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I have come to the conclusion that there are better blogging sites out there, and since I seem to enjoy blogging I should move to a site that better serves my needs.  So from now on I'll be posting to my new blog site: http://david-creatingtheself.blogspot.com/
Aufwiedersehen Livejournal!  You were great...but Blogspot is better.

My doings as of late

It’s been 15 days since I placed my feet back on American soil…and I’m just now getting around to blogging about it.  So I’ve been a little remiss in my blogging as of late.  I’ll try and catch up on some of it with a quick recap:

                So my finals went pretty well, I think.  I know that I passed all of my German language courses and two of my three economics courses.  I’m not sure about the last econ. course, although I think I may have failed it.  The final was 100% of my grade and it just wasn’t my day.  I blanked on one of the essay questions.  But passing two out of three economics classes is a good achievement in my book, especially when one of those classes was a master’s level econ. course.  I now understand why so many of the internationals called taking a final “writing a final”.  It’s because for the final exam they give you a small book of notepaper and you just start writing as fast as you can.  Once you are done, you turn it in and everything you wrote is graded.  I still like the American style of test taking, but it was an interesting experience.  So after my finals were over I had about four days to hang out with my friends (and complete a good bit of legal and other paperwork) before I left.  That Saturday I spent the day with my INSIGHT group (a group of German speakers who got together once a week to just hang out or read scripture passages) and we went to Auerbach Schloss and had a cookout with a youth group that our group leader was part of.  I had so much fun that day!  We went hiking; we cooked out, and had some great conversations almost entirely in German.  I wish I would have had more time with those people, but I’m so glad I was able to spend some time with them before I left.  The rest of my days in Germany were spent packing, completing paperwork (thanks to my amazing VISUM buddy!) and saying some hard goodbyes.  Realizing that you won’t see some of your friends ever again is a hard pill to swallow.  We said that we’d keep up on facebook, and we’ll try, but it’s no substitute.  I’ve come to realize that having people come in and out of your life is just a part of life.  Life takes people in such different directions…and I’m just glad that we were all able to spend a small portion of our lives together in Mannheim.  I made some great memories there.  I made some great friends there.  I made a life for myself there, and parts of my character were chiseled into finer detail in that city.  My semester abroad changed how I view the world and life in general.  I’m so glad that I made the decision to go.  I know that I’ll head back there someday. 

                On the 16th of last month I traveled to Frankfurt and boarded a Continental flight to Jersey.  I was anxious all the way up until I got on the plane.  Traveling long distances just makes me really nervous.  Also, the fact that I was flying standby added to that a little bit, but it all worked out in the end.  The flight went well enough.  I have trouble sleeping on planes, so I wasn’t able to catch any sleep on my transcontinental flight, but I was able to watch some good movies (The Gladiator and Sherlock Holmes).  Landing in NJ, I had a four hour layover and then a two hour flight to good old Charlotte Douglas International.  My parents were there to greet me, and although I was so tired it was so great to see them again.  I saw the rest of my family (and my best friend) later that evening and had a wonderful home cooked dinner.  It was a great way to come home.

                In some ways I’ve adjusted to being back in the US, and in some ways I’m still adjusting.  I walked into a Food Lion the other day and was pretty overwhelmed by the sheer amount of product on display.  Of course, there were some stores like that in Germany, but in the ones that I usually went to I could see over the isles.  Being able to drive again was something that I was really looking forward to, and it felt so natural to get behind the wheel of my car.  It felt so liberating to not be at the mercy of a public transport system to get me places.  And I’ve adjusted back quite quickly to seeing my sweetheart on a consistent basis.  Sometimes it still feels weird that I’m able to see her couple of times a week after spending so much time apart.  Being back with her, it made me realize how long we were apart and how much I had missed her.  I had to kind of suppress those thoughts while I was abroad just so that I wouldn’t miss her so much.  But it feels so good to be back together.  We are both in Greensboro now, taking summer classes.

