Monthly Archives: May 2014

In Bruges

medieval

I’m so tired of the damn architecture here.  Everything looks like it’s a half-assed preservation of what it looked like in the God damn middle ages.  Why?  To preserve “culture” or whatever?  What does that even mean?

I just watched a movie called, “In Bruges” since it’s a Sunday night and I have class at 8 AM tomorrow, so I really can’t do anything tonight, and I was so pissed off at just what Bruges looks like.  No doubt, if sight seeing is your cup of tea, you’ll love it, but it isn’t for me.  No doubt, there is a thing such as landmarks that need to be protected and preserved for for future generations.  But I’m tired of walking about this damn city and it looking like a bunch of woodland elves are about to come out of their weird ass forest hubble and make me some shoes.  It’s depressing.

It’s these buildings that all look the same, but they change the color scheme to make it stand out from the rest of the city.  But I can tell you, on my 4 1/2 hour train ride from Frankfurt to Erfurt, all I saw was the same building, built with about 28359235 different colors.  It’s ridiculous.

I don’t know why it annoys me.  Granted, there are places in the US that like to preserve that silly “colonial” style that everyone seems to have such a hard on for, like Williamsburg, but that’s a major minority of the States.  You have suburbs.  You have cities.  You have…  Idiosyncrasies wherever you go.  I just feel like here, Europe is so caught up on being the cultural epicenter of the world for so long, that they have to memorialize everything in order to make themselves appear more grand than they are.

“It’s a fucking fairy tale city.”  That’s what they say all of the time in “In Bruges.”  Yet the main character hates it.  And I would hate it, too.  I’m starting to realize that maybe study abroad wasn’t for me.  And yeah, I’ve had a lot of shit going on in my life.  I’ve had financial instability back home that doesn’t allow me to truly experience Europe, I’ve had a girlfriend I wanted to marry dump me, I’ve had a good friend die.  But I feel like they’re more symptoms of the problem than the cause of it.  The cause is here.

It’s all about who you’re with abroad.  If you make friends, and you have a good time with them, you’ll be happy.  But I have friends, and I like them, and I’m still not happy.  That’s not to say I’m miserable.  I’m telling you right now, I was miserable about 2 weeks ago.  But I’m not anymore.  I’m just…  So content.  And I’m tired of being content.  I want to be happy.  I want that amazing adventure that all of my friends tell me about when they come back from Scotland, or Spain, or France.  I haven’t gotten that.  And I don’t know if that’s MY fault, or the fact that I really am not the kind of guy that was made to love being abroad.

I’ve been trying to study abroad for 3 years, since the end of my senior year of high school.  And I’m past the point of “culture shock” where I am depressed because I’m not home where I’m comfortable.  I think it’s time that maybe I realize that I just made a mistake.

Intolerance

So yeah, my titles for these posts aren’t exactly clever.  They’re more an oversimplification about what I’m writing about.  But what I’m writing about isn’t intolerance in itself, it’s more how I’ve come to see German homophobia and jingoist tendencies.  And I’m really surprised.

Growing up in the US, Europe is described to you as this new-age, bastion of tolerance and socialized glory.  They accept everyone, regardless of sex, creed, or sexual orientation.  I get the feeling that we’re meant to feel inferior because so many Americans are such prejudiced pricks, but everyone in Europe is some sort of new-age Messiah, espousing beliefs that somehow transcend the American conception of what it’s okay to be, or not to be.

I’m going to start with how Germans REALLY DO NOT like Turkish people.  I’m not going to name any names, even though the possibility of anyone actually meeting anyone I’m talking about is close to none, but still.  One of my German friends here accompanied me once to a Donner shop, and we were served by this rather cold, seemingly Turkish, man.  I say seemingly, because evidently there is an overabundance of Turkish immigrants in Germany (HEY, WHICH I KNEW BEFORE I CAME HERE BECAUSE OF GERMAN 201.  I’M SO WELL VERSED IN THE WAYS OF THE WORLD THANKS TO HERR ROTTER), and because he was dark skinned, and worked at a Donner shop, shops which are predominantly owned and operated by Turkish immigrants and/or people of Turkish blood in Germany.

