28.12.09

Sorry!

Well, I was just reading my sister's blog and I realized how very long it has been since I posted on this one. I'm sorry! (Especially to Tina!) Ok, well, I just completed the Fall semester with a 3.6 average. The breakdown is as follows:
CHI 351 Practical Chinese A-
MES 201 Introduction to Middle Eastern Studies A
PLS 283 Chinese Politics B
PLS 316 Human Rights in International Politics A-

I'm not terribly happy about the B in Chinese Politics but it is a really difficult subject when you are raised in the American system. Speaking of Chinese, I applied for a program that will be a summer school type thing for 2 months in China all expenses paid by the State Department. That would be so amazing if I got it. It would cover the equivalent of 2 semesters of college level Chinese in 2 months. If you wish for more information, check out clscholarship.org This is also the same department as the the Boren award, which is a 2 year thing with a service requirement and that is something I definitely would fit into. I like free things. I like Chinese. I want to work in the State Department. They pay for me to study Chinese. Then, I get a job in the State Department. See how well that works out? Right now, I'm at my dad's office working on converting old home movies into a digital format and cataloging them so they will be easy to find, share and view. Easy enough that my mom can do it is the goal but that is no mean feat. Enough for now, besitos a todos!

24.7.09

Stuck In One Place

...and loving it! The next few days (read: weeks) will be spent unpacking and readjusting to the States. Get in touch to schedule some time with me!

21.7.09

Foods That I Miss And Therefore Want To Have Within A Few Weeks Of Coming Home

-Cheddar Cheese (and lots of it!)
-Chips and Salsa
-Chinn Chinn
(All of these start with 'ch' and I don't know why)
-Curry Pad Thai from Bangkok Taste
-Shrimp Alfredo
-Real Feta
-Ben & Jerry's Vermonty Python
-Grilled Corn on the Cob and other assorted vegetables with a healthy char about them
-Dad's Ribs

Not Quite A Homecoming

Back in Krakow. Don't really feel like talking about it. It's so strange to be back in the place but without the people.

18.7.09

Batman Sounds....berg

Day 2

Bamberg

Alright, I know I have taken my sweet time for this but I’ve kind of had better things to do than writing for the blog. So, after barely catching the train from Munich, we were on our way to Bamberg. It’s the city where Tina goes to university. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is so pretty! It looks like the Epcot version of Germany. It is that cute and perfect. I guess I expected my perceptions of that perfect little Bavarian town to be far too sunny and optimistic. I had no idea that they would be so close to reality. After we got into Bamberg, we went to the flat of Tina’s former roommate, Eva. She is super cute and so nice. Their flat was amazing! I can’t believe that they are students with a flat that big and new. In the morning, Tina and I went out to start walking around. We realized that the weather was much better than what we had prepared for so we stopped into H&M to pick up some bitchin’ new shades. Mine are big and white and very funky. It’s a fun injection of style.

Around town, there are so many bridges. I think we crossed at least five of the nine bridges in Bamberg. We walked around the downtown area, which was so adorable and therefore tourist-filled. There is an American military base in Bamberg so about 10,000 of the 60,000 inhabitants are from the States. There was a gorgeous cathedral and the surrounding buildings looked like they were ripped straight from the Renaissance. There was a lovely rose garden that had a fantastic view of the city, not to mention the fact that it smelled fantastic. We stayed there and sat on a bench around a fountain just to rest our feet and to take in all of the beauty that was surrounding us. We only left because we were both getting peckish. For lunch, we met with one of Tina’s friends. They were in the same French class and that’s how they met. He saw that I was wearing a rugby shirt and so we spent about 45 minutes just talking about that so of course, Tina had no clue what we were on about. I had grilled feta with vegetables and a fantastic drink. It was passion fruit nectar and sparkling water. They do it all of the time with apple juice here. I have fallen in love with that and will so be bringing that back with me. Well, after lunch, there was more exploring. We had to head back to the flat fairly early because Eva gave us her keys so we had to be there to let her back in. Tina and I made a salad for dinner and then we went out with Eva, her boyfriend, their friends Natalie and Toby. It was so much fun. We just went out for a few drinks but I got to see Tina reminiscing and catching up with her old friends. They took me in really quickly. At least with the language barrier, I know exactly what I am meant to hear and so I know they intended to involve me in the conversation. That is pretty much my day in Bamberg. Anyway, I’ll be able to tell all of these stories and more to most of you in person in less than a week so I don’t feel the need for my normal thoroughness.

Slow Down, You Crazy Child

I'm in Vienna right now. We are staying here for a night and sight seeing tomorrow. Night train back to KRK tomorrow night. I'll fill in more later.

15.7.09

Entschuldigung!

Ok, sorry I'm not filling you guys in on the trip but there is so much to do here that it seems a shame to waste time by writing the blog. I have a ton of pictures and today we are going to climb a mountain so I'm sure that there will be plenty more where that came from. Tschüss!

