Posts by Jonathan B.

 
 
 

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!





The first week

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Hallo alle! It’s hard to believe that a whole week has passed now since I arrived in Heidelberg, but indeed, I got through the first week of my internship. For those of you that are curious about the specifics, I am currently participating in the German American Exchange Service’s RISE program (Research In Science and Engineering). I was fortunate enough to get placed with a medical student here who is working on a project called “Development of a Decision Support System for Minimally Invasive Surgery with a Special Focus on the Retroperitoneum”. What does that mean in simpler terms? After a week of essentially just getting familiar with the German-version of the anatomy of the abdominal space, I’m just as confused as you are, but it’s pretty much an attempt to create a computer program that would assist surgeons as they are removing a kidney, or doing something else in the retroperitoneum (basically the area between your stomach and spine). Then, minimally invasive surgery, or laparoscopic surgery, is just like regular surgery, only with much smaller incisions. The surgeon uses a television monitor to see what he/she is doing with elongated surgical instruments that go through these incisions. It’s definitely been interesting so far, but I already miss the interactions with patients that brought me so much gratification in Berlin. I’ll definitely keep an open mind during my time here, but at the moment, my first week has revealed to me that the clinical side of healthcare really appeals to me more than research.   

Even though I had to start this past Monday, the day after I arrived, Ascension Thursday is actually a holiday down here in southern Catholic Germany, so I used the opportunity to explore the city a bit! After attending Mass at the Jesuit Church, a beautiful Baroque church that was spared with the rest of Heidelberg’s Altstadt(old city) from bombing by the Allies in WWII, I decided to head straight for the Schloss (castle), which might be Heidelberg’s biggest tourist attraction. After tackling a mountain of stairs to get to it, I could definitely see why. Onlookers are rewarded by a spectacular view of the city below cut down the middle by the Neckar River. I even managed to locate the fraternity where I live, but more on that later. Once I had finished enjoying the beautiful panorama, I decided to move on up to two other vantage points further up the mountain. The first called Molkenkur I found without too much trouble, but it wasn’t all that spectacular. I had very high expectations for Königstuhl, however, which in English translates to the “King’s Throne”. What better view could there be than that? Unfortunately, I ended up going the wrong way and ended up somewhere else, but fortunately, I ended up somewhere else! It was the Heidelberg Arboretum! I looked at the map though and when I realized the sheer size of the park, I decided it was time to call it quits and make my way down the mountain. About an hour later, I collapsed on the chair in my room, exhausted yet satisfied.      

I’ll end a little bit about the Corps Rhenania, the fraternity where I live. I never saw myself living in a fraternity, but this is where my supervisor found me a room, so hey, here I am. It’s been a nice experience so far. After seven months in Germany, I have learned that it’s really no use to try to become best friends with the other students that live here, since realistically they have no interest in being my best friend. They already have their own groups of friends and furthermore, Germans tend to be much more reserved than Americans. Something that is refreshing about German culture, however, is that on the rare occasion that a German does strike up a conversation with you, it is out of a legitimate interest and not some selfish idea of how you might be useful to them in the future. My strategy then has just been to spend a couple hours hanging out with the other students here and there without trying to be overly friendly or appear desperate. And who knows, maybe I will make a German friend or two here in Heidelberg before the summer is over.        

All right, I’m off to watch the Champions’ League final between Chelsea and Bayern with another RISE scholar who is arriving today! Right, forget to mention that there will be other Americans doing similar internships in Heidelberg- should create plenty of opportunities to have fun this summer in Europe! Danke fürs Lesen und bis nächstes Mal!

