Posts by Jonathan B.

 
 
 

Freiburg!

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Last Saturday, three other RISE students and I woke up bright and early to go to Freiburg. Okay, “bright and early” means around noon here, but we still managed to explore Freiburg im Breisgau for about five hours before heading back to Heidelberg. The following is based on a true story J.
At 16:56, Shivalik, Kristen, Ilyas and I arrived at Freiburg Hauptbahnhof (main train station). As I mentioned earlier, we had a late start. We were all really hungry, so we decided to eat at the first restaurant we saw- a Thai Schnellrestaurant (“fast restaurant”). Like what usually happens when you eat at the first restaurant you see, the food we got wasn’t all that great, but the waitress was nice enough to take a group photo of us. After . . . the meal (it wasn’t really dinner, since we just had breakfast a few hours before, but it wasn’t really lunch either, since it was 5 PM) we headed into the Altstadt (old city). The Altstadt had some really nice old-looking buildings that were reconstructed after WWII. It reminded us a lot of Heidelberg, except for the Bächle, which were these tiny streams that ran along most of the streets in the city. Check Wikipedia for more info/pictures. Since it was going to be dark in a few hours, we decided to climb up the Schloßberg (castle mountain) first to see the Schloß. I figured out where we needed to go on the map and we were on our way.       

There is another big difference between Heidelberg and Freiburg. The former has a castle and the latter doesn’t. Our hike wasn’t a complete waste of time, however, since from the top of the hill we got a nice panorama view of the city on one side and on the other side, we could see France and Switzerland. After hanging out at the top for a while, we decided to head down so we could see the rest of the city! We walked down in a single file, myself upfront and Ilyas taking up the rear. Suddenly, I heard one of my companions yell at the top of their lungs. I spun around and was horrified to see a bear gnawing on Ilyas’s shoulder. We all just stood there petrified as the bear dragged Ilyas into the woods, probably to feed him to several tiny cubs waiting in a cave somewhere.   

Next up on the tour was the university. The Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg is one of the oldest and most renowned schools in Germany. To the dismay of the locals, the university was recently downgraded from its status as an “Elite Uni”, but none of us really thought much of it. We just walked through the campus, admiring the beautiful buildings. As we approached a statue sitting in front of one of the buildings, one of us noticed that it was holding a disposable coffee cup in its right hand. We all appreciated the sense of humor of the local students! We began to walk away when Kristen told us to wait up a second so she could take a picture. Right after the flash went off, the statue stood up and came to life! “Freiburg ist doch eine Elite Uni! Jetzt musst du bezahlen!” (“Freiburg is still an elite university! Now you have to pay!) The statue opened the coffee cup and tossed a sparkly liquid on Kristen that turned her into a statue! Shivalik and I turned around and ran for our lives.    

After getting . . . another meal at a döner place (it was around 8, yes you could probably call that dinner), we were all ready to head out. I think our hike in the beginning tired us all out, but the Altstadt  of Freiburg isn’t really all that big anyway. I feel like we got a good feel for the city even in the short time we were there. I think the biggest motivator for us taking this day trip in the first place was the Schönes Wochenende (good weekend) ticket. For just 33 euros in total, you and three Freunde (friends) can travel all over Baden-Württemburg for one day. You’re welcome Deutsche Bahn for the free advertising. That being said, of course one can only take local trains to get around the Bundesland (state). What that meant for us was that we had to wait about an hour in Offenburg for our connection. As we did in Karlsruhe on our way to Freiburg, we decided to walk around Offenburg a little bit since we were there anyway. After going a ways down the main road and not seeing too much, we decided to turn back. Around this time on Saturday evening, Russian soccer fans all over the world were mourning their embarrassing loss to Greece that night. That is to say, most were mourning. So as we were walking back to the train station, all of a sudden, we noticed a large group of Russian soccer fans walking toward us! As Shivalik and I passed through the group, suddenly one of the larger Russians picked me up and put me over his shoulder like I was a sack of flour. “Sacrifice, sacrifice” he began muttering under his breath and the rest of the group began muttering the same words over and over again as well. Shivalik tried to help me by punching and kicking the large man that was holding me, but the large man just ignored him. “I’ll get Niclas, Jon, Niclas will know what to do,” Shivalik yelled to me as I was carried off into the distance. Then, Shivalik turned around began running back toward the station. That was the last time I ever saw him.      

