Posts by Jonathan B.

 
 
 

Czeching out Prague

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

It was Friday night. I was standing outside of Prague main railway station with my friend Ahmad thinking that our trip was over before it had even started. Why wasn’t the number that Peter gave me working? I took a deep breath, exhaled, and suddenly remembered a piece of advice that Dylan gave me back in Venice. “We have to dial two zeros before our numbers for our phones to work.” I tried again and breathed a sigh of relief as I heard Peter’s voice on the other end. “Hey, you made it,” Peter said in a surprised voice. It was the first of many jokes that my friend Tomas’s father would make throughout an unforgettable weekend in the Czech Republic.

Saturday was dedicated to exploring the Czech region of Bohemia. The Melrosian family that Ahmad and I were staying with took us first to Žlleby castle. The medieval castle was filled with suits of armor, art, and other cool stuff, but unfortunately for all of you, pictures were forbidden during the tour. It’s worth checking out, however, if you ever make it out to Zleby! After lunch, we drove to the town of Kutná Hora, home of the stunning, UNESCO-certified St. Barbara’s Church. While the interior of the church was indeed amazing, it’s the walk along Baborská street leading up to the church that I enjoyed the most. Besides the breathtaking view, Peter pointed out all these traces of sea life that one could see in the sandstone wall along the street. A long time ago, Bohemia was actually underwater and although the Czech Republic is now a landlocked country, Peter was still proud of the fact that his homeland has a navy! The other part of the walk that I enjoyed was a certain little someone constantly stopping to lie down in the street to snap silly self-portraits of himself with the family’s iPad (aka Bob).      

Bob got a chance to rest at our next stop- the family’s cottage, where Peter spent his summers growing up. Here, Ahmad and I got a chance to help the family out with some good old fashioned yard work and I mean it when I say old-fashioned! No power tools, just a scythe (the thing the grim reaper carries) and a few sickles (think Communist flag without the hammer). In under an hour, we had the whole front lawn mowed and then had some time to play a modified version of cricket involving a frisbee and bouncy ball. As dusk began to set in, we piled back into the car and headed back to the family’s apartment in Pardubice. I could tell everyone was pretty tired, but Peter insisted on giving Ahmad and I a quick tour of his hometown. He showed us the main sights of the city and we had a good informal chat about life. Someone made an amusing slip of tongue that led us all to agree that there not only needs to be more discourse between peoples of the world, but intercourse as well. In addition, I found it fascinating that Peter’s one big wish for the US is that more Americans learn a second language. It is only through learning another language that you realize that the other guys you think are so strange and perhaps dangerous are more similar to yourself than you think. I had never really thought of learning German before as a way of building world harmony, but now I have extra motivation to both maintain my German when return to the US and perhaps start learning a new language.

On Sunday, Peter gave us all a grand tour of Prague. Even though Ahmad and I were only able to spend about five hours exploring the city, for much of the time in the rain, we both agreed that it was one of the best European cities we had visited and resolved to come back in the future. In order to see everything as efficiently as possible, we began on the west side of the city up on Prague Castle and worked our way east toward the main railway station. The castle complex was really something else. The Czech Republic’s president has Royal Gardens, St. Vitus Cathedral, and spectacular views surrounding his official residence. The lucky bloke doesn’t even have to mow the lawn- a robot lawn mower takes care of that. Next, before crossing the famous Charles Bridge, we visited the Infant Jesus of Prague in the Church of Our Lady Victorious. The wax-coated wooden statue has an interesting history worth looking into if you have time. Afterward, we spent the remainder of our time walking around the Staré Město (old town) and Nové Město (new town). We stopped in another nice church called Our Lady of the Snows before rushing over to see the astronomical clock in the Old Town Square strike 4 PM. An automated procession of apostles and Death emptying his hourglass occurs once an hour, often above a large crowd of tourists. As our own time winded down, we walked along the grand Wenceslas Square (more of a boulevard than square) to pay our respects at a memorial for victims of communism and to take a group picture in front of the National Museum. It was sad to say good-bye to the family back at the train station so soon, but I will see my neighbors again in August once we are all back in Melrose. Děkuji Peter, Maria, Tomas and the rest of the family for a wonderful time! Danke fürs Lesen und bis nächstes Mal!        


