Catching Up

It’s been a while, so I guess I will make a quick update.  Although I still planning to visit Berlin, Cologne, Dachau, Nuremberg, and a few other places, I have yet to leave Hessen.  With less than 2 months left in Germany, it’s probably time to pick one and go.

Anyway, here are some pictures of places I have been.

Marburg:

Wiesbaden:

Mathildenhoehe

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Oh yeah

I’m pretty sure I forgot I had this here blog thing.  The internet is confusing.

Once I get the pictures off my camera, I’ll post an update.

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Week 2

Not much to talk about this week.  It has been cold, so I haven’t done much wandering around.

I got a new phone number: 011-49-1522-3177900

And I have an address:
Alfred-Messel-Weg 6A App:125
64287 Darmstadt
Germany

I’ll be taking Control of Electrical Drives, and Power Electronics and Switching Power Supplies along with a small project this semester.

This week was rather informative; i have most of the paperwork out of the way now, so I have more time to decide what I am going to do with myself for the next 4 months.

My next planned trip is in 2 weeks, so I don’t expect anything too interesting to happen until then (although I may be surprised).  For now, I’m just focusing on learning German.

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Week 1

Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve updated the blog.  I’ve been busy with paperwork and German class.

Montag:

I had my first German language class.  The lectures are from 9:00-12:15 every day for 3 weeks.

After class, we had to get our health insurance cleared by TK and/or h_da.  Since I forgot my passport and had to run back to Karlshof, I was a half an hour late.  They immediately sent me on a field trip to the TK ‘customer office’ to have my CISI insurance policy (provided by UW-Platteville) examined.  Once that was all cleared up, I proceeded to not fill out any of the forms that I thought were related to buying new health insurance–for more, see below.

Dienstag:

After German class, I at at the Mensa–school cafeteria–for the first time.  It has greatly exceeded my expectations.  The food is cheap, hearty, and flavorful; i wouldn’t apply any of these adjectives to Platters back home.

Following lunch, we met to officially enroll in h_da.  They informed me that I needed to fill out some paperwork that I had neglected to finish on Monday.  Then I gave them money, waited the proper amount of time, and received my Student ID.

Mittwoch:

In the afternoon, we were taken to open bank accounts at Deutsche Bank.  The paperwork was pretty much done for us, so it was painless overall.

Donnerstag:

At 2pm, we met at the “Residents’ Registration Office.”  I was promptly informed that they had not received my paperwork.  Once again, I had to fill out forms that I was apparently supposed to finish on Monday.  Ugh.  It didn’t take long to register thanks to the efficiency of German Bureaucrats.

Later at night, we met at An Sibin–an Irish Pub–for karaoke night.  A majority of the songs were American.  It was interesting to see some of the locals attempting to sing in English.  Anyway, the bar was nice; it’s fairly large and the bartenders are Irish (i.e. they speak English!!).

Freitag:

I didn’t have any class on Friday (yay).

We had an official welcoming by one of the Vice Presidents of h_da.  The event lasted a few hours, but nothing incredibly interesting happened.

At night, most of us went to Schlosskeller; it’s a students-only club in the basement of a small castle.  We were there until about 4:30(am).  It was a good time.  The part that amazed me, though, was on the way home.  We were able to buy bee…*ahem*…’water’ out of a fast-food window, in the middle of the main street, at 5am.  Woah.

Samstag:

After finally waking up at 2:30pm, I decided that I am never drinking again.  I hung around at home until about 7pm, then decided to go get some food at the ‘Hobbit’.

The Hobbit is a seemingly regular bar, but all of their food is named after characters in Lord of the Rings.  How entertaining.  However, their food was quite good.  I had a pizza called–you guessed it–the Hobbit.  It had an over-easy egg in the middle, which was a first for me.

Convinced I was dying, I went home and slept.

Sonntag:

I washed clothes (interesting, right?), Skyped with my family, then realized I had not purchased any groceries on Saturday.  Oops.  So, I ventured out once again to find some food.  Since anything remotely German related is closed on Sunday, I ended up at an Australian bar called Corroboree.  Their food is a little pricey, but they have half-priced food from 5-6pm every day.

A few hours later, a few of us international students decided we wanted to hang out and have a drink or two.  This turned out to be quite an adventure.  We tried Sausalitos, which turned us away saying they were closing early.  Next, we tried An Sibin who–you guessed it–turned us away.  Then, we walked a few blocks to the Hobbit which was packed full.  Finally, we ended up at Hotzenplotz which was completely empty, but the bartender invited us in.

It’s really surprising to me that nobody ventures out on Sunday.  This city has 140,000 residents, but you’d be lucky to see a few dozen of them throughout the day.

