Friday, May 31, 2013

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

    So I haven't really been updating as frequently as I though, I'm sorry I'll try to be better, but It's because I've been trying to fully immerse myself in the culture and often don't really have that much energy at the end of the day. It's been exactly two weeks since I've left the states and there have been so many different experiences and feelings, but the purpose of this blog is to comment on the general experience of living a broad and not so much the specific events happening in my life. That being said, the most important piece of advice I can give is that when you live abroad, take it slow.
     Traveling abroad is fun, you see sites and eat special food, but it is much much different than living abroad. When you live in a foreign land you're forced to adapt to the culture. If you continue to act like you're just a tourist, that's how you'll be treated. If you stop to ask how to pronounce words or how you should act, then ya they'll still know you're not from their country, but they'll begin to treat you like you belong there. This may not sound super fun, but understanding another culture is so much more rewarding than any site or food you can experience. You'll learn more about yourself and the way people are similar in so many ways. In order to do this though, you need to actually be there. So maybe that means seeing less places, but experiencing more. I'm not sure, I guess it all depends on what type of experience you're looking for.
      On another note, I won't be able to update the blog this weekend, but after that I'll try to stick to updating at least once every other day. Also, next Friday will be the first video post : )

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


     Every place has certain foods that they claim they make the best, but there's no guarantee that that city actually has the best of it. There's one special type of cookie that Aachen definitely has the best of, Printen, since it is only made here. It is a semi-soft chewy gingerbread type cookie with a bunch of cardamon  licorice and other magic spices. When you head to the Markt, almost every bakery has bags full of this awesome tiny treat. Even if you're not a fan of the cookie, it's fun to know that what you're eating can only be bought there. 
     It seems silly, but the thought that you're having something so unique to the place you're visiting is reassuring. When you first start living abroad there's so much you can't access; friends, Netflix, certain foods or the feeling of knowing the native language. The fact that you're gaining something new and 100% unique is Comforting. There's obviously so many new experiences, but you can't really be sure if you're actually retaining these experiences or growing from them. Printen at least reassures me that even though it's only been a week and a half, I've already added something to my life that I would never have been able to if I just stayed in the states.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Best Cereal in the World: Nougat Bits

      Fun culture fact of the day: Nutella is really big in Germany and it's delicious. Not quite sure why it tastes better, but it does and it's fantastic. The only thing that could possibly be better is if you took this superior nutella and jammed it inside some chocolate cereal type thing. This is basically what Nougat Bits are. Google it, look at pictures and try to find some in a local store. Seriously though, if they don't sell this cereal in the states I'm going to have to ship a few tons of it home and slowly eat it forever.  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Kawo 1

     I promised you at least post a day, and so you shall receive! Today I went to a bar on the basement floor of my dorm, Kawo. That concept alone confuses me to no end. I'll put in an entry later on about the views on alcohol for America and Germany later on, but for now let's just stick with this.
    For five Euro you could get a variety of drinks and the company of many UROP students and friendly German students. One thing that is incredibly different is how Germans treat foreigners. They try to help them as much as they possibly can. Unlike the American view, which is mostly forcing them to speak English, almost everyone in Aachen attempts to convey their thoughts in a mixture of English and German. It's incredibly helpful and very heart warming. It's important to remember that  although you may be giving an impression of your home country to whatever land you visit, those people are also giving an impression to you. I guess the general lesson is to try and treat people as respectfully as you can. Even if you can't fully understand them, try to. The little bit of effort goes a long way.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My First German Birthday Party

     On the first night I arrived there was a birthday party for someone at a local dorm, since it's Germany and dorms have bars. To clarify, I don't mean like a tiny secret bar freshman keep in there room and fill with Tortilla Gold and Natty, I mean a full fledged bar in the basement of the dorm with stuff on tap and multiple mini fridges. This would have been culture shock enough, but the birthday party was far from what I was used to.
      Instead of cake and ice cream, they had a tub of hot dogs, Wurst, and raw meat with onions, Mett. The music playing was  a mixture of 80s and 90s pop, like Barbie Girl, and an occasional German song. Most of the night we played Loopin' Louie,, which is a really fun child's game turned into a drinking game. Fun night, never met the birthday person though. A great start to experiencing German culture and what it means to be a college student in Aachen.
      Side note: if there's anything I can do to make this blog better/interesting things you'd like to read about please either comment or email me at Danke!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