So we sit down and all of a sudden my friend says, “Damn Turkish people…”  To which I was astounded.  I mean, I didn’t like the waiter since he was kind of a dick, but the thought to dislike him because of the fact he’s Turkish is just…  Well, it’s ridiculous.  And so since it was one of the first times I hung out with him/her, I politely laughed, and said, “Haha, what?  What’s the problem with Turkish people?”  To which my friend explained to me that evidently Turkish people are lazy, and “stealing German jobs” and are so proud of their own culture, that they even refuse to learn German, or even try to acclimate to German culture.  I was so surprised, not just because this was a German, a citizen of the EUROPEAN UNION, talking to me about racism against Turkish people, but more so because it was literally as though I was talking to a racist back home about Mexican immigrants in the States.  Jingoism…  It takes me back to my AP US days learn about the “Know Nothing” party of the US.

But my friend hasn’t been the only German I’ve met here that seems to feel that way.  So yeah, evidently racism against Turkish people is a fairly accepted belief in Germany, something that I just did NOT expect at all.

But that’s not it.  Homophobia is running amok here.  I was at an Irish Pub last night called Dubliner with some friends of mine, and there was some sort of singing contest, I think, The Eurovision Song Contest, or whatever, and everyone FLIPPED A SHIT because a tranvestite/transexual (I can’t really remember exactly what this person was, just that they identified with some sort of sexuality that was outside of Gender Norms) won the contest.

Everyone was so taken aback…  They didn’t know what to do.  That, plus the fact the guy was Austrian, didn’t really please my German friends all too terribly much.  Yeah, I feel like the way Germans feel about Austria is the way Americans feel about Canada.  It’s just like…  To quote my favorite “How I Met Your Mother” character, Barney Stinson, “Why do we even let them be a country?”

But I digress.  We weren’t WATCHING the contest, and undoubtedly, the guy must have had a wonderful voice.  But the fact remains, everyone just arbitrarily was OUTRAGED all because someone that didn’t necessarily identify as the gender he/she was born to, won some stupid song singing contest.  I mean, Jesus, the fact it’s a horrible thing to hate someone just because of their sexual identity aside, it was A GLORIFIED KARAOKE NIGHT, for Christ’s sake.  All they were focusing on was one completely irrelevant about this person’s appearance, that is entirely aside from what the contest was about: singing.  The guy sang like a God damn angel, and he/she deserved the recognition for it.

I dunno, I’m just really surprised.  I grew up in New Jersey, but my family is from Kansas.  And whenever I tell people that, I feel like they always feel like I should be some hick, country bumpkin, Tea Party nutjob.  But I’m not.  I grew up in a really progressive area of New Jersey, where I can honestly say racism, sexism, and homophobia was only existent in small pockets.  So being here in Germany, in EUROPE, the place I’ve always been told oozes culture and tolerance, and finding so much intolerance, really blows my mind.

A gay friend of mine back home in One Note is dating a French guy, and when his boyfriend told me that him and my friend would get their ass kicked for holding hands in the heart of Paris, the city of love, I didn’t believe him.  But now, maybe I do.

My Apartment

I didn’t realize how beautiful the view outside of my window was until my ex pointed it out.  I’m looking at it right now, as I’m typing this, and it really is breathtaking.  I’ll put it this way: the Germans take the fucking environment pretty damn seriously.  Here on campus, I’m surrounded by beautiful trees, with a multiplicity of colors, absolutely engorging the entirety of the campus.  And it’s easy to just ignore it as you’re going to class, or running around campus, or getting to the tram to go to some bar, but it really is beautiful.