I Was Hoping To See Eric Bana

So, I am now at Tina’s farm house and it is HUGE! I need to go back and recount 3 days worth of sightseeing and photos plus the pictures from my last day in Budapest so I think I might just take this on in installments.
First up- München!
I arrived at the train station expecting to see Miss Tina. Key word being expecting. She said that one of her friends would be showing us around because she didn’t know Munich at all. It was actually a friend of hers that I had met before in Krakow. Incidentally, he is also the one that spawned the whole idea of naming our couch. One of the first things that he asked me after we met up was “How’s Jim?” Tina, in true form, had missed the train she was planning and therefore didn’t arrive in Munich until a half an hour after I did. As mentioned in the previous post, I had about 30 minutes from bed to train when I left Hungary so I didn’t have time to eat any breakfast. I bought a muffin on the train but I was starving by the time we arrived. I grabbed a slice of pizza while we were waiting. We started out in Munich by seeing a famous fountain. I don’t know why it’s famous but apparently…it just is. Then, we passed into the main square of Munich. We came at a great time because it was the last day of the Christopher Street Festival, a huge gay pride/drag show event. German drag queens, a sight to behold. Sadly, we couldn’t get close enough to the stage for me to get a decent picture of the show and high heel race but that is why there are all of the rainbow flags going on. Joachim took us to the Church of Our Lady which had some really gorgeous Gothic Architecture and stained glass windows. I need to go through and sort all of my pictures with all of the architecture and window shots I have now. Legend tells that the Devil came into this cathedral. He saw that there was no light coming into it so he laughed. As he came in further, he saw the light from the windows along the side and so he got very angry and stamped his foot down and exploded. Don’t you just love folklore? Anyway, because of him stomping his foot, there is a foot print in the marble a few meters in from the entry to the church. We also saw the Munich Opera and the Residenzhaus, the home to the rulers of Bavaria turned museum. Next to the Residenzhaus, there are gardens with fountains and gazebos. So pretty! While we were out exploring along there, we came across the Munich Orchestra doing a rehearsal outside for a concert that was selling seats at about 65 € a ticket. They were playing Tchaikovsky’s Brandenburg Concerto. It was so gorgeous! We just sat there with plenty of other lookers on to enjoy such fantastic music. We only had a limited time there so sadly, we could stay and listen to the whole thing. We passed by the University of Munich which was quite pretty. The important thing there was the commemoration of the resistance against the Third Reich that took place there. They did a schlitzkrieg of their own against the Nazis so to remember this, there are papers embedded in the walk up to the University. I believe that Tina said the paper in the picture (with Joachim’s feet) listed the punishments and consequences incurred on the people responsible for it. Joachim also told us about this huge statue of a running man that he said was something like 35 meters tall. Turns out, it was only about 15 but that’s still a big bloody statue. Here’s a pic of it. Note Tiny Tina down by his foot. 0 We got dinner at a traditional restaurant. We all got Radlers which is a quite refreshing combination of lemonade and beer. I had a potato soup and Tina and Joachim both got a kind of cream cheese mixed with different things served bread and in Tina’s case, a pretzel. The favorite of the table was the cheese with radish mixed in. Scrumptious! After dinner and a bit more strolling along, we decided getting to Bamberg might be a good idea so we wouldn’t arrive too late at Tina’s friend, Eva’s. We took our time getting to the train station….that was bad idea. Tina and I went to try and get some information when Joachim came running up to us and said you need to go NOW! The train leaves in 2 minutes. Of course, I had all of my stuff from Budapest with me so we put it in a locker while we were walking around. We had to rush to get that and book it to the train. We got there in time but the train was way overcrowded. We had to sit in the corridor next to the WC for most of the time. When you get too many people in too small a space with practically no ventilation, you get hot and sweaty and stinky. Definitely not my most comfortable train ride ever plus I had already been on a train for seven and a half hours that day. It wasn’t so bad. After a large amount of people had disembarked from the train, we were able to move up to the floor in area actually intended for people to stay in. We were still on the floor but there was air conditioning which makes all of the difference in the world. Since we had some more space and still plenty of time to kill, we watched Hairspray on Stan. Finally, we got to Eva’s flat which was so spacious and new and perfect. Sleep in a completely horizontal position was so beyond welcome.

12.7.09

Jet Setter

Warning! This was written before our day in Munich and the hi jinx that ensued. I will post more with photos tomorrow sometime.

I feel so hip right now! The train to Munich is so nice! It beats the crap out of the trains I’ve taken to Rome and Budapest. I guess the Germans/Austrians would have the cleanest, most modern train. I wasn’t going to get out my laptop because the battery wouldn’t last so long but I just discovered the outlet under my seat. So cool! This morning was a bit hectic. I set my alarm to go off at 5 this morning because I still needed to pack. I woke up of my own accord and thought to myself, “Self, it is awfully light out for being before 5 in the am.” I checked the time and it was indeed not before 5, but an hour and a half after 5. Needless to say, I was freaking out. I hadn’t packed so I was just shoving everything into my backpack while a steady stream of profanities left my mouth. I ran out of the hostel to the nearest main street so I could hail a cab. I had to wait for a few minutes. Curse you, Murphy and your bloody law! As I was running up to the street, I saw three cabs pass. Once I actually got in view of oncoming traffic, all taxis ceased. My heart was pounding out of my chest at that point, a combination of insane stress and the sprint with 20 kilos of luggage. Finally, I got the attention of a cab passing in the opposite direction. He didn’t speak any English and I was trying to explain to him “Keleti Station.” I knew the word for train station started with “pal…something or other.” I had to get out my ticket and show him that and then he took his sweet time. I’m sure if I wasn’t in such a rush, the speed would have seemed perfectly normal but when you have about 10 minutes before your train leaves, perception of time is slightly warped. Anyway, I got on the train with quite a few minutes to spare. Now I’m kicking myself for not using a few of those extra minutes to grab something to eat. I have to say, this is a sweet ride, especially since I only had to pay 29 Euro for it.

11.7.09

Leavin' On A Jet....Train

Ok, this will just be a quick one because I am going to be awake again in 5 hours. I'm heading to Munich tomorrow at 0700. Not a big fan of the time as previously stated and now I need to get up even earlier because my roommates have already gone to bed which means that the lights are off so I can't finish packing until tomorrow morning. Thank science it's summer so the sun will be up at 5. The plan as of right now is meeting Tina in Munich, explore with one of her friends for about 3 hours and then a train to Bamberg. I'm kind of hesitant about this course of action because it means that I will be exploring with all of my worldly possessions on my person. Then, stay the night at one of Tina's friend's flat. Day in Bamberg and then train back to Tina's hometown. The postings might be a bit sparse because I don't know about available internet connections over that time. I'll let you know if I am in serious peril, how about that? Otherwise, assume that I'm enjoying myself thoroughly.