  

RISE conference

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

I’m doing a summer internship in Heidelberg right now. Simultaneously, there are about 300 other American, British, and Canadian students doing similar internships all across Germany. What connects us all is a program called RISE (Research In Science and Engineering) that is the brainchild of DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service), an independent organization that receives 411 million Euros of funding from the German government every year to support international exchange of students and scholars. It’s a good example of the things government has money for when it operates on a balanced budget.

Politics aside though, this past weekend, DAAD organized this big 3-day conference right here in Heidelberg to give all of us student interns a chance to meet each other, learn about each other’s projects, and get recruited by German companies/post-graduate programs. It took me a whopping 20 minutes to get to the youth hostel on my bike where we all stayed for the duration of the meeting. After checking in and getting a bag full of goodies from DAAD (German dictionary anyone?), we were treated to lunch at the hostel, which for a hostel, was actually a quite good meal. Then, the organizers bussed us all to the Alte Aula (old assembly hall) for the opening ceremony. I was a little bummed out, since I was missing a talk by a Nobel laureate happening back on campus, but when I saw the ornately decorated room that looked much too fancy for a bunch of twenty-somethings in T-shirts and shorts, I convinced myself that there will be more Nobel talks in the future. The ceremony itself was all right. It basically went back and forth between short welcome addresses and music from a Brazilian music trio with a saxophonist that is a DAAD alumni. The highlight for me was the keynote address from Dr. Robert Rosenberg from Transylvania University. He gave us some interesting ideas to think about, including “if you’re having fun at your internship and not becoming frustrated, impatient, or losing sleep, then what you’re doing probably isn’t real research.” At the conclusion of the ceremony, we were again ushered out of the auditorium and sent on our way to the Kulturbrauerei, a brewery five minutes by foot from my fraternity and one of the few places in town that can accommodate a party of 200. The banquet was the last item on the schedule for the day, so we were all free to do whatever afterward. Ilyas, Ahmad, and Andrey (intern in Aachen) made our way  back following the Neckar, taking silly pictures along the way. With another student, we played the boardgame Carcassonne back at the hostel. None of us had ever played it before and the instructions were in German. So while we got the main idea of the game, I don’t think we did the scoring correctly. Once Ahmad became the first to surpass 25 points we decided to call it a night.

Friday morning was interesting, since we got the chance to be courted by different companies and graduate programs from across Germany. Although at this point, there is a better chance of me dying my hair pink than doing a graduate program in Germany, it was still really interesting to learn about the vast array of opportunities that are available to American college graduates in Germany. Most don’t even require any knowledge of German. For me, the most compelling presentation was done by the Max Planck Institute for Biological Sciences in Tübingen. Their PhD programs are fully-funded so all you have to worry about is your research project. The one argument I really didn’t buy, however, was that a PhD from Germany is of the same value as a PhD from the US. At the moment, I think you should get your degree from the country you plan on working in. I am sure I would do just fine with a PhD from Tübingen, but that would likely mean a long term commitment to my pal Deutschland, which I just can’t do at this point in my life. I’ll never forget the Egyptian graduate student I met in Mainz that was really confused as to why  I, an American, was studying in Germany. He told me he’d do anything to study in the US, but the University of Mainz was the best offer he could get, so that’s why he’s there.

After another satisfying lunch at the hostel, I embarked with the rest of the interns on our free guided tour of Heidelberg. You’re probably wondering what Jonathan is doing on a guided tour of Heidelberg when he’s been living in the Altstadt (Old Town) for the past 8 weeks. The answer is that although I knew all the sights, I really didn’t know the storiesbehind any of the sights or their significance. For that reason, I had a great time just absorbing all that the tour guide had to tell us and realizing how lucky I am to be able to spend three months here.