I live in Plauener Weg 8, apartment 555d.  If someone wants to kill/rape me THAT BADLY that they’re willing to scour the internet for some college students Experiential Learning blog, then I’ll take that chance.  I gotta be honest, the place is a shit hole.  There are 4 people that technically live in this apartment, and there is no common area.  You get a big room, and nothing else.  And that is the sole saving grace: the apartment is pretty impressively big.  But it’s like a Soviet era relic.  I mean, the connecting hallway is about 2 feet wide, the kitchen is absolutely, hilariously pathetic, and if you may use your imagination, since my descriptive skills are not their best now, essentially a 3 x 3 square foot cage in which no matter what you end up doing, you end up colliding with the shower’s boundaries.  But more than that, the blinds for the room literally are useless.  Now, I’m a bit of a night owl.  I stay up late, and I sleep late.  But fuck, with these damn blinds, the first ray of sunshine of the entire damn day manages to wake me up, even if I just had gotten to sleep only a few minutes before.  That, plus I have to walk down and up 5 flights of stairs every time I have to take out my roommates trash, which is a thing here by the way, is a major inconvenience.

The point not being, I’m too cool to take out the trash, the point being, I take care of my stuff.  When I use the shower, I clean up after myself.  When I use the toilet, it’ll be spotless when I leave.  When I cook, I clean up after myself, and use my OWN cleaning ingredients and make sure that my roommates don’t have to clean up after me.  But evidently, self-responsibility isn’t a thing here.  No, 1 out of every 4 weeks, I have to literally act as maid to my damn roommates, because they’re too lazy to clean up after themselves.  And I’m not pretending as though I’m some sort of neurotic cleaner, because I’m not.  You should see my room.  It’s completely covered in dirty clothes, empty bottles, trash bags, class papers, and anything else you could imagine.  But that’s MY business.  Not theirs.  I’ll take care of the common area, not my room, because *I* don’t technically live in the common area, but no one sees my damn room.  So how is it fair that I have to metaphorically play the role of Batman’s butler Alfred once a month, just because my roommates are too lazy to take care of themselves?  It’s ridiculous…  Oh, and one closing comment: WHO HAS A 6 STORY BUILDING, YET DOESN’T HAVE A GOD DAMN ELEVATOR?  I’m tired of being winded every time I want to get back to my damn apartment…  The DDR was no doubt not exactly a fun place to live…

But I’m off topic.  My apartment has a wonderful overview of the surrounding area, and it’s rather calming.  As I’ve said, the Germans are rather fond of trees and being eco-friendly, so whenever I look outside my window I’m absolutely enamored by the overabundance of colors I see in the leaves of the surrounding environment.  That, plus the fact my apartment overlooks a quaint, old mansion, makes it delightful.  I get to watch as lots of people pass by my apartment, 5 stories below.  I wonder constantly what they could be doing with themselves, what they’re thinking about, where they plan on going.  It’s interesting because I feel like it’s a very secure form of people watching.  I just get to make hyptotheses about who they are, and what they’re doing, and gives me some primitive form of entertainment.

But I think the biggest part of my apartment that I find so amazing, is that it’s making me appreciate nature.  And Jesus, I’m aware, that sounds so cliche, but I recently took a class on American Romanticism, and Emerson literally changed my damn life.  I’m not ever going to be the guy that seems to think that I want to give up all of my earthly possessions and go out and live on my own in nature.  But then again, neither would Emerson.  My point being, is that Emerson once said that no matter who you are, we all seem to find some sort of tranquility and peace by being outside.  And I think that’s true.  He talks about how whenever you leave a building, or go on a walk, or just spend time outside, your mind is oddly cleared.  And that’s what my room REALLY means to me.  To Emerson, nature was a thinly veiled facade that represented the ultimate reality of… reality, which was God’s true nature.  We see it, through nature, and by adhering to  the ideology of Subjective Idealism, and we then see through the illusion of our reality and become one with God.  Now, I’m not that radical to suppose that’s all true, but he got one damn thing right: whenever I open my window and take a look out on the surrounding area, even if I don’t feel completely calm, I feel a whole lot better.

Emerson also said, “Travel is a fool’s paradise.”  Self-Reliance.  Check it out.  It’ll change your life.

Cigarettes

So, evidently smoking is a thing here.  Like, I’ve been to New York City, the veritable asshole of America, and the amount of people that smoke there pales in comparison to the amount of people that smoke here.