10.7.09

Buda Belly



Nelli, Kitti and I went up to the Castle Hill yesterday. The weather has been cooperating gorgeously so all of these photos have magnificent blue sky. The whole district looks like a movie set or something because it doesn't seem like a place this clean and perfect can exist in real life. The picture of me is from the castle walls and the building in the background across the Danube is the Hungarian Parliament building. After a lovely afternoon of sightseeing, all of us were wicked thirsty. We went to an open air cafe that Nelli goes to a lot. I got "real iced tea" for 500 forint. They made the hot tea right then and poured it over ice with a whole bunch of lemon and lime. It wasn't very strong but with all the citrus, it was tart and refreshing. Exactly what I wanted on such a hot day. Last night, I also cooked at Nelli's flat. I just made my red beans and rice thingy. Everyone seemed fairly happy with it. Also, yesterday for lunch I got a gyro for 600 forint. Even though it made a mess, it was really good. Not quite the gyros I'm used to from home but definitely edible. After that, we went to a bar on Margerite Island with Nelli's friend Marta and her friend Christof. It was a lot of fun. It was my first time going out in Budapest. The nightlife is much more tame than in Krakow but that's not necessarily a bad thing. I bought my train ticket yesterday as well. It was only 29 Euro to get from Budapest to Munich. The only downside is that the train leaves at 7am. Not really looking forward to that wake up call but it was either that or take the train at 1300 without the discount which would have been around $140. I think the savings is worth it. Tina will be picking me up in Munich and we will drive to her house from there. I can't believe my time in Budapest is almost up but I'm so excited about Bavaria. The plan so far includes a day trip to Bamberg, the city where Tina goes to university. Chelsea will be arriving there on the 15th and then we will go to Prague for 2 days as well. This should be an amazing next 2 weeks. For those of you keeping track, 2 weeks from today, I will be back home. Plan accordingly.

8.7.09

Smells Like Toast

I went to a water park thingy on Margarite Island with Nelli yesterday. It was really fun although it did cost about $12 so more money than I wanted to spend. However, we got our money's worth for sure. We got there around 11 am and didn't leave until 6. I didn't bring any sunscreen with me and Nelli only had SPF 10 so of course I'm "red like Hungarian paprika" as Nelli put it. The island is so pretty. After that, we had cheap Chinese food and then went to her flat. I met her sisters who are both really funny and sweet. They have a chinchilla that I cuddled for a while since I've been in shnuggling withdrawal for some time now. We watched a fair amount of the Michael Jackson memorial thing for some reason. After that I went home. It was a really fun day but now it hurts to move so I'm kind of screwed. Gah! Why am I dumb like that?

7.7.09

Are Your Cats Old Enough To Hear About Jesus?

So, I got roommates last night. They are from Southern China. When I went to give the owners the rest of my money, they tried to tell me something. They kept swaying back and forth and then Feng Taitai drew what I thought was the character for the number 10. Turns out, she was drawing a cross and they were trying to communicate to me that the huge number of people were missionaries. Last night, I got asked if I was a Christian. Of course, I said no but I told them I was from a very Christian area so I'm kind of de facto Christian just so they wouldn't try and sell me on the whole personal Lord and Savior spiel. I'm not sure if I could handle that. I do think it's kind of cosmic irony that I go from a life of drunken debauchery that ended with a pagan fertility celebration (Wianki, that was why Lenny Kravitz came and played for free) to being surrounded by missionaries. Ain't life grand? These pictures are completely unrelated. They were taken at Heroes' Square. Today, I will be going to the baths with Nelli. I'm excited about being in the water. Also, she is arranging a day trip for us to a little town about 30 km from Budapest with a cute little square and nice restaraunts. I will also be going to a lot of museums and such with her. I didn't know this but she is kind of a WWII buff. There is a military history museum here and also the House of Terror, which I walked by on my way home from the Zoo. It seems an apt name because it is quite imposing. It was the HQ for the SS in Budapest and later the command center for the Communists. It goes through the history of occupation and oppression in the city with particular emphasis on the Revolution in 1956. On a side note, check out the sky in all of these pictures. Gorgeous!!! Although, the lack of clouds makes me quite the sweaty Freddy when I get back to the hostel because it is hot hot hot!

6.7.09

Animal Friends

I went to the zoo. Lots of cute animals. I have to say that I love non-American zoos. In the States, they are so concerned about lawsuits and people being idiots. Here, I got to pet a tapir. How cool is that? I tried to get a picture of me getting a "Nose Five" with my new friend but it's hard to snap a photo while getting buddy buddy with wildlife. The prairie dogs were also close enough to pet. They have a baby white rhino there too. It was so cute. I wish I could have gotten close enough to touch her but c'est la vie. I also touched a zebra. Did I say that I love this zoo yet? Well, I do.



The last pic is my dinner last night. Goulash soup and the Sopszka salad. It was basically a Greek salad only with leeks instead of olives. The feta here is just as bad as in Poland. Nelli is in Budapest so I'm going to meet up with her tonight and also we are going to one of the thermal baths tomorrow. That should be really nice.

5.7.09

I Believe You Mean Yum-mus

As you can probably guess from the title, Hummus Bar gets the stamp of approval. Here is a picture of my hummus and falafel plate. I went for the laffa upgrade for an extra 250 forint and I would say totally worth it. I think the little bowls had ajvar in them which is just the little Hungarian twist they had to throw in. Ajvar is this spicy paste that completely works with the laffa. Yesterday was kind of a nothing day. I went to the park. I guess I'm still kind of readjusting to diurnal life after Krakow. I finished Captain Correlli while I sat at the park. It's a really huge park that contains the zoo, which will be the subject of my next post. I was mostly just sitting and enjoying the sunshine and watching little kids and dogs play. I was close to the monument commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution. The other pictures are just from the street my hostel is on. Note the fish hanging to dry in the middle one. That's why I took the picture in the first place. Afterwards, I realized that I like the lines and composition of the picture. I will put the pictures from the zoo up tomorrow but I did way more than 10 miles of walking today. You know that you did a whole lot of hoofin' it when your feet are sore even while you are wearing Keens.

