Friday, June 27, 2008

Paris, Days 1 and 2

Day 1: Train ride from 9 am to 6 pm. Arrive at Marriot via a taxi. Wrong Marriot. Nice french guy helps us out by hailing us a new cab and then we arrive at the right Marriot. Hotel is very swanky. Change into nicer clothes and head to the Eiffel and do lots of random walking around. Eat dinner at an overpriced place near the Eiffel.

Day 2: Up at 7:45 ish. Breakfast in the executive lounge and then off for a day full of sightseeing. Sights seen: Arc of the Triumph, the opera house, Pantheon, Nicholas Flammel's house (Harry Potter fans, this should be a pilgrimmage for you all to take), Botannical Gardens, an amphitheater from Roman times, Notre Dame, Sainte Chapelle, Louvre. Might have actually seen more than that but it's all running together now.

I am WIPED out, but I am having a blast. This is a fabulous city and I really hope to come back some day and spend a few weeks here so I can really take my time to see all the museums and stuff I want to look at.

Love and miss everyone!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Rain, rain, go away

It pooooured today right as we were leaving a lecture we received at Leipzig University. NOT fun. For lots of reasons that we shall get to...But first a quick recap of the last few days:

We've been having class daily since my last entry and that has been good. Dr. Beck is awesome and we're learning lots of good stuff from him. Mostly after class we have all just been hanging out playing cards in the flats and taking short trips down town for just a cup of coffee or something like that. We like to get out and see the city but we also like to not spend a lot of money!

Day before yesterday we went to the Stasi Museum in Leipzig. The Stasi were the secret police during the time that East and West Germany were split after WWII. East Germany was under control of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and the Stasi helped the communists to censor people, interrogate people that were political opposition, they recruited informants (people to spy for them--this could be your boyfriend or girlfriend, spouse, best friend, etc)...It was a dark time for sure and there is tons to say and tell but the museum was really interesting. Our tour guide was very knowledgable and answered all our questions. After that we went on a psychology tour of Leipzig. I won't lie, it was the least favorite tour of everyone that we have done so far. But that's okay.

Yesterday instead of class we went to Wittenburg. Wittenburg is important because this is the town Martin Luther was from, and he is the one who began the Reformation. I will assume everyone is vaguely familiar with Luther and his 95 Theses. If not, I am more than happy to elaborate on who he was and what he did, but I am on a bit of a time crunch so I can't right now. Basically, Wittenburg is about the size of down town Leipzig. You can walk the perimeter of town in like 15 or 20 minutes haha. I know this because we accidentally took a very roundabout way to a park and figured out afterwards we had walked all the way around town. It is officially my favorite thing we have done in Germany! It was just the cutest little town and all the history it holds was of course very interesting to me and I took TONS of photos. Family, get ready for endless talk about that when I get back. ;-)

Sights we saw in Wittenburg: Luther's house, Castle Church (where he nailed the 95 Theses to the door of the church and basically started the Reformation), we climbed the bell tower of the Castle Church (WORK OUT), saw another guy's house who I don't know how to spell or pronounce his name so we'll just call him Mr. M (Mr. M housed Luther while he was kind of in hiding), we hung out at a pretty park and then we took the train back to Leipzig.

We took the wrong train to Leipzig. Basically you go to the Hauptbonhoff (trainstation) or Halle. Halle is actually just north of Leipzig and has a small airport. We went to Halle. It's like 15 minutes by train to Leipzig from there, so it was really just a minor incident. It was an adventure and really wasn't stressful or anything, just kind of funny.

Today we went to the Leipzig zoo and saw the primate exhibit. It is the 2nd largest in the world and they do experiments here (they are behavioral experiments, and cause no harm to the animals in any way) and they are very much related to psychology so it was really interesting. They house all four types of primates in their exhibit and this is the only one in the world (I think) that has all four in the same place. After the primate thing we went to the University of Leipzig for a lecture from one of the psychology prof's there. We learned a lot about how the field of psychology emerged from Leipzig to become what it is today. It really did all begin right here, so that was a cool lecture. The professor also told us about his personal experiences in the German Democratic Republic (when the Soviet Union controlled East Germany) and that was really moving. He was definitely a strong man who stood up during a time when it was dangerous to do so.

