Cologne, Germany

I like cities with blue skies. 
Cologne did not have particularly blue skies, and it’s been one of the coldest cities so far, but the experience and company I got from here has been one of the best ones, and that makes up for everything. And that makes Cologne special to me.
My awesome room in Cologne, that comes with breakfast!!!!!! 

Earplugs, and sweets!!!! For the latter, my heart is sold, always
Schildergasse – shopping street (gina!! tricot!!) but i contained myself and my wallet well
THE Cologne Cathedral
Unfortunately, I think the past cathedrals (e.g. Strasbourg’s) has rubbed off some of the fascination away, which made me somewhat sad because, well, I want to be filled with wonderment forever
Beck showed me around today. After 509 steps we were at the top of the Cologne Cathedral (that never-ending climb……) 
view (inside me comparing with Strasbourg’s, but really! i should just appreciate this)
* not representative of writer’s views *
So that’s me and Beck, my Turkmen friend (and I say friend, because I sincerely felt so, having talked SO MUCH) and our only photo, which a stranger offered to take at the top
Diana was in school, so she didn’t join us, and I never got a photo with her and her pretty eyes (hahahha)
 The love locks bridge, the park, the nice view from behind the bridge. The fragrance museum, where I got a bottle of the original Eu de Cologne.

Seriously, I’ve really enjoyed talking to people and it fills, to some extent, that void inside me that craves for THOUGHT. THINKING about things, getting PERSPECTIVES. Squeezing my brains dry. Other people’s views that stick with you. That you’ll carry with you. ‘Yes and no“.

psychological experiments, economics, geography, childhood games, parental management, grandparents, internet, calling (no skipping), domestic abuses, divorce rates, househusbands, macdonalds, movies (slumdog millionaire/inception/walle/memento/up/chucky), meaning of life, religion, god, breakups, love, drugs, capital punishment, internet, nintendo, super mario (but not pokemon), LGBT, whatsapp, wechat, demolishing old buildings,

==

At this point, I’m pretty mindblown. Just 2 days ago I knew nothing about Turkmenistan and now I’m just googling and gawking at the screen. An outsider’s online portrayals / perceptions of the place, emphasis on certain information, the kind of impression it conveys about the country, the people – these are just the ‘mass media’, we did talk about that. And I feel like I’m witnessing these first-hand. 
From these online sources the impression I get of the society, of the people, are those which contain a tinge of ignorance, of negativity. But because I spoke to Beck for hours before I read these articles, the impression I’m getting is very different. What I mean is this; if I had read these, my impression of Turkmenistan would have been rather poor, I would think. But because I began the other way round – I understood Turkmenistan from a local, and then the internet, it was very much different and helped neutralize the views. I understood what the Internet did not emphasize on, and how it emphasizes on the juicy stuff. So I guess I’m shocked, …
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6-hour bus ride to Cologne

I didn’t get the window seat, which was pretty disappointing because it was so scenic – windmills and all – and people didn’t seem bothered with the outside. On my right was a guy reading, and I sneaked a peek at his book (for fun, i was bored and my eyes wandered) and saw two names: Henry, and Clare. And immediately I knew – the time traveller’s wife, one of my favoritest book in the world.

I couldn’t help it, I had to ask him – was this the book? The page was in German, so I couldn’t tell, but I HAD to know if I was right. And he looked surprised, and he said yes it was, he got it at a random bookshop because he knew it’d be a long journey. And that was how our conversation began.

He was a writer, and he studied Philosophy, and to me that was really interesting, because sometimes I chance upon existentialism and I just wanted to hear a Philosophy student’s POV and the way he analyses things. Being caught in structures, routines. Void – a Polish name, which meant emptiness in English. We talked about the novels he wrote / was writing, his little girl, and i’m happy I caught a glimpse of the way a writer works, how they weave part of themselves into their characters. (A part of me was thankful that I asked the question about 2 hours before we arrived at Cologne, because my head was exploding nearing the end, and I was running out of questions, hehe) But it was nice, and he agreed, and we wished each other well as we parted.

It was easy to get to Dieter’s. I met my flatmates in the evening after a brief exploration of the old town of Cologne, and they were from Turkmenistan, a place I previously did not even know of. I’m trying to google more about it now, and apparently it’s part of the USSR. We went for a drink, and the conversation flowed quite readily, from religion to capital punishment to school life to the future, and it’s all really interesting. Apparently they dont have to pay for electricity in their country, because of the abundance of natural resources. Imagine that! Not paying for electricity?? :O

A part of me finds it hard to digest sometimes, how we live in such different parts of the world but the food we eat, the shows we watch (2 and a half man, beck showed me for breakfast, which was hilarious), the music we play, the movies we watch – it’s all the same! All the same hip hop, Kate Nash, Inception, all the same, the top music, all the same.