4.7.09

Stranger in a Strange Land


Happy Fourth of July! It's so strange to not be eating brats and corn while lighting shit on fire in the true American tradition. Anyway, I already wrote about missing my bus and having to spring for the night train. It wasn't that bad but I had the top bunk and there was basically no circulation. It felt like I could have made a swimming pool from my own sweat. I met some nice people on the train, 2 guys from England, a Brazilian guy and 2 Chinese girls. I arrived in Budapest an hour late but it's not like I had anything to do that I was late for so no biggie. The directions to the hostel were this: "Get on Tram 24, ride 5 stops, walk 6 minutes (500m)" I got on tram 24. I rode for 5 stops. Now the tough part. Walking. The directions neglected to mention which direction I should be walking in. The 6 minutes turned into more than 2 hours. I asked people and they had no idea what I was talking about. On the up side, the people here are way nicer than in Krakow. Most of them speak English which is helpful. I got so frustrated that I went into a hotel and asked the receptionist if she knew where it was. She made some calls. Eventually, I asked if I could have the internet password and plugged in Stan. Got the conformation e-mail and looked at the address. I was 2 blocks away. I never would have found it on my own though. I was basically drenched when I went into the office of the hostel. The people running it are from Beijing or somewhere else in northeastern China judging by the accent. It is so cool that I get to practice in Hungary of all places. So, I had a few Euros left over from Italy but no forints so after my shower I went out on a mission to find cash. It took me a ridiculously long time to find an ATM. Turns out, there are like 4 within a few blocks of my hostel. Keep in mind, I hadn't eaten in like 17 hours at this point so I wasn't at my most vigilant. I finally got money and I went to a Chinese restaurant that had been recommended on a travel website. It's been like 6 months since I have had good Chinese food. Also, I had the Hungarian style potato pancakes the day before in Babca Malina so getting Hungarian food wasn't as pressing. By the time I got to the restaurant, I was past the 18 hour mark. Oddly enough, I wasn't that hungry. I was just getting shaky from low blood sugar. I was wicked tired. Being hot and sweaty doesn't lend itself to restful sleep after all.
Yesterday, I went out and explored some more. On Dad's suggestion, I found a bakery. I got this huge chocolate pastry. Delish! I just kind of wandered. I crossed the Danube and then went to the top of a hill on which there is a statue of St. Gellert. It's a pretty cool statue and there is a waterfall underneath. I just enjoyed being surrounded by green and trees. I love Krakow and all but there was a distinct lack of trees other than in the Planty. I sat on a bench for a while and read a fair chunk of Captain Correlli's Mandolin. Walked some more. I ate at a cafe when my tummy (and the sky) started to rumble. Chicken soup and goulash with potatoes. I got ripped off because it said that it would be 1390 forint. I got a beer too. I ended up paying 3200 because they charged me 1200 for the beer (although I basically paid for 2 because it was a happy hour "special" BOGO), 300 for bread that I didn't order and another 300 in tax that is included in the price everywhere else. It was a touristy place. I should have known better but about 2 minutes after sitting down, the sky opened up into a torrential downpour. I had my umbrella with me but I also had my mp3 player and my camera and I wasn't really willing to take that risk. So, more wandering. I am starting to get my bearings. I think I will go to the zoo today. Also, reading more websites about good food cheap in Budapest, I am going to a place called Hummus Bar. I'm excited about that. Apparently, the reviewer's only "complaint" was that they used too much garlic and lemon. Like that is even possible. Nelli will be here Monday or Tuesday. I figure she will make life easier as she is Hungarian and can read the signs and such. Hungarian is a truly unique language. It isn't related to any other language families. Some people group it together with Finnish but that is bull. The grammar structure is slightly similar but it's more just that they are both orphans, linguistically speaking. I am most definitely going to the baths that this city is famous for. I brought my swimsuit for just such an occasion. It is fairly hot here so being in water will be nice. That's all for now, sports fans. I had 2 nectarines and 3 plums for breakfast at 6 and they are starting to wear off. I have quite the walk ahead of me to get to Hummus Bar and the zoo so I have to get gone.

3.7.09

Get Over It.

Ok, I did a whole lot of walking (and sweating) today. I promise I will fill you guys in tomorrow but for the time being, sleep.

1.7.09

Trains, Planes and Automobiles

So, there has been a change in plans. Due to a series of events that was beyond my control, I was late to the bus station. I am now taking the night train to Budapest. It's a sleeping berth but I had to pay 389 zlotych. Not happy about that. Serdar, our landlord, came to pick up the keys at 2:30 (he was supposed to come at 2-> 30 minutes late). He then tried to communicate with us and I don't speak Polish or Turkish and his English ain't so great ergo that took more time than it should have. When I got my deposit back, I signed a thingy saying that we had paid our utilities and he gave the deposit back. He said that we would each pay 45 for electricity. If it was more, he would pay the overage. Turns out with all of the laundry that we were doing, the total was more like 80 per person. He tried to get us to pay for that which we wouldn't. Guilt doesn't work on me when you are my landlord. Maybe he should have thought about the fact that it was coming from his own pocket before he guaranteed us that it would be 45 no matter what. Then, he got mad because Melanie gave away all of the things that were bought for the flat at Ikea during the first semester. Apparently, there was nothing there except for a few paintings, etc. Serdar was saying that Mel didn't have the right to do that with anything that she didn't pay for personally. I think that's bullshit and effectively told him so. He got the flat back the way he lent it out in the first place. I was trying to mediate because Melanie was getting wicked angry. Even though I was trying to broker a treaty, I kept letting him know that I was in a hurry. I was supposed to be at Maciej's flat at 3 and he showed up a half hour late. I had to finish throwing a few things in my suitcase and then I was planning on leaving right after handing over my keys. So, more arguing and ignoring the fact that I'm in a hurry. I don't leave the flat until a little after 3 (60+ minutes late). I had to hail a taxi because those suitcases are huge and there was no way in hell that I was going to be able to take those on the tram by myself and I was also more than an hour behind schedule. Traffic was a bitch because that's what Murphy's Law does. I got to Maciej's place and decided to try and save a little bit of money and enjoy this gorgeous day by walking to the tram station. I didn't get lost and I only had to wait 3 minutes for the tram. The traffic and such wasn't very helpful as I had a very stressful cab ride to the bus station. I left Siemiradzkiego for the last time at 1608. I was supposed to be at the station 20 minutes before my 1630 bus. You can see where this is going, yes? Anyway, my bus wasn't listed on the board because it was already too late to get on by the time I got to the station. That brings me to now. I am going to be taking the 2215 train to Budapest. Not happy about the 389 PLN but I can work with that. I will get there come rain, come sleet, come hell and high water. I am chilling in Galeria to use the internet access. I wonder if they will have outlets on the train. That would be really nice. Then I could watch movies.

Post: Twitter Style

Gah! Just spent my last night at Siemiradzkiego. Didn't sleep well at all. Boo!