Right now...I have to go pack! I'm off to Paris tomorrow morning. Our train leaves around 8 or 9 am (Amy has our tickets so she knows the exact time) and we get there around 6 in the evening. Our hotel is going to be P-I-M-P (that just means really fabulous for anyone who is not familiar with this terminology ;-) )....Amy and I will have four days to discover all the famous sites and to find some cool places of our own there. I'm really excited! I'm off to go do laundry and pack so I will hopefully blog later from Paris! I may not have the internet there, so maybe I'll just do one when I get back. We'll see...Okay...tata!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Well, I ended up not going kayaking because my mouth was hurting and making me cranky. But everyone who went LOVED it, so we'll be going again which makes me happy!

Yesterday after class I laid down for a while to get over my grumpy mood and then I got up and got ready. We went out to eat with Maxie (the German girl we met here) and she showed us a cheap place to get pizza and pasta. It's run by Italians so it was very, very authentic, and very,very good! I had a Hawaiian pizza that I shared with another girl and it was scrumptious.

After that we headed to the place that the Bach concert was at and we got there early. There was a Germany soccer game last night, and so they had a HUGE screen set up for public viewing of the game. This is very common and popular here. See pictures below!

The Bach concert was really interesting. It was jazz interpretations of Bach pieces. I really liked it. I think I am like the only person who did haha. See pictures below.

I am really enjoying my time here because Germany is wonderful (duh!) but I am also loving the people I am with. I was worried that I wouldn't, and of course we all get sick of each other at different times, but overall Amy (my roomie and travel bud) and I are really getting along well and I love her to peices, and my other roomie, Amanda, and I have also hit it off so I am just thankful to actually have people here to enjoy this all with.

Today for class we went to the museum of psychiatry in Leipzig and had a lecture from a professor at the University of Leipzig who is very involved in managing psychiatry facilities across Saxonia (Saxonia is the state of Germany that Leipzig is in). The lecture was very informative about how the field of psychiatry works over here in Germany and we also heard from two patients there about their experiences after the wall came down in Berlin. There's a concept here called "the wall in the head" and it has many different facets, but what we really learned today was that people from east Germany were excited about their freedom when the wall came down, but there were also people who freaked out a bit because they didn't know what would become of the future and that weren't sure what to do w/ their new found freedom. That was something I hadn't really thought much about until today, so it was just really interesting to hear from these people. They are people who do have diagnosed mental illnesses but they are what they call "experienced" persons, and they actually work at the museum (the woman we heard from was the secretary and the man was the head grounds keeper/repair man), so they are learning how to function in society and have been helped getting jobs. It's a good system and is too much to completely explain here but it is neat how they are treating the patients here.

This afternoon I played spades for a while with some folks (whooped up on 'em! that's right!) and then some of us headed to a coffee shop and chatted about books we have all read. That was fun. After that we headed downtown and I bough a new cheapie bottle of perfume because i dropped mine here and it broke :-( and when I bought my bottle I got a free necklace haha. When amy bought bubble bath at the same place she didn't get anything. Hahaha. See picture below.

Well...That's all! I have a paper due Monday so I may not blog until after that. Love to you all!

Me and Amanda (we shared the pizza)

Elfie (she's the German woman who has been coordinating stuff for us here), me, Amy, and Amanda (look at the background, it's the public viewing of the Germany soccer game)

Some of the Jazz band at Bachfest

Me drinking a can of coke (notice the shape is different than in America)

My free gift haha

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

and we're back

today we had class again for the first time in a while (we had one of our long weekends this past weekend up until yesterday). class was long but thats okay, we have to learn something while we're here. ;-) [i'm kidding, we are learning quite a lot which is evidenced in this blog]

i did go to dresden this past weekend and it was absolutely beautiful. it was the picturesque Germany i think i had imagined all of Germany would like. i am by NO means disappointed in Leipzig, but i think all of us on our trip would agree dresden was prettier.

