I’m Ready, but also not Ready

…To come home, that is. Because today is my last as a resident of Bonn!

On Monday we had a big farewell dinner at AIB which was delicious. Today, I puttered around the house picking up my stuff and eating a bunch of leftover food.

After packing up all my stuff, I went in to the city to eat dim sum with Logan and walk around the Christmas market one last time. It was gray and drizzling which makes leaving a little less sad. Here are some pics from today:

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Tomorrow we hop on a plane and head back to the States! I’m very excited to go home and see my family and pets. Of course, I will miss being able to take the train every where (at least, when they’re on time). And being able to walk through cool plazas to get to school and use colorful money to buy delicious bread and apfel berliners at the bakery.

It’s late now and I gotta go to bed. See you back in the US of A.

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Don’t Forget about Studio

Two solid weeks of studio followed the adventure in Scotland. It was kind of nice to just be in Bonn. The Christmas markets were all set up and we’d get food from them at lunch.

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My project ended up being not an actual design but a process for using community engagement to design spaces. In stead of plans and sections, I made an animation.

After working and working and working, we took the train up to Aachen to present our final designs. It was a two-day trip because we had to set up some sort of exhibit thing.

Here is everyone standing with their poster, waiting for Mike, the tallest guy in our class, to hammer all the signs into the ground. We looked like a bunch of protesters.

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Here is me with my sign!2018-12-06 13.16.36

We did some other setting up stuff and the walked around the Christmas markets in the city center.

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Friday was a long day of presentations. Since I made an animated video, I didn’t really have to talk which was great.

Here are some still images from my video

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Here is my video if you are interested:

The Community Designed Project Animation

The Land of Scots

[November 20th to 22nd]

This is the last trip, I swear.

I tagged along with all my friends living in the apartments (instead of with a host family) to Scotland. It was nice to be in a place where everyone spoke English. Our plane landed and we went through immigration and got passport stamps! We had to convert our money from euros to pounds. A train took us in to the city center. Christmas markets were set up in the city so we decided to walk around and get lunch. Our Airbnb check in wasn’t until 3 PM anyway.

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Here is the cafe where J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter.

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And here is the grave of Tom Riddle (from Harry Potter).

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The Air BnB was real nice. For dinner, Logan and Ben were the lead chefs of a delicious chicken dinner. Then we watched a documentary on the Loch Ness Monster and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

The gang had planned a van tour through the Scottish highlands. We taxied into the city and met up with the tour guide and the other touring people. The tour had to start early since the sun isn’t in the sky for very long in the winter. Anyway, we drove along, stopping occasionally to snap pics. I wished we’d been able to stop more often and for longer periods of time.

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Scotland is beautiful and I want to go back. Apparently, the country has a ‘right to roam’ law or something that allows people to camp (almost) wherever they want, provided they leave the land as they found it.

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Around here is where Hagrid’s hut stood for the filming of the Harry Potter movies.

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Our final destination was Loch Ness, where the fabled Nessie lives. Lunch was supposedly the best fish and chips place in Scotland. They were indeed delicious (but Iceland’s was better).

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The sun set as we drove back to Edinburgh. Before dropping us off, we made a final stop to take pictures of this bridge.

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We had dinner at burger place. Then we watched Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Thanksgiving Abroad

Yep, so it’s Thanksgiving week. The first one I’ve ever spent without my family. Good thing Us LARCHies are basically a family of our own.

The Monday after Rome, we had a tour of the Koln Cathedral. Quite impressive and big. And it would have been a more exciting tour had it been day time and not freezing and windy. We rode elevators up the side of the building and climbed up stairs to see different levels of the cathedral. No pictures allowed to be posted on the internet of the inside of the castle or during the tour so unfortunately you don’t get to see it. But here is a terrible picture I took of the outside of the cathedral before it got dark.

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On Wednesday night, Logan, Ben, Mike (another friend), and I watched Loving Vincent, the painted animation feature film that takes place after Van Gogh’s death. It was impressive and the story was quite suspenseful and interesting. It was especially cool to watch, having just been to the Van Gogh museum and actually seeing some of the paintings used for backdrops. Highly recommend watching.