29.6.09

Laundry Day

I am in the process of doing basically all of the laundry I have with me in Poland. Melanie is doing the same so Nicole and Thibaut's rooms both look like a swap meet exploded in there. It is wicked humid here without much wind to move it along so everything is staying wet. Not cool. Especially since all of my clothes have that gross mildewy smell because they take so long to dry. I have a hiking backpack that Chelsea gave me so I will be taking that with me to Budapest. I am in the process of putting my life into a suitcase again. It's so strange. I'm throwing out so much stuff and it is just bizarre. I know I have another 3 weeks before I go home but it seems so close now that the luggage is filling up.

28.6.09

Johnson’s Baby Wash for Erasmus

Emotional exhaustion has hit me full force. I have had to say goodbye to so many people over the past few days that I have actually become physically tired from emotions. I don't think I've ever had to do this before. Any other time I've had to say goodbye to large amounts of people at one time, there was always the comfort that at least we were still in the same country. Now, goodbye is in all likelihood a true goodbye without the possibility of "see you later." That prospect kills me. I know that I should not cry that the good times are over but smile that they happened at all. I knew it was going to have to come to an end but it still is hitting me much harder than I expected. I had to say goodbye to Thibaut, Nicole, Ilias, Antonis, Srdjan, Linda and Nelli all on the same day. I will see Nelli in Budapest so that is nice. It's especially good because I'm going there by myself so having a friendly face there will be great. Facebook and Skype are of particular comfort right now but it's not the same. I know that I keep saying that I am in love with Krakow, which is true, but I wouldn't have fallen so hard or so fast if it weren't for all of the amazing people that made this experience what it was. I'm trying to focus on the fact that I am less than 4 weeks away from coming home and seeing all of my friends and family. I've been trying to emphasize the positive because I think any one of us would start crying if we think about what we are leaving behind. Yesterday, we had a huge going away dinner at Pod Wawelem and Srdjan and Nelli's families were there. It was really kind of a cool representation of the transition back in to "civilian" life. Then, Tina, Chelsea and I went to Respect and we ended up meeting a group of Swedish people. It's really cool that we are still meeting new people and making new friends even with just a few days left here. I'm sorry that the past few entries have been kind of depressing but I'm just in a sour mood for the aforementioned reasons. It seems like the world just stopped while we were here. That is such an amazing experience. One that I don't have words for. I wish everyone could have the opportunity to do a study abroad semester but then I wish we didn't have the end bit. I know it's better to have loved and lost and all that jazz but it doesn't make it any less painful. In a way, it's a great thing to know the last time that you see someone rather than always assuming that there would be time to say all of the things you wanted to say but never found the right place for. On the other hand, hopelessness is a bitch. I know that I will have CTatch back at GV to reminisce with and that is of great solace at the moment. I just wish I didn't have anything that I needed consoling over. This entry has been terribly emo but I wanted to post something since it has been almost a week since I've written anything. I think it's just because Mom was at Cancer Kid Camp so I didn't have someone badgering me about writing.

22.6.09

"Anybody Got A Jet Ski?"

I'm an idiot and forgot to mention that I saw Lenny Kravitz in concert on Saturday. It was free! He was stoned out of his mind but it was still a good show. The location was great. The stage was on the bend in the Wisla and the audience was packed on the Wawel side. We got there about 4 hours early (in the rain) but we had an awesome spot. We includes Florence, her brother, Vincent and Tina. Since Tina was in Sweden for the past week and Chelsea is currently in Gdansk, I have been hanging out a lot with Flo. Another occurence of this theme, I didn't realize how cool she was until fairly recently. I guess the only thing to do is make the most of the time I have left.

Final Wishes

Ok, I have booked my hostel and bus ticket. I will be taking a 6.5 hour bus ride to Budapest on 1 July. I will be staying at Florian Hostel for 11 nights. The hostel is costing me less than 100 Euro so, yay Hungary! I still need to figure out where I can store my suitcases but I'm sure I will figure something out. Tonight is the last Monday at Pod Wawelem. I was there last night too because it was Victoria's last night here. I know I haven't mentioned her on the blog before but that's because I met her less than 2 weeks ago. It's so unfair that I keep meeting all of these really awesome people only to say goodbye so soon. Thibaut's birthday is this week so I think I will write him a poem chronicling all of the dumb Tibo stories into one rollicking work of verse. The brilliance will likely be lost on him but I will post it on here when I write it and all of you native speakers will likely pee your pants a little. I need to figure out what I'm doing for the rest of the time but I know that I will for sure be in Bavaria with Tina for a few days.

19.6.09

Retraction/No Regrets

Alright, well, in Polish the word for 45 is pronounced "fifty." Actually, the little post count thing on my dashboard said that it was number 50 but I guess it counts the things that I have saved as drafts and such so only 45 posts actually appear to the public. Anyway, some of them should count as at least two entries because they were so bloody long. Then again, there have been some photo posts that really don't count as much even if they do give more information than words do sometimes. The fact that Andrea bothered to look at that and comment on the correction makes my heart smile. Anyway, I'm done with exams! I am absolutely certain that I passed all of them but I don't know what mark I got for them...not that it really matters.
Now for the "No Regrets" part of the post. Wednesday night I was at a flat party because it was Alex's last night and I needed to take a break from studying. I had two people recognize me from the "French Stereotypes" video and it got me thinking. For so long, I've wanted to be the person that everybody knew, even if I didn't know everyone else. Actually, having people recognize me or know my name without having the same information is kind of a thrill. I am "that girl" here and I have to say that I love it. However, I'm going to be glad when I can sink back into anonymity at GV. I know the people that I care about. The really important things stay close to my heart and I don't really need the validation from strangers seeing me and having some story that they heard about me or something. It's nice and I'm glad that it happened here but I don't want that to be my constant state of being. Erasmus life is a strange social sandbox because you start out with no social connections but an openness to meeting new people and making friends. Everyone starts on a level playing field and you get to see what you can do with it from there. Also, there is the lack of consequences in the long term. I can make a complete ass of myself and say all the things that are in my head that I normally wouldn't have the courage to say. There's freedom in that which is a really strange sensation. I get to prune my social attachments by keeping in touch with all of the people I want to keep in my life and just leave behind all of the others. I get to take back to the States all of changes that I have made to myself since I have been here without the baggage. Any changes I made that I don't like, I get to hit the reset button. What a difference a few months can make.

