So I'm now sitting in the apartment all alone. Everyone has left except for me so its given me some time to think about everything up to date. First the usual updates:
Two weekends ago I was in Switzerland visiting Jackie from valpo. I met her in Bern and we walked around the city a bit (it was raining for most of the day) and then went to a soccer game which was pretty exciting. Fans get way more into soccer over here so it was fun to be in the midst of the action. We weren't able to get a hostel or hotel for the night so we just went back to Villagen (where she is doing research for the summer) and I stayed in her room. On Sunday we went to see Roman ruins and also Basel (which is half in Germany so I could use my rail pass). Basel was a really pretty city along the Rhein. It was interesting being in Switzerland because I could understand almost nothing of what people were saying the German is so different there. Luckily, if I spoke Hochdeutsch (or standard German) they would understand and then speak so that I could understand also.
During the week I was very busy working on my final presentation and analyzing my data. On Friday I gave my final presentation to our PhD. advisors in FZD as well as Prof. Winner who is chair of the department. My presentation went very well and they through us a barbeque afterwards as well as taking us out to the Ratskeller.
On Saturday Darcy and I left for Berlin and Leipzig along the way. Leipzig is a decent sized university town where some very large rallies were held during the time of the Soviet Union and the wall. These rallies contributed signigicantly to the eventual collapse of the wall. We went to an interesting free museum that documented some of this. After Leipzig we hopped back on the train to Berlin to catch a free tour of the city. It wasn't quite as good as the free tour we took in Prague but it was a good way to see most of the highlights of the city without paying a lot of money to get in. After the free tour we climbed to the top of the Reichstag (the German Parliment building) and got a beautiful view of the city at dusk. Berlin is an awesome city! It is super artsy and international and very unique. I won't detail everything we did on Sunday but we went to a bunch of museums/memorials that were free and a GIANT flea market where we found vegan burgers then we went to the Jewish Museum and the area of Berlin where most of the immigrants live so there was awesome food there. We went to a Moroccan restaurant which was delicious!!
On Monday morning I went separate on the way back to Potsdam, a city near Berlin that has a beautiful palace and gardens. I did a lot of walking then I hopped back on a train to use the last day of my German rail pass and finish my final paper for the summer. Tuesday and Wednesday were a mad rush to get everything finished. On Tuesday my advisor, Fabian, took us to a go-kart place in Mainz which was a blast. Go-karting in Germany is WAY more fun and of course the cars are much faster! On Wednesday we had to give our presentation AGAIN to the Virginia Tech group then we all went out for cocktails with our incredibly awesome German teacher! Wednesday was very hard for me because I had to say all my goodbyes to wonderful people we have had the opportunity to work with this summer. They all welcomed us to come and stay with them if we ever come back but it's so sad to leave. I feel so blessed to have been able to work in the department that I did because all of our advisors went out of their way to welcome us and give us a good experience. I am sooooooooo sad to leave!!!!
This morning I finished up my paper then walked around Darmstadt for a bit and did some shopping. I felt a little better after this and I started getting excited for my next set of adventures. On Saturday I leave for Sweden to visit some friends from our church, I will be there for about 4 days then I take a train to Copenhagen, Denmark where I will stay for two days, then I fly to Nice, France to chill on the mediteranean coast for two and half days, then another train to Milan, Italy for two days then back to Darmstadt for three days. I basically went online and figured out the cheapest places I could go and just started buying tickets. My total travel costs are only a little over $100 (not Euros!)! I have been contacting locals through couch surfing so hopefully I will have to pay very little for housing as well!
All in all this has been an incredible summer. I have learned so much about the world (maybe not so much related to engineering) and I have been able to see so much. I am so, so sad to go back. For the first time (and I really mean it this time) I feel like I have found a home and a place I fit in. I am going to come back to Germany for sure next summer and maybe this will eventually become a permanent home where I will actually settle down after I do all the others things I want to do in life. I don't know what my internet access will be like the next couple of weeks so this might be last post but I will see most of you within the next month likely!
To sum everything up to date I have been to these cities so far this summer: Germany: Darmstadt, Frankfurt, Heidelberg, München, Nürnberg, Köln, Bacharach, Oberwesel, Sankt Goar, Bonn, Ulm, Stuttgart, Leipzig, Berlin, Potsdam; Netherlands: Rotterdam, Delft, Den Haag; Czech Republic: Prague; Spain: Madrid, Cerdecilla, Segovia; Austria: Salzburg; Switzerland: Bern, Brugge, Villagen, Rheinfeld, Basel; and next to come: Götheberg, Sweden, Copenhagen, Denmark, Nice, France, and Milan, Italy.