dresden was completely destroyed by bombs within like a day or two of the war ending (not sure of the exact reasons why there but if you care to you can always google it), so much of dresden is less than 60 years old. however, efforts have been made to recreate it as it was, so it still looks and feels and is in many ways historical.

amy and i did a hop on hop off bus tour of the city on our second day there and that was really fun. it had 22 stops and some of them we had seen the day before because our hotel is located in a part of town that is very historical, but there were things further away that we got to see on our tour so that was nice (we wouldn't have probably made it too far away from our hotel otherwise). the tour was really good because you could listen to headphones for an english explanation of all the sights. my personal favorite thing (and i think it was amy's too) that we saw was the dairy. Pfund's (silent p) dairy is supposedly the most famous and beautiful dairy in the whole world and i totally believe it. we ate lunch there and it was the best cheese and milk i've ever had. The Pfund brothers invented condensed milk, and i think they may have invented milk soap too, not sure. anyway it was a cool place and very beautiful on the inside of the shop.

we also saw the palace there, the opera house, the outside of a castle (it was sadly a little disappointing, not as big as i dreamed), went to church (all in German, but the church was gorgeous), and we saw/did lots of other stuff.

pictures will be coming soon. i forgot my camera in our flat and so amy took pictures in dresden and i'll get them form her to post here at a later date.

random tidbits for you all:

1. my wisdom teeth are acting up...advil is my new best friend
2. during our free time amy and i have been reading a new book series (it's not actually new, just new to us) and we are being nerdy and loving it
3. we found a famous and fabulous coffee shop in Leipzig so now i plan to frequent it (it's called Kaffeehaus Riquet and is beautiful!)
4. gelato is amazing and i know i will miss it a lot when we leave
5. 1 other person here knows how to play euchre and so he and i taught some of our friends to play. that's right family, be proud, i'm passing the love of euchre on to others!
6. at the hilton, we called and asked for more pillows to be brough to our room and they brought us towels. towel and pillow don't sound alike to me, but i guess we can't fault them since english isn't their first language
7. it rained a LOT the past few days
8. it was also cold the past few days but is warming up again

Okay...tomorrow we have class again, then in the afternoon some of us are going kayaking (it's surprisingly very cheap and the river here is calm and tranquil so don't worry mom), and then tomorrow night we are going to a Jazz tribute to Bach. that should be a very interesting concert.

lovelovelove to you all!

Friday, June 13, 2008


Today we went to Buchenwald, a concentration camp located in Weimar. It was a different experience than I expected. I think I expected to want to go look at all the museums and memorials they have located on the grounds (4 museums and several memorials). But after our tour I really just wanted to leave as soon as I could.

Our tour was educational, but for the most part it was stuff I already have learned elsewhere. But just being where all these awful crimes against humanity occurred was sickening. Auschwitz is another quite infamous camp, which I'm sure everyone's heard of, and it's infamous because millions were burned there in the crematoriums. The Soviets (I think the Soviets) blew the crematoriums up that were located there, but the manufacturer was the same for the ones at Buchenwald, so seeing those crematoriums today was
also like seeing the ones that burned millions of others.

The crematorium was the last thing on our guided tour of the camp, and it was definitely emotional. Below are some pictures of the camp.

In other finally got the cell phone figured out on how to call me. So please see her for instructions if you so wish, and yes I fully expect no one other than her to call because it's freakin' expensive but I did think I would just throw that out ther
e. Also, talking on cell phones sucks here for some reason. Reception is crappy or something, I don't know.

I would also like to say Granny and Papa get my Blog read to them by Mom and they call it my Glob. Precious. :-)

Tomorrow we go to Dresden and Amy and I will be there for one night in a sweet hotel (Hilton baby, right on the river and located conveniently by all the hot spots in Dresden!).

Prisoners were brought in via the train right into the camp for about the last two years of the war. Before that they were brought to the town of Weimar by train and then walked a ways to the camp.
A zoo was built (by prisoners) for the SS's entertainment. The living conditions for the bears were better than the living conditions for the Jews and others in the camp.
This is the crematorium. For many relatives of those who died in the camp they see the crematorium as a place to pay their respects since their loved ones never received a proper burial elsewhere.
This was a plaque in the holding cell for Dietrich Bonhoeffer (see explanation of him in the previous post if you need info on who he was).
Bonhoeffer was held in the basement of this building, which once was the barracks for the SS. The SS are the Nazis who ran the camp, by the way.
This is Amanda on the train ride back to Leipzig from Weimar. There were no seats on the train so we sat on the floor. Apparently this is common or something.