    Felt bad not saying anything cool so here's a quick fun story:

    This cute little guy is called the bahkauv. Legend has it that when people are drunkenly trying to get home after a late night at the bar, the bahkauv will chase after them and try to attack them...but only drunk people have to fear him.  Maybe I'll warn my residents about the bahkauv next year, just try to scare them a bit : )   

Short post: Still Alive, Aachen's awesome

     Sorry for the delay, I had a lot of issues with the internet connection the last few days. After a bunch of road blocks, mostly due to the bank locking my account and not really being able to understand much, I've happily made it to the awesome city of Aachen.
     The travel over here was a bit difficult, but I think it went as well as it could have with the little amount of preparation I did. For those of you planning to go abroad, make sure you know exactly how to use the train and tell your bank exactly where you'll be going and taking money out of, also have your bank's phone number handy. They tend to be super hasty to stop your account when they get random charges from different countries, calling them makes it go by so much quicker. Also, it helps a ton to have someone in the country you're traveling to that can help you out. I'm really not sure how I would have managed the last few days without my buddy, through UROP's buddy program.
     I really need to get back to studying my German, but just wanted to post something so people know I still plan on doing this:)  Expect something more fun tomorrow.

Friday, May 17, 2013

New York: Almost On My Way!

    Back in New York for the day, really missed the city, didn't really miss Long Island as much. As much as Pittsburgh feels like home, Westbury doesn't. It's not that anythings changed really, we've just grown apart I guess. Being back home is almost exactly the same feeling as staying in my empty room after packing everything up. It's full of great memories and awesome adventure, but those are all in the past, now it's just empty. All that's left now are some old clothes, a few friends and 18 years full of memories. I guess that's pretty good for a few days though. Anyway, it's always important to revisit the past, even if it's awkward at times.
     Well, I guess this is my last entry in the US, the rest of the blog will be a lot more fun and upbeat. I'll probably post another entry tonight/tomorrow when I'm at Heathrow (London Airport)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

It's Scary Sometimes, But That's Okay

       Part of the goal of this blog is to convey the experience of travelling to another country from the lens of someone who has never left the US. In order to do this well, I'm going to try to be super open with all the emotions I'm feeling. I'm not that open of a person usually, but I guess this is the best way to try to express everything.
      I'm really excited to be on my way to Germany in less than 2 days, but there's so much that I don't know about. I don't know any German, not really quite sure where the Euro applies or how trains in places besides New York City work, to name a little bit. It's hard to leave a place you're so comfortable with to go to somewhere you know nothing about. Its similar to the feeling you have before going to college; you're incredibly excited, but nervous beyond belief.
     I've spent almost the entirety of my life on the east coast of the US, except for a few trips to California, so I don't really really know what this summer is going to be like. That scares me. For the first time in a while, I have no idea what the next few weeks are going to hold. That's scary, but maybe it's a good thing. Leaving your comfort zone is how you grow. Maybe it's best to embrace the fear and accept that its going to be a little odd at first.  Oh well, either way I'll be over there soon

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


             I've spent the last week trying to find a picture that can capture exactly how I feel about Pittsburgh right now. The closest I came to that was a pretty picture of campus:

Doesn't really capture all that much, besides the most attractive way to include Walking to the Sky, the large metal pole, into a picture of campus. I tried to figure out why I loved Pittsburgh, I realized the greatest parts of Pittsburgh for me are the parts you can never record. The friendships and memories that were formed here are the pieces of Pittsburgh I hold dear.
       Over the last two years I've met so many people that I care about and for the first time in a while, I've found a place that feels like home. What I'll miss most about Pittsburgh isn't the large amount of bridges, 446, or the awesome view from Mt. Washington,  its the people. I'll miss staying up till the early morning talking about life and how fast time's passing. This last year was rough, but thanks to a lot of people, I was able to get through it. All of the connections I have here make it such a comfortable place.  Pittsburgh has become more than a random cool city, it's become my home.