My apologizes, it looks like this is going to be one of my longer posts. But I can’t stop now, there was another Sommerfest! (Summer Festival). On Friday night, Ahmad, Lorenzo, Shivalik, and I were able to go to the hospital-sponsored Carribean night at Schwimmbad Club (Swimming pool club) where there had been public viewings of the soccer games in previous weeks. I thought the first Sommerfest was amazing, but the scale of this one was just mindboggling. Around 5000 tickets were given out to hospital employees and the security was so tight they didn’t even let some woman’s husband in (although employees’ children were admitted for free). There really wasn’t room for anyone extra though in the plaza with an artificial sandy beach on one side and a sea of tables on the other. A great German cover band was hired that played a mix of American and German pop/rock hits and of course, there was an open bar and buffet line. I don’t even want to know what it all cost, but if all the employees are now refreshed and ready to work another year until next year’s Sommerfest (apparently there is a pretty good party right before Christmas too), then I’d dare to say that it was a good use of the hospital’s money. After all, doctors and nurses are people too.  
Needless to say, I needed a cup of coffee on Saturday morning to stay awake for the student presentations on Saturday morning. We split into groups based on subject and got a chance to learn about what some of our fellow interns across Germany are working on. I am happy to report that there is some pretty cool stuff going on in biology. For example, one student is driving around his region in a van painted like a tiger measuring species density for different crops. Another is studying the human immune response following a stroke. My favorite presentation was definitely from this Brit, however, who opened by explaining that the only reason he has a job is because no one does research on neuron cells in the gut. It’s “dark, damp, dreary”. In one word, very “unsexy” he told us. (The thick British accent was key in keeping us all engaged, but the work itself seemed pretty cool too.)

We took a group picture outside after the presentations were over, but you won’t find me in the picture. I was behind a mass of other students, as they pretty much just had us stand in this blob, snapped a quick shot, then told us that lunch was waiting back inside. I can’t complain about lunch though. It was pretty much a finger food buffet, the kind of stuff that will put some pounds on you if you eat it every day, but it was delicious! It was sad saying good-bye to the other RISE students after lunch, but the good thing is that it’s easier than ever before to stay in touch with people through FB, e-mail, etc. I’m sure I’ll run into many of them again in the most random circumstances as life goes on, but hopefully not in prison. Prison is never a good place to be in :)

Okay, no real good way to transition after that last comment. I’ll just end with a short reflection. One thing I think I did really well over the three days of the conference was “living in the moment”. I think for a lot of students my age, it’s tough to balance both enjoying what you have right now and making preparations for what lies ahead in the future. About a year ago, I got wicked excited when I found out about RISE for the first time while surfing online. I dreamed of shaping my own study abroad experience, taking the best of what Midd had to offer and then finding an excuse to stay in this awesome place for the next five months. Now, I’m living the dream! I’m in Heidelberg and I actually pinch myself once in a while to confirm that I’m not dreaming. At the same time, however, I have to plan for the future. There are evenings in which I will hide from the world and read posts on Student Doctor Network or get a head start on learning material for my classes in the fall. It’s this constant back and forth between work and play, being alone and being with others, planning and living. Will I ever strike a perfect balance? Probably not, but that’s okay! It’s definitely a bit corny, but it’s sort of like the “pursuit of happiness” idea in the Declaration of Independence. As long as I’m striving to balance everything that’s going on in my life, that in itself is a sort of balance and something that I think everyone is capable of. Some people can combine their work and play into one passion and continue that passion well after their official retirement without ever burning out. That’s wonderful for them, but I don’t think that’s for me. There’s something about the good vibes I get just being around family/friends after a long day at work or being at work after a long night with friends/family. It’s this vicious, wonderful cycle called life. In one word, it’s anything but “unsexy.” It’s awesome.     

On a less philosophical note, I am leaving the country this weekend to visit a family that lives two houses away from me in Melrose. Only I won’t be going to Melrose. How is that possible? Find out next week! Danke für Lesen und bis nächstes Mal!   

RISE conference

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

I’m doing a summer internship in Heidelberg right now. Simultaneously, there are about 300 other American, British, and Canadian students doing similar internships all across Germany. What connects us all is a program called RISE (Research In Science and Engineering) that is the brainchild of DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service), an independent organization that receives 411 million Euros of funding from the German government every year to support international exchange of students and scholars. It’s a good example of the things government has money for when it operates on a balanced budget.

