Uniqueness. This is the first thing that comes into my mind when I think about foreign countries. There are similarities, but most of all differences between all the countries on the globe. Different language, culture, landscape, people, mentality and so on.
Romania – country of origin. Germany – adoptive country. Likeness and distinction. Things that remind me of home, or on the contrary, things that make me wonder or grieve. What I like most about Germany are the big cities. I had the opportunity to visit Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, Cologne, Düsseldorf and other big cities. There is a special thing about them: the fuss, the people, the background noise, the hustle and bustle, all the big buildings, a lot of cars, street style, many, many hopes and dreams.
Today’s post will be rather filled with pictures than stories. A big, amazing Germany through my eyes.
(Cologne – breathtaking view from the Dom)
(Beautiful Berlin – Television tower)
(Skyscrapers in Frankfurt)
Like i said: lovely places, delightful for your eyes and soul. Mental pictures taken with my eyes, photos for a lifetime. This is the Germany i discovered. Good and bad things come together … all wrapped in one with a ribbon on it.
For all the meat eaters in the world: isn’t the smell of a grilled bratwurst just yummy? The/Der Bratwurst is the traditional German sausage, usually made of pork. “The first documented evidence of the Bratwurst in Germany dates back to 1313, and can be found in the city of Nürnberg which is still an internationally renowned centre for the production of grill sausages.” (source Wikipedia) Interesting, right?
So the fact that the Bratwurst was dated hundred years ago and we still eat it these days means that the people still appreciate it, enjoy it … even the foreigners.
Beside the Bratwurst I also tried the delicious “Schintzel Jäger Art” with fries (Pommes). Of course, you can order a Schnitzel almost everywhere in Europe, because now it’s international, or at least European. But to be honest, I liked it here better than back home. When you go to a restaurant and ask for a “Schnitzel mit Pommes” (and most of the time with mayo, as well), you get a huge portion. Like the one below:
What other dishes I tried since I got here? Let me think. Oooo of course: the Dönner. I know it’s not German, it’s Turkish, but if you find the perfect Dönner place, you can’t get enough of it. I’m not a big meat eater, but I like to try all the flavors and taste, especially, what local people recommend. I also ate Nudels, Knödels, Apfelstrudel (apple pie) and a lot of other delicious food. I drank beer, not a lot, but I tried different types of beer.
That’s the fun, the trial, the adventure. Go out! Grab a German beer and enjoy it!
(This photo was taken in Essen, at a local festival – Stadtfestival)
Oh well … I have my difficulties answering this question. If I take this statement into consideration I am a chicken nugget, a spaghetti (or nudle), a cordon bleu or a baby carrot. Why? Based on what I ate the whole semester at the cafeteria (Mensa) I could easily become one of the above mentioned dishes.
And now let’s get to the main issue. Before I came to Germany the only thing I knew for sure about the food was that most of it is either canned, or chilled. If you go to a supermarket most of the shelves and fridges are filled with this type of food. I know that this is a very practical alternative when you are a busy person, who gets home from work in the evening. You just take the pizza, the cordon bleu or whatever you desire to eat, without thinking of any consequences. Not a healthy eating behavior, right?
At the beginning of the semester, when I first went to the University’s cafeteria, the meals didn’t look too bad. In some days there was a great bill of fare: chicken/pork/beef meat, salads, boiled veggies (broccoli, carrots, potatoes, peas, asparagus etc.), vegetarian dishes, soup and desserts. So you could make your choice. Initially, the taste wasn’t too bad, just different from what I was used to back home. After one month or maybe more I felt like I had too much of all the sauces: gravy, dressing, hollandaise, remoulade and all the other rich sauces. So I switched to salads or I chose just the soup, or the steak. I had to find a way out, because I didn’t really want to be what I eat: a walking chicken nugget covered in sauce!
In my next blog post I will write more about the food here, because Germany is not only about “Mensa-food”.