18.6.09

Grand Jubilee

It's my fiftieth blog post so...yay me! Also, I would like to give a warm welcome to Hania and Ania. Yes, you guys are allowed to comment on my blog. It's not considered stalking. It just demonstrates that I am cool enough to be on your mind even when I'm not in the immediate vicinity. I have my last exam today. International Political Relations. For some reason, I am stressed which really doesn't make any sense whatsoever because I'm an IR major and a native speaker so failure is not an option. However, I am feeling a lot of pressure to pull off a 5.5 on this one. Everyone talks about how it's not fair that I have so much going for me in that class but that's life. Fair is a place where a pig wins a ribbon. After that, I have no reason not to be amazingly blissfully happy. Other than the ridiculous amount of people that I have to say goodbye to in the coming weeks. Alex left today. That was the first one of the people I have really spent a significant amount of time with. I have a feeling that I will cry when Nicole and Thibaut leave along with Tiki and Phil and all of the kick ass UEK folks I've gotten to know over the past few months. I know I'm lucky to have had this experience but it's just not fair that I get to meet all of these amazing personalities that have so much to offer and then they get yanked away like cookies from a kid before dinner. Thank science for the internet. I couldn't imagine doing something like this and knowing that I would never be able to Skype or even IM with these people. I needs to get my shower on so I can be confident (read: not stinky) for my exam today. I'll probably write again tomorrow because I won't have to study!!!

15.6.09

Japanese Poems


In a haiku mood
Seventeen syllables to
Caption each photo

Kazimierz market
Polish obsession with smurfs
Gdzie jest Papa Smurf?

"Probably the best"
I like the honesty but
Confidence is key

See pretty orchids
At the botanical gardens
Jungle in Krakow

Strange spike ball flowers
Catch the sun through their green spines
Artsy photograph

Emo Chelsea T
Not on purpose, caught off guard
Dig the shades, home slice

Country garden shed
Or Stalin architecture?
Style is in the eye

Flower mode works well
Camera makes shots easy
Point and shoot, not skills

14.6.09

I Would Be A Lemming If Everyone Else Were Doing It

So, I just created a Twitter account. For those of you who don't know what Twitter is, it's basically Facebook status updates. You are only allowed 140 characters in each post so it's kind of fun to see what you can say in such a short space. Check me out at www.twitter.com/wideset
Today, a few girls and I are going out to see some of the sites around the city. Probably going to Kazimierz to check out the market. Hitting Schindler's factory and maybe the zoo or the botanical gardens. I was out until almost 5 last night so it should be interesting to see how I make it through the day. I promise to upload pictures from the day. I know I haven't been very good about that lately.

10.6.09

So Much Time, So Little To Do

Second to last exam today! I didn't go out at all this past weekend so tonight I am going to Mariko's final flat party. I think it will be fun. I'm ready to blow off a little bit of steam. Don't really know what else to say in this one. I will be staying in Europe for an additional 3 weeks. I can't believe that I am actually kind of sad about that. I was getting excited about coming home. It will cost way more to come home earlier. I think I will be going to Budapest for at least one week because it is hella cheap there. It will only cost about $25 to take a bus there from Krakow. I also got invited to stay with Tina in Bavaria for a while. Then, Chelsea, Tina and I would go to Prague together. I think that will be a fun time. I don't know what else I will do to pass that time.

9.6.09

Oft Go Awry

I realized that I have information for next year's schedule. Thought I might drop that knowledge bomb on all of you. Here is the prospective rugby schedule for this season.
Sept. 5 & 6, 2009 Army and Penn State @ State College

Sept. 12, 2009 @ Eastern Illinois University

Sept. 19, 2009 Open Date

Sept. 26, 2009 Ball State University-Home
3rd Annual Women's Rugby Golf Outing

Oct. 3, 2009 University of Michigan – Home (League)

Oct. 10, 2009 @ Purdue University (League)

Oct. 17, 2009 Ohio State University – Home (League)

Oct. 24, 2009 @ Michigan State University (League)

Oct. 31, 2009 @ Indiana University (League)


Nov. 7, 2009 4 Quarterfinal matches (E-1 v W-4) v (W-2 v E3) /
(W-1 v E-4) v (E-2 v W-3) Highest ranked team to host each respective
match

Nov. 14-15, 2009 Midwest Championships (@ Univ. of Northern Iowa)

Yes, you read right. The first game of the season on Labor Day weekend will be in Pennsylvania. We are going to get our asses handed to us but hopefully we will learn a lot from those games. Also, here's my class schedule for next year.
Fall:
PLS 283 Chinese Politics and US-China Relations
PLS 316 Human Rights in International Relations (super excited for that one!)
CHI 351 Practical Chinese
and here's one that's still in the air
either GER 101 Elementary German or
SPA 321 Spanish Composition and Conversation 1
I wasn't going to take any Spanish at GV but being here and getting the occasional bits of practice makes me want to pursue it further. I knew I wasn't fluent before coming here but now I realize just how not fluent I am. If I am going to join the Peace Corps, I'm sure have any additional proficiency in Spanish will be helpful.
Winter:
HST 317 History of American Foreign Relations
HST 341 History of East Asia Since 1800
PLS 315 International Political Economy
IR 495 (capstone) Seminar in International Relations
After that, I'm done with my undergrad. That is so scary to me. I have had so much fun and made so many friends and turned friends into family over the past 3 years. I can't believe I'm coming up on the end of that.

Slowly Collapsed Like A Flan In A Cupboard

Sorry about going so long between posts. Thank you so much to Mikay, Ruthie and Louise! I don't feel quite so disconnected anymore. Keep them coming, ladies. I love the updates. I had my second exam today. It was World Economic History. That class was ridiculous. First of all, there was nothing "world" about it. At the beginning of the class, when we were talking about the economic reasons behind the fall of the Roman Empire, I asked about the effect of the Silk Roads and the amount of gold that went to the Kushans. She had no idea what I was talking about (not surprising because no one knows about Central Asia) and then said that China didn't have an impact on Europe until the Ming Dynasty. There are so many things wrong with that I don't know where to start. It's world economic history so maybe we should talk about more than just Europe. Just a thought. Anyway, any time anyone asked a question in lecture she would just rifle through her papers and act all flustered. Usually, she would just rephrase the question as a vague statement. It was frustrating. Meh, it's over now. As previously established, I only need a 3 out of 5 to have the credit transfer so I'm trying to be really chill about all of this. Prices on strawberries have continued to go down. The other day I got them for 2 1/2 per kilo and cherries for 5. Why does fruit have to be so expensive in the States?

