You know, they call rap and hip-hop “black music” here? Just throwing that out there.
Yeah, so two things happened over the last few days: I went to the Black Forest, and life got a lot easier.
Black forest first! I’ve got a good travel-narration on my pictures site, so check that out shut up. Here, I’ll share thoughts about it instead: it was fun, and pretty, although I was almost more impressed by Freiburg than the Schwarzwald itself. I think it’s all because of expectations. I was expecting trees wider than a Smart Car and taller than a Köln Dom, creating an eerily dim (nay, black) setting, with the ground covered by moss, and, you know, elves popping out here and there, and if they wouldn’t mind posing for a picture that would be nice. It wasn’t that. I kept thinking I could see the same thing back home. But I did take a few moments here and there to just enjoy being out in the woods (and by the lake), and that was nice, so I consider it a big old success.
Plus, you know, there’s my whole motto about how your primary goal while you’re traveling will end up irrelevant, and the things along the way will be memorable. Like how, after our long hike, we stopped in this little diner (in a end-of-the-line tiny train station, no less, in a place called “Seebrugg”) and got some soup, and they gave us each a shot of plum-flavored honey schnapps afterward, and what a great drink, and it was perfect. (Brought home a bottle, souvenir-hunting and liquor-swilling tourist that I am.)
Or how Freiburg has The Best little market, all around their (big, impressive) cathedral, almost every day! Or how it has little canals in the roads and is very eco-friendly. All those trees… it had a similar feel to Seattle, and I think that was because of the smell or the cleanliness of the air or something. Oh, and I almost forgot the great restaurant we went to! Friday night, we got in late and we were hungry, so we kind of stumbled into the first place that looked cool, and it was cool! Classic German bar sort of thing. I had some Badische Nudelsuppe (from Baden-Wurttemburg, the name of the region) and a half Flammkuche, which I didn’t know what it was, but it turned out to be an Alsatian thin, crispy pizza-ish thing (a “tart”, I suppose. Don’t start calling French dishes pizzas.), with some kind of awesome bacon and cheese.
It was also fun to play interpreter, as my little bit of German was a little more than Andy’s no German. I helped him get a 5-day German railpass for less than the cost of the ticket to Freiburg. I felt so useful! But still a whole lot of people spoke English. It still surprises me.
But yeah. Freiburg is a great city. It’d be fun to live there for a bit. In a sustainable house, you know. It’s like Maastricht, except you’d have more crunchy people and less rich people. (the prices were nice too!) And the Black Forest is a cool place. I’d love to get to explore it more.
The other thing that happened was my project presentation and exams. First of all, the project presentation was great. Our robot didn’t quite solve the maze (he needs a little nudge whenever he hits a crossroads), but we did better than most of the groups, I think, and the teacher was so impressed by all the nifty tricks we did that I’m not sure if he even noticed the shortcomings. High-fives all around, and now we can move on with our lives.
Exams were fine too; I think I did well enough in both to get grades that translate into A’s. Competitive, though: their scale is from 0 to 10, with about an 8 = A, 7=B, 6=C, etc. That extra differentiation at the top sucks. I mean, at CMU, you can get A-’s in all your classes and get a 4.0. In the Netherlands, you’d get an 8.0, I guess, which is worse than some other kid’s 10.0. (That other kid would be Daniel or Michael, the two German guys I worked with.) But hey, I don’t think these grades even get factored in to my GPA, so whatever. The classes are done, and I did pretty well.
That means I have no classes this weekend, my family’s coming, and next block is two easy classes. Rock on. The sun is shining, it’s market day, and I got very little sleep last night but I’m feeling fine!
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Grades are meaningless when compared to the importance of actually learning.
PS Stupid not being able to edit my comments
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