28 July, 2007

"in the woods"

I leave tomorrow morning for 2 weeks 'in the woods'. questions and concerns??? refer to last year's posts, at this time, to get an idea of what I will be subjected to. During this time I will not have access to phones, email, and any other form of electronics. I will dearly miss my Ipod which has become my means of escape and in the next 2 weeks I will be surrounded by my fellow students 24/7.

25 July, 2007

What better friends that 'Peace Friends'

One of the students mentioned to me that she really feels comfortable with everyone and she is really happy. I knew her birthday was on the 24th so some of us went into town and I bought some 'fimo' clay and had the idea that everyone could make her a bead and we would string it onto a necklace for her. I was a nervous wreck for the past week since I took it upon myself to organize it all...Grant it, organization used to be my passion and as I have mentioned in numerous posts, it tends to rear it's ugly head now and then, BUT after arriving here, I have more or less abandoned my compulsive behavior. My side of the room is totally unorganized and I have clothes thrown all over. The strange thing is that it's really not bothering me. Is it possible to teach an old dog new tricks???

Since it was my idea for the necklace, It was only natural that I take control of the surprise project and had each student sneak into my room at different times to make their bead. We also had a barbecue one day that week and since we have Andi's car (and she still can't drive) I took a group into town to buy all the food, help organize the cookout logistics and then had to collect the money from everyone since I initially paid for the food and on top of that I was trying to keep the beads a secret. Stress was introduced once again into my life and I was not handling it very well. I had more than one person ask me if I was okay because I seemed a little 'out of sorts'.

Me and Nev busily working the grill.

Setting up and mingling before the feast.

Everyone enjoying the meal.

The night before her birthday, we were all feeling so low because no one had mentioned her birthday to her because we had an additional plan in mind. We had decided to wake her at 12 AM and sing happy birthday to her. As Nev walked around that evening, I could feel her disappointment about no one even mentioning her upcoming birthday; it was really hard to keep my mouth shut!

She couldn't sleep so she went into the computer room around 11:30 and at the stroke of Midnight 20 of us marched into the computer room each with a big candle singing 'Happy Birthday'. She was so surprised and it was hard not to cry with the emotions being transferred to one another. She promptly said eveyone must go down to the 'basement' bar area and have a toast, which we did! She did comment later that she really had not realized until much later that she had her PJ's on! The next day 2 of us decorated the doorway to her room so she encountered balloons and streamers as she left for breakfast. At lunch we presented her with the necklace and a birthday cake and she started to cry with happiness; which of course many followed suit. It really is such a close fun group this year and I do believe that it may be a little hard for me to say goodbye to many of them...

Midnight toast for more b-days to come.

The bead 'peace' necklace.

22 July, 2007

hiking to the lake

Today we had a day off and some of us took the opportunity to get away of the 'education environment'. First we went into town and bought alot of food so we can have a barbecue tomorrow. After we got back, we then decided to try to find a lake that we had heard was nearby. After about a 20 minute hike we came upon this small lake. It was so nice and I do have to say that the energy this year is much different than the last in respect to the students as a group. I know I have changed alot so that may have an influence on the dynamics but everyone is really getting to know everyone and I actually do not want to retire to my room every night.
This day was so much fun!

Andi trying to be the 'good student' bringing her homework with her, but hell she was the first one in the lake and I am pretty confident that she never even opened the thing!

This reminds me of 'Crystal Lake' where I used to go to with my sister during the summers when I was in my very influential years. I would swim and get sun burnt while Pam would hit on the lifeguards; it worked since I don't believe we ever paid to enter!