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Day 3 – Felsenmeer

Today, I made it to the Hauptbahnhof by 9am and successfully ordered a ‘stilles wasser’ (uncarbonated water).  We took a train to Bensheim.

Another bus ride and a ‘short’ walk later, we arrived at Felsenmeer.  The idea was that we would ‘hike’ up the wall of large moss-and-snow-covered boulders to a bridge a few hundred yards above us.  Surprisingly, all of us made it up without physical injury.  We took a few pictures at the top, ate some sandwiches, and watched children climb just as fast–if not faster–than we had.

Anyway, it was nice to see a ‘real’ German town.  I didn’t take any pictures walking down the street, but it was a lot nicer looking than Darmstadt.

I also figured out how to post pictures, so here’s some pictures of Felsenmeer:

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Day 2 – Welcome to Darmstadt

Today I woke up, checked out of the hostel, and made my way to Hochschule Darmstadt.  We went over some familiar information and took a quick campus tour.

Once they felt we were sufficiently orientated, we were sent off to Karlshof to sign our housing contracts.  I was provided with some pink, purple, and blue ‘hip-hop’ sheets–something I’ve always wanted–which only cost € 50.  Then, I was escorted to my room.  Of course it was being painted when we got there. So, I waited outside with the others who also had room problems; a healthy amount of complaining about our rooms followed.  After 2 hours or so, the painters had finished and I returned to my room.

I dropped my stuff off and went to meet the rest of the group for a trip to Rewe.  We bought some groceries so we could feed ourselves on Sunday.  Oh yeah, EVERY store in Germany is closed on Sunday; the gas station sounds like it is the only exception.  I also purchased a 6-pack of Pfungstädter to help me cope with my filthy room.  It seemed like a better alternative to cleaning supplies.

Back in my flat I met Syed, who is apparently the only one in my apartment that speaks English well; he was very excited to get an American roommate.  He quickly briefed me on the apartment rules and informed me that I live in a ‘Sub-Continent’ apartment, since two of them are Pakistani and the third is Indian.  So much for the school’s plan to have us living with German students.

After a few hours of overwhelming stress and jet lag, I walked to town and bought a Döner for dinner; if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice that’s all I’ve eaten thus far in Germany.  Shortly after I met a few of the other international students and our tutors at Sausalitos for a few beers.  I quickly exhausted a majority of my German vocabulary, which mostly consists of:

Ein Weizenbier, bitte – A wheat beer, please.
Ein Tequila Bier, bitte (A Sausalitos house beer)
and
Ein mehr, bitte – One more, please.

Around 11:30, we decided it was time to go home since we have to be at the train station at 9am to go to Felsenmeer.

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The Adventure Begins

Despite the excessively long flight, this was one of the best flying experiences I’ve had.  I was motioned through the traditional metal detector instead of the scanner, the seat next to me was empty on the trip over the pond, the airline provided pillows and blankets, and they fed me twice!  It almost made up for the fact that they added 4 hours to my flight by sending me from Chicago to Dallas, then back past Chicago and over the ocean.  I spent a total of 13 hours in a plane.

German Customs is practically non-existent as far as I can tell.  It depends completely on self-reporting; if you have illegal stuff, you go to the red line.  If you don’t have anything illegal, you take the green line and stroll right past.

After customs and baggage claim, I was quickly found by Raphael–my tutor–who studied in Platteville last semester.  We waited an hour for a Romanian student to arrive, then took a series of buses to the Jugendherberge (Youth Hostel) in Darmstadt.

The hostel was actually very nice.  I booked my room online six weeks in advance, so I was able to get a single room for € 35.  Immediately after checking in, Raphael left Adrian–the Romanian–and I to fend for ourselves.

After we dropped our luggage off in our rooms, we went to get some Döner kebabs–a Turkish version of a Gyro.  I’m not sure which restaurant we stopped at since there are at least 4 in a row that are very similar.  Once the man behind the counter figured out we don’t speak German, he promptly stopped yelling at us and motioned for us to sit down.  We quickly ate, paid, and headed back to the hostel.

Shortly after we returned the jet lag set in.  I felt nauseous so I drank some sparking water (it was complimentary).  About 2pm, I went to bed.  I was awoken by a knock on my door at 8pm.  Adrian wanted to go eat again so we got some Döners, returned, and I slept for another 7 hours.

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Introduction

Hello all,

My name is Reed. I am a Junior in Electrical Engineering at UW-Platteville.  However, I will be spending the spring semester at Hochschule Darmstadt.  I’ll be departing Feb. 27th and returning July 21st.

That pretty much sums up the information I have at the moment.  I don’t know what my class schedule will look like or where I’ll be living yet.

My goal for this blog is to let everyone know what I am up to while I am abroad and to provide a resource for students who may be considering spending a semester at Hochschule Darmstadt.

 

That is all for now.

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