Monday, June 29, 2009


I went to Auschwitz today with a group of fantastic people that I enjoy being with. I can't say it was nice or a good time because its Auschwitz, but it was a place I think every person should go. It was oddly serene and quiet, it seemed far far away form the Holocaust and all the awful things that happened there. I think the overgrown grass and dilapidation takes away from its extreme history as many of the original features as could be saved were salvaged. Our guide pointed out the carts used by the Nazis and all the bed frames and wooden fixtures were original. We got to see Auschwitz, and then its extension, 10x's the size of the first one, Auschwitz-Birkenau.

I got up early because people had come home late that night and so Greg and Pang stormed around the Hostel to get back at them. So I went out to get some water and breakfast. When I came back the group of us was awake and leaving to find a tour. We got lunch at an outside grill and I finally got a fantastic salad. I think people in Europe don't exercise and don't eat salad. We took the tour, and with the ride there, the tour and the ride back it took almost 6 hours, so it was a long day. We had dinner at another restaurant where they had pierogy with spinach, it was so good. I got to talk to people I hadn't had a good conversation with before and found out how much I like some of the people I am traveling with.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Down the Tubes

We went partying and dancing last night- it is GLC, every night has to have a celebration, but we got almost everyone to come out with us, which is unusual

We left Warsaw at 9 am this morning; everyone carted their luggage into the hallway making us look as though we were traveling with the world in our bags.

We boarded the tour bus to take us to Krakow and began our drive through the country. I think its interesting to see the common places that locals see every single day, gives you a better impression of what the country actually is like, not how dressed up it can be for tourists. When I first arrived in Poland I was not impressed. It was nothing Germany was, it is a country in development trying to earn its place in today’s world. It continues to grow on me, we passed through so many small Polish villages on the way to Krakow, small and undeveloped villages. I think my overall impression is one of continued growth. The cities are rundown, pictures of models and celebrities are posted on large billboards, covering up the rundown establishment with facades of beauty and airbrushing. It’s the kind of place that no matter how clean it is and how established it may look on the outside when you go inside you don’t actually sit on the toilet seat. It’s a place where squatting is necessary, you can get close, but you just don’t want to touch it.

So after about 2 hours on the road we started to notice white smoke ballooning off the right side of the bus, which quantified with a coolant leak. So in between any Polish city the group of us sat by the side of the road until a public transportation bus picked us up about 45 minutes later- not soon enough to stop one of the guys from eating a centipede… But we made it to town where we got “lunch” which was not edible, and waited for the next bus to come and pick us up.

Friday, June 26, 2009

I can't upload pics here. I will later

I like the feeling of riding in a train. How it doesn’t seem so modern, just the gentle methodical rolling along through the countryside. There are no long lines at customs, no bag check in or weighing stations, and no stewardesses yelling at you to sit down and buckle your seatbelt. It’s more peaceful, it’s calm. I like sitting here on the train to Warsaw and watching the strange forests fly by.

The 7 of us ran through the train station at Berlin to catch the train, we don’t think the other 12, the GLC leaders made it. It’s almost a romantic thought, flying through the German countryside on green couch cushions in little compartments fitting 6 people each.

We got to the Oki Doki Hostel by Taxi because my first impression of Poland is that it’s ridiculously crowded and difficult to navigate.

It’s easy to see that we are not in Germany any more. In the words of one of my teammates “Welcome to the former Soviet Union”, nothing is as developed or as pretty as Germany. I feel like we’ve gone a few years in the past. Pulling into the train station I saw farmers in the field and it struck me that there wasn’t any modern machinery. Men were in the fields staking fruit trees by hammering branches into the ground manually. It’s a wake up call to the way we function in the United States.