The first week

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Hallo alle! It’s hard to believe that a whole week has passed now since I arrived in Heidelberg, but indeed, I got through the first week of my internship. For those of you that are curious about the specifics, I am currently participating in the German American Exchange Service’s RISE program (Research In Science and Engineering). I was fortunate enough to get placed with a medical student here who is working on a project called “Development of a Decision Support System for Minimally Invasive Surgery with a Special Focus on the Retroperitoneum”. What does that mean in simpler terms? After a week of essentially just getting familiar with the German-version of the anatomy of the abdominal space, I’m just as confused as you are, but it’s pretty much an attempt to create a computer program that would assist surgeons as they are removing a kidney, or doing something else in the retroperitoneum (basically the area between your stomach and spine). Then, minimally invasive surgery, or laparoscopic surgery, is just like regular surgery, only with much smaller incisions. The surgeon uses a television monitor to see what he/she is doing with elongated surgical instruments that go through these incisions. It’s definitely been interesting so far, but I already miss the interactions with patients that brought me so much gratification in Berlin. I’ll definitely keep an open mind during my time here, but at the moment, my first week has revealed to me that the clinical side of healthcare really appeals to me more than research.   

Even though I had to start this past Monday, the day after I arrived, Ascension Thursday is actually a holiday down here in southern Catholic Germany, so I used the opportunity to explore the city a bit! After attending Mass at the Jesuit Church, a beautiful Baroque church that was spared with the rest of Heidelberg’s Altstadt(old city) from bombing by the Allies in WWII, I decided to head straight for the Schloss (castle), which might be Heidelberg’s biggest tourist attraction. After tackling a mountain of stairs to get to it, I could definitely see why. Onlookers are rewarded by a spectacular view of the city below cut down the middle by the Neckar River. I even managed to locate the fraternity where I live, but more on that later. Once I had finished enjoying the beautiful panorama, I decided to move on up to two other vantage points further up the mountain. The first called Molkenkur I found without too much trouble, but it wasn’t all that spectacular. I had very high expectations for Königstuhl, however, which in English translates to the “King’s Throne”. What better view could there be than that? Unfortunately, I ended up going the wrong way and ended up somewhere else, but fortunately, I ended up somewhere else! It was the Heidelberg Arboretum! I looked at the map though and when I realized the sheer size of the park, I decided it was time to call it quits and make my way down the mountain. About an hour later, I collapsed on the chair in my room, exhausted yet satisfied.      

I’ll end a little bit about the Corps Rhenania, the fraternity where I live. I never saw myself living in a fraternity, but this is where my supervisor found me a room, so hey, here I am. It’s been a nice experience so far. After seven months in Germany, I have learned that it’s really no use to try to become best friends with the other students that live here, since realistically they have no interest in being my best friend. They already have their own groups of friends and furthermore, Germans tend to be much more reserved than Americans. Something that is refreshing about German culture, however, is that on the rare occasion that a German does strike up a conversation with you, it is out of a legitimate interest and not some selfish idea of how you might be useful to them in the future. My strategy then has just been to spend a couple hours hanging out with the other students here and there without trying to be overly friendly or appear desperate. And who knows, maybe I will make a German friend or two here in Heidelberg before the summer is over.        

All right, I’m off to watch the Champions’ League final between Chelsea and Bayern with another RISE scholar who is arriving today! Right, forget to mention that there will be other Americans doing similar internships in Heidelberg- should create plenty of opportunities to have fun this summer in Europe! Danke fürs Lesen und bis nächstes Mal!

Good Bye Berlin

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Hallo! As I write this post, I am on the train on my way to Heidelberg- my last stop during my 10-month stay in Germany. After the Wintersemester with the Middlebury School Abroad in Mainz and seven weeks in Berlin, I will now spend my last twelve weeks in Germany doing a research internship with a PhD student at Heidelberg University Hospital. More on that in my next post!