Okay. Love you all!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Berlin, Hitler, Laundry, and Side Trips and Such

Random title, I know, but that's an easy way for me to remember the things I want to blog about.

To catch you all up, the last time I blogged on our first day in Berlin. On our second day, I slept in because I was beat, and then my friend Amanda and I caffeinated and headed to the Brandenburg gate to meet everyone for our walking tour. The tour was AMAZING. I wish every day we had a tour guide! He was incredibly knowledgeable about all the sites we saw and I could go on and on telling about all the things I learned but I will just briefly list and describe what I can remember at the moment:
  1. Brandenburg gate: apparently before the bombing that occurred in Berlin during the war, there were other gates. This is the only one to have survived, and that's interesting because the other buildings in the area were destroyed during the war.

  2. The Reichstag (not sure on spelling there): There is a monument to the Pariliament members here. Basically, this is where the parliament used to meet before the Nazis came to power. The Nazis and the Communists were both trying to gain control of Germany and there was a rivalry there of course. A Commie burnt down the Reichstag and the Nazis used this as a way to gain power. Hitler declared a state of emergency and talked the parliament into passing laws that basically ended up giving him just about absolute power in Germany. All the parliament members ended up being murdered in concentration camps and in other ways, hence a monument to them.

  3. Humboldt University: This is a place where Plank was a professor (Nobel prize for Plank's constant) and Einstein was also a professor here. The university was stromed by young Nazis and books were taken and burned from the library that the Nazis thought would promote independent thought and the like. There's a cool monument here.

  4. Hitler's Bunker: There's just a sign with info about his bunker where it once was. They decided not to make it open for people to walk through because they didn't want people to come and make it a place of like...pilgrimage I they don't want people who still think like him to come and pay honor to him there.

  5. The Wall: Obviously in Berlin, I saw the wall. I saw several different sections and I learned a ton about it. The wall divided people who loved each other, families, friends, etc. It is crazy to think that a literal wall was erected to divide a city. Berlin's population pre-wall was almost 1 million people larger than it is today.
Okay. So I wasn't as brief as I intended but oh well.

After the tour day, we went out for Corbin's birthday. That was fun to see night life and Berlin. Then the next day we went and looked at an Egyptian exhibit in a museum and that was fun. Kinda random but fun. The next day we went to a flea market of sorts and that was fun. I did a little souvenir shopping. :-) For others as well as myself. :-)

Laundry here = interesting. We can do our laundry at the Beck's flat but they don't have a dryer. So currently, my clean, wet clothes are in various locations in our flat drying.

Side trips: We are no longer going to Rome. Travel to Rome and Paris both is astronomical. We will still go to Paris for our long weekend though. This weekend is when we would have gone to Rome so we are instead going to Dresden for one night. It's way cheaper and Amy was able to get us a free hotel in Dresden. Thank God for Amy! Dresden is very historical and beautiful apparently, so I am excited to see it.

Grocery shopped again today. I got the biggest jar of Nutella I could find. :-)

Class: We have class in Stephen Shoemaker's flat (he's our study abroad coordinator). His flat is a lot bigger than ours so that is why we meet there. Yesterday we learned about Dietrich Bonhoffer. He was a Christian who lived in Germany and was a minister (Lutheran I believe). He is considered to be one of the best theologians of our times. He was killed for being involved in a plot to assassinate Hitler.

Today class was kinda boring, haha, so I won't elaborate on that. :-)

Ummmm...sorry for being so long winded. I think that is everything. Here are some more random photos for you guys:

Left: Pretty church...can't remember the name...I'll find out. It was in Berlin.

Above: Holocaust memorial (Technically called the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe)

To the Right: A bunch of us went out last night to a place called Enchiladas (yes, you read that right, Enchiladas in Germany) and this is a group hug we had afterwards. That's me in the green sweater.

