stress stress stress stress…

I really did mean to post regularly while I was here in Germany, but I keep having to shelve things.  My life is chaos right now, and if I’ve not been good at keeping in touch, please understand.

The Strukturdynamik (Vibrations) exam I took back in mid-March did not go well at all.  Knowing that Strukturdynamik is one of the most difficult classes a mechanical engineering student could take at TUD, I studied more for that exam than I have ever studied for an engineering test or exam before in my life. I felt like I understood the material well, but the exam I took was so unlike what I had studied I had to wonder whether I was even taking the exam for the correct class.  But I was; the professor just chose some very obscure topics that were barely covered in class on which to base most of the test material.  Topics I and most other students–both the exchange students and the German students–had overlooked.  And the language barrier of course only made things worse.

The next attempt to take the final exam for Strukturdynamik is in mid-August, but we exchange students need to be able to get back to the USA by mid-August in case we need to take more classes at Virginia Tech (which is a very real possibility for all of us, so I’ve had to push my dreams of grad school back a year; I’ll hopefully apply this fall, regardless of whether I’m done and at home or back at VT to finish any remaining required classes).  Packing while studying (in a foreign language) for the most difficult, detailed class I have ever taken doesn’t sound like fun, but thankfully, the professor for the class has offered to give us VT exchange students a chance to take a special-for-us Strukturdynamik final exam on June 12.  Which is great for getting that exam out of the way, but now I have less than a month to study for it.  On top of working on my robot-arm-tastic thesis project and studying enough to survive my other classes and preparing to go to RoboCup in Mexico City just five days after the June exam.  Um, when do I, you know, sleep?

So if you’re a praying person, I would appreciate prayer.  Lots of prayer.  If not, please send some good thoughts in the general direction of Germany.  🙂  Not to sound needy, but I need all the help I can get now.  And a portable coffee IV drip.  Anyone have one of those I could borrow until August?

(Note:  If you by any crazy-random-happenstance chance happen to have contact with anyone at Virginia Tech who is planning on going into the VT=>TUD Dual Degree program that I’m in, please point them to this blog post and/or tell them to send an emailtolalaland [at] gmail [dot] com.  I have some important hints to how to survive at TUD.  And please tell them to take Vibrations at VT instead of taking Strukturdynamik at TUD!)


lots of pictures, coming up

Since I got to go to Nürnberg and Rothenburg ob der Tauber last week, I have a lot of new pictures.  But I’m getting ready to visit home for a few days, which means packing, getting work done so I don’t have to take any work home, and making sure any loose ends here are tied up.

And my time at home is going to be time to catch up with my family and my friends at home, as well as some doctor’s appointments and other things I need to squeeze in.  I enjoy blogging, but I need me some family time this Christmas!

So, with the magic of the handy-dandy blog post scheduler, I’ll have one of my recent pictures posted every day with a short description.  This will continue until I run out of pictures from the trips last week that turned out well enough to post, which will probably last through Christmas and New Year’s.

First picture coming tomorrow. Enjoy!

collecting travel ideas

I’m still homesick.  A lot of you have responded with encouragement and suggestions and new perspectives on my time here, and I appreciate that so much!  Thank you guys!  ❤

I’ll be going on a retreat this weekend with Campus für Christus, and I’ve been kind of low on blog-post-inspiration material recently, so we’ll see whether I can get anything together to schedule for while I’m away.  The retreat center apparently does not have any internet access, or at least not for guests.  So if I don’t post for a few days, maybe I’ll come back from the retreat with pictures or stories for next week.

For the moment, I just wanted to put up a request for all of you:  where should I visit this year?  I don’t know when I will have time to travel very far, since my classes aren’t easy and since the break between semesters is filled with exams, studying, and probably work on my Bachelor’s Thesis, but if I’m staying in Europe for two semesters, I at least want to get in some sightseeing before I go home for good in July or August of next year.

