Spring Break Begins

As I sit in class, smelling someone’s fingernail polish, forcing myself to stay my eyes in a struggled open position, sometimes looking around at the other POW’s, I slowly come to the realization that this is helping me. The class, I mean, not the fingernail polish. As I listen to Prof. G. Blaschek, with an incredible amount of excitement in his voice considering what he’s talking about, I know that in some way, this class must be helping. I might be kidding myself. Boolean conditions, loops, and branches consist of information I am nearly positive I won’t use later in life. But maybe I can think of this like an education in thought process. If I can think in many different ways.

Prof. Blaschek: “This difference could be due to the way Americans think. For example, in America they first throw bombs at Iraq and then ask if that was the right thing to do. In Europe, we first check to see if it is safe to cross the street, and then we cross.”

See…

I’m tired. I’ve been planning my spring break a great deal and still am unsure of my plans for the final week. I have not booked anything after the 2nd, when I’ll leave my parents to maybe go to Slovenia for 2 days to meet up with a group of friends. The places they will see look very nice, but will probably be nicer later in the year. I think I’ll stay in Venice another day (or two?) and then go to Rome for a week. I’ve read it’s a great time to go to Rome or Spain. There is also a group going to Alicante in Spain for a beach spring break. A plane ticket costs 120 Euro roundtrip… from Venice. A one way train ticket to Rome from Venice costs 75. I could also go to Slovenia, up to Linz to see my parents again as they make their way back to Frankfurt, and then go west in Germany. But it’s April, and it’s spring break, and western Germany is not exactly an ideal location for great weather in early April. The opportunities I have here never cease to amaze me when I think about them for a second or two. Ideas?

Continuing my entry on another day, I begin:

Dad left this morning. I can’t put into words how great it was to see him and have him here with me in Europe. We went to Vienna and around Linz. Our first stop, the most important place in Linz, was Xocolat, the best local chocolate store. I’m pretty sure there is a bigger one in Vienna, but I didn’t search for it. We got some great health food there. As Dad would say, “I can feel my arteries opening up”. While I’m not sure that’s the truth, the chocolate was better when shared with him. I loved his time here and am grateful for it.

I’m sitting. On my down jacket. Thanks geese. I’m sitting on the floor of a train to Nuremberg. I was in a seat, but once I got to Passau, I had to move because the seat was reserved. I hardly got that seat, too, if it were for Silvia, who studies medicine in Graz. She’s from a small city/town above Hamburg. Once we got to Passau, speaking German, she quickly secured a different seat that was not reserved. It was the only free seat on the car. I didn’t search for another one. Although this isn’t comfortable, I get to stretch my legs and look directly out of a large window. Crops, trees, castles, rivers pass by and make me think. It makes me happy to look out and see this land. I’ve come a long way. I’ve worked hard to get here and with determination. I look forward everyday to continuing my journey. Mountains to my right, greenest of grass and freshly plowed dirt to my left, I can think about a great number of things. My mind wonders and then realizes it’s wondering. Once I realize my situation and where I am I always smile. Looking out of the window and coming to the realization of where I am gives me chills. It’s overwhelming.

Security is tight here. I’ve been checked three times. Twice by the train people out of Linz and after Passau, and once just after the Passau stop by the German police of some kind. Everyone is traveling for the holidays. Large bags fill the overhead and I hear 3 or 4 different languages.

Very excited to see Mom and Pat tomorrow.

I hope Nuremberg is cool. I also hope I have enough time to see most of the city and what I want to. I need to leave tomorrow at 10 in order to get to Frankfurt in enough time to get to the hotel to meet the parents. Wish I hadn’t missed my train to Nuremberg at 8:16 and waited 2 hours for the next one. Oh well.

My travel plans are as follows:
Nuremberg for the night
Frankfurt for 2
Würzburg into Füssen for a night
Through Innsbruck to Verona for a night
Venice for 2
Rome for 4
To Orvieto for the night and a day trip to Civita di Bagnoregio
Sienna and San Gimignano for the night
Florence for 2
Linz
I’ll spend two nights on the train – once to Rome and then once to Linz. I think I’ll reserve a seat for those trains.

Not sure how much I’ll be able to get online or how much I’ll want to, but now you know my plans, so you can guess where I’ll be.

To tackle Jules Verne.

Tschuss,
Cam

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Rambling Man

I think I eat bread every day. I wonder, maybe if I were Catholic, or abided by Lent in any way, if I’d give up bread. Probably not. It’s like a restaurant here in room 345. I eat some bread with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a little cracked pepper. Do they put the oil and vinegar in a specific type of plate? The vinegar should always be in a sort of bubbly state above the oil, no? Mine usually, somehow sinks to the bottom of the plate/bowl. Not that I’ll buy a plate/bowl specific to this oil and vinegar with bread deal. The bread is incredible. I go to the market once, maybe twice a week, and buy some fresh bread. Not only that, but the walk there goes behind the dormitory on a thin walkway through a somewhat forested area. It’s ridiculous how good I have it here. Often is snows a light, calm snow while I walk there. Like feathers – frozen water feathers – falling in the sky.

Actually, my diet is pretty much cereal and pasta. Usually at separate times. Not all that different from home, really. Meat is too expensive, especially at restaurants, so I eat it pretty much only if someone else is cooking it. Which reminds me of my desire to say that I’ve begun nearly always accepting food when offered. “Oh, you’re making chicken (or spaghetti, or spaghetti with meat) and you’d like me to join you? How kind of you to offer. I’ll be there in 10 seconds with a fork and plate.” I eat plenty of fruit, too. That being dried figs from Turkey – very good – banana, strawberries, apples, and oranges. Alright, great blog Cameron, talking about fruits I eat. Wonderful story. Ha!