Opening Ceremonies

This summer will be a fun time, I can already tell. The positive energy surrounding everyone is amazing!
(US, Colombia, Nepal, Brazil, US)Andi, Lena and I
Much later that same evening after the official ceremonies had ended

16 July, 2007

car trip

I arrived in Vienna to stay with my friend Andi for a day and then we planned to travel to Innsbruck together as she is in the masters program as well. Now it became a little tricky since she had just acquired a herniated disk in her back so she was in a bit of pain and worried about traveling 5 hours on a shaky train. After a little coercion we were able to convince her boyfriend to let us drive his company car to Innsbruck; the point being that she could lay in the backseat and we could stop when she needed to get out and walk/stretch.

We had 2 relaxing days hanging out and catching up on stuff and then we packed the car and headed to the highway. We hit construction about 2 hours into the trip and all cars were at a complete stand-still. Andi had brought a 'learn Spanish by singing' CD so we amused ourselves by learning the words and meaning to La Bomba and La Cucaracha. We finally were able to break free of the slow pace and zoom along once again...until we had to stop once again. This time it was an accident that was being cleared from the highway and we amused ourselves this time trying to see if there were any cute guys in the other vehicles (since people were getting out of their cars and walking around since there was no evidence of anyone moving any time soon).

We finally were on our way once again. In order to get to Innsbruck, we had to drive briefly though Germany. It was very evident when we reached the German motorway as the speed limit was non existent. Now I like to drive fast, but due to the fact that I was driving a car that I was not insured for and I had an injured passenger, I was content to drive at a safe fast speed. My 1st problem was that my safe fast speed was a little faster than some other drivers.

It's a well known fact that you drive in the right and only use the left lane for passing (a concept that is not really respected in the US). My 2nd problem occurred when I would have to pass a car. I would get into the right lane and excel a bit and then out of nowhere a car would be right on my ass! I would exclaim Schei├če! (to practice my German of course...) and then I would have to 'gun it' so get around the slower car and back into the right lane. I was quite happy to enter Austria again.

Well we made it to the Grillhof (7 hours later) which will be my residence for the next 8 weeks. Not a bad place to be during the summer huh?

14 July, 2007

Goodbye Spain...

I have left Spain. I say that with a bit of finality...I enjoyed my time there, but a part of me is finished with it. I did leave one large suitcase with friends there, so I will have to return some day to collect that, but for the time being I am just happy to be somewhere else. I love to travel in the sense that I like to be in other places...but when you use the word to mean the actual process of getting from one place to another, it takes on a new negative meaning for me.

Sometime in the past 5 years I stopped wanting to converse with people. I prefer to ignore complete strangers as if I can not hear. I actually would like to purchase a large hearing aid and then maybe people would completely ignore me as if I was deaf...maybe if I blacken out a tooth or two, it may have the same effect although I would have to actually speak first for them to notice it. of course, there is the random positive-energy-exuding-guapo that is most welcome into my personal space given then right environment, but that is such a rare occurence that if it happened I may be too surprised to speak.

After boarding 2 trains and then finally getting settled on the airplane in Barcelona (which had been delayed an hour) the pilot gave us the unfortunate news that we would be delayed another hour while we wait for our chance to take off. It seems that due to the extremely unorganized airport in Barcelona the pilot was ushered from one gate to another (the reason for the initial delay) and now because of that delay we had lost our landing slot in Vienna. The good thing was that I did not have a talkative traveler next to me, on the contrary, I did not have anyone in my row so I was free to stretch out and expand my comfort zone.
As the pilot told us about the delay he began to verbally 'trash' the airport stating that he hates to fly into Barcelona because something like this happens everytime. He went on further to say that the gate changes were due to the fact that some airport control workers did not show up to their job that day so the control tower was understaffed and then when the plane landed and started going to the gate they were informed that the staff that controls that initial gate were running late so the plane was ushered to another one. After briefly explaining this in English, he then switched to German and talked for over 10 minutes. Those who could understand him were rolling in their seats laughing. I guess he was able to really express his opinion about the airport in his native tongue. Although I could not understand him, I was laughing hard just watching the others around me laugh.

We finally were able to get off the ground and I took this photo as we were flying over St Tropez, France.