The hostel is a massive building where I can’t even begin to count the number of rooms they have. It took about 5 flights of steps to make it to the main desk, and we puffed up them dragging our luggage up behind us. It’s a big crazy and very loud looking with bright orange and crazy colors everywhere. I am situated in the “Danish room” which means there is basically no decoration, just brown blankets and 4 wall hangings.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lasy Day in Leipzig

Last day in Leipzig. The time went so fast. Unfortunately the last day was sluggish and uneventful. After a late night last night I slept until 10 am, watched a movie/worked out and talked with Abby, and then went back to bed until 3. :-)

I met Abby, Laura, and Diana for lunch at a Schnitzel house where at first I was wary of eating at and wasn't sure what it was, but it was the BEST food I had the entire time I was in Leipzig. It was die and go to heaven good. I take back all doubt. It came with potatoes and a small salad.

We took the tram to a restaurant for the formal goodbye with our teammates. We got to sit and talk for a few hours and had a nice little dessert. As a group we presented Crister Garrett with a box of Cuban cigars to thank him for all the work he put into the project and for helping us all for the past few months. I got to see Lilly, Stefan, and Julia again and say goodbye before I left. Leaving sucked a lot more than I though it would since we had gotten to be such good friends with our teammates and because they had done so much for us.

People hit the bars for a little while after the restaurant for one last hurrah. W walked over for a bout an hour and a half but headed back early to pack and sleep before getting on the train in the morning.

Summit Day

Today was the big Summit day with the representatives at his beautiful villa where we had specific instructions to get there early, be professional...
I got on the wrong tram.

I ran across train tracks, roads, and a huge public square while trying to keep my skirt down and my underwear up all in the rain. BUT I made it to the presentation on time, and other people made the same mistake as I did, so I didn’t look to ridiculous.

We proceeded to the beautiful villa by the library where the presentation took place; we had three American diplomats we were presenting to on issues in environment, finance, and economics. Each group had ten minutes to present but it did not take long for everyone to get through. I was so nervous when we went up for our turn. Stefan and I sat in front, across from the diplomats and presented our topic. We took turns talking, I’m not a good public speaker, but I got out what I needed to say. I don’t remember saying any “ums” or “likes” but then again I don’t remember a single word that came out of my mouth.

We got lunch at a coffee shop and discussed the feedback we had and wrote down a few changes. Back at the villa we discussed with the diplomats the plans/changes and proposed new ideas. It was very interesting, I didn’t get to talk much but it was good practice. We had a reception after wards with finger foods and champagne. So many GLCers were outrageously intoxicated it made me sick. They could not control themselves and made a spectacle of themselves in the embassy. We tried to go buy train tickets to Poland with everyone and almost got security called on us.

Later on we went to a bar to celebrate our last night with our German teammates. I had to catch a Taxi back because there were no trains or buses running.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Yay third wheel!
First free day we have had this entire trip. While the rest of the party went off to Berlin and Dresden, myself, Alison, and Roman headed off to the Leipzig Zoo. It was rather cold and rainy for a zoo trip, but we had been planning it for over a week and nothing was going to stop us.

We saw baby tigers and monkeys and all sorts of animals. The food there was some of the most fantastic I’ve had this whole trip, we got to pile as much food on a plate as we could fit. After about 4 hours of walking around we hit the tram back up and headed to Voelkenschlachtdenkmal (yes, I have no idea how to even think the word let alone pronounce it), a war memorial commemorating the defeat of Napoleon in 1813. Walking up to it was outstanding. It is one of the most beautiful buildings I have seen in Leipzig. It is so massive and beautiful it was completely awe-inspiring. It was in the middle of being cleaned though so parts of it were covered up.

Beer fest was happening about 20 feet from the monument so we headed over there after walking around. There were hundreds of people milling around and even more bratwurst and beer being served. We saw waffles with nutella for dessert and absinth being served. Polka music was everywhere and some women were dressed as nuns serving beer.

We left as soon as the rain started and got off the train and ran to a restaurant for some coffee.

