Reflections

As my  time here in Germany is coming to a close, I want to write down a brief reflection on my time here.

Germans are all about community. It is truly unbelievable. It is not uncommon to see people asking strangers for directions. And then the stranger not only gives them directions, but makes sure they get where they need to go. A handicapped person or a mother with a stroller doesn’t have to worry about getting on the bus. People will climb off the bus, pull out the ramp, and wheel them up into the bus. And reverse the process when they want to get off. Such kindness and sense of responsibility to one another.

On the same note, Germans are rule followers, but I think it really just promotes the sense of community. It is about respect- you aren’t loud in the middle of the night when your neighbors are sleeping.

I have gotten to be friends with the woman at the bakery across the street. She knows what I order. She likes me because we buy flowers from the same woman. What a connection. I wonder if that connection would have been made in a place where community wasn’t such an engrained part of daily life.

Germans don’t do anything on Sundays. It is a day to promote the community- to spend in quiet, with friends and family.

Germans say exactly what they are thinking. It takes some getting used to and some tough skin, but it is refreshing. When my teacher told me that my answer was unacceptable, he was not trying to be mean. He meant it was unacceptable in the German language. In the same way that saying “I don’t want no vegetables” is unacceptable in the English language. But I have learned that this directness and honesty, once again, promotes the community. As Albert Einstein said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Brilliant. You must be honest and direct with one another to bring about change, to bring about good.

Germans take a while to make friends, but once they do, they are true friends. Friends they care about, friends they pray about, friends they make a real effort to keep in touch with. I think that this is because they value their community so much. A member of their community must participate and feel the same sense of responsibility to furthering the community. Not just anyone can become part of the community. And once you become a part of the community, you are pulled in and loved. It is part of the reason leaving here is going to be so hard. Because I have been accepted into this community. I am German now. I will always be American, and I am very proud of that heritage. But I am proud to have been accepted into this incredible community of people.

This has been a crazy adventure. I have learned so much about the German language and culture. But I have also learned so much about myself and developed a vision for my life. And I have changed. But not in the way you’d think. My mind set has changed. I am completely comfortable in my own skin. I love who I am. I love who I have become. And I feel that I can be exactly that person.  I am happy with who I am and who I am becoming. I feel free to be me, completely. I’m not sure at what point I noticed this change, and I am honestly not sure at what point I realized that I hadn’t been completely comfortable in my own skin before I came here. I guess it doesn’t matter. Somewhere along the way, during my weekend adventures with Kaitie, during my painfully long language classes with Neil, during my Connect Bible study, during my internship, at some point, I became a better me. There is something about this place that makes me feel comfortable and free. And so I am more me.

Because this place allowed me to see what it means to be a community- to be honest, to be open, to be friendly, to be a friend, and most importantly, to be myself- it has endeared itself to me.

I will miss this place dearly. But I leave here knowing that I am not finished here. I will be back.

Tschus!

Advertisements

Day 74: 4 days left

4 days left

Tomorrow is my last full day in Tubingen. I leave for our closing seminar in Stuttgart on Friday morning. 😦

Went to work. Ran my last PCR.

Came home and ran some errands.

Worked on packing and cleaning my room and bathroom.

Went to my last Connect bible study. It was awesome. Then I had to say goodbye to these amazing people. SAD.

Spent the rest of the evening working on packing and cleaning. Just about there.

Trying desperately to hold back the tears. I don’t want to leave. This place feels like home.

DSC_0741

**I have to return the internet cable that Thomas lent me tomorrow, so I will be MIA for a while. Hopefully, my hostel in Stuttgart has internet, but if not, talk to you guys on Sunday night EST!**

Tschus!

 

Day 74: 5 days left

5 days left

Where did the time go?!?!?

Today was much better than yesterday, though it didn’t start out that way.

For some reason, I forgot that it was Tuesday (i.e. the day of our weekly lab meeting).

I had planned to sleep in and the pick up my prescription on the way to work. I wasn’t worried about being there early because I was there so late yesterday.

Then, about 9:15 while I was brushing my teeth, it hit me. I have a lab meeting at 10. I quickly did the math in my head. If I get dressed and out the door by 9:30, walk/jog over to the Apotheke instead of taking the bus, pick up my meds, and then catch the bus there to work, which takes 20 minutes, I might make it in time.

So began this crazy procedure.

I got to work at 9:58. Boo ya.

Had a lab meeting, which was pretty sparse considering everyone is on vacation right now. I swear, the entire country just goes on vacation at once.