Saturday, June 7, 2008


Okay, so our hotel here has two computers in the lobby that are free to use so yay, I get to blog. It's somewhat difficult because the keyboard is reallz similar to American ones but the z and y key are switched and some other minor differences.

Yesterday we went to several sites: we saw the gates (they're from Roman times, very cool), the holocaust memorial and museum, an exhibit on the Gustapo and SS headquarters, and checkpoint charlie (which was the Army's checkpoint at the Berlin Wall to get into the American Sector). It was a good day about an hour we are going to take a 4 hour walking tour of Berlin. I am excited about seeing more sights, but not about the walking or the sweating that goes along with it. It's way hotter here than they said it would be. A ton of us have brought clothes that are not condusive to the weather, but H&M is cheap so I may pick up a few more shirts there so that I'm not as hot all the time.

Anyway, there's tons of reflection I could give on the day yesterday, but I will wait until we get back to Leipzig and then I will reflect on the weekend as a whole. Alright I'm off with my friend Amanda to find some coffee and then meet up with everyone for our walking tour! Hope everyone is doing well and having a good summer!!! Keep the comments coming, I am loving them.

PS...Shannon, the frenchtoast nutella style is the best thing I've heard all day, I am totally trying it when I get back to a kitchen in Leipzig!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Seeing the Sights in Downtown Leipzig

Today Amy and I got up early and walked to a bakery that is literally on the corner of the street we live on here (our street is Erich-Koln-Strasse). The lady at the bakery spoke no english so when I ordered I said in English "Can I have two of these?" and pointed to the pastry I wanted. And she said "zwie?" And I was like "Two?" and She said "zwie?" Eventually I realized she just trying to tell me zwie means two. She was a cute little grandma type, very sweet and I am going to try to learn how to say a few things to her in German because I hate that I can't talk to anyone I meet here! The pastries ROCKED. I have no idea what I got but I want more!

After that we came back to our flat and ate our pastries and drank coffee until we had class in Dr. Beck's flatt at 10. We had orientation today, aka rule time. Basically we need to not be dumb while we are here and not drink. I can do both of those so I should be good to go.

Dr. Beck gave us some notes on the Berlin wall and the Cold War and then we were free to go finish our sigh seeing that we were assigned yesterday. Amy and Amanda (my two roomies here) and then two other girls, Stephanie and Dayami, and I all went together downtown. I rented a phone for 10 euro (15 american dollars wooohoo!) and then we went to Leipzig University and walked around aimlessly for a few minutes and then we went to the Museum of Contemporary History. That was a really cool place. After walking around it for like half an hour a worker there asked me if I spoke English and then gave me a booklet that you return to them when you are done. The booklet is an English translation of all the German descriptions of the different things in the exhibition. I was already done and we had to move on, but I am definitely going back on a free day because I want to know what all the stuff said! After the museum we went to H&M which is actually a store that's from America and the other girls bought some stuff. Then we went to St. Thomas Church which is the church Bach worked at for a while and he composed a lot of stuff there. His remains are actually buried under the choir room and you can see a big brass plate on the ground over where they are located. It was really cool (of course the choir nerd in me loved it). The church was beautiful and had an awesome organ! It also had a small room that was set up in the style of a museum that was very interesting.

After that Amanda and I were pooped so we headed back to the tram. We got back to our flat and I went to the grocery store. I picked the worst time ever to go. I had no clue what time it was because I hadn't set my phone up yet, but it had to have been like 5 or 6 because the little store was packed. I learned how to rent a shopping cart (you pay a 1 euro deposit for a shopping cart) and then did my shopping. I bought bread, turkey, Gouda cheese (yeah baby), fruit, NUTELLA (I'm in LOVE), coke, etc. Stocked the fridge basically. I need to go back and get cereal though. Anyways. Then I had to stand in a line that was forever long and pay and pack my bag while people were staring me down because I was taking forever and I know they were thinking "stupid American." I am sure I will get the hang of how to efficiently grocery shop here. After that I came home, made a nutella sandwhich and journaled for a bit because our first entries are due tomorrow. Then I set up my phone and then I realized it was almost 8:30 at night. It was light enough outside I thought it was like 6, so then I realized I needed to hustle because....