Questions I’d love to see answered in the comments:  Which sights and cities are worth visiting?  Which aren’t?  Any events I should try to go to?  Any places you know of in Europe that are particularly beautiful at a certain time of year?  I have a map of Germany on my wall and sticky notes marking places I want to visit, but it’s looking a bit sparse right now.  🙂  (Destinations outside of Germany are possible as well, though less probable.)


friday youtube party 1

I was recently writing an email to some family members who were under a lot of stress.  I wanted to help, but I’m kind of far away at the moment, so I gave them what I sometimes need to improve my mood:  distraction.

Yep, distraction.  If I’m in a funk, homesickness or otherwise, I’ll go write out my frustrations for a while, but after a few minutes, I just find myself writing the same things over and over.  I miss my family.  I miss my friends.  I miss home.

That’s when I know to do something completely different.  Get out of my apartment and go for a walk, or If the weather is bad or if it is late in the day, I read one of my favorite blogs or go searching for random stuff on Youtube.  Sounds weird, but it helps.

So when I emailed these family members distractions, I sent them a ready-made Youtube lineup.  Need a distraction yourself?  Here are the videos I sent:

Halloween was recently.  I wish I could have seen this middle school science class in person!

What’s a Youtube party without the Old Spice Man?

…and Grover as Old Spice Man?  Awww.

Two words: Extreme. Ironing.

Europe’s The Final Countdown, on cello:

(And the original Final Countdown:)

2 months

I’m having a busy week so far.  It’s the second week of classes here at the Technische Universität Darmstadt, which means that some classes are only just starting and some have yet to be scheduled.  And there are other administrative or general meetings to attend.  My weekly schedule is starting to work itself out, but slowly.

But I’m thankful to finally have a schedule. Something to keep myself busy on most days.  Some reason to wake up at a certain time (even if the reason is an 8:00 AM class) and some reason to do productive work.  Having free time is great, but I find myself happier when my schedule is full.

I’ve been here in Germany for two months now; today is the 61st day since I landed at Frankfurt Airport.  I’ve heard that four months is the typical time it takes for someone to fully adjust to living in a foreign country, and that certainly seems to be true.  I still get homesick, but I’ve figured out that I can love my family and miss living in America and still love America even if I find some aspects of Germany that I like.

This week, posts may be sparse, as I’m still figuring out what lectures and practice problem sessions I’ll be attending, and things will be a bit crazy.  And once things settle down, I may be posting more mundane stories, since I won’t have as much time to travel.  But the study abroad experience is about learning to live in a different culture.  Yes, it is partially about travelling, but after visiting a few cities, the cities start to all look the same; it’s who I get to know and what I accomplish here and what I learn about myself that matters most about my experience.

I’m making friends and starting to understand the German in my classes a bit better.  And it looks like both of those things will continue to improve, as I’m meeting new people nearly every day and getting in plenty of German practice.  I’m still very definitely homesick, but for two months, this isn’t a bad start.

first post ever! next up, finals.

Hi!  This blog looks boring right now, unless you’re looking at archives and there are newer posts.  For those of you looking at archives, you have found my first post ever on this blog.

I’m an undergrad college student studying mechanical engineering, and I have three final exams left before this semester is over.  I’m starting this blog now so I don’t lose my enthusiasm for chronicling life’s adventures in the midst of next week’s chaos. Finals, packing, moving out of my college apartment, and starting my summer internship, all within seven days.  So at least until finals are over, this post will be lonely.  Feel free to comment to make it less lonely.

A quick preview of what I’m hoping to write about here:

  • Studying abroad in Germany, starting in August of this year
  • Life as a diabetic, which can be both frustrating and amusing
  • Updates on geeky/nerdy projects I undertake
  • Other things

…I think I’ve done enough procrastinating for the moment.  Off to study!

EDIT May 11, 2011:  Hey, WordPress does have bulleted lists!