Politics aside though, this past weekend, DAAD organized this big 3-day conference right here in Heidelberg to give all of us student interns a chance to meet each other, learn about each other’s projects, and get recruited by German companies/post-graduate programs. It took me a whopping 20 minutes to get to the youth hostel on my bike where we all stayed for the duration of the meeting. After checking in and getting a bag full of goodies from DAAD (German dictionary anyone?), we were treated to lunch at the hostel, which for a hostel, was actually a quite good meal. Then, the organizers bussed us all to the Alte Aula (old assembly hall) for the opening ceremony. I was a little bummed out, since I was missing a talk by a Nobel laureate happening back on campus, but when I saw the ornately decorated room that looked much too fancy for a bunch of twenty-somethings in T-shirts and shorts, I convinced myself that there will be more Nobel talks in the future. The ceremony itself was all right. It basically went back and forth between short welcome addresses and music from a Brazilian music trio with a saxophonist that is a DAAD alumni. The highlight for me was the keynote address from Dr. Robert Rosenberg from Transylvania University. He gave us some interesting ideas to think about, including “if you’re having fun at your internship and not becoming frustrated, impatient, or losing sleep, then what you’re doing probably isn’t real research.” At the conclusion of the ceremony, we were again ushered out of the auditorium and sent on our way to the Kulturbrauerei, a brewery five minutes by foot from my fraternity and one of the few places in town that can accommodate a party of 200. The banquet was the last item on the schedule for the day, so we were all free to do whatever afterward. Ilyas, Ahmad, and Andrey (intern in Aachen) made our way  back following the Neckar, taking silly pictures along the way. With another student, we played the boardgame Carcassonne back at the hostel. None of us had ever played it before and the instructions were in German. So while we got the main idea of the game, I don’t think we did the scoring correctly. Once Ahmad became the first to surpass 25 points we decided to call it a night.

Friday morning was interesting, since we got the chance to be courted by different companies and graduate programs from across Germany. Although at this point, there is a better chance of me dying my hair pink than doing a graduate program in Germany, it was still really interesting to learn about the vast array of opportunities that are available to American college graduates in Germany. Most don’t even require any knowledge of German. For me, the most compelling presentation was done by the Max Planck Institute for Biological Sciences in Tübingen. Their PhD programs are fully-funded so all you have to worry about is your research project. The one argument I really didn’t buy, however, was that a PhD from Germany is of the same value as a PhD from the US. At the moment, I think you should get your degree from the country you plan on working in. I am sure I would do just fine with a PhD from Tübingen, but that would likely mean a long term commitment to my pal Deutschland, which I just can’t do at this point in my life. I’ll never forget the Egyptian graduate student I met in Mainz that was really confused as to why  I, an American, was studying in Germany. He told me he’d do anything to study in the US, but the University of Mainz was the best offer he could get, so that’s why he’s there.

After another satisfying lunch at the hostel, I embarked with the rest of the interns on our free guided tour of Heidelberg. You’re probably wondering what Jonathan is doing on a guided tour of Heidelberg when he’s been living in the Altstadt (Old Town) for the past 8 weeks. The answer is that although I knew all the sights, I really didn’t know the storiesbehind any of the sights or their significance. For that reason, I had a great time just absorbing all that the tour guide had to tell us and realizing how lucky I am to be able to spend three months here.

My apologizes, it looks like this is going to be one of my longer posts. But I can’t stop now, there was another Sommerfest! (Summer Festival). On Friday night, Ahmad, Lorenzo, Shivalik, and I were able to go to the hospital-sponsored Carribean night at Schwimmbad Club (Swimming pool club) where there had been public viewings of the soccer games in previous weeks. I thought the first Sommerfest was amazing, but the scale of this one was just mindboggling. Around 5000 tickets were given out to hospital employees and the security was so tight they didn’t even let some woman’s husband in (although employees’ children were admitted for free). There really wasn’t room for anyone extra though in the plaza with an artificial sandy beach on one side and a sea of tables on the other. A great German cover band was hired that played a mix of American and German pop/rock hits and of course, there was an open bar and buffet line. I don’t even want to know what it all cost, but if all the employees are now refreshed and ready to work another year until next year’s Sommerfest (apparently there is a pretty good party right before Christmas too), then I’d dare to say that it was a good use of the hospital’s money. After all, doctors and nurses are people too.  
Needless to say, I needed a cup of coffee on Saturday morning to stay awake for the student presentations on Saturday morning. We split into groups based on subject and got a chance to learn about what some of our fellow interns across Germany are working on. I am happy to report that there is some pretty cool stuff going on in biology. For example, one student is driving around his region in a van painted like a tiger measuring species density for different crops. Another is studying the human immune response following a stroke. My favorite presentation was definitely from this Brit, however, who opened by explaining that the only reason he has a job is because no one does research on neuron cells in the gut. It’s “dark, damp, dreary”. In one word, very “unsexy” he told us. (The thick British accent was key in keeping us all engaged, but the work itself seemed pretty cool too.)

