01 February 2007

The Semester Comes to a Close

I’ve been fairly busy recently, and with my final exams this week and next I assume it will remain that way. The problem with the German university system is that there are no other grades for a class than the final exam. This means, at least for me anyway, that everything will feel fine until the last few weeks before the exam, then the student will realize that he or she must hit the books. Although to put it like that is a bit of an understatement. It is far more accurate to say that the student must attack the bound pages of grammar, geography, and what have you with a fury and intensity similar to that displayed by a gorging lion pride. In the mean time, here’s a post mostly of photos from the last two weeks.

Two Saturdays ago I went with International Student Organization to the Alps in the cities of Garmisch and Patenkirchen. One finds these two towns about as far south in Germany as one can drive before entering Austria. Even here though the Alps only begin to rise from the continent. While not as tall and stunning as the Swiss or Austrian Alps, the scenery was nonetheless beautiful. However, you will notice the disappointing lack of snow in the photos. It felt more like a Spring day.

Here are all of the Spanish girls as we wait for our bus. From the left, Maria, Nawellia, Ellena, Angela, and Olga.

The first part of our day was spent hiking through a rock gorge worn over the millennia by the oh so patient yet persistent force of moving water.

Next we hiked up to the summit of one mountain which rose to around 3,800 feet above sea level. I don’t think the organizers of the excursion have a lot of hiking experience because they underestimated the group’s ability to ascend the trail in a timely manner. Looking around at the summit I think it was safe to say that most people were wondering what the planners were thinking. Of course many of the girls were also wearing stylish boots instead of good athletic shoes, I imagine that could have played a part in their misery. I on the other hand had a great time; the hiking made this my favorite excursion with the ISO.

From the Summit we took a cable car back down to Garmisch. The Winter Olympics were held in the city a few times in the mid-1900s. Here are some views of the cable car and the ski jump stadium. Television greatly distorts the height and angle of these jump structures.

From the train station we could see the Zugspitze, Germany's tallest mountain at almost 10,000 feet. It's the peak the farthest to the right.

Last week the first Winter snow arrived in Eichstaett for the year, and remained around for nearly the whole week before the temperatures took an abrupt about face and rose above the freezing point.

Here is the university's main library. It was desigend by architect Daniel Libeskind, who also designed the orignial redevelopment plans for the World Trade Center site in New York City.

On Thursday I presented a belated Christmas gift to my university-appointed tutor, Charlotte. The gift, which my parents brought from America, was a piece of pottery molded by a pair of relatively famous artists in the area of Memphis, the McCarteys. She repeated over and over that a gift was unnecessary, but after the excellent help with which she provided me during my first days in Eichstaett I regarded such talk as nonsense.

This past Friday was Nawell’s last day in the Eichstaett before heading back to her university in France. A small goodbye party was held for her in the fourth floor kitchen of St. Mike’s dorm. The first photo is of the party’s honoree.

Here we have Amelie. I look at her and think French.

The same usually goes for Ester.

Sunday I made a good old typical American breakfast for Federica, Valleria, and Charlotte. The meal consisted of bacon, scrambled eggs, hashbrows, and blueberry pancakes. The maple syrup proved a tad difficult for me to track down in Eichstaett, but I eventually found some imported directly from Canada. When we sat down to eat Federica asked what were we supposed to eat first, I smiled and said everything together. One thing I’ve noticed about the European eating habits is that very different tastes, such as sweet and savory, are rarely enjoyed at the same time. Therefore, sugary blueberry pancakes covered in syrup with eggs and meat on the side seemed odd to the Italians. Charlotte, having lived in Vermont for a short period of her life, knew better what to expect out of the breakfast, and had tried each item before. However, each dish was new for the Italians, who seemed to enjoy it all down to the last morsel.

As of today I have only two exams remaining. Now that we’ve caught up, I must be returning to the lion’s den to continue my studies. Once I’ve completed the last multiple choice, you should expect a post about my upcoming travels, which I’m referring to as my European odyssey, and my plans for the next two months off from school.


DaddyO said...

Nicholas, nice post. You stated Zugspitze is highest peak in Germany at 10k feet. I was thinking they had higher peaks with the Alps, guess they are more south. I really like that 5th picture rolling hills with moutains in the background. Is that Ellena at the ski jump? I LOL on your comment on Amelie, and would have to agree. Plus was that Federica and Valleria in that one picture with you? Well let us hear about plans for the big trip!

Nick O. said...

Only the front ranges of the Alps occur in Germany, so they don't come any taller than the Zugspitze. Although, 10,000 feet is not mole hill. The Alps peak at around 15,000 to 16,000 feet. The highest mountain in the Rockies is Mt. Elbert at close to 14,500 feet. The higher Alps are in the Western range.

Ellena is at the base of the ski jump. And you were half right; I'm sitting with Valleria and Franchesca at the summit of the mountian.

As for the photo with Amelie, I think to make it peferct she needs a crossant in her left hand instead of a lighter.

quererysipoder said...

Yes, this french girls also remind me my 'sterotype' of french- :P