Thursday, was Thanksgiving. Luckily, we didn’t go turkey-less. AIB hosted a big dinner with all the students at AIB, providing mashed potatoes, turkey, gravy, and green beans. We all provided side dishes and desserts.

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Lotsa Pasta

[November 16-18]

Our flight didn’t leave until pretty late. So, Logan (actually some time in advance) made plans for us to take a pasta making class! (What a stand up guy!). In the morning, we walked to the Piazza Navona.

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Then we walked over to another piazza to meet up with the pasta making people. We got there kind of early and had to wait for some time. This plaza has much more going on with vendors shouting and birds flying around and customers browsing.

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Eventually, all the people arrived and we were led to the place where our pasta making would happen.

The two woman teaching our group were wonderful instructors and full of energy! We were making fettucini and ravioli. The kitchen area was on a roof so it was a little chilly.

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Fettuccine with amatriciana sauce.

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Ravioli with a ricotta and spinach filling and a butter sage sauce.2018-11-18 14.05.55

I leaned that most traditional Italian sauces only have three or four ingredients, and that there are over 600 types of pasta. After the pasta, they gave us tiny glasses of limoncello. It too all my willpower to not make a weird face while trying a sip because it did not taste good. Bleh. But the pasta was amazing and they gave us each a copy of the recipes to try at home. So obviously, I’m gonna make it at home.

Logan and I visited a few more sites after making pasta.

The Pantheon. Very impressive.

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The coffers in the ceiling create an illusion effect to make the dome look higher than it is.

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The Trevi Fountain. Very crowded.

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Then we flew home.

A Little Bit of Italy

[November 16-18]

No rest for weary travelers! After our return from the Netherlands on Thursday, Logan and I caught a bus to the airport for our flight to Rome. It was a kind of last minute decision, but a good one.

Our flight took us over the Alps.

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We landed in the evening, found our hotel (a little grungier than expected) and went to dinner. The restaraunt, called RomAntica, was a friend recommendation. I got buccatini with amatriciana sauce and Logan got a pasta with three cheese and pepper sauce. For sure, the best pasta I’ve ever had!

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We shared an also delicious tiramisu for dessert.

And now a funny story. So two German women next to us were asking us what we were doing in Rome and other general conversation stuff. When we got our tiramisu, they asked if it was good. It was and so they each ordered one for themselves. The one woman asked if there was Rum in it (good tiramisu has rum). I said that I didn’t know but I sure tasted good. When their desserts arrived, the she bent down to sniff the bowl to see for herself. We were getting our coats on to leave. The woman looked up to say goodbye and there was a streak of coacoa powder coming out of her nose! HAHA. Her friend didn’t say anything to her until (hopefully) after we left.

Anyway. The next day was full of sight seeing. First, the Colosseum. Absolutely insane. I sat down to sketch and heard snippets of guided tours walking by. Apparently, the reason the Colosseum isn’t fully intact is because at some point in history, it was ransacked for material.

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Then we walked over to Palantine Hill and the Roman Forum.

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After that, we just kinda wandered around, running in to famous buildings and monuments.

 

A lot of the ruins were below the road because the modern city of Rome is actually build on top of the old city. I’m not really sure how that worked.

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A view of Rome

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In the late afternoon, we took a subway up to the Vatican. It was getting a little chilly and the light wasn’t great but I’m glad I got to see it.

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We ate dinner at Melo, another friend recommendation. I got pasta again (suprise!) which was delicious but not quite as good as RomAntica.

The Netherlands: Amsterdam

Tuesday

Our morning started with a continental breakfast including bacon and eggs! Very exciting since most hotels and hostels have the traditional bread and cold cuts. Then we gathered for a tour of the Anne Frank House. That was the most heart wrenching experience of my life. But I learned a lot. And it was certainly a worthwhile experience.

Anyway, after being properly depressed by European history, we walked through a brownfield park. It was not quite as exciting as Landschaftspark but it was still quite lovely. There was more attention to the ecological restoration component which I appreciated.