Chanced upon a quote in Middlesex on the bus ride which rang true: –

You used to be able to tell a person’s nationality by the face. Immigration ended that. Next you discerned nationality via the footwear. Globalization ended that. 

Those Finnish seal puppies, those German flounders—you don’t see them much anymore. Only Nikes, on Basque, on Dutch, on Siberian feet.

Goodbye Freiburg

Last glimpse of sunshine filtering into the room. Goodbye Freiburg, goodbye room
Such a meaningful one week in beautiful Freiburg. I have gained a lot in this one week, and I’ve gained a lot in staying in this apartment and talking to my flatmates. Sam has been so nice to me, she’s been not only a host but also a friend. We had breakfast together, and I cooked her omelette (and I am absolutely relieved that it tasted quite nice), and she gave me muesli. I’m really lucky to have met someone so sweet 🙂 

Aldo came to Freiburg today, met my cray cray friends at the Seepark

Aldo and I played miniature golf, Cher cheering me on. Highlight of the day – I WON!!!!!! I HAD 2 HOLES-IN-ONE!!!! I WON ALDO I WON ALDO ~~~ And that’s something I’m gonna remember forever, HAHHAHA. 😉
looking pro so i’m trying to imagine how i must have looked……. 

WOOHOOOOOOOOOOOO
Me photo of dinner, which i quickly and discreetly took so i will not reinforce the asians-who-take-photos-of-food stereotype. HAHAHHA
My flatmates sit in the kitchen, lie on the sofa and talk. Reminds me of hall, we talked in the kitchen today (i feel like i learn something new everyday), before room-visiting and comparing rooms. Reminds me of hall once again. It’s really nice chatting with them, and I wonder if it’ll be the same in Loughborough. I really hope so.

Overly wordy post, but I’m actually pretty tired, today i slept in (until 10am) but right now I still have to pack. So lazy to drag myself out of bed in this weather. I want to snuggle in this comfy bed (which i have to part forever in <12 hours)  and sleep……..

to rmb: gas that costs $3 per GALLON in the US, education that costs $240,000, pets

Heidelberg

Sitting in a Macdonalds in Heidelberg (for the wifi) while waiting for the bus.
I find myself trying to make conversations with locals, so easily too, asking questions here and there, smiling. Are you a tourist? Are you a student? Where are you from? What is it like? Is that your pet? I want to know, I want to know more

I feel like this immense zest in me will fizz out soon, as with my initial amazement with snow, with European buildings, with France, with castles and so forth. The intense uncontainable surge of joy that rushes through my blood and spills through my lips will soon be dried up by my numbed, gradually-apathetic brain. These short-lived moments of excitement and exhilaration. 
I hope not, though, and I hope for more exciting days to come 🙂 Meanwhile, I’m basking in these moments the best ways I can.

 The sun had barely risen and I was awake (jolted awake an earlier before my alarm – i am a kanchiong spider) 

My daily dose of icecream. It’s been a week, it’s an unhealthy part of my daily diet. But it makes me happy 🙂

You know, for now, I’m really thankful and happy to be here. I can’t help but think that I deserve this, I deserve this because I’ve worked so hard for it, and the timing cannot be better. I’ve been waiting for so long for this, and right now I just want to bask in every moment and stay happy all the time because I should be, because I want to be and because I think I deserve to be. Such a snobbish statement, but when I try to suppress / retract this line it peeks out from my lips again – I really think I deserve this. Which means I sincerely, from-the-bottom-of-my-heart think I deserve this. And you know what, I should stop trying to question / undermine that and EMBRACE it. I deserve this, I DESERVE THIS.
– inserts ‘ok, chill’
– inserts ‘but you don’t understand! whining-

to rmb:
England, Ontario couple, Freiburg student who brought guinea pigs home, map lady, Nuremberg and its rebuilt buildings / structures that were destroyed during the war

—–

Came back home, Sam was outside with the key I took, she had to wait for me to get back before returning home. I thought she’d be a little frustrated to say the least, but she was SO NICE and told me about her bad day – which was really bad 😥 – and then there we were, whispering along the corridors and listening to her love life. And then we talk and we talk, and someone walks out, so we go back to our rooms – but THAT feeling, you know that feeling? That feeling of having shared something, having a shared moment, quiet whispers along the corridors, and you step back into your room feeling floaty and happy, a moment you’ll remember. Thank you for that :’)

Black Forest – Schauinsland (Freiburg Adventures)

Dutifully blogging, I’m proud of myself really 🙂

Schauinsland – part of the Black Forest – check!