We took a group picture outside after the presentations were over, but you won’t find me in the picture. I was behind a mass of other students, as they pretty much just had us stand in this blob, snapped a quick shot, then told us that lunch was waiting back inside. I can’t complain about lunch though. It was pretty much a finger food buffet, the kind of stuff that will put some pounds on you if you eat it every day, but it was delicious! It was sad saying good-bye to the other RISE students after lunch, but the good thing is that it’s easier than ever before to stay in touch with people through FB, e-mail, etc. I’m sure I’ll run into many of them again in the most random circumstances as life goes on, but hopefully not in prison. Prison is never a good place to be in :)

Okay, no real good way to transition after that last comment. I’ll just end with a short reflection. One thing I think I did really well over the three days of the conference was “living in the moment”. I think for a lot of students my age, it’s tough to balance both enjoying what you have right now and making preparations for what lies ahead in the future. About a year ago, I got wicked excited when I found out about RISE for the first time while surfing online. I dreamed of shaping my own study abroad experience, taking the best of what Midd had to offer and then finding an excuse to stay in this awesome place for the next five months. Now, I’m living the dream! I’m in Heidelberg and I actually pinch myself once in a while to confirm that I’m not dreaming. At the same time, however, I have to plan for the future. There are evenings in which I will hide from the world and read posts on Student Doctor Network or get a head start on learning material for my classes in the fall. It’s this constant back and forth between work and play, being alone and being with others, planning and living. Will I ever strike a perfect balance? Probably not, but that’s okay! It’s definitely a bit corny, but it’s sort of like the “pursuit of happiness” idea in the Declaration of Independence. As long as I’m striving to balance everything that’s going on in my life, that in itself is a sort of balance and something that I think everyone is capable of. Some people can combine their work and play into one passion and continue that passion well after their official retirement without ever burning out. That’s wonderful for them, but I don’t think that’s for me. There’s something about the good vibes I get just being around family/friends after a long day at work or being at work after a long night with friends/family. It’s this vicious, wonderful cycle called life. In one word, it’s anything but “unsexy.” It’s awesome.     

On a less philosophical note, I am leaving the country this weekend to visit a family that lives two houses away from me in Melrose. Only I won’t be going to Melrose. How is that possible? Find out next week! Danke für Lesen und bis nächstes Mal!   

Roadtrip to Rotterdam

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to return to the Netherlands, this time with my American friend Shivalik and German friend Niclas. The goal of the trip was to go beyond Amsterdam to see the rest of the country. While Amsterdam is definitely an awesome city, Shivalik pointed out that conversations with people who travel to the Netherlands tend to go something like this:” Where did you go? The Netherlands. Where were you in the Netherlands? Amsterdam.” At the end of the weekend, I can confirm that we achieved this goal. Two days were still not enough to truly experience the land of tulips and cheese, but it was a great time nonetheless.

We arrived in Rotterdam via Niclas’s car late Friday night (the Autobahn is fast, but not that fast), so other than exploring Witte de Withstraat, which seemed to be an area where lots of students hang out and walking across the Erasmus bridge to take in the city’s amazing skyline, we had to wait until Saturday to properly explore the city. After a nice canned breakfast catered by REWE, we made a trek over to info center at the Centraal Station to pick up a map of the city. From there, we followed part of the “Architecture Walking Tour” back to the City Hall, where our car was parked, Laurenskerk, a medieval church that was the only late Gothic building to survive the Rotterdam Blitz, and my personal favorite, the Cube Houses (see pictures on FB). I felt mixed emotions walking around all the stunning modern architecture. I think the natives of Rotterdam really did a marvelous job rebuilding their city after WII, but it was only possible because the old city was completely leveled by the German Air Force. One can really see the worst and best sides of humanity by looking at pictures of the city in 1940 and then today.