Got to use a new machine today- the nanodrop! It measures concentrations in teensy tiny amounts of solutions. Based off of those measurements, I adjusted some calculations and re-ran the gel extract PCR. Got some bands! WOO HOO.

I left work early to go and abmelden. This is deregistering with the German government, so they know they aren’t responsible for you anymore. So I officially don’t live in Germany anymore. 😦

I then canceled by BahnCard 25. So I am no longer an awesome German train traveler. 😦

I then went to Kaufland to buy some stuff for gifts for my lab. I came up with, what I think, is a good idea for a lab gift. A gift basket! I bought a little basket, some wine, chocolate, trail mix, cookies, and flowers. I topped it off with some ribbon and some of that crafty straw (I can’t for the life of me remember the name of it! I think it starts with an r maybe??)

DSC_0001 DSC_0002 I think it looks pretty good! 🙂

I am also going to write a letter to Hartwig and Eli to leave on their desks.

I then met Katelyn for coffee and some shopping. 🙂

Then I came home, put together my gift basket and worked on some packing etc. *Bleh*

Tschus!

Day 73: 6 days left (AKA the worst day ever)

7 days left

So, today was really, truly, a terrible day.

Yesterday, my eye was bothering me quite a bit.

This morning I woke up to find it gooped shut. Awesome. Pink eye.

So I called my doctor to see if I should see them or see an eye doctor. The mean receptionist lady told me she couldn’t understand what I was saying. (her exact words were “Ich verstehe Sie ganz ganz schlecht.”) Awesome. So I have lived in Germany for three months, not to mention taken how many semesters of German, and my German is so bad you can’t understand me?!? She told me to come at 11 and she didn’t care if I could actually come then or not. Then she hung up the phone. Had a good cry. Not the best start to my day.

So I rush over to the doctor’s office (because it takes a while to get there). I get there and they tell me to wait in the waiting room. I was the only one in the room under 60. An hour went by. I got up and asked if I would be seen any time soon. After all, my appointment was an hour ago. Mean receptionist (who could now suddenly understand me) snapped at me that they were really busy and they would see me when they got to me. Another 30 minutes went by before I was called back.

Then in walked the doctor. Only it wasn’t my doctor. And this doctor didn’t speak English. So I began to try and explain, in German, what was going on. I managed to convey myself quite well apparently, and she agreed that I have pink eye (and in both eyes, no less!). She wrote me a prescription and sent me on my way.

By this point it was 1:30, so I decided to go home and get some lunch before heading to work. I also wanted to try and talk to my landlord about making an appointment to move out. Because he has a 30 minute office “hour” in the middle of my work day, it is impossible for me to get there when he is there. He wasn’t there again. :/ I then went to try and talk to a different person about it, whom Tina (one of our program directors) had suggested. The building was locked up tight.

On the way to work I decided to get my medicine, because I do not want to have pink eye on the first day of school. They didn’t have it, but told me to come back after 18:00.

I finally made it to work at 2:30. What I was supposed to do involved using a new machine. The person who was supposed to teach me, was in a different facility today. Which killed my plan. So I did something else. But of course, it wasn’t easy. I was out of PCR tubes. And then had to search an entire lab to find them. I was also out of the correct pipette tips. And then had to search an entire lab to find them. Half of the necessary stuff is kept in the refrigerator room. Which my card was, for some reason, not unlocking. So every time I had to go in, I had to find someone to let me in. I dropped a box of tubes, so now they are jumbled. I caught my necklace on a door knob and broke it. I couldn’t figure out how to convert a tiff file to a jpg. I kept getting an error message. Oh, and my PCR didn’t turn out right. Basically, everything that could have gone wrong, did.

I finally left work at 7. But the bus, because it is on the summer schedule, didn’t come for 10 minutes. Then I stopped by the pharmacy to pick up my medicine. But they were closed. :/ So no medicine for my pink eye. And on top of it, I missed my bus. The next one didn’t come for 20 minutes (thanks again, summer schedule), so I ended up walking home.

I stopped at the grocery store and bought chocolate and strawberries to reward myself for only crying once today!

Skyped with my parents for a few minutes before the internet connection dropped the call.

I am going to bed now so that this day will be over.

I think I am ready to go home now.

Tschus!

Day 71(end) and Day 72: 7 days left

7 days left

So camping was a blast- good fire roasted food and laughter with fun people. It was the most diverse group (Hungarians, Romanians, Polish, Chinese, Japanese, Swiss, and American). We had quite a bit of fun talking about “falsche freunden.” This is the German word for words that mean one thing in a language and a totally different thing in another. It can lead to some really hilarious mistakes.

