England!

March 8, 2009

So I know it’s been a long while since I posted up here, but there is a good reason.  Let’s see, on February 19, I left from Frankfurt headed to England.  There, I was met at the airport by Bob from Grace Fellowship in Little Stukeley.  Bob and Debbie were amazing hosts for the time I was helping out Grace Fellowship.  They helped me work out some traveling on my own as well as letting me stay in their house and filling me in on England.

For that week, I’d been on military bases more than ever in my life, save the one time on Memorial Day that Patrick’s sister took us to the naval base for the beach.  It was incredibly weird to be in a place in England that ran like America and took US Dollars.  That was a shock, especially since I haven’t had any US cash on me in about a month.  I got to have meals at the club, which reminded me a little of dining halls, and the bowling alley (yeah AMF :)).  Pastor Paul was really nice, too, and we got him set up with a web page for Grace Fellowship and how to podcast his sermons.  We also cleaned up his computer a little bit, I got to help Bob with his ipod, and got to see some of Huntingdon.

The last full day I was with them, 24 Feb, I took a £6 bus to Cambridge.  That area is absolutely beautiful.  I really wished that I had gone to Cambridge for at least a summer abroad if not a year or more.  The campuses were amazing, and Cambridge is celebrating its 800 year anniversary, which just blows my mind.  My first stop was Trinity college, which has a large courtyard and has claim to fame Isaac Newton.  There are large statues of Newton, Tennyson, among others in their chapel, which felt like home in the Wren chapel.  Speaking of Wren, I took a visit to the Wren Library (the same Christopher), where I got to see a real lock of Newton’s hair, an original marked-up copy of Principia, and the original copy of Whinnie the Pooh.

That was definitely the most adventurous.  From there, I walked around the backs (Cam), ventured through Claire’s College and Kings College.  I also got to see the Mathematical Bridge, which according to legend, can stand on its own even if all the nuts and bolts were removed.  The Fitzwilliam museum also had an impressive collection of Egyptian artifacts as well as an extensive collection of art.

After dark, I returned to Huntingdon and prepared to leave the next day for London.  The £21 train ride was mostly uneventful, but put me in King’s Cross train station in about an hour.  By the way, I looked for the pretend legendary platform from Harry Potter, and sadly due to construction, it was hidden from view.  Oh well.  Went straight to the hostel, Astor Quest, got checked in and caught up with a friend.  We then went to see Wicked, which is an awesome musical that I would recommend!

The next three, well four, days were a whirlwind.  The first day, Thursday, we saw the Tower of London complete with Crown Jewels.  We had a wonderful guide with a great sense of humor.  He showed us the original “Watergate” which was of course the entrance for cargo into the castle walls that was later renamed the “Traitor gate” for obvious reasons.   From there, we went to the National Gallery and saw quite a few famous paintings (or, paintings from famous painters, really).  I got to see a Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo (can you tell where this is going?–now, where’s Donatello, again?).  Also got to take in the Sherlock Holmes Pub.  What an adventure :).

Friday was also packed.  We went to see Big Ben and the houses of Parliament.  The walked by the Thames and ended up at the Tate Britian museum, which really pales in comparison to the national gallery :).  We then made it to Buckingham Palace and walked down the Mall (which is just a street) back towards the National Gallery.  Buckingham Palace is not really very fancy, except for the ludicrous gold (or gold-plated) statues and gates, etc, that surround it.   We also ran across the guards on horseback, which had to stand in one place for a long period of time.  As you can image, the horses were not too keen on that.  I wouldn’t be either.  After dinner, I got to dance for the first time in about a month or two.  We went to a salsa club (more like a dance studio), learned the Ruedo and then joined in the open Salsa dancing.  Nice, but expensive.  Why is it that salsa/mambo clubs make you pay for everything?