3.6.09

Nothing To Get On About

I went to the market yesterday and I bought a kilo of strawberries for 4 zlote. So awesome! So, about that smiles entry, it turned out to be nothing really super exciting. I went on a date with Tom, the Scottish guy that I mentioned before. Although he is very sweet and mellow, I found out through the course of the evening that he is 31. If that were it, I suppose I could get over it but he also smokes a lot of pot at home and every other conversation he was bringing it up. I’m not OK with that.
I got my paper done for international economics. It was approximately 83% bullshit but I am fine with that. At home, I am type A and super hard on myself but here I am studying economics and I am applying those principles to my life. Marginal cost (effort/time of studying and worrying about grades) brings no marginal gain (i.e. my grades transfer back to GV as credit/no credit so it’s not like I can get a “credit plus” or a gold star on my transcript or anything). I had my Polish exam yesterday and I find out the results tomorrow. I also have my International Political Relations presentation tomorrow. I’m not really nervous but everyone has really high expectations of me because I’m a native speaker and an IR major.
The countdown has begun. I have decided to change my plane ticket to 29 June. I can’t believe that I have less than a month left here. It’s happening way too fast. I think the money thing will be less of an issue because we have a cunning plan. Seeing as the exchange rate sucks for bringing zlotych back to the States, we are going to try and have Serdar apply our deposit as our rent for this month. This way, I have my stipend to use for living expenses. I have about a week and a half left over after exams and I am talking to people to see who wants to go where. Laura, one of the Italians who helped me with the Rome trip, wants to go everywhere. She is so nice and bubbly. I think she would be great to travel with. I may not get to go to all of the places I want to see but I have a feeling that no amount of time in the world would be enough to see all I want to see. I can’t imagine going back home after living here. I miss all of you terribly and I am trying to focus on that so my heart won’t break.

29.5.09

Pygmy Jerboa

I discovered this video on Cute Overload. This is my way of trying to solicit comments.

27.5.09

Smiles

I'm less disappointed now. :) More details later.

Disappointment

As you might guess by the title of this entry, I am disappointed. I am disappointed in you. I ask for one thing. A few minutes of your time to update me on what's going on in your life. I didn't receive a single message or e-mail other than my regular mail from Mom. I boycotted the blog for a week in hopes that maybe someone would do as I requested. It hurts to not be connected with all of the people I love and care about. This week, Larry Barlow died. I didn't know him very well at all and what I did know, I didn't particularly like. I'm an honest person so I don't instantly forget all the negative qualities of the dead and act like we were best friends. I can say this, he was 21 years old and we went to school together for 7 years. One third of his life, I was at the same building 5 days a week. It's very sad and it's in a moment like this that I want to be connected to my loved ones. I want to let everyone know that I love them and part of that love is wanting to know how your day went. What's important to you right now? What makes your heart race this second? What is stressing you out and what do you want to talk about? One of the main ways that I define myself is as a friend and confidante. I love being the person that you want to talk to when you had a really shitty day or the guy you like gave you his number. I feel like I have lost that identity since I've been here. I'd really like it back.
Another disappointment, the trip to Gdansk was canceled. There weren't enough people who signed up so it was called off. I guess this is a blessing in disguise because that gives me more time to work on my International Economics paper. It shouldn't be that difficult but it's just a matter of motivation and sitting down to do it. It's 5-15 pages on the impact of the financial crisis on the United States and the measures being taken to reduce and alleviate those effects. It is even more boring than it sounds.
To cover the past week, I didn't do a whole lot out of the ordinary. On Friday, I went to Alex's flat. Alex is a girl from California who is best friends with Tiki. Tiki is a badass who is studying at UJ. She is also American. She was born in New York, lived in Japan (speaks fluent Japanese) and goes to university at Durham in England. Like I said, badass. Alex is here teaching English and she invited some of her other English teaching pals over. They were 3 guys from Scotland. One of them is half Asian. It turns out we met him a few weeks ago at Carpe Diem but we thought he was just one of the 80 gazillion British people here on holiday/ for a stag party. Cheap vodka has a way of attracting people. Then, there was Tom and Doug. Tom was shy and quiet but he is really sweet. Tiki refers to Doug as the Keebler Elf (not to his face). This is fairly apt description though I can't speak as to his affinity for baked goods. He is short with a fairly elfin appearance in a Down's syndrome kind of way. His accent is nigh unintelligible. He was really outgoing but as he became drunk, extreversion quickly turns into pesky gregariousness. Just to let you know, I did not use a thesaurus for this entry. I just need to use big words when I get the chance because I have to speak slowly and with teeny tiny words for non-native speakers.

20.5.09

Reciprocity

Tonight, I am meeting with my group for Economic Growth. Because I'm me, I offered our flat and I am making dinner for everyone. Greek couscous salad. Celebrate the season and all that. I saw strawberries at the market for 7 zloty/ kilo today. For those of you playing at home, that is about $1/lb. Yeah, tough life, I know. Anyway, I know that my life here is a lot more different than those of you at home but right now, I'm kind of doing the same thing I was doing last week and the week before that. In other words, not every entry will be something new and exciting although I am racking up sightings of the woodland creature collector set. We already established my hedgehog encounter but when I was in the park with Konrad a few weeks back I saw my first squirrel in Krakow. I also saw a chipmunk and last week, I saw a ferret or possibly a weasel. I don't know exactly which one it was but it was long and weasly looking and running around at 2 a.m. Back to the original point, I want news from you guys. All I get from most of you is the occasional greeting with no details about life. Maggen, you didn't tell me that you gave away Yoru. I know you may not think that things are important especially compared to all of the experiences that I am having while I am over here but they are important to me. I care about the little details of your day. News doesn't have to be earth shattering for me to want to know about it. Fill me in! I don't want to be completely unaware of the state of things when I come home.

17.5.09

Mr. Pibb and Red Vines Equals Crazy Delicious!