                Ah, Greensboro.  It’s good to be back in my town, and back at UNCG.  I’m taking two classes this session, and although they are five week courses, they are child’s play compared to what I was dealing with in Germany.  It is nice to be able to relax a little bit over the summer, though.  Come fall, I’ll be quite busy, so this is a nice break.  I have an awesome roommate who has some great friends that I’m getting to know.  My roommate is a graduate student, and he’s pretty relaxed and fun to hang out with.

                I’m glad to be back home.  I had such a great time in Germany, but I missed my friends and family intensely.  Now that I’m back home, my mind wanders to thoughts about the future.  Thoughts of what’s going to happen after I (hopefully) graduate in the spring.  Should I try to find a job?  Should I just start pursuing a doctorate degree?  I don’t know, but I do know that these are things that I’m going to need consider soon.  But for now, I’m looking forward to a great weekend with my girl, and a July 4th party with tons of food, drink and explosives!


One day at a time

Two and a half weeks.  That’s all I have left here in Deutschland.  And to tell you the truth…I’m ready to go.  Not that I haven’t had an amazing and life changing experience abroad.  I have, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.  I’m just ready to be back home.  I’m ready for my finals to be over.   I’m ready to see my family (at least for a little while :P), I’m ready to get back to my university, and I’m more than ready to see my girlfriend.  I miss her so much.

                Over the past month I’ve had a few minor anxiety attacks about my quickly approaching exams.  They’re big, they’re detailed, and they’re weighted MUCH heavier than any test I’ve taken at UNCG.  On top of that, I have heard a story about a 4.0 GPA economic student from my university who studied in Mannheim and failed all of her economic exams.  So, I think I have a right to be scared…at least a little.  But now I feel much more confident about how I’ll perform on those exams.  I’m not going to know everything going into my finals, but do you ever really?  No.  You don’t.  So I have to study hard and hope for the best.  That’s the conclusion I’ve come to.  I really don’t want my last few weeks here to be cluttered with anxiety about my finals.  I want to study hard, and have a good time with my friends.  And that’s what I’m going to do.

                So I’ve been hitting the books pretty hard lately, but I’ve kept up a good balance of work and leisure.  There was a festival in town over the weekend that I and some friends went to.  There were vendors selling beer, sausages, artwork and all sorts of things.  There were also multiple stages set up with different bands playing songs from different genres.  All of the music was American, though.  That’s something you get used to when you’re abroad.  You turn on the radio hoping to hear some German songs and are greeted with the same popular music you hear back home.  When my parents were here a couple of weeks ago, there was a gathering in the Marktplatz for Maitag (the German equivalent of our Labor Day).  After a few speeches a band took the stage, and my parents got excited and thought they were going to hear some authentic German music.  What starts playing?  60’s classics from America.  My parents had a good laugh at that.  Anyway…

Yesterday I took part in my first flash mob!  It was spectacular!  It was organized over facebook, and the participants were told to meet in the Paradeplatz (center square) at 3pm and bring a pillow.  So at 2:45 I showed up at Paradeplatz with some friends and waited anxiously for the sound of the whistle that would kick off anarchy.  Once 3 o’clock hit, a whistle sounded and the biggest pillow fight you’ve ever seen erupted.  People were swinging their soft, feathery weapons into the faces of everyone and anyone they came across.  Pillows tore open.  Feathers filled the air.  It was quite a sight.  There’s a sense of community that you get from smashing a pillow into someone you don’t know that I don’t think you can get anywhere else.  Needless to say, I had a blast.

I will sorely miss this place.  I don’t think I’ll realize how attached I’ve become to Mannheim until I’m home, until I’m not surrounded by the atmosphere of Germany anymore.  Even though I’ll miss Mannheim, I know that I have to move on.  I’ll continue to move forward, and the next chapter of my life waits for me back home. 

Seventeen days and counting…

Time flies...