When we last left Jonathan, he was on his way to the Jewish Museum in Berlin. I think I said in a previous post that the Natural History Museum in Berlin was the most technologically advanced museum I had ever visited.  I was wrong! First of all, the museum is architecturally stunning. Visitors begin on the ground floor where they visit the Garden of Exile, built in recognition of Jewish immigrants in Germany and the Holocaust Tower, a dark, towering hollow space with just a crack of daylight that breaks through the ceiling that is meant to give the visitor maybe a small glimpse of what it felt like to be trapped in a concentration camp. As one ascends to the upper levels, one can retrace the steps of the Jews in Germany, starting from the World of Ashkenaz (950-1500 AD) all the way to the present time. I’ll end with two examples of the technology I referred to earlier. The first was an automated 3D movie that gave an overview of the first Jewish settlements in Germany. 3D glasses were not required; instead images that moved back in forth in front of your eyes were projected in the space of a triangular shaped stage used for depth. Much better than the 3D that is being used now in movie theaters! Second, my friend Jim noted that the headphones located throughout the museum were top notch DJ equipment that cost 200 Euros a piece. Doesn’t seem like this museum is having financial issues!

The next day, Thursday, I went with Jim to the Medical History Museum, which is located on the campus of Charite Medical School. I really questioned whether I have what it takes to be a doctor as I walked through the halls of the museum. In the display cases, one can find virtually every organ and body part found in the human body. And they aren’t models, but the real things! The most challenging part of the museum to visit was the pathology room, where one finds the most disturbing examples of what disease and genetic disorders can do to the human body. I won’t go into too much detail, but the part that touched me the most was a section of display cases that had human fetuses with some really terrible disorders that ended their lives before they were even born. The main thing that keeps me optimistic when I think back on this experience, however, is that the vast majority of humans are born healthy. The vast majority of humans do not enter the world with terrible diseases, but instead succumb to them after a life well-lived. I still don’t know if I really have what it takes to be a doctor, but after seeing what’s out there, I’m even more motivated to do my best to become one.

On a lighter note, I went with my friend Conor on Friday to a place called Kunsthaus Tacheles. Danke Michael C. für die Empfehlung und Conor furs Mitkommen! Kunsthaus Tacheles is this abandoned building in the middle of Berlin that artists use now both to sell their works and create new ones while visitors browse around. In addition, the walls and ceilings of the building are all covered with layers of both graffiti and drawings that I’d be willing to concede are art. Conor and I agreed that this place and the people that inhabit it represent the nature of Berlin very well, but visit ASAP! The city government is currently trying to close this place down, which would really be a pity I think. Sure, I have a feeling there are a lot of illegal things surrounding the Kunsthaus, but if it was torn down, Berlin would lose an amazing example of living history in the center of the city.

I think that’s about it. WAIT A SECOND! I haven’t talked about FOOD yet! The past two nights, Jim and I had cheese fondue and hotpot- two really good yet really easy dinners to make. Vielen Dank Jim! I’ll post some new pictures on FB too. Danke fürs Lesen und bis nächstes Mal!       

Good Bye Berlin

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Hallo! As I write this post, I am on the train on my way to Heidelberg- my last stop during my 10-month stay in Germany. After the Wintersemester with the Middlebury School Abroad in Mainz and seven weeks in Berlin, I will now spend my last twelve weeks in Germany doing a research internship with a PhD student at Heidelberg University Hospital. More on that in my next post!

When we last left Jonathan, he was on his way to the Jewish Museum in Berlin. I think I said in a previous post that the Natural History Museum in Berlin was the most technologically advanced museum I had ever visited.  I was wrong! First of all, the museum is architecturally stunning. Visitors begin on the ground floor where they visit the Garden of Exile, built in recognition of Jewish immigrants in Germany and the Holocaust Tower, a dark, towering hollow space with just a crack of daylight that breaks through the ceiling that is meant to give the visitor maybe a small glimpse of what it felt like to be trapped in a concentration camp. As one ascends to the upper levels, one can retrace the steps of the Jews in Germany, starting from the World of Ashkenaz (950-1500 AD) all the way to the present time. I’ll end with two examples of the technology I referred to earlier. The first was an automated 3D movie that gave an overview of the first Jewish settlements in Germany. 3D glasses were not required; instead images that moved back in forth in front of your eyes were projected in the space of a triangular shaped stage used for depth. Much better than the 3D that is being used now in movie theaters! Second, my friend Jim noted that the headphones located throughout the museum were top notch DJ equipment that cost 200 Euros a piece. Doesn’t seem like this museum is having financial issues!