So, I had a pretty hard core couple of days with Phil and friends so last night, I just hung out with CTatch for a calm night. She was pretty sick the past few days. Melanie, in her infinite wisdom in all matters medical, decided that Chelsea had swine flu after hearing the she had a fever. Yeah, she's just a few weeks away from the correspondence course medical degree with two n's in University. We had a party on Friday night that ended up with me being really unhappy. Our neighbor came up and told us to quiet down so we tried to herd everyone out of the flat but drunk people aren't known for their rational compliance so that was quite the task. I tried to bat clean up and get people out starting from the bathroom and pushing them out from there. People kept begging me to let them into the toilet but I told them they could pee outside. It was kind of working when the cops were called.While we were inside, dealing with the authorities, the party continued on the police van. Thanks, Erasmus friends!
We got a 200 zlotych fine. We were still in the hallway when Tomek, who during the night wrote all over our cabinets with marker and brought several drunk Polish people who no one else knew, decided to come back up to find his wallet. I told him to stay out of our flat and we let him find it after the police had gone. He started saying that he's Polish so he should be in the flat talking to the cops for us (we already had someone interpreting for us) and in the end, he was making a bigger noise than it was worth so I just let him in. Everyone else went to Kitsch but I stayed home because I knew that I wouldn't have any fun because I was in such a bad mood. Saturday was spent on clean up. Melanie left that morning so she did most of it before she went because we couldn't have a full group time to clean. As previously mentioned, Saturday night was chillin' with my twin. Today was ridiculously lazy (thus the title of the blog; Mom, ask Dad what it means). I tried to download the movie that Dad posted for me but that hasn't worked so well because anytime the connection is interrupted (which if I'm in my room is a lot) it has to start all over again. Instead of seeing Keanu Reeves as an alien, I have decided to learn French. Therefore, I am downloading Coffee Break French from the Radio Lingua Network. I also got the One Minute Polish thing from the same people and it was very helpful for the bare bones survival stuff when I first got here. Soon, I will be able to spy on Nicole and Thibaut!

14.5.09

Oak, Some Pine, and A Handful of Norsemen

Melanie and I went to Ikea yesterday. The slats in my bed were already dodgy when I moved in but as the semester has gone on, more of them have broken and become detached from the frame of the bed. Turns out, the middle of the frame bows out in a big way which is the heart of the problem. I have been sleeping with my mattress on the floor for the past week but I am now up off the ground! We also got a garlic press for 13 zlotych and I bought some fabric to use as a curtain. The curtain I have right now is red which is nice but it's not really me. So, instead, I got this fabric. I was going to get this black and white print of line drawings of little birds with some of them colored in green but they were out of it and weren't going to have it for 10 weeks so I opted for this one instead. I figure I will take it home with me so I can use it at Campus View as well. After that, I had some dinner which was just leftovers but they were kickass leftovers. Last night I made a sauce from ricotta, Gouda and brie. It was basically fettuccine alfredo but I put in some fresh chives and sauteed onion. Not terribly healthy so I also made a salad by doing a kind of onion ceviche and then adding tomatoes and cucumbers. The light acidity of the salad was a perfect complete to the richness of the pasta. I'm kind of a BAMF when it comes to stuff like that. Then, I was online and I got an invitation to go out with Tiki and her flatmate. It is his birthday today so his friend and his sister are here. They are hilarious and even though nothing was really open so we ended up at Carpe Diem II, the night was fantastic!

12.5.09

Where's Chelsea?

So, as previously mentioned, there were a shit ton of people in Rome due to the fact that it was Holy Week. Therefore, we had the opportunity to take picutres of the Where's Waldo? persuasion. I realized that I forgot to post them in "Back From the Dead" so here they are now.


The Spanish Steps
Moderate DifficultyPiazza Del Popolli
Easy Difficulty

The Colosseum
"Spell The Word COW" Difficulty

St. Peter's Square
Tricky


The Pantheon
Tricky

Il Duomo in Milan
Quite Literally Impossible but Still Quite Pretty

10.5.09

Why You Should Never Light Spirytus On Fire

Last weekend, all of the flatmates and I went over to the Greek flat. It is called the Greek flat because Ilias (the guy who Mom thinks looks like Mark Ruffalo), Antonis (actually from Cyprus but he speaks Greek so close enough for our purposes) and Maria (Italian but she gets overruled by the two boys for the name of the flat) live there. We went over for what we were hoping would be Greek or Italian food but it was not to be. Maria made potatoes, kielbasa, and two different salads. One of the salads did have kalamata olives which made me happy. Later in the night, we got to beverages. Eventually, they cracked open the Spirytus. Apparently, that is Polish word for rocket fuel because it is 95% alcohol. I generally avoid it for what turns out to be a good reason. Being 190 proof, it doesn't take a whole lot to light this stuff on fire. I was just wondering how long it would take for it to burn out but that was not for me to know. I'd never lit alcohol on fire in a glass before so this was new territory for me. I stole Thibaut's lighter and set it aflame without difficulty (big bloody surprise there). I just let it burn and it was going for about 3 minutes when Thibaut asked if I was going to drink it. I said no, that I was just going to watch it burn. He said something to the effect of "You can't do zat. Ze glass, she will break." Literally, 5 seconds later...
Yep, cut in half as if by a light saber. It was scary but also really cool. Later in the night, as punishment for breaking one of their shot glasses, Antonis and Thibaut (French shower bag, that he is) made me do a shot of Spirytus. My stomach isn't terribly strong in the first place and I had been having stomach cramps and general yuck type feelings earlier in the day. I was not keen on the idea but they made me do it anyway. I took the shot and obviously wanted to chase it with something as I had just drank something not intended for human consumption. I had my little plastic cup of water right there for support. Went to grab the cup but Monsieur Le Douche held my wrist down. I went for the cup with the other hand and he just slammed his hand down on the cup, breaking it. Needless, to say, I am not Thibaut's biggest fan. Well, I was planning on going over to Chelsea's flat while everyone else went to Kitsch. I had to drop by our flat to drop some things off but as soon as I walked in the door, I puked. I wasn't even drunk! Heavy, greasy Polish food + Spirytus + bad stomach as preexisting condition= spew in the hallway. Fail!