Well, it's crunch time boys and girls.  That's right; finals are only a few weeks away.  I am giving a presentation in my German oral communication class on Thursday, and then I have my first written final the Wednesday after that.  Then all three of my economics finals are squished into the week of June 6th.  I'm definitely going to need some down time after that week.  I've been studying like crazy lately.  I know I have a few more weeks before my finals get here, but I need to reach a certain level of comfort with the material before I can relax.  And seeing as I haven’t hit that level yet, I’ll keep studying.  But don’t worry; I haven’t been a total hermit lately.  I know how much I can study before I reach burnout, and I don’t want to get to that point.  I went to a party at the Schneckenhof last night (an open air party area where all of the school’s parties go down) and had a great time with my friends.  I strained my neck on an inflatable bungee-run, but fortunately that was near the end of my time there.

Having to study a lot has reminded me of the short amount of time that I have left here in Mannheim.  On the one hand it feels like my time here has been so short, but when I really think about everything I’ve done since I’ve been here, it’s seems like a long time.  Part of me is really ready to get back home, though.  I miss my family, my friends, and I miss my girlfriend something terrible.  I also miss UNCG.  I miss the atmosphere on campus, and I miss all of the little Mexican restaurants around town.  That is something that Germany is sorely lacking in: good Mexican restaurants.  I feel ready to go home, but I know that the closer I get to the day I leave, the more I won’t want to go.  It’s hard to think that the people that I see every day, my friends, my professors, my flat mates, I probably won’t see ever again.  I plan on coming back to Europe and I’ll try to catch up with some of my friends then, but for the most part once this semester is over, we’re all going our separate ways.  It’s kind of sad, but that’s how life is.  I’m glad to know that one of the friends that I’ve made here is coming back with me, seeing as she attends my school.  We didn’t know each other before we came here, but we’ve gotten to know each other over this semester, and it’ll be nice to have someone at my home university who experienced Mannheim like I did.  At least we’ll be able to reminisce together.

My girlfriend has been back in the States for a little over a week now, and she’s moving back to college today.  It’s been very interesting talking with her, and listening to how she is dealing with adjusting back to the culture and living at home for a short period of time.  I wish I could be there with her, but I know it won’t be much longer.

I’ve been having a little bit of a problem with living in the moment over the past week or so.  I keep thinking of the short amount of time I have left here, and what I’ll be doing when I travel back to the US.  I’m going to try over the next couple of weeks to live in the moment and just soak it all up.


A quick post

Life moves too fast sometimes.  I wish I had the time to just sit down for a few hours and write about all that I've experienced over the past week and a half.  I wish I had the time to process it all.  I guess I'll have to settle for the few minutes I get here and there.

   Last week my sweetheart came and spent five glorious days with me.  The ash cloud dissipated, and she was able to make it to Mannheim.  We had the best time together.  We visited Heidelberg, walked through the extensive gardens in Schwetzingen, and were able to have an amazing lunch in the Fernmeldeturm (a restaurant located high above the city), thanks to my VISUM buddy.   Having her around for five days really showed me how much I missed her.  I feel so much better when she's around.  We had time to talk about all sorts of things, and that's what I really miss the most.  I miss having the time to talk about anything that crosses your mind, instead of feeling confined to filling an hour or so of conversation over skype with the details of my day.  After five fantastic days, she left to return to England and spend some time with her family there before returning to the US.  I miss her terribly, but I know that the longest part of this semester is over, and now I'm faced with the last month and a half before I too will be returning home.
   The same day that Ivy left, my parents arrived in Mannheim.  It's been great being able to show them around, especially since this is my Dad's first time outside of the United States.  Today we visited Bad Windsheim (where my great great grandfather grew up) and Obernzenn (where he was born), but that story will have to wait for another day.  Right now I need to go to bed so I can study early tomorrow.  Finals are coming, and I'll be damned if I'm not prepared for them.