Saturday presented some problems.  The Circle line of the underground wasn’t running.  So, trips around the circle had to be executed with carefully placed changes.  This worked fine dropping my friend off at the bus station, but then was problematic when I tried to go sight-seeing.  The trains that run alongside of the circle line, stopping at the same stops–including the toursit attractions–do not run their entire length on the weekend.  So, there was no underground service to the tourist attractions!  I took the District line as far as it would go, Embankment, and then walked down the Thames the 3 or so other stops that I needed to get through to get to the sites.  It was a nice walk, but I didn’t quite have the time.  I ventured across the Millenium bridge and into the Globe theatre, where I got to see the actors preparing for the upcoming performace of Romeo and Juliet.  Leaving there, I went next door to the towering Tate Modern.  Without paying money for anything, it appeared that only the 2nd floor was open.  I didn’t spend much time there, just long enough to see the Monet and Picasso, I believe, before running off to the British Museum (again, no small feat with the lack of underground service).  The British Museum was amazing!  To top it off, I only saw about a tenth of it.  I got to see mummies, Egyptian statues, Roman and Greek statues, and so much more.  I would recommend making at least a day trip out of just that museum!

Sunday was the expensive day.  I spent £49 for a day trip to Stonehenge and Bath.  Stonehenge was absolutely amazing.  It was such a short trip that I’m still trying to take it all in.  The stones are probably 4-5 tons each and moved over an expansive amount of land.  That and we don’t know Stonehenge’s original purpose.  Bath was gorgeous.  The city is beautiful and I do believe I wouldn’t mind living there someday.  The baths were pretty impressive, too.

I know I should have gone into more detail there, but that was my trip to England.  I mounted the underground at 8am on Monday, traveling all day to arrive home at about 5pm, and proceeded to get sick along the way.  I’ve been sick (and still am) since Monday, which is why this post has taken almost a week to get up.  Pictures of all these things are on my flickr page (link’s on the right), and if you want more details about anything, feel free to comment.


An Amazing Weekend

February 15, 2009

Hopefully this post will take this time.  I wrote over half of it just a minute ago, just to have most of it disappear, then to have firefox act crazy and quit.  So, I’m on Opera this time, which is a fine browser, might I add.  I’m also going to try to get some pictures in here!

This weekend was absolutely amazing!  I got to meet some new people and hang out  for quite a while with some new friends.  On Friday night, I went with some of the young adults from ICF to a pub to hear Alyssa’s concert.   It was quite a nice concert, especially for mostly Christian music in a pub.  She also had an amazing bassist and drummer with her.   The best part was getting to meet some new people from the church and really getting to talk with them.

Höchst Castle

Bridge to the Park

Tree

Bockenheimer Warte
Saturday was the first day all week that I could sleep in (YAY).  After getting out, I made it to Höchst, Bockenheim, and to the Zeil.  I had to scour the internet trying to find something cool that I haven’t seen yet, and landed on Höchst.  It’s a nice little town on the Main river which has a “castle” and some really nice statues.  Then, after walking around the area for a while, I decided to move on.  However, the trek took me to a park on the Main which had some very beautiful scenery.  So, instead of walking back to the Höchst train station, I saw a biking sign for Niel (I think) which said that it was .8km across the bridge and through the park.  Of course, after walking about a km, there was another sign for Niel that said 1km.  So, I gave up and exited the park and found a tram stop.  The tram was slower and didn’t get me to Bockenheim (the University area) until nearly 5:30.  I tried to enter the Japanese garden, but that proved useless.  I don’t know what the signs said, but it looked closed.  Everything closes at 6, so I managed to peruse a Woolworth store before hopping the train to the Zeil and then back home.  Michael had a farewell party for his old place that night, so I went and crashed for a little while.  Once I found it, it was quite fun, and even got to play some Rockband (German style :)).  Apparently I’m not as good on German Rockband as I am on the US version.

Today, Sunday, was the best day, though.  I went to ICF for church, which is much better now that I see familiar faces :).  After church, I met some new people and a bunch of us went to lunch at a Mongolian Restaurant.  Oh the memories of Williamsburg, although it was much more expensive here (€16).  Then, while taking Melodi and Olesya back to the u-bahn, we decided to drive back and hang out for a little while.  We walked up to the top of one of the larger hills in the area where they live (they’re both au pairs) and then up a metal tower that has an amazing view of Frankfurt (in the distance) and the local towns.  I need to ask Melodi the name again, but I think it’s Hofheim.  The view was absolutely amazing, although it was a long way down.
View from the Top

Hills

View from the Top

By the way, both Olesya and Melodi dance, so one evening, I think we’re going to try to get people together to go ballroom dancing in Frankfurt.  I’m so exited!  (Like I said, it was a great day).