The way I see it, is you know kids in the States steal booze and drink exceedingly because that’s the thing to do?  THAT is how it is here.  People just do it.  They get cigarettes anyway they can, and smoke them.  It’s so interesting.

I was talking to my mentor, Marius, about how evidently Germany is divided into two camps: kids born about 20 years ago, and kids born later.  The kids born before 20 years ago smoke like chimneys, and the kids born after that were indoctrinated by schools and such to think that smoking is some sort of, “sin,” and that they ought to be ashamed of it.

Marius was a smoker for 13 years.  That’s really interesting to me, since he’s only 24, and he quit about a few months ago.  I respect people that have the tenacity to quit smoking.  I obviously agree that smoking is absolutely abysmal for your health, and that if you do it long enough, you’ll die, but the fact is, it’s addictive.  Marius beat the damn system, if you can call it that.  He overcame his own addiction to smoking, and doesn’t do it anymore.  That’s top notch, if you ask me.

I’m not going to stand here and pretend I’m above all of this.  I’m 21 years old.  Even in New Jersey, where the smoking age is 19 (which, by the way, is stupid as Hell.  OH YOU’RE REALLY MAKING A DIFFERENCE, MAKING THE SMOKING AGE A YEAR OLDER THAN THE REST OF THE GOD DAMN US.  It’s stupid that when I turn 18 I can’t drink, but evidently I’m old enough to be shipped off a die for some drafted war I don’t even believe in), I have smoked a few cigarettes in my day.  My brother’s a chain smoker.  I love him to death, but it’s one of the things that I think he should stop doing.  But I’m not going to pretend that his decisions didn’t influence mine.

I smoke here.  Like, a lot.  I don’t know if it’s the stress of being here, or the absence of doing much, but I smoke more than a God damn coal mine.  I never used to do that.  It used to be that I would smoke when I’m drunk.  A good, social, slightly intoxicated cigarette is one of the best pleasures that life has to offer, in my humble opinion.

But here, it’s so easy.  I’m not saying it’s more available, because it’s not.  But it’s easier.  You don’t feel as ostracized, or as much of an outcast, because everyone is doing it, and I mean EVERYONE.  I can’t even walk down the street without seeing a couple smoking each other’s cigarettes.

I guess what I’m saying is that cigarettes, for all of their awful, harmful, nonsense, serve a function.  They somehow trick your body into not being so stressed all of the time.  They trick your body into releasing hormones that tell you, “HEY, NOTHING’S GOING ON, EVERYONE’S OKAY, CHILL THE FUCK OUT, NO BIG DEAL,”  and your body believes it.  Your mind believes it.  Your heart believes it.  I think that’s why I started smoking here.

Now, I’ll tell you right now, I’m not making this into a habit.  I’ve been tempted by my brother for the past 6 years to smoke, and even when I smoked a few a day with him, I always quit.  I will quit.  If there’s one thing I’m proud of about myself, it’s my will power.  If there’s something I want to do, I WILL do it.  So smoking will not be a problem for me.  I will get over this.  But fuck, it sure as Hell is a nice reprieve.  As anyone that’s read my past few posts will know, things haven’t been exactly easy here.  So a nice Marlboro every now and again kind of soothes my frustration.

Evidently alcoholism runs in my family.  I plan on beating both addictions.  You mark my words.

Nudity

So it appears to me that nudity is a, “thing,” here.  Jesus, I’m no Puritanical old man, but it’s kind of odd to me.  Granted, the fact of the matter is, I grew up in the US.  The only place you can see naked women in the States are in Strip Clubs, movies, and the privacy of your own computer, with the door locked in case someone comes in.  But I just think it’s weird.

Today I was picking up some groceries from Rewe, a grocery store at the bottom of the department store in Anger, and on my way back to the tram stop, I saw a man in a wheelchair.  The fact he was in a wheelchair is mostly unimportant, except for the fact that on his wheels, there were pictures of naked women, sprawled out with their legs open, breasts bared for all to see.  I mean…  What?