We checked out Rotterdam’s Chinatown to try to find something good for lunch, but all of the restaurants were really expensive. Luckily, we were able to convince good ol’ Aldi to provide lunch for us at a reasonable price before continuing our journey up north to the Hague. Back in the car, I was a bit bummed that Niclas wanted to skip both this picturesque town called Delft and the central part of the Hague to head straight for the beach in Scheveningen, but he was the driver, so I didn’t want to give him a hard time. When we arrived at the beach, however, I had a change of heart. I realized that I hadn’t gone for a swim in nine months! It was the most amazing feeling in the world to run into the North Sea for the first time and dive in head first. I think Niclas and I lasted a good 5-10 minutes before the adrenaline disappeared and the cold set in. In any case, we chilled at the beach (it actually did start to get cold with the wind) afterward until it started to get dark and then found a reasonably priced Thai restaurant on Keizerstraat for dinner. Unfortunately, it rained a bit Saturday night, but I got Shivalik and Niclas to play a couple rounds of 20 Questions with me before we called it a night.

Sunday was spent making our way back to Heidelberg. Since neither Niclas nor Shivalik had ever been to Cologne before, we stopped there for about two hours on the way back to see the city’s iconic cathedral. I couldn’t help but be reminded of my first time in the city with my Midd pal Dylan back in December. What was cool for me was also getting to see the inside of the cathedral this time around, as well as making the journey to the top of one of its towering steeples. I doubt I’ll make it to Cologne a third time before heading back to the US in five weeks, but some more adventures for the conclusion of my time abroad are definitely in the works! Danke fürs Lesen und bis nächstes Mal!           

Roadtrip to Rotterdam

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to return to the Netherlands, this time with my American friend Shivalik and German friend Niclas. The goal of the trip was to go beyond Amsterdam to see the rest of the country. While Amsterdam is definitely an awesome city, Shivalik pointed out that conversations with people who travel to the Netherlands tend to go something like this:” Where did you go? The Netherlands. Where were you in the Netherlands? Amsterdam.” At the end of the weekend, I can confirm that we achieved this goal. Two days were still not enough to truly experience the land of tulips and cheese, but it was a great time nonetheless.

We arrived in Rotterdam via Niclas’s car late Friday night (the Autobahn is fast, but not that fast), so other than exploring Witte de Withstraat, which seemed to be an area where lots of students hang out and walking across the Erasmus bridge to take in the city’s amazing skyline, we had to wait until Saturday to properly explore the city. After a nice canned breakfast catered by REWE, we made a trek over to info center at the Centraal Station to pick up a map of the city. From there, we followed part of the “Architecture Walking Tour” back to the City Hall, where our car was parked, Laurenskerk, a medieval church that was the only late Gothic building to survive the Rotterdam Blitz, and my personal favorite, the Cube Houses (see pictures on FB). I felt mixed emotions walking around all the stunning modern architecture. I think the natives of Rotterdam really did a marvelous job rebuilding their city after WII, but it was only possible because the old city was completely leveled by the German Air Force. One can really see the worst and best sides of humanity by looking at pictures of the city in 1940 and then today.

We checked out Rotterdam’s Chinatown to try to find something good for lunch, but all of the restaurants were really expensive. Luckily, we were able to convince good ol’ Aldi to provide lunch for us at a reasonable price before continuing our journey up north to the Hague. Back in the car, I was a bit bummed that Niclas wanted to skip both this picturesque town called Delft and the central part of the Hague to head straight for the beach in Scheveningen, but he was the driver, so I didn’t want to give him a hard time. When we arrived at the beach, however, I had a change of heart. I realized that I hadn’t gone for a swim in nine months! It was the most amazing feeling in the world to run into the North Sea for the first time and dive in head first. I think Niclas and I lasted a good 5-10 minutes before the adrenaline disappeared and the cold set in. In any case, we chilled at the beach (it actually did start to get cold with the wind) afterward until it started to get dark and then found a reasonably priced Thai restaurant on Keizerstraat for dinner. Unfortunately, it rained a bit Saturday night, but I got Shivalik and Niclas to play a couple rounds of 20 Questions with me before we called it a night.