I hope that Shivalik made it back to Heidelberg safely. If he did, it would have likely been at exactly 12:53 AM, after which he rode his bike home, emailed his parents, and then went to sleep. Danke fürs Lesen und bis nächstes Mal!

Freiburg!

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Last Saturday, three other RISE students and I woke up bright and early to go to Freiburg. Okay, “bright and early” means around noon here, but we still managed to explore Freiburg im Breisgau for about five hours before heading back to Heidelberg. The following is based on a true story J.
At 16:56, Shivalik, Kristen, Ilyas and I arrived at Freiburg Hauptbahnhof (main train station). As I mentioned earlier, we had a late start. We were all really hungry, so we decided to eat at the first restaurant we saw- a Thai Schnellrestaurant (“fast restaurant”). Like what usually happens when you eat at the first restaurant you see, the food we got wasn’t all that great, but the waitress was nice enough to take a group photo of us. After . . . the meal (it wasn’t really dinner, since we just had breakfast a few hours before, but it wasn’t really lunch either, since it was 5 PM) we headed into the Altstadt (old city). The Altstadt had some really nice old-looking buildings that were reconstructed after WWII. It reminded us a lot of Heidelberg, except for the Bächle, which were these tiny streams that ran along most of the streets in the city. Check Wikipedia for more info/pictures. Since it was going to be dark in a few hours, we decided to climb up the Schloßberg (castle mountain) first to see the Schloß. I figured out where we needed to go on the map and we were on our way.       

There is another big difference between Heidelberg and Freiburg. The former has a castle and the latter doesn’t. Our hike wasn’t a complete waste of time, however, since from the top of the hill we got a nice panorama view of the city on one side and on the other side, we could see France and Switzerland. After hanging out at the top for a while, we decided to head down so we could see the rest of the city! We walked down in a single file, myself upfront and Ilyas taking up the rear. Suddenly, I heard one of my companions yell at the top of their lungs. I spun around and was horrified to see a bear gnawing on Ilyas’s shoulder. We all just stood there petrified as the bear dragged Ilyas into the woods, probably to feed him to several tiny cubs waiting in a cave somewhere.   

Next up on the tour was the university. The Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg is one of the oldest and most renowned schools in Germany. To the dismay of the locals, the university was recently downgraded from its status as an “Elite Uni”, but none of us really thought much of it. We just walked through the campus, admiring the beautiful buildings. As we approached a statue sitting in front of one of the buildings, one of us noticed that it was holding a disposable coffee cup in its right hand. We all appreciated the sense of humor of the local students! We began to walk away when Kristen told us to wait up a second so she could take a picture. Right after the flash went off, the statue stood up and came to life! “Freiburg ist doch eine Elite Uni! Jetzt musst du bezahlen!” (“Freiburg is still an elite university! Now you have to pay!) The statue opened the coffee cup and tossed a sparkly liquid on Kristen that turned her into a statue! Shivalik and I turned around and ran for our lives.    

After getting . . . another meal at a döner place (it was around 8, yes you could probably call that dinner), we were all ready to head out. I think our hike in the beginning tired us all out, but the Altstadt  of Freiburg isn’t really all that big anyway. I feel like we got a good feel for the city even in the short time we were there. I think the biggest motivator for us taking this day trip in the first place was the Schönes Wochenende (good weekend) ticket. For just 33 euros in total, you and three Freunde (friends) can travel all over Baden-Württemburg for one day. You’re welcome Deutsche Bahn for the free advertising. That being said, of course one can only take local trains to get around the Bundesland (state). What that meant for us was that we had to wait about an hour in Offenburg for our connection. As we did in Karlsruhe on our way to Freiburg, we decided to walk around Offenburg a little bit since we were there anyway. After going a ways down the main road and not seeing too much, we decided to turn back. Around this time on Saturday evening, Russian soccer fans all over the world were mourning their embarrassing loss to Greece that night. That is to say, most were mourning. So as we were walking back to the train station, all of a sudden, we noticed a large group of Russian soccer fans walking toward us! As Shivalik and I passed through the group, suddenly one of the larger Russians picked me up and put me over his shoulder like I was a sack of flour. “Sacrifice, sacrifice” he began muttering under his breath and the rest of the group began muttering the same words over and over again as well. Shivalik tried to help me by punching and kicking the large man that was holding me, but the large man just ignored him. “I’ll get Niclas, Jon, Niclas will know what to do,” Shivalik yelled to me as I was carried off into the distance. Then, Shivalik turned around began running back toward the station. That was the last time I ever saw him.      