The point I’m trying to make is that Hedonism isn’t  in my blood.  It’s not my style, and the arguments against Hedonism are what I was HOPING being a philosophy major would help me learn.  No, instead I just learn about the Cartesian Circle, an argument SO BAD, that there’s a name for it.  We’re all products are environments to a certain extent.  Well, shit, I don’t like public nudity, and sex is actually important to me, so it’s really weird walking around and seeing tits everywhere.  Well, at least I won’t end up like Nietzsche, going insane from the syphilis I contracted from all of the mindless sex.

Next story: the spring carnival they hold here was up for about 2 or 3 weeks.  I went twice: once when my ex was visiting me in April, and then again when my friend Wesley visited me.  The carnival is now long gone, but the thing is, there was this bakery shop in the carnival that was poorly ripping off “The Little Mermaid” with Poseidon and his trident, and then just like… 6 naked mermaids with their breasts out for all to see, just chilling on a sign, at a carnival, to celebrate spring, mostly populated by 9 year olds.

It’s just weird to me.  I know I can’t rationalize it, and I know I can’t explain it, but Jesus, Germans are pretty damn open about nudity and I’m not loving it.

But what can you do?  I mean, seriously, is it just that Americans are prudes?  Are we the sexual pariahs that I feel we are?  We cling onto these outdated tacits of Puritanical thinking because it’s who we feel like we should be, but we evidently aren’t getting with the rest of the world?  IS there a reason to be concerned with public nudity, as it is so widely espoused in Germany?  I would like to say yes, but I can’t tell you why.  It’s just how I feel.

Socrates once argued that all pleasure can’t be good, by citing the fact that by scratching sores and boils when you’re sick may feel transiently good, but ultimately causes you harm.  Now, that’s a terrible argument if you ask me, but since it was Plato who wrote all of the Socratesian dialogues, I’m not surprised.  Plato was a God damn moron.  The Republic?  Really?  Why are we discussing that shit more than 2,000 years into the future?  But I digress.  The heart of the argument is true: all pleasure can’t be good if it ultimately causes us pain.  It’s about moderation of pleasures, at least I think that’s the case.

Jesus, this topic leads into a whole different array of conversations that need to be discussed for it to make sense.  Morality, for instance: does it exist, to what extent is it relevant, is there an intrinsic good as Kant was so fond of saying there is…  There’s a lot of stuff to consider.  And I guess just BEING here is making me really think about all of that.  It’s making me consider if nudity, or sex, or self-indulgence of any sort, is really a, “sin,” and I mean that far more in a moral, or spiritual sense, as opposed to a religious one.  Because if there are naked girls on billboards on the regular here, maybe the problem is me.

P.S.  I’m going on a date on Friday!  I met a German girl.  Her name is Annette.  I hate first dates…  It’s always so awkward, and I never know what to say…  But, I thought it fitting to end a post on hedonism, and nudity, with the hedonism and nudity I hope to experience in due time.  Until next time, my friends.

Classes

So I’ve decided that this is a pretty good time to talk about something that I feel like a lot of people are curious about before they study abroad: classes.  What are they like, and how different they are from classes in the States.

Well, I can tell you right now, classes here are pretty much amazing.  Not for the educational quality per se, but just from my short time here I can tell: studying abroad is a student’s dream, ESPECIALLY if you don’t want to do much work.

Allow me to elaborate.  I guess my point isn’t that classes here are easy.  I’m taking two 6 LP classes on 17th Century Poetry and a seminar on Edith Wharton.  It’s a lot of reading, and I have to do a 30 minute presentation and write a MINIMUM of 4,500 word essay at the end of the semester to get the equivalent of 3 credit points back at UMW.  But there’s a pretty substantial silver lining.

For instance, grades don’t matter.  Let me rephrase: grades aren’t as IMPORTANT.  See, as long as I get the equivalent of a C, which I believe is a 3 in the German grading scale, I get the credits for my classes, and it does not affect my GPA in the slightest.  Now, I’m not trying to brag, but I have a 3.86 and I worked damn hard for those grades.  I’ve gotten ONE B+ since I’ve been to college, and the rest have been A’s and A-‘s.  Plus, I’m graduating early, as a double major in English and Philosophy.  I guess my point being, needing to get a C just to get credits for a class that have no bearing on my GPA, is like a dream come true.