Vacations and volcanos

  I've been pretty busy since I returned from my vacation.  I can't believe how fast last week went by.  I've been studying for my first test of the semester, a midterm in my German language class that I took on Monday.  I've also been studying my notes in all three of my economics courses so I feel more on top of things.  I know the finals are over a month away, but the fact that my one professor said that when he taught his class over the summer all but one person failed has me a little scared.  Yes, I've been studying a lot over the past week, but I have also found time to enjoy the gorgeous weather.  I played ultimate frisbee in Herzogenried Park, and now I have a little color in my skin.  I love spring.
   Ah, right, my vacation.  What a great time that was.  I traveled with five friends that I had met since being in Mannheim, and it was so relaxing to know that I didn't have to go to school or do any work for two weeks, I could just travel.  Poland was beautiful, especially Zakapane (a mountain town in the south).  The language barrier was pretty difficult, seeing as most people couldn't speak English, and since most Polish people do not like Germans, our German skills were only of use once the whole time we were in Poland.  Polish food is amazing.  That's a fact.  I ate perogies whenever I could.  A Polish friend that we stayed with in Warsaw took us to a restaurant that served ten different kinds of perogies.  I was in heaven.  Our trip hit a few snags in Warsaw.  Ones that, when I look back on it now, are quite hilarious.  But in the moment they were quite stressful.  I won't go into great detail, but one had to deal with getting separated and lost in Warsaw for about three hours (we found out that our cellphones didn't work in Poland a little too late) and the other dealt with our Polish friend getting drunk and abandoning us in a club at 2 in the morning.  That's an interesting story that you should ask me about some time.  Before Warsaw we also traveled to Krakow and Auschwitz.  Walking through the Auschwitz concentration camp is an experience that I will never forget.  I read so many stories about so many people’s lives being ripped apart by war and inhumanity...I stopped reading after a while.  It was too much.  Seeing the collections of eyeglasses and briefcases and children’s shoes that the German soldiers stripped from their captives reached into your soul.  Pictures depicting the people that walked the rocky pathways in Auschwitz covered the walls inside of the different blocks.  I have never felt that depressed before.  Afterwards, although it was a dark and depressing visit, I felt glad that I had gone to the camp.

   Having spent six days in Poland, we then left for Ireland, and had a great time visiting friends and hanging out in pubs.  Irish pubs give you the feeling that you’re in someone’s living room.  I felt so relaxed in those pubs, with live Irish music playing in the background.  While in Dublin, we toured the Guinness storehouse there, and I learned how to correctly pour my own pint of Guinness.  I have the certificate to prove it.  That’s right, a certificate.  I can die happy now.  The food in Ireland was ok.  It’s pretty much the same as English food, therefore, not too much taste.  We met up with some friends of one of the people we were traveling with, and they invited us over to their house and we ate and drank and talked for hours.  We talked about politics, stereotypes, all sorts of stuff.  It was really interesting to listen to how some people describe Americans.  They like how open minded and accepting we are.  I’ve never looked at us quite like that.  After spending two days in Dublin we traveled north to a small coastal city called Drogheda.  It was about a half-hour trip by train, and proved to be a cute little town, although it wasn’t very touristy, and we kept getting looks when we would walk around the city or go into pubs.  Still, we had a great time there.

   After our four day stint in Ireland we flew to beautiful Scotland.  Almost as soon as I got off the plane, I ran into that amazing Scottish accent.  It was a cab driver offering to take us into Glasgow cheap, seeing as we had missed the train and would have to wait thirty minutes for the next one.  We had had an early flight, so as soon as we got into Glasgow, we found a bagel shop and had breakfast, and then went to the lounge in our guest house and crashed.  We were all so tired, and after traveling for over two weeks, a new city doesn’t have the same appeal.  We went to bed early that night.  My friend Carolyn and I signed up to take two tours of the highlands and other places around Scotland over the next two days.  We traveled to Sterling Castle, saw the castle where the French scene in Monty Python’s “The Search for the Holy Grail” was filmed, and took a boat tour on the Loch Ness.  At different points during that tour I would look around at all of the beautiful, snow covered mountains and gorgeous lakes and think about how lucky I was to be there.  It was fantastic.  Our last day in Scotland was spent in Edinburgh, lying on the sun splashed grass in a park, just talking and sleeping on and off for hours.  It was a good way to spend the last day.