Saw a few shooting stars- one which was huge and across the whole sky. But for the most part, not really convinced that a meteor shower happened unless it was between the hours of 2AM and 5AM. I slept on the hard ground. And I picked a crap spot. It was on a slight angle and I kept sliding in the night and had to keep readjusting. Needless to say, real sleep didn’t really occur. Though it was nice to wake up from a doze, open my eyes and look up and see the milky way and the occasional shooting star. Pretty amazing how many stars you can see when you are away from light.

So I woke up on my own around 5:30 or 6 AM this morning because it got really bright outside. I got up and brushed my teeth, brushed my hair- whatever toiletry items I could do whilst sitting in the woods. I then read Pride and Prejudice for a while. Such a beautiful start to my morning- reading one of my favorite books while the world woke up. At 7 AM, I got up, packed up my gear, and walked up to the bus stop  (quite the hike for so early, but again, I really enjoyed the walk in the crisp, fresh morning air). On the walk I took some pictures of Germany waking up!

DSC_0210DSC_0195DSC_0190DSC_0198

Oh and my phone died because I couldn’t charge it in the woods.

While waiting for the bus, this little guy walked up and hopped into my lap. Took me completely by surprise. I really dislike cats. Or rather, cats are fine but I prefer dogs. Oh, and cats hate me. They always bite me. Or scratch me. Or hiss at me. My mere presence makes a cat’s hair stand on end. So the fact that this cat immediately took a liking to me was strange. He sat in my lap and purred for a good 10 minutes. And the fact that I let him was also strange. But he was a lovely little bus stop companion.

1151038_10200584103621833_1453135871_n

I then caught the bus to the HBF, shoved my camping gear in a locker, grabbed some breakfast, and headed to Stuttgart to meet Kaitie.

Kaitie and I then caught a train to Ulm. We were sharing a BW Ticket (which basically means you can use any form of transportation in the state of Baden Wurttemburg for the entire day. It is super cheap and it only costs 4 EUR to add a second person. Definitely the way to go when traveling here.)

Or so we thought. BW Tickets are not good on the fastest trains- IC and ICE. And we, of course, were on an IC. When the lady came around to check our ticket, she said ours wasn’t good. *Crap. The last time this happened, the replacement ticket was hundreds of dollars. * But….the lady was SUPER nice. She told us that the ticket doesn’t work on IC and ICE trains and that coming back we should make sure we didn’t take one of those. So she let us stay on the train without charging us. Yay for nice DB workers! (Which, by the way, are near and far between. Germans are so nice, but apparently every grouchy German there is works for DB.)

On the train to Ulm, we made friends with a lady in our compartment.

So we made it to Ulm.

And we climb to the highest room in the tallest tower….in the world. (BTW, this church took EIGHT HUNDRED YEARS to build. Unbelievable. It takes a special kind of person to create something and know that they (or their children or grandchildren or great-grandchildren) will live to see it completed. We need more people like that in the world today. People who start massive undertakings for the good of posterity.

And I was afraid. Very afraid.

But it was awesome. The view was breathtaking. And we definitely got our exercise in for the day! And the weather was perfect, too. (oh, and I discovered that I LOVE gargoyles.)

DSC_0219 DSC_0227 (not sure why it looks so stormy in this one)

DSC_0230 DSC_0234 DSC_0236 DSC_0238 DSC_0244 DSC_0257 DSC_0259 1098544_500892246661612_531460426_nDSC_0254  999745_500891936661643_1264102580_n Made it to the top!!

After climbing up 768 stairs, 143 meters (469 ft- and that wasn’t even the top people! we weren’t allowed any higher.), we rewarded ourselves with some cake. YUM.

1157413_500892409994929_1103627553_n Johannesbeerkuchen, and a cake the name of which I cannot remember (literally translated to “fluffy bread” and it had rum cream with chocolate and cranberry jam.

We then walked along the Donau, which was beautiful. We saw what we thought was the famous “Crooked house.” Then we saw the actual “crooked house.” Then we saw some more crooked houses. Apparently, the building codes were lacking when the houses were built.

DSC_0280DSC_0278DSC_0289DSC_0281  Hey look! It’s the crooked house….oh, wait, never mind.  DSC_0290 Is that the crooked house back there??DSC_0293 Why yes it is!

So…not much to do in Ulm. If you are traveling Germany any time soon, I wouldn’t really suggest it.