Back at the dorm Diana told me to come to the “Distillery” with them, which I took to mean a place where they brew beer. We took the tram to somewhere in Leipzig and at one of the tram stations Diana unceremoniously threw her camera onto the concrete. We walked around city blocks in Leipzig for 45 minutes, asking random people for directions in English, German, and Polish. We finally discovered the "Distillery" was a random club with an 8 Euro fee out on the middle of nowhere. All in all Bailey made me pee outside in “nature” and it took almost 3 hours to walk to walk to the train station, determine where we were and get a bus home. I give up on going out in Leipzig. It’s too hard to get back home.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Moth Almost Came in my Mouth...

You know what is fantastic about foreign languages? You can't understand a SINGLE thing that's going on a round you. You can't order food, can't read signs, can't give the time of day. But then again, you also can't understand the creepy guy who comes up to hit on you, or what people yell out their car windows at you as they drive by. But last night Abby and I couldn't read the tram map and information.

We started off yesterday, my group and I, going to the cutest cafe for hot chocolate and pastries because the weather was ridiculously cold. I ended up getting a cup of what tasted to be just completely melted dark chocolate in a cup, I drank about 1/5 before feeling like I had just drank a cup of molten chocolate. We shopped and I bought a jacket, I found a lot more I want...maybe I will go back later...but I'm afraid to spend money.

Our presentations to Greg and colleagues went well considering we didn't practice, had no PowerPoint handout until about 10 minutes before the presentation, and didn't have a clue what we were saying. We only have a few adjustments to make and their criticism was not evil like I thought it would be.

I ate noodles in my room and watched a movie until Abby, Laura, and Diana came and rescued me and took me and Abby back to their dorm at about 11 pm. It wasn't until we were ready to leave at about 1:30 that we started having problems. Abby and I sped out to the tram stop, thinking the tram would be arriving at around 1:33, according to the map we had. It wasn't until 1:40 that we realized the tram went to our dorm, but was not stopping at our current location.

So we figured, lets call a cab. O wait a second, we don't have the taxi number...and we don't have a phone.
Ok, so lets go back to the dorm and see if someone can help us. O yea, the dorms are locked, someone would have to let us in...and we don't have a phone.

So we stood out there debating and dreading the only option we had left. Walking the 4 tram stops back to our dorm, at 2:00 am in the morning, in a foreign country where open containers and drunkenness are as common as walking your dog.
So we walked. We walked quickly, and talked pretty much the entire way back, throwing a little party every time we reached the next tram station.

It was cold and late and dark. But we made it after about 35 minutes. And then we passed out in bed.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Shopping today! I just got a jacket, but European styles are very interesting and different.

My group had a presentation in front of Greg and all the crazy directors which was surprisingly civil and sane. We did a 10 minute power point presentation which was to prepare us for the Embassy presentation. They told us what we did well and what we needed to change, I felt like we did a really good job.

People keep talking about a few nights ago, apparently the director of the German team told Greg not to treat his students how Greg has been treating us. It has been bad between the two of them. We got the nicest letter from Crister today though just telling us how fantastic we have been and just to continue working as hard as we have been. It was fantastically encouraging and nice to hear positive feed back.

I walked around town with Laura, Diana, Abby, and Sam for a while ad shopped a little more. Still hesitant about spending money until later on though.

Maybe tonight will be a movie night.
Tomorrow is our only day off, and it's going to be AWESOME!


June 18, 2009

I wake up and I eat a little bun with a ton of Nutella on it and it makes it a perfect chocolaty morning. I found a little grocery store by my dorm with a bakery attacked to it. It’s a fantastic place; I can get cheap food and fantastic pastries in the morning. I wsa so starving this morning I got a massive pasty and sat on a bench outside and ate it. I got some weird looks, I’m not sure if Leipzig-ians do that.