 Walked around Augustinerplatz – spotted the most BEAUTIFUL windowsills and doors. My, how I’ve always wanted my hosue to look like this. I was very much enchanted with it (gush gush, gush gush) and attracted weird stares. I liked it so much:
Cher ended class, and we met for lunch before heading to Schauinsland.

mining museum, where i did not understand anything except for 1 joke expressed visually. but i had the flyer, and i do enjoy listening to foreign languages – it sounds melodious to me, i am somewhat fascinated 
 hipsterz miner

 the bench photo
 the shu nu photo
 the awkwardly self-timed photo
 the last photo before we headed down, flies in face
flies in face BUG OFF

I took this photo while we were in the nice strangers’ car

I like to think that everything happens for a reason, and this has helped me in many ways because THINGS REALLY DO HAPPEN FOR REASONS

Tonight our apartment had a blackout. I sat by myself at the edge of my room to get that tiny bit of light from the outer corridor, until a new Vietnamese girl walked in (who just came on an 18 hour flight, mind you), followed by Yulia (or so it is pronounced) and then Sam. We walked around trying to find the electrical box, worrying about the chicken in the fridge, our unchargeable phones, and then had our mini introductory session by the corridor. Maya later walked out and talked about the possible cause. Anyway, it was funny and someone said “enough drama for tonight” and Sam said it was rare we had all girls here. They talked about going for a walk together, and I smiled but I was sad I wasn’t studying here. I was leaving this weekend.. 😦 They were so nice! Also, Julia (Yulia) said she loved my skirt, and that I had cute outfits. HEHEHEHE. I like crowding along corridors and chatting, it reminds me of my l5sw.

My first proper solo trip tomorrow, to Strasbourg! Excited 🙂 I cannot speak a word of French, I only hope all goes well xxx.

Seepark (Freiburg)

The beauty of having a poor sense of direction is that it forces you to talk to people, and the beauty of talking to people is finding out things you’d never expect to know. A connection to another being. Aha, finding ways to justify myself again. Hehe. Met a Holland tourist / missionary who worked in Bombay for 33 years (learnt how to pronounce Utrecht properly) an African doing her masters, a German student from Dusseldorf, several people (old man, old lady) who earnestly tried to explain to me in German the way.

i spy with my little eye:

Cleaning itself less than a metre from me, unabashed
sunny freiburg is sunny

As I strolled along the park, rays of sunshine beating down my back,  I was reminded of how beautiful the world can be. Why did I ever question the bleak thought about the meaning of life? I think, if ever I feel so bleak again, what I should do would be to spend my last penny on an air ticket, talk to every stranger who smiles back, and you’ll remember again.

At this point, I decided to put down my bag, sit with my ice-cream and enshrine the moment in pixels.

It is only my second day in Freiburg, and I like it very much already. It is elderly-friendly, disabled-friendly, bicycle-friendly, and eco/green.
A very likable, very livable, very endearing city. Cher will definitely like it here. 🙂
Great place to think about retirement (!!!)

Something particularly charming about the little rivulets streaming down along the streets

 Freiburger Munster

 Markets at Munsterplatz

 Chocolate stash, to keep me sane when meeting with bitchy phonelines and all
Sam, the loveliest host!!! Whom I met in London 😉

Sunny Freiburg

Currently settled in: Freiburg, Germany

I’m sleeping in the room of a Dentistry student tonight. Beside the bed which I happily bounced on a couple of seconds ago, I see some models of dentures and giant figurines of a tooth. I am also resisting the urge to touch her things – it is rude to snoop around people’s items, that I know – but a book catches my eye – “This Book Will Change Your Life”. Moral dilemma: To read or not to read.

This is why I love airbnb; you catch a glimpse of the local, of a fellow human. You quietly observe the things nonchalently placed around the room, the Deathcab posters, the ticket stubs, and you piece these fragments together and form your bubble of how this person must live. It is interesting, is it not, catching a glimpse of one’s way of life? Through these tiny pieces of puzzles left lying around for me to put in place in my mind as I like.

The place becomes not just a space to sleep in, but something closer, something more.

Tonight, Sam has been such a wonderful host. We walked to the supermarket, and she invited me to go upstairs to join for some drinks. Almost instinctively I hesitated, but some foot kicked the back of my head – ‘you’re on exchange’ – and before I knew it I had my first German wine, good conversations with local students and night had set in.

It does feel like exchange has begun; I am excited to wander off on my own, in my mind.

 Bus ride to Freiburg from Zurich

1 euro icecream ^^ ^^
 CURRYWURST – IT’S BEEN TOO LONG