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Afterward, we were free to walk around Amsterdam. I didn’t realize until the trip that prostitution is also legal here and so we took a stroll through the Red Light District. It was weird and smelled of weed. A few women were on ‘display’ in the windows but since it was the middle of the day, I think most of them were on break. The clientele for this sort of thing probably comes by in the later hours.

Dinner was at this restaurant called Pesca that Ben’s mom told us about. They have fish out on display and you pick your fish and they cook it for you however they want. Unfortunately, our group was too large to do that so we just told them our budget and the prepared a whole meal for us based on that. And let me tell you, it did not disappoint! We had olive bread, Calamari (which I’m not a fan of) and prawns to start. Then they brought out mussels in butter lime sauce. The main course was sea bass with a side of salad and baked cauliflower. SO DELICIOUS! And not too expensive.

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Wednesday

We got an early morning start, meeting Da Daktores (the roof doctors) to learn more about green roofs. The roof we shivered on had an ingenious system that captured rain water to water plants from beneath and reduced peak flow for runoff during large rain events.

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We warmed up in a coffee shop for a bit, then visited a park that was actually a series of islands.

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For lunch, our coordinator took us to a traditional Dutch herring stand. The sandwich I ordered had raw herring, pickles, and onions. Basically halitosis on a bun. Honestly, it tasted alright, but I couldn’t get past the slimy, raw herring texture. Logan ended up finishing my sandwich. Unsatisfied with the aftertaste, I bought some macaroons.

Our afternoon was spent on a very long tour of canal and water infrastructure in Amsterdam. I am embarrassed to say that I don’t remember much from the tour.

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By the end of the tour, we were all hungry, tired, and sore from walking. Luckily, dinner was soon. It was a group dinner at a pancake place. They had savory and sweet pancakes. They weren’t fluffy like I expected but were more like a thicker crepe. Quite delicious.

Thursday

Before leaving for Bonn, we went to the Vincent Van Gogh museum. And it was pretty much the best museum experience of my life! I wore my starry night socks. We couldn’t take pictures, unfortunately. But we got to see an evolution of his art and I learned so much about him (including the fact that he was born in the Netherlands, which I didn’t know). He didn’t actually start painting until I think 27 and he only sold one painting the whole time he was alive. I got to see a number of his famous paintings, including the sunflowers, the cherry blossoms, the yellow house, a few of his self portraits, and crows over wheat field (which was allegedly his final painting before his death. BUT the museum also had an unfinished painting that is speculated to be the actual last painting he was working on). The only bummer was that Starry Night did not make an appearance. It’s currently on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

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Here are some pics

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Check out this insane bike parking garage. Biking here is intense.DSC_0536

 

The Netherlands: Rotterdam

[November 10-12]

The whole of last week was spent in the Netherlands. Their country has implemented innovative water management infrastructure due to a decent portion of the country being below sea level and thus quite prone to flooding. The tour was mostly so we could learn about this storm water management but also because it’s a trip to the Netherlands.

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Our bus drove off in the wee hours of the morning with a bunch of sleeping students. We woke up at our first stop. Kinderdijk. A UNESCO world heritage site (just for you mom) of historic windmills that pumped water from canals back into the sea. We walked around the site and even went inside one of the windmills.

DSC_0054DSC_0105DSC_0011The next stop on the way to Rotterdam was the Maeslantkering mechanical storm surge barrier. The giant appendages were built to protect the city of Rotterdam, and is part of an extensive system of flood barriers and dyke that has been developed to prevent disastrous flooding. It was drizzling when we arrived. We watched an informational video about the gates and then went outside to take a look. Each of the arms is taller than the Eiffel tower!DSC_0115DSC_0118

Here’s an informational sign with a drawing of the barrier.

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Once the tour was over, we scurried back into the van and traveled the rest of the way to Rotterdam.

We arrived in Rotterdam and checked in to our hotel. Yes! A hotel. With towels and comfy beds. It’s called ‘The Student Hotel’, with amenities catering to the youngsters of the world. It was very hip and had witty signs on the walls like “Here comes the son” and phrases on the shampoo bottles like, “Shower is knowledge.” A group of us went out in to the city in search of dinner. We walked around aimlessly for a few blocks and came across this crazy plaza with funky buildings.