We worked with our team most of the morning finishing up our paper and summaries and Power points where I was still hungry and got a sandwich. We got lunch at a little Thai place in the center of town when we were finished. Shopping followed, but I have yet to buy anything. I need to find a clothing store that’s not real expensive and doesn’t make me want to translate Euro to Dollars every time I look at a price.

It wasn’t until later I realized I had no plans for the night and (once again) no way of contacting people. Lucky for me Abby was in her room and so we got on the tram and decided to get off at random stops. She got Burger King, which had weird fries and sold doughnuts. We took the tram out of town, each stop seeming shadier than the last. A lot of little places were open that when we walked past we could see slot machines and bright neon lights inside.

When we got back she traded me a piece of pizza for my internet so that she could write to her parents and check Facebook. In my dorm I had the nicest letter on my door from my roommate. She lets me know when things are going on or when the water is being turned off and she wrote that she bought a big Swiss cake that was sitting on the table and that I was free to help myself to it. ☺ Which I did.

Hells Bells

June 17, 2009

Bombshell of a day. Not quite sure why I’m writing about it because I don’t really want to remember it. I was supposed to meet Laura and Diana at the library at 1 and walk around and get lunch with them, later I found out their team suddenly rescheduled their meeting to earlier and they had no way of contacting me. So I took the train to the library and putzed around outside watching Germans and having Germans watching me. I stood there for about half an hour then walked around the little block by the library past the coffee shops and bakeries and then came back. At about 1:45 I figured they weren’t coming so I walked to the city center and explored the main town and took pictures because my team was supposed to meet at 3 and I didn’t have enough time to go back to the dorm.

I took the tram to the train station and arrived at about 2:50. I waited outside till almost 3:10 wondering why no one was there when there are 7 people on my team. I began to think I had the wrong place, maybe I got off at the wrong stop, maybe I read the message wrong. So I stood there another 20 minutes with all the lovely Leipzig smokers, then I went inside. I walked around the train station, grabbed a wrap and a yogurt and went back outside. No sign of anyone. So I once again hopped on the tram and rode the half hour ride back to my room feeling like I completely failed. I talked to Perry and ate my lunch/dinner and waited for my 7pm meeting, which I vowed not to miss.

Quarter after 6 I got on the tram (we ride trams a lot here) and went to the humanities building. I wondered around looking for Lecture Room 6 for about 10 minutes before I began to panic thinking I’d miss something important again. I found some English speaking German girls who told me the new lecture hall was around the corner, that this was the old hall. So I sprinted out the front door, since I had about 5 minutes to the meeting, and finally saw a few teammates outside and went with them to the lecture.

Then Doomsday.

Greg called us back in after the lecture had finished. Chewed us out for about 40 minutes and was as ridiculous and unprofessional as I have ever seen him. Everyone fought. I cried. Walking out of the meeting later on, the small group of us got attacked by another GLC professor who came after us down the street yelling insults at us.
I have never been more revolted or mortified for another person in my life. I could have yelled at her and told her exactly what I thought and how ludicrous she was acting, they all were acting, but I walked away.

We went down into an old bar/club/restaurant built on the old city foundations and had a good time for the rest of the night.

Rainy Leipzig

June 16

SOOOO rainy and cold today, I never thought to bring autumn clothes and an umbrella to Europe, I hope it clears up. I woke up early this morning and with nothing to do and no way to contact people I went on a walk. I woke up Abby to see what she was doing, but she went back to sleep.

It began to rain once I took the tram to meet Alison and Sam, my teammates at the other dorm, so I stood outside an apartment complex under a tree like a creeper trying to avoid getting drenched. When it got worse I moved to an alcove where I waited a while longer with my jeans, sweater, and hair completely drenched and ate a banana, random, I know. I looked like a crazy, drenched, banana-eating stalker.

