Hang-en cave

Hang-en cave
(credit: National Geographic)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Lab shenanigans and ruins.

The past couple of days have been, as usual, pretty stuffed full with things to do. I feel like that's becoming a theme here, but I'll have plenty of time to relax when I get back to the States. Anyway, onto what I've been up to:
Wednesday was one of the longest days I've had here. I had almost a full day of lab, practicing for my experiment next week, followed by a lab visit to my institute, the IMMEI (Institute of Molecular Medicine and Experimental Immunology), where we had pizza and soda and listened to a few lectures by my PI, my supervisor, and another researcher in the lab on their current research. Then my supervisor took me back to her flat in Poppelsdorf (one of the central neighborhoods in Bonn), where we spent the evening preparing salads for the lab retreat on Thursday and watched the Germany-Ghana game--probably one of the most stressful sporting events of my life--accompanied by champagne with raspberries, Andalusian cheese, and figs. Oh, and chocolate-covered rice cakes, which are my current dessert of choice. They're so delicious.
And my supervisor's hysterical husband was there. I didn't officially meet him until right after the German national anthem--he blew in the door of the flat after getting home from Cologne and proceeded to stand in the middle of their living room belting the anthem at the top of his lungs.
So we watched the game and I learned many colorful and angry new words. We started out watched it in their flat, but after Germany scored their goal, my supervisor turned to me and said, "We shall go to the pub now and make some party." So we literally sprinted to the nearest pub (I never thought I would do that with my lab supervisor, but whatever), which, as she informed me, the locals call "The Beauties", because of all the beautiful women that go there; the one across the street is called "The Rich" because of the older, ugly, rich men that go there to watch the beautiful women. And we made some party. Once the game was over, she and her husband drove me back to the central bus station so I could meet up with the rest of my group, and I learned that, when Germany wins a World Cup game, screaming "Deutschlaaaaaaand!" is an acceptable answer to any question. I was sitting in the front seat of their car with my window rolled down, and three drunk guys stuck their heads in right in front of my face and asked me a question about the game. I didn't quite catch the question, but I just yelled "Deutschlaaaaand!" back at them, and then they started yelling and cheering and went off on their merry way. Then I finally made it back to the Hauptbahnhof, where there was a riot in progress. Such is life.
Thursday was also lots and lots of fun: my entire lab went to Cologne for the afternoon. We went through the Sports Museum, which was so much fun--I scored a goal in our game on their roof--and then we took a really touristy train (like really touristy; it was green, and had speakers that told us about some prisoner that fell through a trapdoor and got flushed into the Rhein, and made choo-choo sounds) through the city to the zoo, where we took a cable car across the river and walked to a park along the Rhein for our cookout. I got to bond a lot with the people in my lab, and it was a total blast.
Friday was mostly a cleaning day--I had finished my lab work for the week, so I only had culture class. But one of the guys on the trip and I finally blind-booked our flight for next weekend: we're going to Friedrichschafen to do some hiking in the Alps. So excited. (Any hiking tips would be appreciated--I just realized that I don't think I've ever been out of treeline before). Another girl and I also took a spontaneous trip on Friday to the Koelner Dom, which was started in the 13th century and finally completed in 1880, and is the tallest structure in Europe. It's massive and incredibly ornate, and there are some amazing stained-glass windows.
Today we went on a huge excursion to a city called Trier, which is the oldest city in Germany--it was founded by the Romans, and still contains Europe's only intact Roman city gate, Constantine's imperial hall, and some ruins of ancient baths. So we walked all around those (I was ecstatic for those two hours), and we went into the cathedral, which houses the Seamless Robe of Jesus. It was an incredible church--such high ceilings and amazingly intricate carvings all over. I also had a rather awkward conversation about a name written in Greek in the back of the church (not awkward-uncomfortable, but awkward because it was a little one-sided) with a German teacher from Pennsylvania who was under the impression that I spoke fluent German because I could understand what she was saying; the only thing was, I couldn't find the right words to respond to her in German. But she was very nice, and taught me a few new things to say once she caught on to the fact that I'm definitely not fluent yet. A few of us also split off to go see Karl Marx's birthplace and then get gelato (note: one scoop of raspberry gelato + one scoop white chocolate gelato = tastebud party). Overall, it was a pretty awesome trip; I highly recommend Trier if you ever get to Germany. Plus, there was Latin all over the place--I was happy to have signs that I could understand. I'll be posting a lot of pictures online soon.


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