exam stress, again (updated)

First of all, I’ve gotten many encouraging emails, Facebook messages, and blog comments about my exams.  Thank you guys so much!  ❤

Unfortunately, the exam last Thursday was much harder than I expected; several key questions were based on the more obscure topics in the book that, from the look of the homework problems, should not have been important topics upon which to test the students.  But there are plenty of German students in the class who were also unpleasantly surprised by the test’s difficulty level.  Please pray that the professor and graders have wisdom in assigning grades (and hopefully curving the exam)!

But now, if you are a praying person, I need more prayer.  I’m studying for an exam scheduled for Wednesday, which will be my last exam of the semester.  This exam I have to take in German, and I have to know the vocabulary well enough to write out answers in German.

I have emailed the professor a request for an oral exam, which means I would go to his office, he would ask me test questions, and I would answer them verbally (and would be able to ask him for question clarification and vocabulary hints).  So far, he has not responded to my email.  Please pray that he responds quickly with an appointment for an oral exam, and please pray for my ability to learn all of this stuff–class content and vocabulary–by whenever my exam time ends up being!  I’m so nervous right now.  I want exams to be over.

UPDATE:  The professor for the class of my last exam has offered me an oral exam appointment!  God is good!  And to those of you who were praying for me and/or who left encouraging comments, thank you! ❤



Well, I’ve been studying for this exam for two weeks.  I’ve learned a lot and will hopefully be able to get not just a passing grade, but a good grade.

I saw this graffiti in Darmstadt not long ago and figured now was a good time to share it.  I’m not entirely sure where the quote originated, but here it is:

nothing is impossible; the word itself says "i'm possible!"

“Nothing is impossible; the word itself says ‘I’m possible!'”

Thank you to all of you guys who have been praying for me.  I will do my best today, and God will do with my efforts what He knows is best!


study break scenery

I’m less than half a week away from the hardest exam of the semester, but since it’s kind of hard to study 24/7, I have kept up my newfound hobby of running.  It’s a nice study break.

Since it happened to be sunny the other day, I took my camera on my run so I could show you all this beautiful street that’s about 5 minutes from my apartment.

beautiful trees i pass when i go out for a run

There’s just something really fun about running beneath a canopy of trees.

another shot of the awesome trees


Enough relaxing. Back to studying. I can’t wait for this exam to be OVER.

burnout, meet panic

Well, it’s the middle of exam season here at TU Darmstadt.  I finished my first final exam on Friday (for Systemtheorie und Regelungstechnik, aka Control Systems) and my second yesterday (for Aerodynamik, which is–you guessed it–Aerodynamics).  After studying like a madwoman for those exams, I feel pretty burnt out.

I have two exams left for this semester.  My next exam isn’t until March 15th, but I will be studying almost solid starting right after I publish this post.  Why?  That class is the only one I have had here in Germany that has a midterm exam, and the results just got posted.  I did not do nearly as well as I was hoping, and I’ll need to study like crazy if I want to get a decent grade.  I thought I was prepared for the midterm, but at least I’m finding out now how much I need to get done before the final exam.  I’ve heard rumors that the professor for this class intentionally makes the midterm exam harder than the final exam so that the students will be encouraged to study, and then the grades from the midterm exam are withheld until shortly before the final exam so that if, by chance, someone managed to get a decent grade on the first exam, they would still study.

All I can do is study.  And pray.  If you are a praying person, I would appreciate some prayer about this.  Prayer that I can focus while studying and while taking the exam, that I’ll be able to learn what I need to learn, and that I will be able to properly apply all that I learned while studying during the exam itself.

EDIT:  Prayer that I pass this and all of my classes this semester with good grades would also be appreciated!

Also, a health-related prayer request:  typically, when I’m writing something while I am stressed (such as while studying for or taking an exam), I tend to hunch over the paper I’m writing on and have a vice-like grip on my writing instrument.  As a result of hunching over practice tests and having a death grip on my pen for the past two weeks of studying for my first two exams, I now have back pain and hand/wrist pain.  Since I have two exams to go, I need the pain to go away (and stay away) ASAP.

…And I could stand to develop better posture, too.

Ok, it’s study time. Let’s do this.

surprise snow

It has finally been above freezing here in Darmstadt for a few days, but we had a bit of a surprise today.  It started out as small hail, some of it barely pea-sized.  And then it changed to this:

tree outside my window, with snow

BIG snowflakes.

giant snowflakes falling just outside my window

And the temperature has been above freezing the entire time and is only now starting to drop. And now the snow has stopped… We’re just having a wintery-mix kind of day today.

granddad <3

I know I’m a bit behind on posting new things.  I’m studying for exams, which here in Germany happen in February and March for the winter semester.

But I’m posting for a different reason than usual today.  I don’t have a cultural-differences anecdote or pretty photo of Darmstadt for this.  Just a picture and a thank-you to someone I’m going to miss.

granddad <3

Granddad, I’m so sorry that you’ve passed on.  I, as well as the numerous other people still here on Earth who love you, will miss you very much.  You are an inspiration to me both as a person and as a mechanical engineer.  Thank you.  I hope you are enjoying Heaven, and I look forward to seeing you there someday!  I love you!

advantages of living in the land of nutella

I just got back from going grocery shopping at one of the largest grocery stores I have been to in Germany.  Compared to my usual grocery haunts here, it had a much larger selection of just about every food category I could want, plus more.  There are benefits to going grocery shopping on the outskirts of town instead of in the crowded city center!

