can not possibly fully articulate.
Enjoy some classic Patrick O’Hearn music while getting excited with me about the new stuff to come!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Heidelberg, Germany is home to the jaw of the "Heidelberg Man", whose jawbone is the earliest evidence of human life in Europe

You can see said jawbone just down the street from the American Junior Year at Heidelberg University HQ in a local museum. It's a nice little museum that's much larger than it seems, but unfortunately forbids photography. Do partake of some of the other photos I've amassed thus far in my travels abroad from dear OWU in the Heidelberg Program. Komm mit!

A slideshow of images in Heidelberg, Germany!
A few more that highlight many of the city's tourist attractions.
Just a couple more, including a shot of the AJY center, wedged between a record shop and a Thai restaurant right on the main street in the old portion of town.

Thursday, September 11, 2008 Because the world needs to know

I feel I could fill this entry with a ranting review of the National Colloquium’s opening and keynote speaker last night, but, in his spirit, I will instead direct my lovely readers to an important website. Please look it over and give it a think.

German Word: Denn die Welt muss es wissen. “Because the world needs to know.”

Friday, September 5, 2008

Dylan Thomas enjoyed frequenting several pubs, including the White Horse Tavern, The Mermaid, the Antelope, amongst others

It’s probably bad to be going insane in just the second week! Once things get moving along at a better pace, they should be easier to deal with without me losing my mind. Until October is over, however, my schedule is less than pretty. (Although I’m slightly sure that this idea is only my naïve way of telling myself things will get better soon.) At least I have a steadily solidifying plan for my National Colloquium project! I plan to make OWU literally greener with my group, working to get more perennial plants, better bush care and pruning, and, of course, more trees. I also hope to work with some of the other groups, particularly the one wishing to work on collecting rainwater from the roofs. The current plants on campus rely entirely on the weather for their water now, and, in times of drought such as this summer, that can often lead to many of them dying, particularly some of the trees put in just last spring. Thusly, I want to somehow use the collected rainwater to help the plants out.

Other than that, I’ve dipped my hand into many a sinister soup this semester. MARRCA is doing well, and we need to buy more swords for the club already. This will be interesting, as our treasurer is in Spain. I’m joining the Modern Foreign Language Student Board and trying to help out with the horticulture club, too. Trying to keep all of the times straight along with my classes will and has been interesting… beware the troubles of getting into too many things! It seems innocent enough at first, but it soon creeps up on one!

German Word: In my German course, we’re seeing films. We’ve watched Der blaue Engel (The Blue Angel) and will be watching M on Sunday. Ich schaue Filme gern! “I like watching movies!”

The Delaware fair had the annual parade, by the way!