I hope that Shivalik made it back to Heidelberg safely. If he did, it would have likely been at exactly 12:53 AM, after which he rode his bike home, emailed his parents, and then went to sleep. Danke fürs Lesen und bis nächstes Mal!

Fußball and Toilet Paper

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

As most of you are likely aware of, the UEFA soccer tournament is now underway in Europe. I had the pleasure of watching two of the matches over the past three days. Of course, EVERYONE in Germany tuned in to watch their beloved Nationalmannschaft  take on Portugal last Saturday night. Shivalik thought it would be cool to watch our host country’s opening game at the Schwimmbad Club, which is just down the road from the hospital. The club organized this giant outdoor public viewing venue complete with a jumbotron, standing room for hundreds of fans, and indeed beer stands dotted around the perimeter to complete the scene. After making to the front of a long line to get in, we squeezed our way through the jolly spectators to get to a spot where we could see the screen. Beer, soccer, and even free admission! What could be better than that?

The first half was pretty uneventful. Shivalik and I ran into some girls he knew through his roommate, but we lost them in the crowd soon after they said hallo to us. In the second half, however, as anyone who watched the game surely remembers, German striker Mario Gomez scored the one and only goal of the game off a header. The place went wild. Fans young and old were jumping up and down, screaming, shooting off fireworks. It was quite the scene to take in coming from a country where soccer is more synonymous with minivans than a national pastime. As one might imagine, that was only the beginning of the celebrations that night across Germany. Riding home after the game along the Neckar (sober and with a helmet so my folks back home don’t worry), I was surrounded by the sounds of car horns and people singing in the street. Needless to say, I am looking forward to the games against the Netherlands and Denmark this upcoming Wednesday and Sunday respectively.

Now, on to my story about toilet paper! What could toilet paper possibly have to do with watching a soccer game Jonathan? Other than the fact that both experiences happened last week- gar nichts! One day in the bathroom that I share with two other guys in my fraternity, I saw a new note on the wall. Lieber Klogänger! Wenn du das Klopapier das auf der Toilette liegt benutzt, solltest du auch mal dran sein welches zu kaufen! Das nur als kleine Gedankenstütze! Vielleicht denkst du ja beim nächsten Einkauf an diesen Zettel! PS: Nimm gleich das vierlagige! All right, I know I’ve been neglecting to translate throughout this post, here is a rough translation. Dear toilet goer! Since you use the toilet paper that lies here, you should also be responsible for purchasing some once in a while! Just to remind you! Perhaps think back to this note the next time you go shopping! PS- Just get the 4-layered kind! So the next day (Tues) in Aldi (cleanly wiped so my folks back home don’t worry), I bought a pack of the 4-layer toilet paper that I was fairly sure Justus, my roommate who lives down the hall, requested. I stashed it away in the bathroom cabinet once I got back and put a big checkmark through my roommate’s message on the wall. End of story, so I thought. On Saturday, I noticed that someone had scribbled a new note underneath the original. Also bitte?! 3-lagig und recycling? (Really?! 3-layer and recycled?) I looked underneath the note and noticed a pack of 3-layered, recycled toilet paper. Where did that come from I wondered? I knew that I had bought the right kind already, so I didn’t think much of it until I saw the third and final note later on Sunday night as I was getting ready to go to sleep. Mind you, all of these notes had been anonymous up to this point and I still had no idea where the other toilet paper came from. Klogänger die aufgrund übermäßigen Analverkehr eine wurde Rosette haben, seien doch angehalten sich dem Popo mit Waffetapfern zu reinigen Now this note scared the s*** out of me (excuse the pun) because there is a lot of slang in it that I still don’t fully understand. It is something like Because of the excessive anal traffic of one with an asshole, this s**** toilet paper can still be used to clean yourself. At the time though, I had only understood the very first part of the message. Excessive Analverkehr? Is my roommate accusing me of using the bathroom too often? Has he even seen the good toilet paper that I already put in the cabinet? After running back and forth between the toilet and my room several times to try to translate the message, I figured I had better just talk to one of my roommates and see what the heck was going on. I knocked on Justus’s door and timidly asked him what the new message meant. He looked at me kind of quizzically and then I showed him the new note in the bathroom. He burst out laughing. It turns out that Justus only wrote the first two notes and Florian, my roommate who lives upstairs by himself, was the one who bought the lower quality toilet paper and wrote the third angry note. I showed Justus the good toilet paper that I bought and he appreciated it, since he is the one normally supplying all of the toilet paper. He gave me the general idea of what all the slang in the note meant and that is what I tried to convey up above. Even after eight months of living here, it is interesting that I am still experiencing mildly traumatic misunderstandings from time to time with the natives. I guess the moral of the story is that you can never have too much toilet paper!     