Sunday was spent making our way back to Heidelberg. Since neither Niclas nor Shivalik had ever been to Cologne before, we stopped there for about two hours on the way back to see the city’s iconic cathedral. I couldn’t help but be reminded of my first time in the city with my Midd pal Dylan back in December. What was cool for me was also getting to see the inside of the cathedral this time around, as well as making the journey to the top of one of its towering steeples. I doubt I’ll make it to Cologne a third time before heading back to the US in five weeks, but some more adventures for the conclusion of my time abroad are definitely in the works! Danke fürs Lesen und bis nächstes Mal!           

Sommerfest and more!

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

I have a new favorite German word- Sommerfest (summer festival). Last Friday evening, Ahmad, Shivalik, and I went to an amazing Sommerfest  thrown by the director of the surgery clinic. Before I get into the succulent details, however, I must begin with a somewhat-related aside. As we all were walking to the festival after work, we passed by the Heidelberg Zoo (which we still have to visit). We did manage to see one exhibit though that was accessible from the sidewalk- grizzly bears! Behind a four-foot high glass railing that dropped down into a moat, we were able to see three bears all within twenty meters of where we were standing. What was scary was how easy it would have been for say a stupid teenager to jump into the exhibit after being dared to do so by his friends, but I’m sure there were cameras or some sort of safety measures being taken to prevent this sort of mischief from happening. Anyway, after about ten minutes we decided that we had better get a move on before all the food disappeared at the party.

As it turned out, there was WAY more than enough food and drinks for everyone at the Sommerfest.In attendance were probably around one hundred members of the hospital staff and their families. We were greeted by a buffet of different grilled meats, salads, pastas, desserts, ice cream sundaes, and to top it all off, an open bar! After we got some food and sat down, we watched the DJ do his thing and a few nurses and doctors participating in mini-dance lessons on stage. In addition, there was a rugby field adjacent to the event, so once we were done, the idea of kicking a soccer ball around seemed attractive. Shivalik went back to his place to grab a ball and then we hit the field. Of course, a 4v4 small-sided soccer game soon developed as others wanted to play and as a result, we actually ended up missing most of the first half of the Germany vs. Greece game. Interestingly enough, we could keep track of the goals that Germany scored by listening to the cheers off in the distance. At some point, we had to give back the cones that we “borrowed” from the workers running the children’s activities and that was when we trekked over to Schwimmbad Club (Swimming pool club, still haven’t found the swimming pool) where there was an open-air viewing. So we caught the last three goals anyway that Germany scored in their 4-2 victory. Can’t wait for the next game on Thurs against the winner of the England-Italy match.        

Yesterday (Sat), I met up with a new RISE student named Jay that just arrived here after finishing up his semester in London. He is working at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics hidden up in the hills above Heidelberg. No, it’s not like the location is secret; it’s just a bit removed from the main part of the city probably to ease the mind of the public. Jay wanted to check out Philosopher’s Way, so I met him and Ilyas near Theodor Heuss Bridge and we were on our way. We took a slightly different path than when Shivalik and I explored the area a few weeks ago, so some of the stuff, like the ruins of a basilica above the amphitheater, was new for me as well. During the walk, we had the chance to acquaint ourselves with each other and watch crazy mountain bikers either zoom down the steep trails or peddle up at a painfully slow pace. Don’t worry, no casualties this time around.

After getting Flammkuchen (Tarte Flambee, a French pizza popular in Baden-Württemberg) at a bakery called Riegler, Ilyas headed back to his place while Jay and I made our way over to the Schloss (castle), the #1 tourist destination in Heidelberg which he had somehow not yet seen! On the way, I showed him the Corps Rhenania as well and he was impressed by the grandeur of the mansion. At the castle, we took lots of photos and checked out both the pharmacy museum and what is apparently the largest wooden wine barrel in the world. As we then made our way toward the Scheffel Terrace, we suddenly encountered blue sheep! There are photos on facebook, I speak the truth! Okay, I should be more specific and say they were models of sheep that were part of some sort of European unity project. I looked on their website (blaue-schafe.de) and saw that they have already visited several cities like Straßburg and Berlin and have several more to go. You can even help defray their travel costs by buying one for a mere price of 120 euros! Man, I have to stop doing free advertising on my blog. Danke fürs Lesen und bis nächstes Mal!  