The next day, Thursday, I went with Jim to the Medical History Museum, which is located on the campus of Charite Medical School. I really questioned whether I have what it takes to be a doctor as I walked through the halls of the museum. In the display cases, one can find virtually every organ and body part found in the human body. And they aren’t models, but the real things! The most challenging part of the museum to visit was the pathology room, where one finds the most disturbing examples of what disease and genetic disorders can do to the human body. I won’t go into too much detail, but the part that touched me the most was a section of display cases that had human fetuses with some really terrible disorders that ended their lives before they were even born. The main thing that keeps me optimistic when I think back on this experience, however, is that the vast majority of humans are born healthy. The vast majority of humans do not enter the world with terrible diseases, but instead succumb to them after a life well-lived. I still don’t know if I really have what it takes to be a doctor, but after seeing what’s out there, I’m even more motivated to do my best to become one.

On a lighter note, I went with my friend Conor on Friday to a place called Kunsthaus Tacheles. Danke Michael C. für die Empfehlung und Conor furs Mitkommen! Kunsthaus Tacheles is this abandoned building in the middle of Berlin that artists use now both to sell their works and create new ones while visitors browse around. In addition, the walls and ceilings of the building are all covered with layers of both graffiti and drawings that I’d be willing to concede are art. Conor and I agreed that this place and the people that inhabit it represent the nature of Berlin very well, but visit ASAP! The city government is currently trying to close this place down, which would really be a pity I think. Sure, I have a feeling there are a lot of illegal things surrounding the Kunsthaus, but if it was torn down, Berlin would lose an amazing example of living history in the center of the city.

I think that’s about it. WAIT A SECOND! I haven’t talked about FOOD yet! The past two nights, Jim and I had cheese fondue and hotpot- two really good yet really easy dinners to make. Vielen Dank Jim! I’ll post some new pictures on FB too. Danke fürs Lesen und bis nächstes Mal!       

Hamburg and Lübeck

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

This past Sunday, at 15:27 Deutsche Bahn time, I arrived in Hamburg’s central train station on my way to revisit Joni’s family, who had so graciously hosted me in 2008 as part of GAPP(German American Partnership Program, Joni visited me for 4 weeks in the US, I visited him for 3 weeks in Germany). About an hour later, Joni’s father met me at Poppenbüttel train station and drove me back to their home, where I was also happy to see Joni’s mother again. Almost nothing had changed in the past four years. Sure, the parents and Joni’s younger siblings (who I would meet later at midnight when they arrived back from a trip to Taize) had gotten older and some little things were different around the house. But for the most part, I was in the same comfortable atmosphere that I remember from high school, only this time, we spoke auf Deutsch! It was really a special experience because although I got to know the family the last time by speaking in English, the most intricate parts of the family members’ personalities, or I think really anyone’s personalities, only comes out in their native tongue. At the same time, the family seemed almost honored in a way that I had continued to study German and all of this just made for a really good two days in Hamburg. Sleeping in, attending a talk given by the mother about life in former East Germany, playing Mario Cart- things don’t get much better than that! Vielen Dank Joni’s Familie!

On Tuesday afternoon, I took a small detour on my way back to Berlin to get coffee with a Midd friend named Chris, who is currently doing a Fullbright project in Lübeck. He gave me a tour of the quaint little city and we caught up on things since we had last seen each other in Middlebury. Last spring, Chris gave me a lot of really valuable advice before I embarked on my semester in Mainz, since he spent a year there during his undergraduate years, so part of the reason I wanted to visit was to let him know that everything had turned out well with the Wintersemester. More importantly though, he is just a great guy and I was sad to have to say goodbye to him to make my journey back to Berlin. Danke für einen wunderbaren Nachmittag Chris!

So, now I just have 4 days left in Berlin, INCLUDING TODAY! I’m off to the Jewish Museum now. Danke furs Lesen und bis nächstes Mal!