Well hopefully you found that last story worth your time. It may have been one of those things where you had to have been there. Go Germany! Danke fürs Lesen und bis nächstes Mal!

     

Fußball and Toilet Paper

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

As most of you are likely aware of, the UEFA soccer tournament is now underway in Europe. I had the pleasure of watching two of the matches over the past three days. Of course, EVERYONE in Germany tuned in to watch their beloved Nationalmannschaft  take on Portugal last Saturday night. Shivalik thought it would be cool to watch our host country’s opening game at the Schwimmbad Club, which is just down the road from the hospital. The club organized this giant outdoor public viewing venue complete with a jumbotron, standing room for hundreds of fans, and indeed beer stands dotted around the perimeter to complete the scene. After making to the front of a long line to get in, we squeezed our way through the jolly spectators to get to a spot where we could see the screen. Beer, soccer, and even free admission! What could be better than that?

The first half was pretty uneventful. Shivalik and I ran into some girls he knew through his roommate, but we lost them in the crowd soon after they said hallo to us. In the second half, however, as anyone who watched the game surely remembers, German striker Mario Gomez scored the one and only goal of the game off a header. The place went wild. Fans young and old were jumping up and down, screaming, shooting off fireworks. It was quite the scene to take in coming from a country where soccer is more synonymous with minivans than a national pastime. As one might imagine, that was only the beginning of the celebrations that night across Germany. Riding home after the game along the Neckar (sober and with a helmet so my folks back home don’t worry), I was surrounded by the sounds of car horns and people singing in the street. Needless to say, I am looking forward to the games against the Netherlands and Denmark this upcoming Wednesday and Sunday respectively.