Sommerfest and more!

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

I have a new favorite German word- Sommerfest (summer festival). Last Friday evening, Ahmad, Shivalik, and I went to an amazing Sommerfest  thrown by the director of the surgery clinic. Before I get into the succulent details, however, I must begin with a somewhat-related aside. As we all were walking to the festival after work, we passed by the Heidelberg Zoo (which we still have to visit). We did manage to see one exhibit though that was accessible from the sidewalk- grizzly bears! Behind a four-foot high glass railing that dropped down into a moat, we were able to see three bears all within twenty meters of where we were standing. What was scary was how easy it would have been for say a stupid teenager to jump into the exhibit after being dared to do so by his friends, but I’m sure there were cameras or some sort of safety measures being taken to prevent this sort of mischief from happening. Anyway, after about ten minutes we decided that we had better get a move on before all the food disappeared at the party.

As it turned out, there was WAY more than enough food and drinks for everyone at the Sommerfest.In attendance were probably around one hundred members of the hospital staff and their families. We were greeted by a buffet of different grilled meats, salads, pastas, desserts, ice cream sundaes, and to top it all off, an open bar! After we got some food and sat down, we watched the DJ do his thing and a few nurses and doctors participating in mini-dance lessons on stage. In addition, there was a rugby field adjacent to the event, so once we were done, the idea of kicking a soccer ball around seemed attractive. Shivalik went back to his place to grab a ball and then we hit the field. Of course, a 4v4 small-sided soccer game soon developed as others wanted to play and as a result, we actually ended up missing most of the first half of the Germany vs. Greece game. Interestingly enough, we could keep track of the goals that Germany scored by listening to the cheers off in the distance. At some point, we had to give back the cones that we “borrowed” from the workers running the children’s activities and that was when we trekked over to Schwimmbad Club (Swimming pool club, still haven’t found the swimming pool) where there was an open-air viewing. So we caught the last three goals anyway that Germany scored in their 4-2 victory. Can’t wait for the next game on Thurs against the winner of the England-Italy match.        

Yesterday (Sat), I met up with a new RISE student named Jay that just arrived here after finishing up his semester in London. He is working at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics hidden up in the hills above Heidelberg. No, it’s not like the location is secret; it’s just a bit removed from the main part of the city probably to ease the mind of the public. Jay wanted to check out Philosopher’s Way, so I met him and Ilyas near Theodor Heuss Bridge and we were on our way. We took a slightly different path than when Shivalik and I explored the area a few weeks ago, so some of the stuff, like the ruins of a basilica above the amphitheater, was new for me as well. During the walk, we had the chance to acquaint ourselves with each other and watch crazy mountain bikers either zoom down the steep trails or peddle up at a painfully slow pace. Don’t worry, no casualties this time around.

After getting Flammkuchen (Tarte Flambee, a French pizza popular in Baden-Württemberg) at a bakery called Riegler, Ilyas headed back to his place while Jay and I made our way over to the Schloss (castle), the #1 tourist destination in Heidelberg which he had somehow not yet seen! On the way, I showed him the Corps Rhenania as well and he was impressed by the grandeur of the mansion. At the castle, we took lots of photos and checked out both the pharmacy museum and what is apparently the largest wooden wine barrel in the world. As we then made our way toward the Scheffel Terrace, we suddenly encountered blue sheep! There are photos on facebook, I speak the truth! Okay, I should be more specific and say they were models of sheep that were part of some sort of European unity project. I looked on their website (blaue-schafe.de) and saw that they have already visited several cities like Straßburg and Berlin and have several more to go. You can even help defray their travel costs by buying one for a mere price of 120 euros! Man, I have to stop doing free advertising on my blog. Danke fürs Lesen und bis nächstes Mal!