One of the things I bought today was proof of why living in the land of excellent chocolate and plentiful Nutella can be a Very Good Thing:

cereal on the outside, nutella on the inside!  and look at the cute little mascot guy!  he has a chocolate cape!  awwww...

That is a box of cereal.  Isn’t the little mascot guy cute?  He has a little chocolate cape!  But the best part about this cereal?  It has chocolate nougat (which is basically Nutella) inside! Delicious.  I think Kellogg’s should sell this in the USA.

the shower dance

I knew that there would be challenges in coming to Germany.  Adjusting to the culture, learning how the language is spoken in real life, and understanding my classes.

But I had no idea that the challenges would include using the shower in my apartment.

the showerhead, the button to turn it on, and the knob to change the temperature.  looks simple, right?

The basics of using this shower aren’t hard.  Push the top button to turn the water on, and turn the knob on the bottom to pick a temperature.  No problems there.  But how to turn the water off when you’re done?

That’s the easy part.  30 seconds after the button is pushed, the water turns off.  To have a shower that isn’t punctuated by the lack of warm water every thirty seconds, you have to keep hitting that button constantly.

And showering turns out to be more complicated than that, even.  Because of the motion sensor:

the motion sensor controlling the light.  the other box is a humidity sensor controlling the ventilation system.

The motion sensor controls the light in the shower stall.  Every time it senses motion, it turns the light on for three minutes or so. If it doesn’t sense motion within that time, the light turns off.  Since the shower curtain blocks my feeble attempts to re-activate the sensor by waving my arm above my head, I often have to move the shower curtain itself back and forth.  That lets a blast of cold air into the shower stall.  Brr.

The combination of the water button and the motion sensor controlling the light turn every shower into a sort of dance.  Activate the light, activate the water. Keep hitting the water button with my elbow every few seconds while shampooing and such, and then, suddenly, the light goes off.  Immediately move the shower curtain back and forth until I can see the light bulb starting to glow again, then immediately hit the water button so the water won’t turn off before I have light to see by.  And then go back to hitting the water button every few seconds.  And so on. I’ve gotten used to it.  It won’t be showcased on MTV anytime soon, but the shower dance gets the job done.

my one word for 2012: story

very inspiring story about one's life as a story.

source: http://www.amazon.com/Million-Miles-Thousand-Years-Publisher/dp/B004SUQ9KS/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1326639470&sr=8-3

I’ve been back in Darmstadt for over a week now. Christmas at home with the family was fantastic. It was hard to leave my parents and friends at home to come back to Darmstadt, but I’m refreshed and prepared to finish what I started here.

Since a new year has begun, I’ve picked my New Year’s Resolution. It is a single word, using a New Year’s resolution program started by Port City Community Church, the church I went to during my internships in Wilmington, NC. That system is called My One Word. You pick a word that represents the growth you want to see in your life for this year.

My One Word for this year is story. As in, my life story is part of a big, exciting story God has planned out. I can sit inside on my computer all day every day and make my story dull and uninspiring, or I can get out, explore, meet new people, take (sensible) risks, and generally make the story of my life a good part of God’s bigger story.

I’m making a consious effort to get out of my apartment and interact with the world, in order to have more chances to develop my story. For instance, I’ve started running. I can’t run for very long at the moment, but even running as a beginner is more healthy than sitting in front of my computer.  And it gives me more of a chance to see beauty in nature and to interact with the people around me. (Especially the people out walking their adorable dogs!)  And I’m making travel plans for later this year, which means more chances to develop my story.

This word goes along with the word I picked for last year, which was go. Go, as in stop-worrying-about-how-the-semester-defining-conversation-with-this-professor-will-go-and-go-ask-him-your-question-already, and go as in go-take-a-risk-and-study-abroad. Those were my ideas for the way go would work in my life in 2011.

The ideas I have for why I choose a particular word each year aren’t always the same ideas I have about the word by the end of the year. By the end of 2011, I began to go out of my apartment and take a walk around town to distract myself from homesickness, I had had to go ask professors and teaching assistants for help or advice (in German), and I had gone on trips to see cities I may not get much of a chance to see again.  I saw myself mature in the way I handled life situations by how I looked at the word go in January vs. in December.  There were both victories and defeats, but I learned a lot.

When I went to Nürnberg for the Christkindlesmarkt, I decided that My One Word for 2012 would be story. I had had the idea bouncing around in my head for months.  On the train ride, I read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller.  That book convinced me that I want to focus on making my life a better story in 2012. (Very good book, by the way. A friend of mine who also blogs quoted it on Facebook, and I knew I had to read it.)

So that is My One Word for this year: story. Want to pick a word for this year? Great! Here is the page with a guide of how to do so.  I hope you find this approach to New Year’s resolutions as inspiring as I do.  Best wishes for the new year!

rothenburg ob der tauber: the main käthe wohlfarht

One of my favorite stores in Germany is Käthe Wohlfarht. It is a year-round Christmas store, similar in concept to (but much smaller than) Bronners in Frankenmuth, Michigan. I first visited Käthe Wohlfarht in Heidelberg but have seen them in other locations in Germany, such as in the Rüdesheim and in Nürnberg. The main Käthe Wohlfarht, however, is located in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Cameras were unfortunately not allowed in most parts of the store, but here’s a nice teaser photo of the facade.

the käthe wohlfahrt store in rothenburg ob der tauber