It hasn’t been sunny many days here, but snow is something I haven’t experienced enough of in my life. Snow is beautiful. The flakes are the size of my fingertip. They taste good. Actually, today it was quite sunny. 13 degrees Celsius. I wore only a T-shirt for the first time here. I had pants on, too. And socks.

Can someone increase the number of hours in the day already? I mean, geez, come on. There is so much to learn and see here. I practice German, piano, write, travel, read, study chemistry, be bored by chemistry, do chemistry exercises, practice more German, and on and on and on. And obviously, judging by the amount I’ve blogged, I write little. I feel like mostly, for the first time in my life, I’ve spent more time with people just talking and “hanging out” than working. That’s saying a lot considering the amount of work I feel like I’m doing. It’s probably not that much, really, but I’ve been away from school for a while longer than I’m used to. I’m not sure if this should count as real school. I mean, I’m definitely studying and working like school, but it feels like a dream. I’ll wake up in August. Then I’ll be in a nightmare. Only kidding.

I’m not kidding though, about being bored with chemistry. Analytical chemistry, really. It’s horrible. I wish I could type with an accent. The French speak English with such a cool accent. Even the word horrible makes me smile when spoken by the French. We learned, for 4, maybe 6 straight classes of an hour and half each, about acid base reactions and titrations. Titrations determine the pH and amount (volume) of a constituent in a solution. I did this in general chem. and organic chem. and now I have to hear lectures about doing it instead of actually doing it. I draw titration curves until I’m cross eyed. If I need this as a doctor I’ll fly back to Austria and shake the hand of my professor. Maybe I’ll even make a donation. As I went to Prague last Friday, I missed the biochemistry class I’ll go to tomorrow. Hopefully the material is a little better, although the Czech professor is a little… different I guess you’d say. He um, knows how to um, speak English, um…. sort of.

Should I talk about Prague? Yes. Yes, I think I should. As you could see by the untitled pictures (I’ll get to it someday), the architecture was “unreal” (common Irish saying). “Savage” is another. The architecture was savage. I wonder how Louisiana will feel about that one. The weather wasn’t all that spectacular for our trip, but the city could definitely be seen well, and we saw nearly all of the sites on our 4 hours guided tour. The guide was cool, gave us his business card afterward, saying if we go anywhere in the Czech Republic to call him for a beer. I just can’t get over how much beauty can be in a building. There seemed to be, though, a suspicious person every 50 meters. Seriously. I’d walk down the sidewalk and see one dark man standing alone, waiting, trying to catch my eyes. As we passed one, he asked us to follow him to a club where all the girls would get in free and guys would get 5 free beers each. Sure, guy, sure we will. My dad would be proud of my alertness during my stay in Prague. He would not however be proud of my naivety when dealing with the currency exchange people of a seemingly reputable Western Union marked currency exchange location. The rate is 24.9-25.1 Czech Republic Koruna to 1 Euro. I, on Sunday, went to change a final 10 Euro in order to have money enough for breakfast and lunch – and dinner. Knowing the rate, I handed the woman, dressed in a woman’s business suit, seated next to an English-looking man with suit and tie a 20 Euro bill and said I’d like to change 10 Euro. She told me I should change 20 Euro, saying I’d get a better rate if I did. I skeptically asked the rate and why her statement was true. After giving me the quote, I attempted to take back my money, suspecting she was scamming me like most of the street stops in Prague attempt to do. She and the man next to her said the Euro “had gone down” today. Reluctantly, I gave in. She gave me a 17.5 Koruna to Euro rate. As I walked away with my signed and stamped receipt of this transaction, I felt somewhat robbed and stupid. It wasn’t a great deal of money I’d lost (5 Euro), but I knew it couldn’t have been right. Live and learn. And then question everything… twice.

My goodness I’ve been busy this week. I can’t believe it’s already Friday. I’m writing at 1 AM. Why – I don’t know – I’ve got my favorite class, Analytical Chem., in seven and one half hours. I’m going to Bratislava, the capital city of Slovakia, tomorrow night. I’m honestly not sure I should go. The people I’m going with said they will have a good time because they’ll party and drink. I don’t want to do that. There are parties everywhere. I know I’ll have a good time, though, and do want to see as much as I can, so I’ll go. I’ll just go off on my own if I want. I read the countryside around Bratislava is nice. We are renting 2 cars for 7 people. Actually, this writing made me look more at pictures of Bratislava. It looks nice. I hope we have good weather, because of course that will help my enjoyment of the trip. I’ll make it a good time if I have to, dang it. I know this won’t be needed.

Yann Tiersen is great music. I’m pretty sure he’s a man, and therefore can’t be great music, but I like the way it reads. Sue me. No, don’t, I need money to travel. Just click play. I’ve been trying my best to play this song. I can play the left hand alone and the right hand alone. The combination of the two – not so much. I will succeed.
And the clock hits 1:30. I depart.

Auf Wiedersehen

PS – I finished Rosetta Stone German Level 1! I know, I know, I rock. Don’t worry, there are 2 other levels, each with 4 units. Each unit has 4 lessons of about 20 different exercises. Each exercise lasts from 5-30 minutes depending on the exercise…. Yep. I think I’ll also start French. Many of my friends, including my roommate, speak French. I’m going to Belgium in July to stay with him!

Why is the phone ringing!? Peer pressure is stupid. I’m gong to sleep.