This picture was taken in the first days at the “Mensa”, when the food was still tasty …
I always liked to change places, to travel, to meet new people or live in different cities. Changes don’t scare me, they never really did. It’s just that feeling of uncertainty that makes you stop and think for a second. The only question that pops into my mind is: Will I come to good terms with the unknown?
The decision of coming to Germany was in connection with my studies. One semester abroad, or one year abroad can bring only good experiences. In my previous posts I wrote about things that remind me of home, or on the contrary, things that surprised me with their distinction. It’s about time to write about the University here, meaning the building below:
As you can see, there is a pretty significant difference between the “Westfälische Hochschule” and the university in Timișoara, where I used to study. Here, the bulding is new and the fields of study are very broad: more than 25 Bachelor of Science courses and more than 11 Masters (MSc / MA) courses. So a very good opportunity to study hard for your future, to learn from excellent professors, who are specialists in their sphere of activity and also to enjoy your years spent in school.
All in all, a very cheerful and hospitable university, which provides high quality education and a proper environment for self development.
Ohhh … and before I forget! I promised myself that I will definitely mention Bob in one of my blog post! Wait! What? You don’t know Bob? He’s that lovable koala-nerd from the library:
Shelby Foote (American novelist) once said: ““A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library.” His statement made me think a lot about the university, professors, courses, exams or the educational system in general.
Every country has its own system, its own teachers and students. There are brilliant minds, passionate students, dedicated professors, all gathered in one building: The University. And that leads me to my hometown and the University i first attended: “Polytechinic” University of Timișoara. Or the building you can see in the picture below:
Of course it’s not the well-seeming from the universities, but it’s a place of amazing memories. We bounded friendships, we laughed, we shared our hopes and dreams, we studied and prepared for our future careers. Maybe the facilities don’t compare to those here in Germany, but after all, the luggage of knowledge you will take with you once you graduate, that matters … and depends on you.
Too bad I didn’t had the chance to study at the new library in Timișoara, because when I was a student it was still under construction. But I had the chance to study in Gelsenkirchen, and that’s an experience I will talk about in my next blog post.
If you are very curious, that’s a picture of the library in Timișoara (don’t get too excited):
Back in the boxes are all the Christmas decorations. Christmas is over, the New Year is here and everything is back to normal. No Christmas ornaments, lights, decorations or trees, no more Santa or presents. The fairy tale is over.
Beside of all the above mentioned Christmas elements, there is something that makes us really happy when we think about Christmas time: the Christmas market. Very popular in Germany, this idea was adopted (successfully) even in Romania a few years ago. Therefore, all the big cities organize, usually in the city center, big Christmas markets. The best part is that people embraced the idea with a lot of joy, so that the markets became bigger and bigger.
In my opinion, Timisoara has one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Romania. Don’t you think so?
(source: alexandru hreniuc, photographer: https://www.facebook.com/fotohreniuc)
Starting date: 1st of December
Ending date: 10th of January
Offer: Everything you can imagine – ginger bread, traditional food and sweets, toys, clothes, handmade objects, etc.
I know that the “home” of all Christmas markets is Germany, so in my next post I will write my impression about my first meeting with a german Christmas market.
I lived in Bucharest for almost one year and I learned how to deal with a lot of things. When I say things I mean people and situations. In Timișoara, my hometown, people are even-tempered, peace-loving, in one word: calm. They like to do things at a normal pace and enjoy life more than people in Bucharest.
I cannot say I was stunned by their lifestyle and behaviour, but there was something I didn’t like. So after my arrival, it didn’t take too long to realize what I really hated about the city: public transportation. Not because of the delays (most of the time the buses and the trams are prompt), but the people who travel with these means of conveyance.
Let the show begin! They push you, they squash and crush you, they step on your foot (without apologizing – that would be an act of humiliation), they fight about God knows what topics: politics, soccer, the mayor, expenses, the driving manner of the bus driver etc. Sometimes they are loud, sometimes they discuss very personal issues, or they talk for 40 minutes on the phone without saying anything relevant (“I went to the supermarket today and I bought: tomatoes, potatoes, milk and a bag of chips … Actually Chio Chips not any kind of chips, you know?” etc). It’s impressive how many distinct typologies you can meet in (only) one day.
