February 24, 2013: Kaiserslautern

So you know how I said that things were going to start picking up soon?  Well, they have, and I’m not complaining either.  It just doesn’t leave as much time for writing, but worry not, I haven’t forgotten!  As you guys may or may not know, I went with my program (VDAC) to Kaiserslautern this past weekend.  This means I got to meet up with several people from UA and many that I met since I’ve been here.  They are from all over both the U.S. and Germany and every couple of months we go to some new city in Germany.  It’s not all fun and games, but I really enjoy all the seminars anyway.

But before I tell you about what I did there, let me start by talking a bit about my journey to Kaiserslautern.  Now I know that normally you aren’t supposed to talk about how you got to a place, most people don’t care.  But I’ll make this as brief and interesting as possible.  I almost died.  Okay, so that deserves a bit of an explanation and now that I have your attention let me say that I probably wouldn’t have actually died, but I did almost get hit by a car.  Essentially I had planned to leave Erlangen at 9 for the 5 hour train ride and so I got to the train station to buy my ticket early only to find that none of the trains before 10:30 were running.  This really put a kink in my plans seeing as I would now be several hours late to the seminar.  So I bought the ticket anyway and decided to walk around for a bit and find a print shop as opposed to going home only to return about an hour later.  So I was walking around and not having much luck when I decided to make my way back to the train station, and my bike where I would begrudgingly cycle to the print shop near my dorm.  On the way there was a small intersection with no stop signs, traffic lights, or cross walks.  For those of you who don’t know, this is fairly common among small intersections in Germany.  I saw a car coming and decided to wait for him to either stop or keep going considering the rows of cars parked on the street probably made it a bit difficult for him to see me.  So he turns on his blinker to turn and then proceeds to stop, which I take as my cue to cross.  Now I have this kind of weird habit of looking up and down streets as I cross them just in case some car magically appears after I have checked numerous times to begin with.  Well I was doing my usual routine of looking like a twitching freak when I heard a quick acceleration and a sharp brake, only to turn my head in just enough time to see the car stop about a foot from me (that’s about a third of a meter for those of you on metric).  Now I thought that my reflexes might be a bit better than they were.  It’s easy to imagine flinging yourself to safety in just the nick of time, or even trying to run or move out of impending death’s way.  Not if you are me.  What did I do?  I froze and just stared at the car until I realized I should probably walk away tall.

I did eventually get to Kaiserslautern though, and safely at that.  I got there a little late though and had to bypass greeting some of my friends and go straight to our first lecture.  Yeah, because a large part of our trip was paid for by the Atlantic Academy we needed to sit through some lectures.  Some of them were interesting and thought provoking (nuclear disarmament, speeches in the U.S. vs. Germany, and U.S. and German relations after the NSA scandal), and some of them were boring (the U.S. government system vs. the German government system).  All of the presenters, however; could have used a good course in public speaking.  It didn’t matter how interesting the topics were, I always had trouble paying attention because the delivery was about as captivating as a rock (with the exception of the last talk).  But on the plus side we got to eat some American food since there is an American military base nearby.  The highlight of it all was probably either the Dorritos or the Reese’s cup.  Holy mother of god who am I kidding, it was the Reese’s.  I don’t understand why the rest of the world hasn’t seemed to figure out how well peanut butter goes with chocolate.  Oh how I miss my peanut better M&M’s.

The first part of the next day was spent in two lectures as well.  Then after that we took a tour of the city, which despite the weather was pretty nice.  Even though both Friday and Sunday decided to be brilliantly sunny and warm, Saturday was housed in a thick cover of clouds and a blustery rain which lasted the entire day.  The city in and of itself was quite nice though.  Apparently Barbarosa (or Friedrich I) built a castle there around the 1100s, which was later destroyed by the French (hopefully I’m not confusing this…)  The point is that there is mostly just ruins left of the castle.  Interestingly enough when the castle and subsequently the town was first built, there was a really nice river that ran in front of it, thus giving it its name.  There are also these really cool tunnels below the ruins that we got to walk around in.  They were apparently used to get troops behind the attacking armies in order to attack themselves.  Pretty smart I would say.  I will hopefully get some pictures from someone else, because there were really cool tunnels.  We also saw the main church there, which oddly enough is only open for special tour groups.  It was nice, like most churches over here.  I think the red colored stone they built it out of probably made it stand out from most other churches though.  We also learned a bit about the town’s history since we went to the city museum.  Interestingly enough Kaiserslautern had a pretty big red light district after the second World War when the American soldiers came to occupy Germany.  Of course they ended up cleaning that part of the city up, but I thought it was interesting anyway.

Then we got a bit of free time which I used to catch up with some of my good UA friends at a cafe.  We sat there for hours just chatting and laughing.  Then after that we had an awesome dinner followed by a lesson in wine tasting.  Now for those of you who know about wines, you probably want to skip the next paragraph so you don’t walk away thinking I am a complete idiot.  You see, even after this class I don’t really appreciate wine tasting like some people do.  I mean, step 1: you look at the wine and its color.  Hmmm, seems to be white/red.  I hardly need to hold it up to a light and stare intently at it to figure this one out, but okay.  Step 2: swirl it around in the glass.  This is probably my favorite part aside from the drinking of the wine because I like to make it a game of how fast/high can I swirl the wine before it almost spills out of the glass.  Step 3: smell the wine.  This one makes me feel like the most pretentious of twats.  Are you getting that hint of mahogany in there?  How about apple?  Nope, all I smell is wine, and wine that needs drinking at that.  I have never been able to smell well so I sort of make it more of a game by seeing what “subtle smells” I can get away with.  Do I smell a bit of frog’s breath?  Nothing quite so suspicious as frog’s breath!  Step 4: sip the wine and swirl it around in your mouth.  It’s more like slurping the wine to be honest.  As for being able to pick up subtle flavors within the wine, well, see step 3.  It was fun though.  And our table got a bit extra since the leftovers came back to our table first.  And we always took seconds.  Always.

After that we were planning on finding a bit more wine to drink back at the hotel, but we weren’t able to find a place that was open so that we could buy an inexpensive bottle.  Oh well.  It was fun getting to walk around.  And bonus: we took some pretty epic pictures with some soccer player statues (apparently after the war Kaiserslautern had an awesome soccer team).  I will be sure to post them when I get them from my friend.

The next day we had our final lecture and then some of us went to lunch afterwards since we left a bit later.  It was nice, especially since it wasn’t a terribly big group of people.  Then I rode back about 5 hours to Erlangen by train.  It was nice though since I got to ride ICE trains (the nice high speed trains) most of the way and I also had someone to travel with most of the journey.  It made time go by a lot quicker.  Once home I did a lot of sleeping, which was pretty awesome if I do say so myself.  I will have to write the next post soon about last week and more importantly, the juggling convention!  It was pretty epic.  Hopefully I will have that done sometime this week, but I have just been crazy busy with everything and making sure that I see a lot of the one semester Erasmus students before they head home.  So maybe I can catch up this week.  Mal sehen!

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2 Comments

  1. Sarah said,

    March 17, 2014 at 12:58 am

    Here you go, have a homemade reese’s recipe. :) http://ohsheglows.com/2009/04/20/healthier-peanut-butter-cups/

    You should be able to find the ingredients you need.

    • arichan13 said,

      March 17, 2014 at 5:49 pm

      I can’t begin to express how much I love you right now lol

      Also we should schedule a skype date this weekend!


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