  Coming back to Mannheim has been an adjustment.  It took me a few days to get my feet back under me, but now I feel back on top of everything.  Unfortunately, due to that volcano in Iceland, whose name I won’t even try to type, my parent’s flight was cancelled.  They have been able to rebook their flight for the 29th, so that’s a positive.  Now I’m just worried about my girlfriend’s flight.  The problem is that no one can predict what this volcano will do.  One day they say that there is a decrease in activity and flights resume, and then the very next day it goes off again and flights are downed all over Europe.  Guess the only thing I can do is wait and see what happens.

I hate that.

Oh well.  On a brighter note, I got my German midterm grade back today and I passed.  I also ran an economic experiment in my one of my classes the other day and I think it went very well.  The weather has also been really beautiful lately.  The whole flight situation has me kinda bummed, but I have to focus on the positives.

I think a good German beer will help.


Tomorrow, my big adventure starts.  Tomorrow, I embark on a mini-euro trip with five friends.  First, we are spending about a week in Poland visiting about five different cities.  And then we are off to Ireland for four days, and then to Scotland for four days.  We’ll return on the 12th of April.  It’s going to be one intense vacation.  We plan on sightseeing allot, and we aren’t staying in any one hostel for longer than two nights on this two week trip.  I know that it’ll be a little draining traveling so much, but this is the chance of a lifetime.  I’m going to see three different countries, and visit tons of cities.  I can’t wait.  I do worry about how much money I’m going to come back with, but that can wait for another day.  I wish I could just jump on the plane now and go.  The waiting is killing me!

                We have a general idea of what we want to do while on this vacation: sightsee, go hiking a little bit, sample the nightlife, etc.  But mostly we are just going to go with the flow and see what we can find to do once we get to the different towns.  While I’ve been abroad I’ve been becoming more and more ok with last minute decisions and quickly changing plans.  That’s always been a problem for me, and it’s not like I’m totally ok with it now, I’ve just found that I’m able to accept it easier.  One location that we have definitely made plans for is Auschwitz.  It’ll be a very sobering experience, but one that I’m looking forward to.  I’ve always been fascinated by WWII, and everything that happened during that Great War.  Now I’ll have the chance to see some of that history in person.

Ugh, tomorrow can’t come fast enough.

                I also have a lot to look forward to when I get back from this vacation.  The week after I get back I have a test in one of my German classes, and I have to run an experiment in one of my economics classes.  Then that Wednesday my parents are coming to spend about five days in Mannheim for their anniversary!  I can’t wait to see then and show them around Mannheim and the surrounding cities.  While they are here, we are going to rent a car and travel to Bad Windsheim, the town where my great great grandfather (who immigrated to the US in 1887) grew up.  Apparently, Bad Windsheim is known for its spas, and we intend on checking that out.  Then around the time that my parents leave my girlfriend is coming to stay with me for five days.  I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to that. I miss her so much.  Yeah, so April is going to be an intense month.  And then May rolls around, and I’m going to have to start studying hard for my exams in June.  In-between May and June I have to go to Berlin…I just have to.  I must say that I’m pretty satisfied with how much traveling I’ve been doing in Germany.  I’ve seen a bunch of different cities in southern Germany, but I HAVE to see Berlin before I leave.  Then my time here will be complete.

I have a lot to look forward to in the next couple of weeks.  I feel so grateful to be here, experiencing all of this.  There are times when it’s hard being abroad, but then times like these remind me why I decided to do this in the first place.  It’s hectic, but awesome at the same time.  I’ll be sure to write about my adventures when I return.