Maybe this post will sound like a critique or an attack to those people. It shouldn’t! I understood that this is their life, this is who they are and it’s very interesting, but at the end of the day I used to smile about the whole situation. The push and squeeze are part of the ride … Just enjoy!
(“The calm after the storm” – Bus ride after 9 pm – picture sent by my friend who lives in Bucharest)
(People feel the need to express their “thoughts” and “talent” everywhere)
In my last post I was talking about the public transportation here in Germany and in what way it differs from the one in Romania. I wouldn’t say the contrast is huge, but Romanians still have a lot to improve.
Last week I asked a friend of mine from Romania to send me some pictures with the trams and buses from my hometown, Timisoara. They are not the best, but i have seen worse.
My friend Alina, who sent me the pictures, has a driving licence, but she usually uses the public transportation. Not because she enjoys the ride with the tram or the bus, it’s because the traffic in the city is sometimes insane. If you are “lucky” enough to get stuck in the traffic during the rush hour, you can easily spend a few hours doing nothing. So you’d better take a tram.
A bus or tram ticket is not that expensive compared to the tickets here: 2 lei (approximately 50 cents) for a ride. It’s available just for one ride, not for a whole hour. That means: if you have to go only for one station, you pay 50 cents. And if you are trying to catch the next tram/bus you need a new ticket. All in all, I don’t know if it’s cheaper or not.
(Bus and tram ticket in Timisoara)
I guess for a tourist a ride with the tram in Timisoara is not such a challenging experience as the one in Bucharest. Why? You will have to read my next blog post.
A very wise man once said: “A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars, it’s where the rich use public transportation.” This wise man is Mr. Enrique Penalosa, the former Mayor of Bogota, Columbia. And this is the thing i will write about in this post: public transportation.
People in Romania are sometimes obsessed with the idea of having a car and using it even if they have to go and buy a bread from the store next-door. Even in little cities, where the distance between the house and the working place is not too big, they will still use the car. That’s Romania … sometimes.
On the other hand, German citizens value the idea of public transportation more (even though most of them complain about bad connections or delays). You can see young people, old people, rich or poor, they all use trams, buses, trains. And the connections are good. And the trams/trains/buses are in good condition. They take you in a place or another. And the best thing is that you even have night buses, weil Nachteulen haben auch Heimweh (Because night owls feel homesick). Ok, you can’t catch a bus every 10 minutes, but there is one every hour and that should be enough. At least you don’t have to pay a fortune for taxi. Choose the bus.
An advice to every German who complains about public transportation: trust me it’s 2 or 3 or even 4 times better then what we have in Romania. Appreciate it!
You get to see tourists, regular people, dogs … That sounds like fun.
They say no place is like home. They say you can meander though the world but in the end you will return home. You seek for your comfort zone, for people and places you know, for the homely taste of food. Being away from home is not easy, but it’s not difficult either.
For the moment I live in Düppelstraße, Glesenkirchen, Germany. It’s a quiet, calm city (sometimes too quiet), where nothing really happens. I would like to say more about the people here, but sometimes I think that there are no people living in this town. You can see empty streets, empty parks or maybe just a hand full of teenagers who enjoy a beer while walking through the silence.
It’s not that I don’t like the calmness, the serenity, but I was raised in a rather animated city, where people are sometimes loud and hectic. You can walk on the streets without hearing your own steps, you can hear laughter instead and feel the life.
All my posts will be about things I like in Germany and things I dislike. I don’t intend to be critical, I will just try to offer a realistic picture of this country: an Erasmus student presenting a country through her eyes.
Pictures, comparisons, new things, old things, good things, bad things, You will find them all on my blog! Just stay tuned!
Erasmus: A huge step for every student