Now, on to my story about toilet paper! What could toilet paper possibly have to do with watching a soccer game Jonathan? Other than the fact that both experiences happened last week- gar nichts! One day in the bathroom that I share with two other guys in my fraternity, I saw a new note on the wall. Lieber Klogänger! Wenn du das Klopapier das auf der Toilette liegt benutzt, solltest du auch mal dran sein welches zu kaufen! Das nur als kleine Gedankenstütze! Vielleicht denkst du ja beim nächsten Einkauf an diesen Zettel! PS: Nimm gleich das vierlagige! All right, I know I’ve been neglecting to translate throughout this post, here is a rough translation. Dear toilet goer! Since you use the toilet paper that lies here, you should also be responsible for purchasing some once in a while! Just to remind you! Perhaps think back to this note the next time you go shopping! PS- Just get the 4-layered kind! So the next day (Tues) in Aldi (cleanly wiped so my folks back home don’t worry), I bought a pack of the 4-layer toilet paper that I was fairly sure Justus, my roommate who lives down the hall, requested. I stashed it away in the bathroom cabinet once I got back and put a big checkmark through my roommate’s message on the wall. End of story, so I thought. On Saturday, I noticed that someone had scribbled a new note underneath the original. Also bitte?! 3-lagig und recycling? (Really?! 3-layer and recycled?) I looked underneath the note and noticed a pack of 3-layered, recycled toilet paper. Where did that come from I wondered? I knew that I had bought the right kind already, so I didn’t think much of it until I saw the third and final note later on Sunday night as I was getting ready to go to sleep. Mind you, all of these notes had been anonymous up to this point and I still had no idea where the other toilet paper came from. Klogänger die aufgrund übermäßigen Analverkehr eine wurde Rosette haben, seien doch angehalten sich dem Popo mit Waffetapfern zu reinigen Now this note scared the s*** out of me (excuse the pun) because there is a lot of slang in it that I still don’t fully understand. It is something like Because of the excessive anal traffic of one with an asshole, this s**** toilet paper can still be used to clean yourself. At the time though, I had only understood the very first part of the message. Excessive Analverkehr? Is my roommate accusing me of using the bathroom too often? Has he even seen the good toilet paper that I already put in the cabinet? After running back and forth between the toilet and my room several times to try to translate the message, I figured I had better just talk to one of my roommates and see what the heck was going on. I knocked on Justus’s door and timidly asked him what the new message meant. He looked at me kind of quizzically and then I showed him the new note in the bathroom. He burst out laughing. It turns out that Justus only wrote the first two notes and Florian, my roommate who lives upstairs by himself, was the one who bought the lower quality toilet paper and wrote the third angry note. I showed Justus the good toilet paper that I bought and he appreciated it, since he is the one normally supplying all of the toilet paper. He gave me the general idea of what all the slang in the note meant and that is what I tried to convey up above. Even after eight months of living here, it is interesting that I am still experiencing mildly traumatic misunderstandings from time to time with the natives. I guess the moral of the story is that you can never have too much toilet paper!     

Well hopefully you found that last story worth your time. It may have been one of those things where you had to have been there. Go Germany! Danke fürs Lesen und bis nächstes Mal!

     

The 100.000 € videogame

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

(Note: 100.000 in German is 100,000 in English) After two weeks of doing nothing but studying the anatomy of the human abdominal cavity, I was quite relieved to get a new assignment from my German medical student. She told me that it was time to begin learning about specific laparoscopic procedures that are relevant to her project. First up was the good ol’ cholecystectomy or as the Germans call it Cholezystektomie. Using a website called webop.de, I managed to get a pretty good understanding of the different steps involved in surgically removing the gallbladder. What really cemented the process in my head, however, was being able to perform a cholecystectomy all on my own last Thursday! No, it wasn’t on a real person, but it felt pretty close on a simulator called the LAP Mentor. All you need to know about the LAP Mentor is that is essentially a 100.000 videogame in which the different levels are different training modules and laparoscopic procedures, such as the cholecystectomy. Needless to say, it is definitely the coolest thing I have done during my internship so far! The module has actual graspers that you use as the controls. When you grab an organ on the screen, it feels exactly like you are grabbing an organ down below. I was able to confirm this feeling when during a workshop last Thursday, I got to try my hand at doing a cholecystectomy on a real pig liver inside of a sealed container. The other participants and I all took turns cauterizing the tissue attaching the gall bladder to the liver, putting clamps on the cystic duct and cystic artery, etc. And this was all with the same equipment that real surgeons use! At one point, the gall bladder burst open and all the lovely pig bile leaked out of it, but collectively we managed to finish the cholecystectomy, albeit a bit messily. Of course, now I have come to terms with the importance of the tedious task of learning the intricacies of human anatomy. Once you get inside the human body, nothing looks nice and neat as an anatomy atlas would have you believe. Therefore, when you’re cutting an artery, you better make sure you’re cutting the right one! Finally, the next time you experience severe pain in the right upper quadrant, give me a call. I am 100% unofficially certified to remove your gallbladder!           

I’ll end with a short anecdote that my friends from the South will appreciate, I think. It sort of depends on whether or not you consider Kansas a part of the South, but bear with me. On Wednesday night, my new German friend Niclas invited Shivalik and I to celebrate with him, since he had successfully completed an exam earlier in the day. We started off at his place and then migrated to Hauptstraße (Main Street), where Niclas’s classmate Cornelius lives. Shivalik and I introduced ourselves, and when Cornelius heard that we were both from the States, his face lit up. He immediately began explaining to us how he had studied abroad in Kansas when he was in high school. The best part was that everything came out in an almost flawless Southern accent! Cornelius told us this great story about how one night shortly after he arrived in this small town in Kansas, he and his new American friends went up to a roof on Main street. “We started throwin’ light bulbs onto the street,” he said, “’’cause, s*** man, there’s nothin’ to do in Kansas, so the kids throw light bulbs onto the street!” After a short time, the town’s sheriff arrived. Of course, he had this really thick Southern accent, so poor Cornelius had absolutely no idea what he was saying to him. After being forced to transition into life in Germany, I was definitely able empathize with him, but at the same time, everyone, including Cornelius, was laughing so hard that the experience is clearly one that Cornelius remembers fondly.

