Monday, July 29, 2013

"Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost"

Usually, I refrain from utilizing quotes because I believe I possess the ability to convey my thoughts in an eloquent manner; however, J.R.R. Tolkein's quote from The Fellowship of the Ring just happens to convey the theme of the past two weeks in such a brief manner that I think this time I can make an exception.

At the top of Cathedral in Berlin

Those Who Wander
I have heard many times from all sorts of people that traveling changes your worldview.  Personally, I did not think I would change that much from this experience.  I thought I would remain somewhat resolute in my beliefs and ideas about life, but they seem to be altering at a much faster rate than I anticipated.  When I travel, it seems my mind travels as well, exploring different frontiers.

I wish it wasn't blurry, but this was on a building in Berlin.
For example, I know I have said that Germany seems to be much more relaxed and I would like to continue to incorporate that aspect into my life when I get back to America; however, there's more.  Living in Germany has provided the opportunity for me to live on my own and to take care of myself without having a direct dependence upon my parents.  When I am in trouble or stuck in a city like Manheim last night, I cannot rely on my parents to get me out of a situation.  I have to and had to figure out what to do.   Because the trains did not start running again until four in the morning, I decided to stay the night in a hotel and leave on a train at six so that I would also have enough sleep for work the next day.  On this trip, I have had many moments where I planned and handled situations that normally my parents would control without my input.

Also, I am not going to say that this entire trip has been happy and gay without any hindrances in my happiness.  Personally, I do miss my friends and family; however, I know at some point in three weeks I will see them.  Going back means a lot of tough choices which I do not wish to divulge on the Internet, but Germany has prepared me to face them without compromising on who I am as a person.  I think one of the greatest lessons that anybody can learn is to stay resolute in who you are and actually stay who you are no matter how hard any alternative is.

Anyway, besides my mind wandering, I have also done a bit of wandering around this beautiful country.  Over the past two weeks, I wandered to Lovely Luxembourg and Beautiful Berlin.

Living Lavishly in Lovely Luxembourg
I love Luxembourg.  What was so nice about the city was that it had two levels to explore.  My colleagues and I were able to explore a castle and most of the city.  I would recommend the city to anyone especially because the people there are fluent in at least three languages which are French, German, and Luxembourgish, but most of them also know some English.

In a castle fortification in Luxembourg

One thing about Luxembourg though is that if you can find the elevator from the bottom level to the top level take it.  Literally, the walk from the bottom to the top was so difficult because of the heat and lack of refreshments.  If you want to get in shape, go to Luxembourg or even Berlin.  Luxembourg is a little bit on the expensive side though.

After Luxembourg, our group went to another city in the Saarland where we relaxed and had dinner by the river.  I felt the city had a Disneyworld Epcot feel for some reason.

More Pictures From Luxembourg:

These elephants were all over!

Biking and Bruising in Berlin
If one has not noticed, I love alliteration. This past weekend our group, the fantastisch four (to keep with alliteration), visited Berlin.  You really cannot compared Berlin to any city in America except maybe New York City and then not even.  In Berlin, you can bike anywhere and that's what I did.  On Saturday, I biked the entire city until I bought porcelain souvenirs and had to go back to the hostel.  Then, I went back out and biked some more.  I saw museums, churches, restaurants, stores, parks, monuments, and more just with the use of a bike.  Saturday was one of the best days I have ever had in Germany by myself.  I would not have done anything differently.

On Sunday, I decided to tour around a bit more with my friend and colleague Matt.  I managed to flip over the handlebars and off my bike because my bike wheel got stuck in the wet trolley tracks.  I got back on the bike and we continued around Berlin.  I saw many things twice which I enjoyed.  I also went through some of the museums again taking in more of the information.  I enjoyed looking at different works and being like that's a ceramic from how many thousands of years ago... material science is life people.  I wanted to know more about how the people from all those years ago produced or manufactured such goods and will probably look into different histories now to find out.  Honestly, I was content with wandering around ruins and old artifacts from the time period of Ancient Greeks, Egyptians, and Moors.

To be honest, I was a little disenchanted with the museums in that they emphasized that Russia still held many of the artifacts from after World War II and that was a breach in international law.  Those antiques/items/artifacts do not all belong to Germany as many of them were taken from other countries which is where they should be returned.  To be fair though, the spread of artifacts does allow for more of mankind to learn about the past and that is what is important.

At the end of the day, Matt and I went to a flee market where I eventually lost him.  We were unable to find each other so I just went to the train station and then to home.

The Scene in Saarbr├╝cken
This past week I was finally able to electrospin both Polypropylene and Chitosan which means that I am on the next step of my project for electrospinning separators.  At the moment, I want to SEM the commercial separator and run electrochemical testing on that while I electrospin mats for different intervals of time to find the rate of deposition.  I am pretty sure I have other steps which I have to complete first and will figure those out after I finish this blog.  I also have to spin Polyethylene which should be in this week.

Thoughts on a Traumatic Train Experience
I guess it was not that traumatic, but I had to find a "t" word.  The train ride back was boring.  I love ICE trains but I transferred 4 times last night just to get back by 8am this morning so I could go to work.  After reading 1Q84, doing some logic problems, just writing for fun, and napping, I still had a good two hours of train ride left.

At some point during this trip, my advisor/mentor for this project, Dr. Jenny, advised me to play with my food in order to understand a particular scientific concept.  As a child, I always got yelled at for playing with my food so I just stopped; however, after Dr. Jenny provided that recommendation, I just wanted to play with food.  So, below, are some of the pictures from when I was bored on the train to Frankfurt from wherever I came from, Leipzig I think.

"The Last Supper" is supper out of gummy bears and oreos.

What happens if you add gummies to water?  The answer is bubbles.

So, yes, I wandered quite a bit over the past two weeks.  To be sure though, I was never really lost as J.R.R. Tolkein puts it.  I think I was a mere explorer looking to see what would happen if I turned down this road or that road.

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