Donnerstag, 31. Mai 2012
Today we gave our paper presentations on the different trading blocs and tomorrow is our final exams for our classes. It's hard to believe that it has gone by this fast. It seems just like yesterday we were taking the tour of the city. I have learned a whole bunch about not only the German culture but just the diversity of cultures in general. In Europe you can travel a short distance and it is like you have entered a whole new world, because you basically have. Languages change without traveling very far and the majority of the people I have met here know a couple of these languages. In America our idealogy is that if you don't speak and understand English then get out. There is a lot more tollerance for different cultures and ways of life. Some studying needs to be done I'm not looking forward to these tests but I'm feeling lucky.
Dienstag, 29. Mai 2012
The final days are coming to an end and it's hard to imagine that I have been here for such a short period of time. It seems like its been months since I've been in America but its only been a short three weeks or so. There are pieces of home here in Germany as well though. You still cannot turn a corner without seeing a McDonalds, Burger King or KFC, and the people seem to enjoy it more than we do. As the trip goes on i realize more and more people do speak English and ontop of that several other languages. Over the weekend we traveld to Munich or Munchen. It was a little different from Koln but all the same they drank beer like it was water. We visited Dachau a concentration camp near Munich which was an amazing experience. Watching documentaries on the holocaust and reading about it is one thing, but visiting a location of where it actually happened is a totally different story. We got to walk through the main gate where it says "work will make you free". We walked through the barracks and visited the crematory and even stood inside of a gas chamber. I was speechless nearly the whole time. The rest of Munich was beautuful with huge parks with thousands of people walking around everywhere. We stood at a hostel right across the street from the main station called wombats which was very nice which was unexpected. People our age from all over the world stayed there and were very friendly. We took a scenic route home back to Koln and traveled through Koblinz that lies right along the river Rhein. Castles are all over the banks of the river and it was quite the sight. Well I've got to write a paper now for International Business so wish me luck. Finals are closing in. See ya next time. Cheers!
Donnerstag, 24. Mai 2012
The weeks are going by faster than ever before and finals are coming up. This week we had the oppurtunity to listen to a guest speaker that is on the European Union Commission. Before taking these classes and listening to him speak I knew very little of what was actually going on in Europe. The European Union was created to bring the nations together and to lay a foundation of integration. It is a very complicated process to join the European Union and a lot of countries hold back because there is some loss of culture and ways of life. Listening to this speaker helped broaden my understanding of the European Union and their goals. Today we took a tour of the ThysenKrupp Steel factory and got to see the process of making the steel. They are one of the biggest producers of steel especialls in Europe. We have a long weekend ahead of us then we have finals next week. The class schedule and setup has been very different than what I am use to back home but I think I may like it a little better. The class days are very long but the way it is taught is very straight forward and structured. I have to do some packing so I will be back here after my expedition around the country this weekend. Cheers
Montag, 21. Mai 2012
Week 2 consisted of more tours and history. We visited the original capital of Germany, Bonn which is a short train ride away from Köln. One thing I have noticed is how developed the public transportation system is. Cheap plane flights can be found or a train can be taken to almost anywhere. Also a tram is always running so you can go anywhere in the city you want in a decent amount of time. I will miss this coming back home. In Bonn we toured a museum which went through the history of Germany. Through this and talking to the locals Hitler and that part of Germany's history is a soft spot conversation wise. Many people are ashamed and do not like to talk about such things. We also got to tour the Ford production plant that is in Germany. From this experience I discovered how strong the automotive industry is in Germany. I realized that most of the cars we see on our roads are not of national origin. At the end fo this week my roommate and I traveled to Prague or Praha to visit a friend in the Czech Republic. I thought that the German language was difficult but Czech is even harder. Also the currency was different once again. The exchange rate was even more bizzare. I think it was about 20 dollars to one crown. I felt pretty rich pulling out thousands of crowns and feeling completely fine about it. You could tell a huge difference between Germany, which is western Europe, and Czech Republic, which is inbetween Eastern Europe and Western. I read that Prague is stuck right in the middle not conforming to either side. The infrastructure was very different and the people were even more diverse. We got to ride a paddle boat around the river and even got to witness a Czech musical being produced. I got to hike up to the highest point in Prague and see the entire city from a bird's eye view. Very beautiful sight. After our hike we got to see the John Lenin Wall. Around the time of the beatles western music was banned under the communist rule. When someone painted a huge mural of Lenin on this wall it has continued to be painted over and continually changes. Prague was the third European country I have visited which almost more states that I have been to back home. My journey continues for a couple more weeks. Cheers
Arriving in Europe at first was unreal. The airport in Amsterdam seemed more like a mall than an airport but the couple hour layover was quite bearable. The people were very nice and most all of them knew english that I ran into. This was the first place that I discovered the Euro. The different bills and coins were a big difference. The bills increase in size as they increase in value. I have heard that this is done for the blind so they know what they have money wise without problem. There are no one dollar bills but there are one and two euro coins and smaller cents. It took a little bit to understand the exchange rate but this was overcome easily. During the first week I learned more than I could imagine. Our first day consisted of learning some German history and the structure of the language. Living in a place not knowing the home language has been life changing. I have learned the younger generations will usually talk to you and understand English. Some older people will ignore you or point in a random direction and act like they have no idea what you're saying. The German language is nothing like the English language. Some words may sound somewhat like the other language but most sound nothing alike. Some German words sounds like complete jibberish but the feeling is mutual to the German people. We got the oppurtunity to take a tour of the old section of Cologne or Köln as they say it here. the most interesting part was the huge cathedral that draws a huge amount of tourism. It took hundreds of years to complete it and many people even died. It is so big that I could not fit the whole thing on a picture frame. Much of the city was destroyed during the war and there has been ruins that are still being discovered today. Taking this tour made me realize how young the history is in the United States. History goes back so far with amazing architect that is unlike anything I would see back home. For the first weekend I met some people from Florida that are in my program and we made a trip to Amsterdam in the Netherlands. The common assumption is that all there is to do in Amsterdam is smoke weed drink beer and explore the red light district. Actually there is much more to do there. We got to take a boat tour around the canals and got to see all the sights Amsterdam had to offer. Also I found it very interesting to see the house Anne Frank found refuge during the time she wrote her diary.