Tomorrow we go to Berlin! I packed and I'm ready to go now. We leave at 8:30 in the morning. I won't have my laptop because I won't have internet access there, but I'll be available for you to call me on the phone I rented (that's for Mom).

Alright...I need to sleeeeep, so peace out!

PS...Thank you all for your comments! I love them!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Hey y'all! It's about 11:00 p.m., just got back from a very long day. Today we met at ten a.m. in the Becks' flat (Dr. Beck is the prof leading the trip, and he has brought his family with him). He gave us an assignment for us to go find on our own about 6 different places in town tomorrow and we have to journal about that (just give our reflection of our experiences) and turn it in to him. Then we walked down to a market that happens twice a week. I want to go back and get a better look though. We didn't spend much time there at all because we were just getting acquainted with the neighborhood we live in here.

Then we took a tram downtown, which is situated right by the train station we came into last night. We looked in the train station again in more depth. It's set up like a mall almost. We at lunch there and I got some of my cash made into Euros. That was sad, the exchange rate sucks. Oh well! Tomorrow I'm going back to the train station to rent my cell phone (I found if you guys call me it doesn't cost me a thing other than the rental of the phone).

After that we walked all around downtown and then spent some time in St. Nickolas (beautiful church! I have pictures!). Then we came back to our side of town and visited the grocery store in our neighborhood. I am going back tomorrow to do a real shop for food. You buy your own cloth grocery bags here and reuse them. You have to pay for plastic ones too, so I decided to buy the reusable one.

After that we came back to our flats and had some time to do whatever we wanted. For dinner we all met at this really cool restaurant that is like underground. It was really cool and apparently is a popular place for college students here. Stephen is the guy from the study abroad office that is here with us and he knows a few people in Leipzig so he introduced us to them. Elfie is a woman who I think he coordinates with to get us set up for our trips here, and she brought two college students with her, Maxie and Conrad. They both speak really good English so it was really nice to talk with someone who can really tell us about Germany and translate stuff and all that. Maxie and Conrad both want to hang out more with us before we leave so in our free time I am sure most of us will try to find times they can give us tours of the city and stuff. Conrad is actually in medical school and there are some other psych majors here that are also premed and Conrad said he could show us his medical school. That should be interesting. They go straight to med school out of high school here, so I am interested to see how their school system works. This picture to the left is of me and Maxie, by the way!

After dinner we got geleto (delicious!) and then rode the tram back to our flats. I still need to unpack and hang up my clothes so I'm off to go do that. Night night!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Day full of travelin'...

WOW! The past I don't even know how many hours has been NUTS! Yesterday my family dropped me off in Dallas and the study abroad group flew out from DFW at 5:30 into Heathrow (London airport). We landed there at 8 a.m. London time which is 2 a.m. American time I believe. I only got a few hours of sleep on the plane. We then flew to Frankfurt from London.

We were delayed in leaving the airport for about 15 minutes because of some unknown reason, and then once we landed in Frankfurt one of the girl's with us luggage did not make it to Frankfurt so that delayed us just enough to miss our train to Leipzig from Frankfurt. So we caught a train at about 4:10 and got to Leipzig at about 7:45. One thing I've learned: don't pack bags you can lift and carry yourself. My suitcases (and every other girl I am with) are just big and awkward sometimes. For instance on the train where there is virtually nowhere to put huge suitcases.

Anyways.... We ate dinner at the train station and I had my first conversation with someone who spoke not English. It went like this: She said something in German that I had no idea what it meant, I pointed at the baguette I wanted and said "Coca Cola" and she handed me the goods. I said "Danke," paid her, and was on my way. I need to look up German phrases in my Guidebook for Germany haha.

Then we took a tram to about 2 or 3 minutes away from our flats and walked our luggage to our flats. They are really nice. I told myself to have low expectations so I wouldn't be disappointed in them and I can honestly say they're great! I will post pictures on here in a day or so. For now...I'm sleeping! Good night and thanks for all your prayers for safe travel! We did get here all safe and sound!