We met our teammates to work on a paper and edit another one. I had my first wonderful soda since I’ve been here which was amazing. We attended a Fulbright speech and then went to dinner at an expensive Spanish restaurant. We puzzled over the menu for half an hour until the waitress came back and she took everyone’s order until she got to me and informed me in broken English that I had ordered a plate of pickles and that they had English menus if we wanted them. So amid our complete bewilderment as to why she didn’t give English speakers English menus to begin with we finally were able to order informed as to what we would be eating. Ice cream and the ever miraculous solving of the internet debacle followed and made it a good night.

I did ride back on the tram by myself at 1am because most team mates were too intoxicated to come with me and the guys were not decent enough to offer, so I got to see Germany’s scoundrel life first hand.


June 15, 2009

So far it has been easier hacking into someone else’s wireless connection at the train station in Frankfurt than it has been getting internet connection at the University of Leipzig. I am so jet lagged, tired, and dehydrated that all I want is to write a few e-mails, check facebook, talk to my boyfriend and go to sleep. The only option available to me right now is to go to sleep.

We began to learn the tram system today though with my amazing sense of mis-direction I never have a clue as to where the fuck I am or am going. If I did not travel in groups with other people I would be a perpetually lost and riding trams back and forth across town. We met with our Leipzig teammates after finding the University this morning and had introductions. We discussed for about 10 minutes how Mac users could log onto the internet…its still not working for me and every single other Mac person is located in the other dorm 20 minutes away.

A tour was scheduled for us after our meeting and so a man dressed as Martin Luther in a graduation gown with cap and tassel led us around Leipzig for 90 minutes and gave us a tour. The locals gave us strange looks, though I can’t image they don’t see tour groups on a regular basis. Maybe the thought of a German reducing himself to dressing up for tours was a perplexing site to them… We had lunch at an out door restaurant, Germans seem to be much bigger smokers than Americans, and there was a constant smell of ashtray. Water is so expensive here and it is frowned upon if you order or drink tap water so I stole a plastic bottle and continue to refill it in the sink when people aren’t looking. All the Germans I have talked to seem to think this is gross and unnatural. However they are the ones charging 2 Euro per tiny bottle of water so in my own very private little way I am getting back at the system.

I think my teammates derive much more pleasure from being able to legally drink than I do. So far being of age and having no open container law has been utilized to the highest degree. There was an opening cookout today for dinner where free beer was provided along with some fantastic German food. On the way home we stopped at an Aldi for some cheap food for breakfasts and lunches so that we don’t spend as much money on food, which is very expensive here as well.

Besides being jet lagged, I have eaten a ton of Nutella and am staying in to sleep while many teammates are going out to drink and party. Its been a good few days. Hope for internet tomorrow.

Sitting at a train station in Frankfurt waiting for our final departure at 6:22 pm to Leipzig every single one of us is feeling the dragging affects at over 36 hours of nonstop movement. I got up yesterday morning at 4:30 am to catch the plane out of Columbus to Boston. The a six hour layover for the plane to Dublin, 2 hour layover and a plane to Frankfurt, 8 hour layover and a train to Leipzig.
There is something about sleep deprivation that destroys you. I forgot how much I hate that nonstop rush from destination to destination until your dizzy, nauseous, and ready to fall asleep on the train station floor.
Nevertheless it’s the beginning. This is day one. Boston was so beautiful; we had lunch there yesterday and walked around the city center, just in time for the gay pride festival. We walked all the way down to the wharf and smelled the salt water and surf. Flying into Dublin we could not see a single skyscraper or mass urbanization. We didn’t have time to go out and explore the city but at 5am the speckled houses without lights on seemed much more tranquil than our noisy, turbulent ridden plane. We had lunch in Frankfurt today and are looking forward to moving along to the end of our road for a little while I sit here slightly unaware of what is going on around me and the weird looks we are receiving from our spontaneous camp out in the middle of the train station. Everyone is sprawled out on the tile floor asleep next to me.
My watch says its 3:00pm, my computer says its 9:00 am and my body knows it has been up and moving for over 36 hours with more traveling to go. I want a bed, and an Internet connection and some water.