What else? I saw another operation today! This one was to correct a hiatus hernia. Gotta get up early tomorrow to observe an actual cholecystectomy. Maybe they’ll ask me to help out haha. Danke fürs Lesen und bis nächstes Mal!

The 100.000 € videogame

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

(Note: 100.000 in German is 100,000 in English) After two weeks of doing nothing but studying the anatomy of the human abdominal cavity, I was quite relieved to get a new assignment from my German medical student. She told me that it was time to begin learning about specific laparoscopic procedures that are relevant to her project. First up was the good ol’ cholecystectomy or as the Germans call it Cholezystektomie. Using a website called webop.de, I managed to get a pretty good understanding of the different steps involved in surgically removing the gallbladder. What really cemented the process in my head, however, was being able to perform a cholecystectomy all on my own last Thursday! No, it wasn’t on a real person, but it felt pretty close on a simulator called the LAP Mentor. All you need to know about the LAP Mentor is that is essentially a 100.000 videogame in which the different levels are different training modules and laparoscopic procedures, such as the cholecystectomy. Needless to say, it is definitely the coolest thing I have done during my internship so far! The module has actual graspers that you use as the controls. When you grab an organ on the screen, it feels exactly like you are grabbing an organ down below. I was able to confirm this feeling when during a workshop last Thursday, I got to try my hand at doing a cholecystectomy on a real pig liver inside of a sealed container. The other participants and I all took turns cauterizing the tissue attaching the gall bladder to the liver, putting clamps on the cystic duct and cystic artery, etc. And this was all with the same equipment that real surgeons use! At one point, the gall bladder burst open and all the lovely pig bile leaked out of it, but collectively we managed to finish the cholecystectomy, albeit a bit messily. Of course, now I have come to terms with the importance of the tedious task of learning the intricacies of human anatomy. Once you get inside the human body, nothing looks nice and neat as an anatomy atlas would have you believe. Therefore, when you’re cutting an artery, you better make sure you’re cutting the right one! Finally, the next time you experience severe pain in the right upper quadrant, give me a call. I am 100% unofficially certified to remove your gallbladder!           

I’ll end with a short anecdote that my friends from the South will appreciate, I think. It sort of depends on whether or not you consider Kansas a part of the South, but bear with me. On Wednesday night, my new German friend Niclas invited Shivalik and I to celebrate with him, since he had successfully completed an exam earlier in the day. We started off at his place and then migrated to Hauptstraße (Main Street), where Niclas’s classmate Cornelius lives. Shivalik and I introduced ourselves, and when Cornelius heard that we were both from the States, his face lit up. He immediately began explaining to us how he had studied abroad in Kansas when he was in high school. The best part was that everything came out in an almost flawless Southern accent! Cornelius told us this great story about how one night shortly after he arrived in this small town in Kansas, he and his new American friends went up to a roof on Main street. “We started throwin’ light bulbs onto the street,” he said, “’’cause, s*** man, there’s nothin’ to do in Kansas, so the kids throw light bulbs onto the street!” After a short time, the town’s sheriff arrived. Of course, he had this really thick Southern accent, so poor Cornelius had absolutely no idea what he was saying to him. After being forced to transition into life in Germany, I was definitely able empathize with him, but at the same time, everyone, including Cornelius, was laughing so hard that the experience is clearly one that Cornelius remembers fondly.

What else? I saw another operation today! This one was to correct a hiatus hernia. Gotta get up early tomorrow to observe an actual cholecystectomy. Maybe they’ll ask me to help out haha. Danke fürs Lesen und bis nächstes Mal!

