Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cool people, Harry Potter, Berlin, and Darmstadt again.

So I left off on the tail-end of our visit to TU Darmstadt, and will continue from there:

The two students who were asked to show me around TUD were Felix and Jonas, two aerospace majors who work for Lufthansa (the ones I played tennis with) . Since they're fantastically awesome, they arranged a visit to the Lufthansa cargo base at the Frankfurt airport for us, which happened on Friday. That was really awesome - we got to explore a 747 and some A340s - including the cockpits! After this we all went out to dinner and stayed at the bar until midnight... but we gather that this is "typisch Deutsch" behavior. [picture = yin+michelle+me in front of A340 engine]

Speaking of "typisch Deutsch" behavior, we freshmen went to see Harry Potter und die Heiligtümer des Todes - Teil 2 at midnight on the 13th - our first night in Berlin, and about an hour into the movie, the movie cut out and a black screen that said "Pause" showed up. This was very disturbing, but is apparently not uncommon - altough not common either. We asked some very bemused Germans about it. In general, I think Germans are bemused by us - I'm fairly certain that everyone we meet here thinks that we are terrifically hilarious. A group of girls that laugh and smile all the time and speak English and try to speak German? What could be funnier?

We spent the following week (our free week) running around doing touristy things in Berlin. Schedule looked something like this:
  • Tuesday: arrive, do laundry, go see Harry Potter at night (wednesday morning).
  • Wednesday: Museumsinsel - Pergamonmuseum, Alte Nationalgalerie, & Neues Museum (nefertiti bust). [picture = me near the Alte Nationalgalerie]
  • Thursday: Technikmuseum & Musikinstrumentenmuseum.
  • Friday: Berlin Wall memorial, Holocaust memorial, shopping.
  • Saturday: Meet up with Laura to run around Berlin. I think she has more pictures from this than I.
These last few weeks we're going to be running summer programs in cooperation with Deutsche Bahn. Last week we were in Berlin, and this week we're in Darmstadt, but since I'm staying in Frankfurt, I get to take a train to work. I find this very exciting but I'm about as easily amused as a four-year-old. Yeah, and since we're back in Darmstadt, we met up with Felix and Jonas again today. It was very nice to see some familiar faces.

The summer programs are a bit less hectic and more like normal life in that I get back to my hosts at a reasonable hour and have time to read or relax or just reflect, which I've been doing a lot of. This summer has afforded a very amazing experience for me thus far, in part because I have met a lot of very cool/amazing/inspiring people. A partial list (I'm a fan of lists):
  • Torben, one of my first students. He confused me a lot in my first lecture but was still very nice about it. He wants to be a doctor, and from the five days I spent with him, I know he genuinely believes in saving lives. He also does sailing, sings, plays saxophone, tutors, and lifeguards.
  • Niklas, another one of my students. He wants to study physics and he was one of the nicest people we met at his school. What I really admired about him was that I could tell he was struggling in my physics presentations, but he didn't give up and still liked it. I really admire people who can like things they're not good at. Like legitimately.
  • Chris, another one of my students, who was just very welcoming and genuinely nice to us during our entire stay. He did his fair share of laughing at us, but that's what all Germans do, and he told me how to call a taxi, and helped me figure out classroom reservation issues, and also he wants to study aerospace so I just automatically like him. btw, if it sounds like I only teach boys, that's partially true - I'm the designated physics person on the team and my students are predominately male.
  • Remi, my Berlin host's flatmate. He's French but his German's very good and he made crepes one night. I asked him for his recipe - it involves "ein halb kilo farine", 200 g sugar, 1 L of milk, rum, and some arbitrary number of eggs. I mean to try it when I get back to campus. Perhaps without the rum, unless Ben will fetch it for me in his liquor-mobile.
  • Anna and Phillip, my Frankfurt hosts. They are possibly the cutest unmarried couple I have ever met, and they also don't thirdwheel me, which I think is a remarkable achievement considering I'm staying in their home for a week. They are really nice to me and also have very good tea.
  • Felix & Jonas. They are kind of in a really big bromance that is sort of more like a marriage. It's very (incredibly) adorable. In any case, Felix is taking double the normal courseload of a typical German student, and Jonas is taking triple, but what really amazes me is their inside-out knowledge of the workings of Lufthansa. They can tell you what aircraft are used for specific flights and how many crew members are stationed at which airports... yeah. cool stuff.
  • My team. Yin, Michelle, Sasha, & Jing. I honestly don't know what it's going to be like without them now that we've spent so much time together - I feel like I'm going to get home and be lost without my four team members around me. Also, I feel like I kind of need all four of them to tell my summer stories - we've told them so many times that I feel like my stories would be missing something without their reenactment. Also, bad jokes. Lots of them. And finally, "Trig identities are sexy." [picture = team]
Lastly, awkward-turtle-moment-of-the-day: we were waiting for the streetcar to take us back to the Darmstadt central station when we spot a guy wearing an MIT sweatshirt. After a few moments of intense deliberation we decide to accost him and ask if he goes to MIT. He says no, but he did a program there - some sort of study-abroad-work-abroad-Sloan-thing. We proceed to awkwardly explain that we go to MIT and then let him be on his way.

I have two weeks left of this program, one additional week in Geneva/Italy, and then I will be back in the states. It's only been 5 weeks but I feel like it's been like... longer. Love you and miss you all.


  1. i still haven't blogged from berlin. i mean to do that. possibly this weekend.


  2. Nice way to decorate your walls. I have never done that. My effort to beautify the walls in my house was to order big-sized canvas prints from wahooart.com, from images of western art. I use the same angel motifs in all of the rooms painted by different painters, such as this one by very interesting English artist Stanley Spencer, http://EN.WahooArt.com/A55A04/w.nsf/OPRA/BRUE-8LT7K6