Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Back in the US

Hey guys, so I'm back in the states again. Still going to post a few last posts, so keep reading, but just wanted to let you know I'm home. We never ended up going to Paris, since the carpool program we were using didn't end up working out; however, we did go to Munich and it was fantastic. This was by far the best summer I've ever had, I'll miss everyone I met there and miss waking up in Aachen, but life goes on and it's time for different adventures.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Hey guys, sorry for the lack of updates, but I leave Germany on the 30th. That means less than 2 weeks of being here, and honestly every time I try to write something it becomes a little depressing. This entire experience has been by far one of the greatest things I've ever done in my life. I've learned about other cultures, practiced awesome lab techniques and met some great people. I'm going to come back more relaxed, more confident and ready to make this year count, but it's still sad to go.
    On a happier note, I still have two weeks left! I hate just wasting time being sad about leaving, so instead of doing that, I'm ending this summer with a bang! This weekend I'll be going to Paris and then next week we'll be traveling to Munich : ) Expect some great updates and fun stories.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Dublin and Stuff

   Hey homies, sorry for not updating I really haven't had much down time in the last two weeks. Research is really picking up now, yay mutant fungi, so it means later days and less time to blog. I was going to update thursday, but I locked myself out of the room....pretty classic me. Anyway, last weekend, a week ago today, we went to Dublin! It was great, probably the most fun bars I've been to yet. They had a lot of live music, and honestly it was just great to be able to understand everyone. I haven't been able to completely understand random people on the bus since leaving the US, since my German is still not really that great, so that was really awesome, but almost a little too much to handle. The last  7 or so weeks have been incredibly fun and incredibly relaxing, not being able or expected to understand anyone who doesn't already know you is kinda peaceful. You can get on a bus tell them where you want to go, ask if you're there and say thank you...but that's about it. That means a lot more time for quiet reflection, which has been really great.
    This weekend I stayed in Aachen for the first time in a while, went hiking in a nearby town yesterday and am probably just going to hang around the dorm and maybe the markt today. I only have a little more than 3 weeks's a bit frightening. I really miss everyone back at home, but I like it here a lot. Oh well, what will be, will be:)

Sunday, June 30, 2013


     On our second day in Berlin we went to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. It was my first time seeing a concentration camp and it took me a little by surprise. You learn in school about the holocaust, but for the most part you pretend it happened in another realm. It was before we were alive, in a place most of us have never been and ya It affected a bunch of our families, including my own, but It's easier just to pretend it happened in another world because one disgruntled evil man decided to start a war. You picture concentration camps isolated from the rest of society, from the rest of the world. They're not though. The main purpose of concentration camps was to work people, that means they produced a lot of goods, which  needed to be transported. The need for transportation means most concentration camps were near major railway lines. They weren't isolated in another world, they were in towns, where bystanders could see what was happening
     The holocaust didn't occur because of one evil man, it involved an entire world. This isn't saying anything bad about Germany or Germans. If there is one thing you take from my blog it's that Germany is so much more than the World War II. The culture here  is welcoming and accepting, honestly more accepting than American culture. Obviously it was different 70 years ago, but the world was different 70 years ago. What happened here was more a result of the aftermath of World War I, the result of a negative environment more than anything. The times were hard and it was easy to just succumb to hate. It's cliche, but hatred blinds us, it takes away reason and can make it easy to commit horrible acts; it's also something we are all capable of feeling.
    The most startling realization of the whole visit is the ease with which this could occur again. Looking back what happened was so horrible, but at the time it was just a slow progression of hateful acts until murdering large groups of people just seemed like the status quo. Genocides have occurred after World War 2 and are still occurring now. People continue to remain silent as thousands are wrongly killed. All of this is just because of hate. If people could dispel whatever hateful views they have and view everyone as fellow people, and not just brash stereotypes that can't love or hurt. I guess the main thought I got from all this is that we have to be incredibly aware of our own hatred and prejudice. We all have it, we all forget that the people and figures we hate are just as human as we are. The heights of human kindness are infinite, but so too are the depths of hatred.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Berlin Part 1

    This weekend we went to Berlin and met up with a few friends from back in the states. I know I've only seen a few of the world's cities so far, but Berlin is so far my favorite. There's so much history, so many things to do, it was hard to squeeze in so much into less than 36 hours. Also would be hard to squeeze the whole weekend into one post, so surprise you get two : )
    Before I get into the actual city, just want to discuss how we ended up getting there. So ICE trains are really expensive, ranging above 100 euro for one way, which is a little too steep for me. Luckily, they have the schönes Wochenende ticket, literal translation is nice weekend ticket. This lets a group of 5 take any number of regional trains in a day for 42 euro for the entire group. The downside is instead of one happy 6 hour train, you have a bunch of short trains and a 3 hour layover in a tiny town called Minden, amounting to a 12 hour trip. With a group of people you like it's really fun, also now I can say I've slept on the floor of a German train station. The way back was a hassle too, but that's significantly funnier to me than it would be to anyone here so If you really want to hear the story ask me when I get back : )
     Back to Berlin, the city has a rough past, but It's coming back and is honestly one of the most beautiful cities I've ever seen. We saw all the touristy things, including the Berlin wall. The wall isn't as intense as you would think, it's just a wall. It's odd that it took less than a weekend to build the first draft of the wall, which would keep the east and west of Berlin separate for almost 30 years. Of course the wall was manned by soldiers with guns, but still. One weekend was all it really took.
     Oh well, I need to head out soon, but If you ever have the opportunity  to visit Berlin please do. It's beautiful beyond words.

P.S. I broke my computer mic some how so until further notice the videos won't be happening, sorry friends : /

Monday, June 17, 2013

Do You Remember When?

    More a random musing anything, but as I'm making posting and messaging friends from back home something really odd hit me. I haven't said "Do you remember when?" this entire trip. Back in the US I said this at least every day, just kind of in passing. I guess it's just because in the US I have so many memories, while here each day is still so new. Honestly, I kind of miss the ability to share memories from more than 4 weeks ago. I guess I could just start doing it randomly... "Hey Remember when we went to Maastricht?" "Ya that was last weekend...."

Sunday, June 16, 2013

It's Been A Month...

     I left Pittsburgh on May 15th, and I left New York on the 16th...which means that I've been away home for a full month  now. The initial wonder of being somewhere new has worn off, the follow up sadness and homesickness has also faded, more or less; all that's left is comfort. In only a month, this place has become a home of sorts. Don't get me wrong, there are still 6 weeks of new and awesome experiences. It just feels a little better at the end of the day when I get back to Aachen
   Also, I've realized that besides the few people that read this from Carnegie Mellon linking it out,, the majority of you are just my friends and family. So I'm just going to make this more of a travel journey, with a few more deeper entries. That way when I don't respond to emails, you'll know where I am. Don't worry though, you'll still get some quality video upload entries.