Now, it’s time to put the computer away in anticipation of work tomorrow.  Should be a decent (short) week, since I’m leaving on Thursday for England!  (Plus, I’m going to get a haircut there.  Any suggestions on style?  I’m not doing a buzz cut, though).


World Traveler

February 5, 2009

So, yesterday was quite the experience.  Well, in planning, that is.  After talking to some pastors via email and sitting with Lorraine for a bit of the day, we’ve started to get some plans for where and when I’ll be in different places.  There are churches in England (Yeah, Spivey, I’m going to England AND I get to watch British television whenever I want from Germany), Italy, Romania, Ukraine, and some other places, I believe, that want some technical help.  So, I already know that at the end of February for a week or so I will be outside of London, England.  After travelling there, I will be in Aviano, Italy (near Venice) for about a week or so.  Then, I will be in Portugal for a conference from March 12-18.  Sometime in April I will most likely be in Rome, Italy, with some other places thrown in as well.  The most amazing part is that Lorraine is allowing me (instead of doing a lot of my own traveling at the end, I guess) to stay a few extra days in each place to tour around on my own.  I have to pay expenses for those days, of course, and I’m happy to :), but the to/from expenses will be covered as the trip to the church would normally be.  I’m so excited!  Plus, I will get to experience the wonders of Ryan Air (cough-Spivey-cough) many times throughout the trip.  Who knew you could get airfare for free from one place to the other (with only the cost of taxes/fees included)?

So, I’m not going to have that many weekends free here in Germany, it looks, but I have to weigh the merits of getting a Bahn card (50% off trains in Germany, but it costs over 100 euro) because I would like to travel and see some places in Germany before I leave.  Lorraine has told me of a few good places to visit, Mia some others.  I would like to try to make it to Amsterdam, too, maybe for a random weekend.  It will be quite the adventure to see how things work out.  At least I get more travel money from my taxes (YAY REFUND!) and have found a way to avoid bank penalties in withdrawing money in Germany (YAY CREDIT UNIONS!).

That’s a lot about travel, what about work?  I’ve spent the last week just “goofing off” in sorts.  I’ve sketched out a new look for the IBC’s website (currently www.ibc-churches.org), redesigned some logos that really needed it, and have been in communication with churches.  It feels like I’m not being productive at all, but I know that as soon as the man gets back next week with the web hosting connections to get the new IBC website space running and brings back the computer that I need to evaluate (I’m making 3 different computers out of 3 old computers, each for a different purpose, but only have 2 of the 3 now) that things will pick up and I will be much busier.

For the first time last night, minus hanging out with Mia for the first weekend, I got to meet and interact with some local young adults (22-25 years) at a Bible study last night, and it was good to hear from them about Frankfurt and life in general, and to just be around people my age.  Hopefully I will be able to do some more things with them and see more of the city from the insider’s perspective :).

In other news, I posted a week or so ago that I did not get the Fulbright for next year.  Well, I got an email from UVA (the only school I applied for this year) saying that I had been accepted for a PhD program in Computer Science.  Now I have to figure out what to do next.  My options so far are PhD in CS at UVA or Swansea (wales), MA in Mathematics (American Univ, Washington), continue the MDiv at BTSR, or find a job somewhere.  I guess knowing about Financial Aid and/or funding would help significantly in that decision making process, plus a time to just discern what I really want to do in my life.  Maria (I think her name was) said, jokingly, that 25 was old because your 30s are supposed to be your best years since you’ve figured out what you want to do (in your twenties), you have a job, car, family, and are just living life.  Well, I’m 26, and I still don’t know what I want to do.  Oh well :).


I’m going to be a little busy

February 2, 2009

So, today was a pretty interesting day.  I finally got the details of how living expenses will work for the next few months, and after originally worrying about costs of local transportation for non-work trips, they have amazingly offered to help out with them.  That should make it easier to get around on days when I need to get out of the house (aka the office) :).

