Sunday, October 17, 2010

Luxembourg, Brussels, and Paris

So, I actually put a post it next to my key board reminding me to "update blog" for probably two weeks. Finally I am getting it together.  I literally just got to Freiburg about an hour ago after we went on a week long field trip to Luxembourg, Brussels, and Paris.  We got on our "Freiburg bus" at 6:30am on Monday morning.  Now that I think about it, it was kind of amusing to walk toward the bus stop in the dark, and find our group sleepily standing at the corner dressed in business formal attire (we actually looked like we were all going to a funeral) with piles of luggage...definitely was not as amusing at the time.  After we picked up everyone, we started making our way through the first leg of our trip to Luxembourg.  At about 10AM we stopped at Saint-Avold which is the largest US Military Cemetery in Europe.  
We just had enough time to take a quick walk around before we got on the bus again to make it to downtown Luxembourg.  As usual we got packets on the bus on facts and tourist attractions to the areas we are about to visit.  This time it was useless because we had about an hours in downtown, which most people used to get food.  After we got back to the bus I found out that there were a few people that decided to grab something small and did up wandering around the area for the time we had.  I ended up not being one of those people.  I ended up going with a group of people to a restaurant near where our bus let us off, and pretty much used all our time there.   

After lunch, we got back on the bus and headed to Brussels.  Pretty much right after we got there, we were off to meetings.  My group went to the European Court of Justice to have a presentation by a couple of the legal secretaries.  It was clear that our group was pretty exhausted already from being on the bus so long, but it seemed like everyone liked the presentations...well..the second one at least.  The first guy were obviously knowledgable on the intricacies of inner workings of the court, but not so much when it came to giving lively presentations.  The second presenter actually give some examples of some of the projects and cases that she was personally working on which helped to make their job more understandable.  

Later that night we walked around the area near our hotel, and found a few couple chocolate shops....the fact that I don't remember much more than that means that I had my priorities straight and was very determined to get some as soon as possible.  
On Tuesday, we woke up early to head to our next meeting at the Council of the EU which of the Language Coordinators.  I actually really enjoyed the speaker.  But I should also add that as I was leaving I felt very unaccomplished after he listed all of the languages that he knew.  Yes. I know, that he is suppose to know a lot for his job.  But I even more sure that I need to get my hands on a complete set of Rosetta Stone the first chance I get.  

Later that same day I also went to a presentation with a Representative of the Flemish Government, and then with the director of Security and Defense Agenda.  I was surprised at how interested I was with the second meeting.  The speaker was very honest in his opinions and answers that our class had, rather than just reading statistics from a power point.  

This time there wasn't any chocolate involved but I actually remember what what I did later.  I ended up going with Aubrey, Magot, and Alex to a little Italian restaurant around the corner from the hotel.  The waiter was really cute and tolerant of us butchering the french names of dishes...ok. when I say "we"...I really mean me.  But whatever.  Anyway, after that we went to the a popular bar nearby called delirium to meet up with other people from our program.  There was a ridiculous amount of different beers on tap there.  I ended up getting a really girly but super delicious drink that my friend found: pear beer.  Sounds weird, but so good.  When we went to the hotel, we almost couldn't get back in.  The guy at the desk looked sooo mad that we were coming back "late."  Other than that, it was pretty fun.

Wednesday, we had a meeting at the European Commission, and then followed that with small group meetings with a professor to discuss our opinions on how we thought the trips were going.  I loved how blunt our professor was about his personal opinions of what the speakers chose to talk to us about or how they had gone about everything.  But definitely by the end of all of that, I was so ready to walk around the city and get out of the business attire that we all to sport around all day.  And if I remember correctly, I ended up hanging out with Josh, Reijer, Kaela, and Nate and wandering all of the place finding somewhere to eat.  I still don't remember the name of where we ended up going for dinner, but it was a really cool restaurant/bar that had a guy that looked suspiciously like Haggard...but either way the food was great.  Then on the way back we ended up finding "The Pisser"  fountain and then ate waffles...of course.  On the way back, we ended up walking through the main square and decided to have a dance-off.  Random, maybe. Awesome, yes.  Simple memory, but I have feeling it is going to stick with me for a while because it was so spontaneous and weird...just how i think life should be.
  photo.php.jpg(How could you not want to dance here?!)

Thursday, we checked out of our hotels and got back on the bus to head to another hostel.  This time, we were not getting rooms but actually went there for meeting with the NATO information officer for Denmark.  Sketchy sounding right?! I don't know who's idea that was, but other circumstances prevented us from going to their official building, so we had our meeting at a youth hostel.  He was also really interesting.  The meeting did go on for a while though...partly because we was really open with telling us about his own personal experiences; including, describing his cute daughter who is learning French.  (I love how that is the first thing that I remember).  Then later that night we got back on the bus, and drove to Paris.  