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None of the buildings look expensive and futuristic. This funky n-shaped building seemed interesting so we decided to investigate.

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Inside the building was a market with stalls selling fancy cheese and spices and food. The underside was a giant mural of fruit which I quite enjoyed.

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SUNDAY

In the morning, a few of us walked around by ourselves since planned activities didn’t start until 1:00 PM.

Here are some floating trees.

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And a funky bridge.DSC_0127

An this thing.

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In the afternoon, we had a tour of stormwater infrastructure and stuff around the city. Pretty neat. The city is much smaller than I expected.

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This machine is pretty cool. It sucks up smog from the air and condenses it into a black powder that is made into (kind of ugly) jewelry.

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For dinner, we went to an Indonesian restaurant. They brought us a bunch of sampler plates with all different sauces and curries and rice and what not. Very yummy! In the evening, we played ping pong and fusball in the confusing maze of a lobby.

MONDAY

Before heading to Amsterdam, we made a stop at these recycled, floating wetlands. The plastic pieces are made from recycled plastic collected from the river.

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And then we made a quick stop to look at a parking garage. Don’t worry it was actually cool. It was part of a effort to restore the beach front. Honestly thought, I forgot to look at the parking garage part because I was looking at the shells and rocks along the beach. The sun came out for a little which was nice to see.

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Our final stop before Amsterdam was the little town if Leiden. It’s a cute college town with canals and brick everywhere. Very picturesque. We walked around for a bit and got lunch in a little diner. Logan got a black berry, cheddar, jalapeno, and bacon grilled cheese. Interesting and tasty flavor combo.

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It was getting dark when we arrived at our funky hotel, The Vokshotel, in Amsterdam. Our room was weird. The toilet and shower were in separate rooms. But instead of a door to the shower area, there was just a metal chain curtain that hid very little.

After getting settled in, everyone went off to do, um, legal things. The weed things.  (Don’t worry, cannabis is legal in the Netherlands and they were responsible and safe about it) Logan and I decided to just walk around. The city is quite unique with it’s many canals and hoards of bikes.

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Bonn Weekend

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Due to poor planning and dwindling funds, the four day weekend after Paris was a relaxing hangout around Bonn. Almost everyone else was out and about so it was just me and the Log. On Thursday we ran errands and I got a cool shirt from this company called Rednib. On Friday, we made the Apfelkuchen that Mama’s neighbor had made for us when we visited.

Very delicious!

We ate lots of it and watched TV.

On Saturday night, we went in to Bonn to see the buildings let up for some festival of lights to celebrate community and togetherness. It was freezing but there were lots of food vendors to keep us warm.

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On Sunday, we hiked through the forest behind my house. It was an enjoyable, tranquil walk.

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Studio has been confusing. Our professor is an architect, not a landscape architect, and it can feel like there is a bit of misunderstanding with our projects. We had our mid review on Friday and I guess it went well. Here’s a pic of our studio space at AIB.

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Not quite as glamorous as our Stuckeman studio but it gets the job done.

Landschafts Park

Oh man, this was quite a while ago now. Like, before fall break. You can thank my laziness and spotty wifi for getting so behind on all my blog posting.

So a few weeks ago, we took a class trip to Landschafts Park in Duisburg. The area had a lot of industry (steel work and coal mining in particular) and the vestiges of these activities were left to rust. Landschafts park took the industrial structures of a steel plant and turned it into a large park. We learned about these post-industrial parks in school so it was really cool to visit and play in one. In the morning, we walked around the park. There was a section of outdoor climbing walls with hand holds everywhere! Very cool. My friend Ned, an avid rock climber, was reluctant to move on. We also got to climb to the top of the blast furnace.

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Here are some cool little gardens

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After lunch at a little kiosk, we went on a bike ride to a huge gasometer. Inside was a photography exhibit that looked like you stepped into an issue of National Geographic. Massive images were displayed in the space, all about mountainous and wild landscapes. We saw a few pictures of Iceland which was exciting! There was also three-dimensional model of the Matterhorn.

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At night, the structures were lit up in spooky colors.

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The next day, we traveled over to the Ruhr Museum that used to be a coal plant

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