However, once I found out about this, I realized how much I will be travelling over the next few months and that I probably won’t need much local travel.  Why’s that, you ask?  Well, at the end of February, I should be going to England!  Then, beginning of March-ish would be Venice, Italy area, followed by a conference in the middle of the month in Portugal.  After those, there will be other trips to Rome, Bucharest, and Kiev.  Plus, I’ve been allowed a few days in each place, as I want, to do some personal travel too, which some will hopefully line up with one friend’s travel or allow me to catch up with some friends around Europe.

Wow 🙂


By the way, we’re going 100 mph…

January 30, 2009

What a week it has been.  Lots of highs and a couple of lows.  I spent all Monday running errands, Monday night and Tuesday packing the room like crazy and then Tuesday night got on the flight over here.  It was definitely a whirlwind experience, and mainly a blur.  Had one of the most amazing flights I’ve ever had, smooth and not really nervous.  Thanks for everyone praying for me there, it was definitely a blessing to not be nervous on that flight.  (I was actually more worried about the icy trip to the airport than the flight itself).

After I got to Frankfurt, Jimmy picked me up and drove me home.  It was quite the adventure on the autobahn. We were definitely coming in at 160kph, which is 100mph.  But, when we arrived, we had some lunch and I had time to unpack and settle in.  It’s been a lazy week in the work respect.  The person in charge of getting everything straight for me is on vacation until Monday, so it’s been pretty laid back for me so far.  I also don’t really know details about finances yet, but I’m sure everything will be straightened out on Monday :).  The most interesting part I’ve learned is that I will be driving one of their cars here (apparently you can do that on your state-side license), which scares me quite a bit.

The fun part of the week is to have a friend visit this weekend and have a companion to go tour Frankfurt with.  It’s been really exciting and I will post pictures of Frankfurt by the end of the weekend.  The worrying part of the weekend is that I’ve had a renewed fear as to what I will be doing when I return in June.  I just received the “I regret to inform you…” letter from the Fulbright, which marks off the work for that I did this fall.  So, I can only hope that I get clear direction over the next few months as to where God wants me to be.  I know there’s a plan out there somewhere, and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t involve sitting behind a computer all the time, but it’s really starting to make me worry as I try to discover what that plan is (and have plans that I want for myself pulled out from under me).  Fun times…


Packing on two fronts

January 23, 2009

It’s hard to pack for a trip for 4 months.  Even moreso for one that spans three seasons, winter, spring, and summer.  Man, did I pick a bad time to go to Germany :).  I’ve already filled up my suitcase.  It’s amazing how much space sweaters, sweatshirts, and long pants can take up.  All my summer clothes (like those I took last time to Germany for two weeks and fit in a carry-on sized suitcase) fit in the bottom 1/6 of the suitcase, but the other 5/6 are already full of winter-esque clothes.  I’m going to have to downsize or take two separate suitcases, which is my plan.  I just don’t know how I’m supposed to dress for the day when I’m working with the IBC.  Hopefully I’ll figure it out when I get there :).

I say it’s hard to pack on two fronts because while I’m packing for Germany, I’m also packing up to leave BTSR student housing.  Everything must go.  So, it’s either going into a suitcase or a box.  It’s kind of sad, especially because I’ll be in an empty room Monday night, but maybe this time I’ll actually get on with decision making.  I’ve been in a slump over the past few years, living in a period of “I don’t know what to do next, so I’ll just stay here and keep trying to decide.”  That kind of thinking will never get you anywhere.  If you make a hard decision and stick to it, it’ll either prove the right one or you’ll quickly find out it’s not right for you.  I’m hoping I find my purpose or at least a firm direction to head while I’m in Germany.


Another Try

January 15, 2009

So, I’m sure anyone who’s read this knows that I didn’t actually go to South Africa as I had originally planned.  Well, I’m not sure that I had planned that too far in advance.  Well, I’m about to embark on another trip.  I’m going through the VBMB again, but this time to work with the International Baptist Convention in Frankfurt.  The tickets were ordered yesterday, which means I’m definitely leaving Jan 27 and returning June 2.  It’s quite exciting, but it means a lot of work over the next two weeks.

This time, I’m going to move out of the dorm here at BTSR.  Remarkably, I’m at the same point I was 2 weeks before planning to leave for South Africa, but this time I’m not as worried or as pressured.  It’s going to be quite the week next week as I have to pack up and move out all my stuff here while at the same time trying to sell a computer, finish a website, and pack for my trip.