upcoming oral exam

It’s been a long time since my last post.  I’m currently in the middle of exams, and I’ve had to make some hard decisions about how to prioritize my time recently.  I will eventually get back to real blogging content.  I have so many ideas for blog posts I want to write but no time to sit down and outline or write them.  At least not yet.

I passed one exam about a week ago with the best grade I’ve gotten here in Germany so far.  A friend who had gotten a good grade in the class when she took it in a previous semester let me ask her anything and everything about the class that I had questions on, and with her explanations, everything just clicked.  She is a wonderful friend, and the grade resulting from the studying I did based on the help she gave me was much better than I could have expected had I studied just on my own.  Danke, K!

But I have an oral exam on Monday.  If I fail that exam, I not only have to go back to Virginia Tech for another semester, but I have to take two classes to make up for the lost credit instead of one; somehow, this class counts for two partial classes instead of having a one-to-one credit equivalence.  I already passed the other classes that would transfer as the other parts of the classes, but that’s a moot point if I fail this exam.  But if I do pass this exam, only the completion of my thesis project will stand between the completion of my Bachelor’s degree and me.  (And I like my thesis project.)

I’ve heard this exam is hard, so I’m studying like crazy.  I’ve emailed the TA with questions, rewatched key lectures (thankfully the professor records the audio and powerpoint slides of every presentation and posts them online), and even taken notes of notes that I took of notes that I took on my class notes.  (Literally.)  But, despite my efforts, I don’t know if I’m prepared enough. I don’t think there’s a way to know.  The constant effort to reach whatever unknown standard would allow me to pass this exam is burning me out, and quickly.

So if you have a few moments, I’d appreciate it if you send up a prayer for me.  Prayer for motivation, that I can focus, that I don’t freeze up or freak out during or before the exam, prayer that I study and remember what I need to know, and prayer that I trust the One who gave me the ability to learn stuff in the first place.  Oh, and prayer that I end up passing.  🙂

I took the flash cards I made for this exam to Darmstadt’s Orangerie yesterday, and while I was there, I took a few pictures.  Since I’m not sure how else to end this post on a high note, this is one of the views I enjoyed yesterday.  Enjoy!

darmstadt orangerie




mirabell gardens then, studying now

Well, the robotics competition I got to go to (the RoboCup German Open) was a lot of fun (and TUD won in both the Rescue and the KidSize Soccer divisions!).  And then I spent ten days travelling around with my parents, which was amazing.  Here’s a picture of my parents standing in the Mirabell Garden in Salzburg:

my parents in mirabell garden in salzburg

The castle in the back is the Festung (fortifications of) Hohensalzburg, which we also got to tour.  Very cool.

But now, my parents are back home fighting off jetlag and I’m preparing for my oral exam tomorrow for my Machine Tools and Industrial Robots class.  There’s a fair amount of memorization involved, but also a lot of calculations I could be asked to perform.  And I’ve never had an oral exam before.  (An oral exam is where the student goes to the professor’s office and the professor asks the test questions verbally.  Then the student answers verbally, or if asked to work out a problem or draw a diagram, the student writes things out on paper while the professor watches.)  Oral exams are said to be easier than written exams, since you’re allowed to ask the professor for clarification or hints, but still, I’m nervous, to say the least.  If you’re a praying person, I’d appreciate some prayer, both for my memory and for my anxiety. 🙂

Back to studying. I am looking forward to this exam being over.

Update: I passed the exam!  Thanks for the prayers!

what is this decorative item?

So I see this decorative… thing nearly every day, since it’s smack in the middle of my field of view while I’m waiting for the next streetcar near my apartment.  And now, even after seven months of living here, I still have no idea what it is.  not sure what this thing on top of this building is

My best guess is that it’s a ceramic sculpture of a seahorse dressed as a stormtrooper.  Anyone else have ideas?

staatstheater darmstadt

I went to see the opera Lucia di Lammermoor recently at Darmstadt’s theater, the Staatstheater Darmstadt.  I got to the theater a bit early, and since the sun was setting and the theater looked beautiful, I just had to get my camera out.

the staatstheater darmstadt as the sun was setting

This is the Staatstheater Darmstadt.  Such a cool building!  As you can imagine, this park area in front of the theater is a popular picnic/hangout spot on days with nice weather.  🙂

going on a trip

I have a busy next couple of weeks.  Tomorrow I leave for the RoboCup German Open, which is a robotics competition being held in Magdeburg, Germany.  And the day after I get back from that, my parents will arrive and we will travel together some more.  I’m looking forward to both trips!

Since I seemingly only ever post on a regular basis when I’m travelling, I though I’d schedule a blog post or two for the time I’m gone.  But for today, a picture of the streetcar tracks near my apartment.  Appropriate for the travel theme, no?

streetcar tracks near my apartment


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.

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.