Additionally, I’m American.  There’s no real importance of that outside of the fact that 3 of my 5 classes are taught in English, to people whose first language was NOT English.  I’m a God damn pro at English.  I HAVE BEEN MY WHOLE LIFE.  It’s my area of study, for Christ’s sake.  I’m not saying I’m a better student than ANYONE here.  I’m just saying…  The fact I literally think in the language I’m having classes in definitely puts me at a slight advantage to even the most adept German speaker of English.

For instance, I’m taking a class called “Introduction to English Phonetics and Phonology.”  Now, I got the class approved, and I will be getting credit for it.  For those of you not privy to the “standard dialects” of English, if you will, there are two.  There’s Received Pronunciation, the dialect spoken by the United Kingdom and taught in Europe, and General American.  NOW I DON’T MEAN TO BRAG, but I have a pretty damn standard General American accent.  Plus, I took a class on Phonology last semester.  I’m getting elective credits for this class just because I needed to take at least 12 credits and 24 LPs to be a student here.  And Professor Lorenz says he doesn’t care which dialect we use, General American, or Received Pronunciation.  I’m a big of a leg ahead of the other people here.

There are two really weird things that I’ve noticed about classes here.  First, that there are variants of credits (LPs) you can get for a given class.  For instance, in my 17th Century Poetry class, you can take it for 3 LPs, or 6.  The literal difference between the two is is you take the 3 LP option, you don’t have to do the 4,500 word paper at the end of the semester.  But regardless, you’re in the same class as everyone else.  So if Steve is taking a 3 LP class, he’ll be in the same class at Brian who is taking the class for 6 LPs.  Granted, that’s my laymen’s understanding of the system, but to me it’s mindblowing.  You can literally chose to do less work if you want to…

The next thing that I thought was really weird was just how the class timing works.  All classes are scheduled in two hour intervals, once a week.  But…  You only have an hour and thirty minutes of class.  For instance, I have a German class at 8 AM on Monday mornings.  I don’t have to BE there until 8:15, since the class doesn’t start until then, and I leave at 9:45, before the class is technically over.  I get why they do it: so everyone can get from the class that they’re in, to their next class, but I feel like it just makes more sense to be like, “Hey, classes are from x:15 until y:45.”  Because this is where it gets confusing: your professor can tell you that class starts at the hour on the dot.  My Phonetics Professor, for instance, wants to start class at 14 Uhr on the dot.  Not 14:15, 14.  So you then have to really plan out who wants you where, and when.  You can simplify this process a whole lot, but evidently some kids need 30 minutes to get from one class to another on a campus that is SOMEHOW smaller than UMW’s campus.  We get 10 minutes, and we do just fine getting from Jepson to Combs.

Like I mentioned, classes are once a week.  It’s kind of nice not having to go to class all that often.  I knew that coming into it, but I guess I’m just surprised that I only have 1 class every day of the week.  It’s kind of nice, but kind of boring at the same time.  I am taking the bare minimum of classes to get 24 LPs and 12 credits, but I feel like a lot of other people aren’t.  As such, I have a lot of spare time because I’m not doing much.  Since my freshman year, I’ve only taken 16 credits or 18 credits per semester, and the only reason I took 16 my freshman year is because the damn science requirement forced me to take a Biology class called Phage Hunters that was 4 credits due to the lab, and you can’t take more than 18 credits without paying extra.  This is a breeze compared to back home.

So far, I like my teachers, save one.  My German professor.  Now, I didn’t LOVE my prep course professor, but she was nice, and I did learn some stuff.  But this woman…  I have two classes with her and I literally can’t understand a damn word she says.  And she REFUSES to speak in English.  Like, everyone in class is probably BETTER at English than German, and if no one is getting it, why not just explain what it is in English?  But no, that’s not kosher for her.  The thing I dislike most about her is what I mentioned earlier: I cannot understand her AT ALL.  I hear that people that speak Standard German look down on Bavarians, who have a funky accent evidently.  And THEN, that Bavarians and people that speak Standard German LAUGH at Austrians, because they’ve evidently screwed up the German language so much that it’s laughable.  This woman speaks worse German than an Austrian.  It’s awful.  She’s no Professor Rotter, I can tell you THAT much.