PS- This is really funny! (Thanks for sharing this on FB Talel)
Go to Google Translate; Copy this text:

pv zk bschk pv zk pv bschk zk pv zk bschk pv zk pv bschk zk bschk pv bschk bschk pv kkkkkkkkkk bschk bschk bschk pv zk bschk pv zk pv bschk zk pv zk bschk pv zk pv bschk zk bschk pv bschk bschk pv kkkkkkkkkk bschk bschk bschk pv zk bschk pv zk pv bschk zk pv zk bschk pv zk pv bschk zk bschk pv bschk bschk pv kkkkkkkkkk bschk bschk bschk pv zk bschk pv zk pv bschk zk pv zk bschk pv zk pv bschk zk bschk pv bschk bschk pv kkkkkkkkkk bschk bschk bschk pv zk bschk pv zk pv bschk zk pv zk bschk pv zk pv bschk zk bschk pv bschk bschk pv kkkkkkkkkk bschk bschk bschk


Pick German as the 'from' language; Press the 'Listen'-button

Hamburg and Lübeck

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

This past Sunday, at 15:27 Deutsche Bahn time, I arrived in Hamburg’s central train station on my way to revisit Joni’s family, who had so graciously hosted me in 2008 as part of GAPP(German American Partnership Program, Joni visited me for 4 weeks in the US, I visited him for 3 weeks in Germany). About an hour later, Joni’s father met me at Poppenbüttel train station and drove me back to their home, where I was also happy to see Joni’s mother again. Almost nothing had changed in the past four years. Sure, the parents and Joni’s younger siblings (who I would meet later at midnight when they arrived back from a trip to Taize) had gotten older and some little things were different around the house. But for the most part, I was in the same comfortable atmosphere that I remember from high school, only this time, we spoke auf Deutsch! It was really a special experience because although I got to know the family the last time by speaking in English, the most intricate parts of the family members’ personalities, or I think really anyone’s personalities, only comes out in their native tongue. At the same time, the family seemed almost honored in a way that I had continued to study German and all of this just made for a really good two days in Hamburg. Sleeping in, attending a talk given by the mother about life in former East Germany, playing Mario Cart- things don’t get much better than that! Vielen Dank Joni’s Familie!

On Tuesday afternoon, I took a small detour on my way back to Berlin to get coffee with a Midd friend named Chris, who is currently doing a Fullbright project in Lübeck. He gave me a tour of the quaint little city and we caught up on things since we had last seen each other in Middlebury. Last spring, Chris gave me a lot of really valuable advice before I embarked on my semester in Mainz, since he spent a year there during his undergraduate years, so part of the reason I wanted to visit was to let him know that everything had turned out well with the Wintersemester. More importantly though, he is just a great guy and I was sad to have to say goodbye to him to make my journey back to Berlin. Danke für einen wunderbaren Nachmittag Chris!

So, now I just have 4 days left in Berlin, INCLUDING TODAY! I’m off to the Jewish Museum now. Danke furs Lesen und bis nächstes Mal!

PS- This is really funny! (Thanks for sharing this on FB Talel)
Go to Google Translate; Copy this text:

pv zk bschk pv zk pv bschk zk pv zk bschk pv zk pv bschk zk bschk pv bschk bschk pv kkkkkkkkkk bschk bschk bschk pv zk bschk pv zk pv bschk zk pv zk bschk pv zk pv bschk zk bschk pv bschk bschk pv kkkkkkkkkk bschk bschk bschk pv zk bschk pv zk pv bschk zk pv zk bschk pv zk pv bschk zk bschk pv bschk bschk pv kkkkkkkkkk bschk bschk bschk pv zk bschk pv zk pv bschk zk pv zk bschk pv zk pv bschk zk bschk pv bschk bschk pv kkkkkkkkkk bschk bschk bschk pv zk bschk pv zk pv bschk zk pv zk bschk pv zk pv bschk zk bschk pv bschk bschk pv kkkkkkkkkk bschk bschk bschk


Pick German as the 'from' language; Press the 'Listen'-button