Well, wish me luck.

Meine Vorlesungen

   My time as a student has afforded me many new experiences over the past four years.  I have learned how to take good notes, how to deal with multiple pressing deadlines, and how to manage my time well.  I’ve taken all sorts of courses, each of which has lent something to my academic career.  The courses here in Mannheim are exposing me to a new academic system, and it’s very interesting as well as very discombobulating.

   At UNCG, each class has a syllabus, listing the agenda of the class, what date the tests are on, the grading scheme and other things.  There’s homework to do, tests that reveal how well you know the material, projects, and papers to write.  My classes at Mannheim are run in a different manner.  Classes in Germany are structured to allow the student to study at his/her own pace, and allow the ability to study what you want within the course (for the most part), without exactly telling you what to spend your time on.   My two German language classes are the closest in comparison to my classes back home, but in the same token they have their differences.  They are very intensive German language classes, but the homework load is close to nothing.  They are great classes, and I’ve learned allot from them so far, it’s just so weird not to have a good bit of homework assigned at the end of the class period.  Then there are my economics classes.  These were the ones that really threw me off at the beginning of this semester.  There is no attendance taken in any of my three economics classes, so you can come to class whenever you want, although not coming would be detrimental to your understanding of the course material, naturally.  Now these three classes deal with some very interesting and advanced economical concepts…hard stuff.  But there is no homework besides some readings here and there.  I’m writing all of this not to make the German academic system sound inadequate, it’s just so different.  It took me a while, but I figured out a good study pattern for my classes.  Well, I guess I’ll find out if it’s good once the finals roll around.  J

   I can’t decide which style of class structure I like more: the US style where you have allot of work and learn the material that the professor wants you to learn, or the German style where you learn the material, but are allowed to search out your own curiosities within the course.  I like the freedom of the German style, but I miss the structure and, quite frankly, the workload of the American style (I’m a nerd, so sue me).  I miss having tests most of all.  Not that I love taking tests, it’s just that I can gauge from a test my knowledge of the class material and I can find out what I need to study more.  Here my entire grade is based on one cumulative final exam.  I’m a little intimidated by that, but I know that I have a good ways to go still, and plenty of time to study. 

   One of the things that the study abroad staff at UNCG told me before I came here was that I should set my bar low while I’m abroad.  There are just too many new things to experience while you are in a foreign country, and they wanted me to make sure that I wouldn’t become so focused on the academics that I wouldn’t enjoy myself a little bit.  I believe that I have found a good balance between totally disregarding my academics and becoming a hermit who ends his studying only to eat and bathe. 

   It’s going to be quite an adjustment going back to the states…ah, can’t think about that now.  Stay focused on today.  What’s happening later today?  WINE FESTIVAL!!!!!

Here comes the su-...wait...nix that

   It’s finally starting to warm up here in Germany.  I guess I say “finally” because I’ve been living with snow and around 0 degrees (Celsius) weather for almost two months.  What I’ve found since the warmer weather started settling in is that Germany is a whole new country when the weather gets past, say, 6 degrees.  For example, I went to Heidelberg the other weekend with a friend of mine.  Now Heidelberg is a place that I had been to during the first week I was here, and had always wanted to go back.  My friend had not been there yet, so I thought I could show her around.  Little did I know that when we would get to Heidelberg it would feel so different that we would spend most of the day discovering new areas of the town!  When I had visited Heidelberg previously, I toured the castle and had dinner in town, but it was so cold that my group and I just wanted to head back to Mannheim, and to our warm rooms. This time, though, my friend and I found a trail through the woods that lead to this amazing lookout tower, one which commanded a view not only of old Heidelberg, but the entirety of Heidelberg!  It was quite a sight.  Mannheim has changed allot too.  I’ve explored some parks close by, and have gone for walks along the Neckar, now that it’s warm.  There are two brick barbeques outside my dorm, which I now size up as I walk by, planning when to have a cookout.