My 17th Century Poetry professor is really nice, although a little timid.  And the thing I find so interesting, is that his job is literally deciphering English and American literature, so he must be good at English, but every two seconds he says, “Um…”  It never fails.  It’s as though he’s actually thinking about what to say as he’s thinking it, while being a professor of English literature.  My Edith Wharton professor is really cool, though.  She worked in the banking industry or some crap before she became a professor, and her English is top notch.  The other thing I like about that class is the fact that a class on Edith Wharton doesn’t really attract too many male students.  There’s a huge stigma nowadays about men not wanting to read female authors.  It’s why J.K. Rowling abbreviated her name: because she didn’t want men to not read Harry Potter.  As such, I’m the SINGLE MAN in a class of 15 women.  Nice…  Very nice indeed.  Plus, I’ve started “House of Mirth” and it’s pretty good so far.  It’s always nice to like the literature of the class you’re in.

My last class is my Phonetics class which I’ve mentioned.  The thing I find really interesting about my professor is that I didn’t even realize he was German until someone told me he was.  He has such a strong Received Pronunciation accent, that I literally thought he was British.  It makes sense.  I mean, his job is teaching Germans how to speak English in a British way, so it all checks out.  But still, it was really cool.

An important thing to note here, is that Germans are pretty damn serious about attendance.  In 3 of my 5 classes, I’ve been told that if I miss more than 2 classes for WHATEVER reason, I automatically get a 5, which is an F.  That is insane to me, since while participation and attendance are important in the States, unless you miss EVERY SINGLE class, there’s no way you’re going to fail based on attendance alone.  That, I think is a good thing.  Even if I don’t always LOVE having to get up and go to class, it makes sure that if I am going to skip class, I’ll have to plan it out and have a good reason.

The final thing I will say is that Germany needs to get its shit together with the whole “class registration,” thing.  First, you have to sign up for classes, which is hard enough since they release classes you can register for in spurts, and classes fill up REALLY quickly since every student is allowed to register for classes as they come out, when they come out.  In other words, it doesn’t matter if you have 120 credits, or 0, you register for the same classes when they are posted.  Next, after you sign up for classes, if you miss the first class, you probably won’t get in, since the professor has a huge say in who gets in and who doesn’t, and if you pick up the class a few days after it was, he may just say, “Sorry, you didn’t come to the first day, so you can’t get in.”  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  The website here that you use to actually register for your classes, is mindbogglingly difficult to navigate.  My dad is a computer technician.  And I can tell you right now, even HE would have some trouble signing up for classes here.  But back to what I was saying, the final cherry on top of the disaster that is German class registration, is the fact that even though you’ve registered, even though you’ve been to classes for about a month, even though it’s obvious you want to take the classes you signed up for, some time into the semester, you have to do what is called, “Booking.”  That means that you have to go online and say you’re taking the classes you’ve already said you were taking when you registered, print out a form, and have not only your academic advisor sign it, but the International Office (presumably just for International students) and then turn it in to some bureaucratic office in the main hall.  Just…  Why?  Why make it this difficult?

All of this aside, I have enjoyed classes here.  I feel as though this University gets a bad rap because its relatively new compared to the older, and more prestigious Universities in Germany, but hey, so does UMW.  And I love the fact I decided to go to UMW.  Erfurt has a good school system, and I feel like all of my professors love what they do, and know a lot about what they’re teaching…  Even if I can’t understand a word of what one of them says.  I think one of the things I’ve learned being here is that unless you’re going to Princeton, or Harvard, all you’re paying for is a name.  How much you learn, and what you do with your college education is up to you.  People don’t  become professors out of necessity.  They do it because they love it, and they love teaching.  You can get a good education anywhere.  You just have to try.