I think we arrived around 8:30-ish.  After dropping off my stuff, I couldn't fully decide what I was doing at first, but I got a hold of Tim, my friend from high school who is studying abroad in Paris, and got directions to a party at his campus.  It was a little scary getting on the metro by myself in Paris at night after being there for all of 30 minutes but I managed to find it.  After we met up, he quickly handed me some random girl's student id. I should also mention that the picture was of a Caucasian girl with light-ish brown hair...looked JUST like me.  The guard actually almost didn't let me in and even was about to keep the id.  Some how we managed to convince him to let me in and give back the id.  I was shocked to find out that the party was put on by the took up the entire courtyard, and different parts of the the buildings nearby.  We stayed there for a while, and eventually went to another bar nearby.  Even though this is super embarrassing for me, I was going to write about what I did right before we left this second bar: as I was coming down the stairs of the bathroom, I fell down.  It was not just a little slip...but an epic i-can't-believe-that-happened-to-me kind of fall.  I guess the steps with kind of wet, and my converse have no traction (big surprise), and both of my feet shot out from under me, and I my elbows and middle of my back hit the edges of the stairs.  Needless to say, I was been really sore since then (and would still a back rub is anyone is offering....just throwing it out there).  Anyway, Tim was awesome, and took care of me and made sure I got home after that.  
(just to give you an idea of what this party was like when i got there)

Friday, we had a meeting at the French Ministry for Foreign and European Affairs in the morning, and then a meeting with a France based think tank in the afternoon.  The free time that day mostly involved us walking around Paris, and drooling over the Eiffel Tower.
So Saturday, we had the day free and most people went to Versailles.  Instead, I went with TIm and his friends to Euro-Disneyland!  Getting there was surprisingly difficult.  I managed to get to the right stop on time, but I found out that my phone was out of money and I couldn't contact Tim.  I ended up waiting for an hour, during which a creepy guy kept trying to talk to me in French and proceeded to follow me when I tried to walk away.  After I got away from him, I was almost ready to give up, until I found the area that I apparently was suppose to meet Tim, and figured out which train to get on.  After running around for a while, I eventually found Tim and his other friends.  After all of that trouble, it turned out to be really fun.  
After we all had dinner, I headed to the hotel and met up with some people on my program and got a chance to see the Notre Dame.  

hen bright and early this morning we got on the bus one last time to drive back to Freiburg. It basically took ALL DAY but i was able to sleep on it more than usual.  I also realized how much I missed Freiburg. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday September 20, 2010

Hello my lovely readers! (hopefully you are out there somewhere)

So I feel like I have kind of dropped the ball in terms of getting my "story" out there considering the fact that I have officially been in Europe for over a month.  Which by the way is really weird to say considering the fact that my program technically started on August 30th.  I actually flew into Germany on August 17th to meet up with Jade, one of my best friends from home, who just happened to be finishing up a summer internship.  I still have no idea how that magically worked out, but we managed to have a sweet ass time bouncing around for almost two weeks.  We were not only in Berlin, but we also stopped in Stuttgart, Strasbourg, Florence, Rome, and Pisa (technically we also walked around Stockholm for a few hours in the middle of the night waiting for our next plane).  I still can't believe that we managed to make that work.  We almost never slept a full night (and when we did, it was usually on a train....which also led to us missing our stop on numerous occasions).  It was definitely the most surreal trip I think I had ever been on, and I loved it.  

On August 30th I left Jade and Berlin at 5:30am in order to catch 2 trains and a bus to the airport.  Unfortunately the bus was late, and I got to the airport at 7:10am.  My plane stopped boarding at 7:30am.  I should also mention that everyone and their mom was in line for security.  I think saying I was panicking was a serious understatement.  This also had to do with the fact that ,of course, when I got to the counter I found out that my bag was 4kg over weight, which meant I would have to pay 20 euros for EACH extra kg.  There was literally nothing I could have done other than to throw my clothes away.  The woman working there was less than understanding.  She made me go to the other side of the room to pay for the charges, and when I came back she was even meaner than the first time I encountered her.  Apparently I was "not her problem," so I was sent to get in the mammoth of a line when I had about 5 minutes to get to my terminal.  I looked absolutely pathetic as I tried to find someone to ask what I was suppose to do if my luggage got to Frankfurt without me.  I am pretty sure that the security guard did not want to have to deal with a sobbing American so she sent me in a separate short line, and I was able to just make my flight. 

When I got there I realized that I was going to have to take a 2 hour bus ride from Frankfurt-hahn airport to Frankfurt airport in order to get my train.  When I finally got there, I managed to find another worker who spoke english who was able to help me buy the right ticket to Freiburg.  That was another 2 hours, and one that one I ended up having to sit on my suitcase because all of the seats were reserved.  Then the last hurdle was getting a taxi and finding the building I was suppose to meet at.  

As I try to remember these details, I realize it really wasn't that long ago and yet I feel like it was months ago.  Since then we have had our "intensive" two weeks, which involved german and seminar classes everyday, day trip to parliament in Strasbourg, and a week long field trip to Berlin and Prague.  

This would theoretically would be the part where I would post an obnoxious amount of pictures of the landscape, friends from my program, all of the gelato I have been eating blah blah blah. Unfortunately I have misplaced the cord that connects my camera to my computer...I am still trying to find it.  But if worse comes to worse I am going to have to see if I can buy another one.  While in Berlin, I ended up having to buy a little plastic disposable camera. I felt like I was using a toy...especially when every other person had those sexy nikkon cameras...clicking away national geographic worthy pictures. Ok. That is clearly an exaggeration. But you get my point. (I clearly want one and am having trouble hiding my jealousy) But I do have a regular digital camera that works beautifully, so I can't complain about anything except my misplaced cord.  Just know that pictures will take over this blog soon enough.  

I promise to write more stories and "introduce" people soon, but I am just going to have to save that for next time.  

Love/Miss you all.  

(Skype me please!)