   Funny side note: as I’m writing this it is snowing…allot.  We had a cold front move in overnight and now that all too familiar blanket of white has descended upon everything again.  You know, there are times when snow gets really annoying, and there are times when its beauty outmatches that annoyance.  Today, the snow is very beautiful.  Maybe it’s because I haven’t seen it in nearly two weeks, but it looks amazing.  It looks like someone shook up a snow globe.  I like that.

   I’ve found that I don’t fully realize how much of the German language I’ve actually acquired until I’m in a situation where I can only use German, and I mean for more than a simple restaurant order.  The past week gave me two of those opportunities, and I found that I knew allot more than I thought I did.  I was pretty proud.  The time I have spent in Germany has not been a total language immersion, like some would think.  Because I’ve made so many international friends, and they all speak English, that’s the language that I use most of the time (which is not a bad thing, let me tell you).  But I have also made some German friends and am taking some German language classes, and those are really helping with my grasp of the language.  Also, he German language does rub off on you when you’re living in the country, I don’t want to discount that.  I have made it my goal to be fluent, or close to fluent, in German some day.  I’d love to have a career in which I travel to Germany once a month for a few days…that would be fantastic.

    Easter break here in Mannheim is two weeks long.  Two weeks!  So, I and about 6 other friends will be making a trip to Poland, Ireland and possibly Scotland, if we can manage it.  I am so stoked!  I can’t accurately convey how excited I am…it’s impossible.

   Let’s just say it’s going to be an amazing trip.   


There are times when I’m very preoccupied by the obstacles that life throws in my way.  Things like working out housing and college expenses back home, how exactly to study for my economics courses here in Mannheim, etc.   Especially when you are studying abroad, in a country whose mother tongue is not English, smaller obstacles can turn into larger ones.  I know that you’re probably reading this and thinking “man if he would just chill he wouldn’t be so anxious about those things”, and to some degree you are right.  I do think that I worry too much, but there are times when worrying too much is better than not worrying enough.  And where do you draw the line between worrying and trying to be prepared?  I’m an Eagle Scout, I strive to always be prepared for anything, it’s what I was taught to do and it’s worked out pretty well so far.

   Why am I telling you this?  I think that once in a while I need to write things down just so that I can clear my head and hear myself a bit better.

   Even though I have been preoccupied lately, at the same time I have had plenty of instances over the past week that have made me appreciate where I am, and have left me with a sense that everything will be alright.  Like this past Saturday.  I went hiking in the German countryside with a group of friends and, even though getting to our destination turned out to be quite an ordeal, it was probably one of the best days I have had in Germany thus far.  Snow would fall in short bursts while we walked through the forest, giving the trip an ethereal feel at times.  It was simply beautiful.  Being out there, in the country, hiking through the foothills around the small town of Dahn, it hit me how lucky I was to be there.  To be hiking through the gorgeous German countryside, having great conversations with friends, and experiencing things that I will remember for a long time to come.  I can’t believe that I’ve already been living here for almost two months.  Time flies when you’re living in a foreign country.  I’ve already made so many amazing friends and memories in the short time I’ve been here.  I’m looking forward to making many more in the months to come.

   My girlfriend called me the evening that I returned from hiking, having just returned herself from hiking through the English countryside (she’s currently studying abroad in London…I know, crazy how that worked out, huh?)  We shared our respective stories about how beautiful everything was, and how lucky we felt to be there.  But at the same time we wished that we had been with each other, experiencing it all together.  I miss her a lot.  I miss sharing experiences with her.  Back in Greensboro we were able to experience everything together: school, friends, parties.  I really enjoy being independent here in Germany, but it just gets to me sometimes how much I miss her.  We have decided that we are going to travel through Europe at some point in the future, so we can see it all together.

It’ll be great.  That’s all there is to it.