Kaitie and I then decided to come back to Tuebingen. I showed her around the city a bit. We ate a traditional Schwabian dinner at the Neckarmueller, sipped our in house brewed beers while overlooking the Neckar river, all while dogging this one pesky wasp. And while having awesome conversations.

1157618_500892979994872_799132297_n

After we walked up to a BioEis place I had heard about. IT WAS AMAZING. I got lemon basil and cinnamon. They don’t go together at all, but it was soooo good. I think I will become a regular there my last 4 days in Tuebingen.

After Eis, we walked along the island and talked some more. Discovered this fellow, whom I had never seen before. Naturally we felt the need to climb on him and take pictures. 🙂

DSC_0299

Walked Kaiite back to the HBF and said goodbye. It was sad- this was our last Dana/Kaitie German adventure. It has been so awesome to travel with her this summer. She is the best adventure buddy. 🙂

Came home, showered (because I desperately needed it- I have been wearing the same thing for 2 days and I spent a night sleeping outside on the ground in between. I am actually surprised that I look normal in all of the pictures from today. Especially because I got smoke in my eyes last night, and they have been red and itchy ever since.), and didn’t get to bed early (oops).

Tschus!

Day 71: 8 days left

8 days left.

Slept in! WOO HOO. (And by slept in, I mean that I slept until I woke up. Which was 8:30. So I didn’t really sleep in.)

Took it lazy for a while.

Went into town and wandered for a while. Bought a delicious nectarine at the farmer’s market. Found a Ben and Jerry’s. I. Kid. You. Not. (I have picture proof- see?) This place will be visited before I leave. 🙂

1146544_10200576097901695_819548023_n

Came upon some great street musicians. I ended up standing there for 30 minutes to listen to them! They were great- two girls- a guitarist and a violist, and both could sing. One of the girls had different colored dreadlocks! Very enjoyable. I ended up buying a CD from them- cool souvenir, huh? (I am trying to post a video of them on FB, but my internet is being temperamental. It should be there soon!)

I then met Rahel, a girl from Connect, for lunch in her flat- which by the way is crazy nice and beautiful. We cooked a yummy lunch (rice with mushrooms and yougurt sauce, sauteed chicken, and salad) and ate on their amazing terrace. An afternoon filled with lots of talking and fun in German! 🙂

994912_10200576098621713_1715243894_n 998632_10200576098301705_1019018921_n

In two hours I am leaving to go camping. This is the first time ever I have been camping, so I am not sure what to expect exactly. I am going with some people from work to watch the meteor shower tonight.

Tomorrow morning, I am going on another day- trip adventure with Kaitie (and some other WISPies, hopefully).

So, I will have to tell you all about my night and adventures in Ulm at a later date. But be prepared for the awesomeness of my next post. 😛

PS The view on my walk to the bus stop. 🙂 So pretty.

537178_10200576098941721_227797006_n

PSS Got these the other day. You science nerds out there will think they are humorous- Motivase! 😛

993680_10200576097261679_183406921_n

Tschus!

Day 70: 9 days left

9 days left.

My morning was made when I walked into my bakery and ordered my usual Camping Brotchen. The woman, who recognizes me at this point, handed me my bread and told me it was on the house becasue I come in every single day and buy from them. I got free breakfast for being a loyal regular customer! Woot Woot. I am now fully immersed in my life here. I have always madre friends with the people at the grocery stores- even when I was little. The people at Krogers were my friends. The people at Earth Fare (I miss Pete who moved to Texas!). The people at Great Harvest. I love making friends with the people who provide my food. It is quite the acheivement and honor to me that I have managed to do that here. It makes it feel more like home.

Ran a PCR by myself today using the DNA extracted from yesterday’s gel. It didn’t work. :/ Emailed Hartwig for more instructions.

Helped Anahit out by counting cells for her.

Took pictures of work! (Big thanks to Tamara for taking some time out of her day to take some of these. I asked her to take 2 pictures of me. She practically did a photo-shoot! So sweet.)

DSC_0147 my bench    DSC_0181

DSC_0155 our building

DSC_0158 my best friend, the PCR machine

DSC_0163 (2) DSC_0159 (2)  Pipetting. I do a lot of pipetting.

There is a guy here whose name is, I kid you not, Gou Da. Like the cheese. I thought that I had been mishearing it this entire time, but today I saw it written out. Gou Da. *snicker*

Skyped with my mom for a while tonight.

Talked with my dearest Kaitie for a while as well 🙂

Tschus!