A first night and a last night

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Thanks for tuning into my 30th post! (Cue applause, I know, what a momentous moment). I will write about a first night and a last night from last week. May 19 was my new friend Shivalik’s first night in Heidelberg. After traveling the whole day from Berlin (as I had done just a week earlier), he was ready to watch the Champions League final between Bayern München and Chelsea. Once he had brought his stuff to his room, Shivalik gave me a call in the afternoon and we met up at Bismarckplatz (Bismarck square) in the center of town. Accompanying him was Anas, a German student who is subletting his room to Shivalik for the summer. Since it was Shivalik’s first time in Heidelberg, we did the mandatory hike up to the Schloss (castle) and explored a bit more of the city before it was time to head over to a bar called Belinni’s to watch the game. Normally, I wouldn’t go into the details of how we got there, but here it’s worth mentioning. Shivalik and Anas came to Bismarckplatz on bikes; I walked. Shivalik and Anas had to pick up some paint on the way to the bar, so they recommended that I take a bus and meet them at the surgical clinic, where my internship is. While I was on the bus, it suddenly started raining cats and dogs and I worried that something might happen to my two friends on their bikes. Once I arrived, I saw that Shivalik and Anas weren’t there yet, so I went inside to use the bathroom (Traveler’s tip: Hospitals are a great place to use the bathroom for free). When I came out, I was shocked to see a giant puddle of white paint on the ground with Anas standing right in the middle of it. They had made it all the way to the clinic, only to drop a can of paint after they arrived. Anas said that there wasn’t really anything we could do and recommended that Shivalik and I simply go to the bar while he found someone in the hospital to clean the paint.

We got to the bar all right and found decently good seats close to the TV where we just had to crane our heads a little to the side to see the screen. The people sitting next to us were celebrating a birthday party. Funnily enough, Shivalik and I ended up talking quite a bit with a student from the group named Niclas. I guess it wasn’t that atypical that we chatted a bit with a stranger at a bar, but what I think what was atypical, especially in Germany, was that he invited us to his friend’s birthday party that was being held nearby in a dorm. Shivalik was interested, so I decided to go too. At the party, we were able to chat with the rest of the group over some beer and surprisingly, everyone, including the birthday boy, were all really welcoming, even though we had only just met! I’m still not sure if it was pure friendliness or the fact that everyone in the birthday group weren’t exactly sober that led to this all happening. Either way, it was definitely a good time!

Okay, on to the last night. May 23 was the last night of Eckhart (I don’t know his first name) being a Fuchs at the fraternity I am living in. Fuchs literally means fox, but in this sense it means freshman. In order to become a fully-fledged member of the Corps Rhenania, one must participate in a Mensur (duel). A Fuchs from each of two different fraternities face-off in what is called “academic fencing” surrounded by the members of their respective fraternities looking on. Each Fuchs is allowed to wear protective gear up to the neck and then only goggles to protect their eyes. Each member also has two people assisting them: one looks on from the side and jumps in to end each round after a certain number of sabre clashes and the second wipes down the sword in between rounds. During the course of the Mensur, there are thirty rounds in which the two Füchsealternate between trying to strike the other on the forehead and blocking. It was frightful, yet fascinating to watch, since at any moment a Fuchs could make an error and end up with a nasty scar on his face as a result. It is fascinating to me that the students here do this voluntarily. There are a lot of benefits if you can survive the thirty rounds while remaining steadfast in place (like Eckhart and his opponent both did, neither sustaining any injuries). You become a rightful Mitglieder of the fraternity, which gives you the right to wear a special colored ribbon from your right shoulder to your left waist and boss all the Füchsearound. Also, I guess because of the importance of the duel, all the onlookers (who were also all male) dressed in suits for this event, so I managed to find a cheap suit at C&A for the next Mensur. Also, don’t worry Mom and Dad, I am not a Fuchs, but a Gast (guest) of the fraternity, so I will not have anything more to do with these duels other than watching.    

You can find out more about academic fencing looking around online if you need an excuse to procrastinate. I read that Mark Twain’s book A Tramp Abroad is based in part on his own experience watching student fencing in Heidelberg. Maybe he met some members of the Corps Rhenania back in the day. Anyway, that’s it for now. Danke furs Lesen und bis nächstes Mal!