Welcome to my new blog! Following many years of graduate study in musicology (see my bio if you don't know what musicology is), I am finally embarking on my fieldwork portion of my degree, spending one year in Germany. For all the latest updates on Music, Life, and Travel, read on, friends!

Sunday, September 23

Week Two

Monday we visited the offices of the German Academic Exchange Service. Our presentation turned into a “How to keep getting money from the German Government to do our research here” speech. I learned more about the research institution organization in Germany, and it was nice to see the office that has so frequently given me and denied me funds for my project over the years!

Afterwards we took a bus to a brown coal mining operation. The Rhine Valley has a few sites with lots of brown coal, and there are three above ground mines currently active near Bonn. I always am amazed and freaked out when I visit industrial sites. This mine is quite the sight to see; basically this company is removing many layers of earth, taking what they want, and then replacing the remaining layers as they were taken up. We saw several massive excavators, including the largest land vehicle in the world, the Krupp Bagger 288. This monster had been operating in a different mine nearby, and it cost over 10 million euros to move it to its current home/hole. Seeing monster machines created a monster hunger among several of us, so we sought out some tasty burgers in Bonn. I was impressed; normally the only “American” burger you can get in Germany is from McDonald’s or Burger King, and all of them are small, with too much bread and not enough meaty and topping goodness. This place delivered, even if avocado wasn’t a topping option. I then had to walk my largest suitcase to my new place for safe keeping while I’m in Berlin.

Fuzzy picture of coal operations
That is one BIG machine, the Bagger 288!
Tuesday we went to Deutsche Welle, which is the only news company/TV channel in Germany that gets money directly from the federal government. DW is going through constant restructuring, so our interactions with different employees seemed a bit bittersweet. For our last minute packing and errand needs, I had Tuesday afternoon to organize my things and stop in the city center. That evening we took a bus to the Russian Consulate in Bonn. This was the first time I’ve set foot on Russian soil, and it was much cheaper than paying the cost of securing a visa to visit this former communist country. The Consul General was extremely generous and hospitable. We had a barbeque in his (large) backyard, complete with Russian yard games, group singing, vodka, and a discothek. The Americans all sang “Amazing Grace” as a group, and I was expected to lead/sing for the entire group. I guess this is what happens when you are the resident trained musician/singer. Too bad I don’t know lyrics to songs…
Deutsche Welle, where the magic happens!

Champagne, caviar, and vodka at the Russian Consulate

Original section of Berlin Wall with East German watchtower. Freedom never looked so good!
On Wednesday we took the entire day to travel by charter bus to Berlin. It was a low-key day. Thursday we spent the morning taking a bus tour of the city. I recognized most of the areas we drove through, except for the one place we stopped. I have never spent much time in the northern part of the city, and there is a nice visitor’s center and exhibit dealing with the Berlin Wall in this part of town. Portions of the wall are still present here, as well as a preserved East Berlin watchtower and no man’s land. Most of my friends stayed in the city center, but I spent some time in Weissensee, where our hotel is located. After looking around more, I realized that I have been to this neighborhood before. In 2006, B and I stayed at a hostel in Weissensee; I have already been to the grocery store and restaurant we visited almost six years ago now. The area looks a lot nicer now than it did back then. I am sure that being here in the early fall instead of the early winter makes for a brighter and greener experience this time around. 

Friday we had free again to take care of bureaucratic matters. I don’t have to search for an apartment or complete any visa applications while here, so I am one of the few who was not otherwise engaged in setting up things for their year in Germany. The group met in the afternoon for an excursion to Oranienburg, a small town near Berlin, to visit the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. I don’t know if I should consider myself to be quite fortunate to have now visited three concentration camps. Each camp is different, and I have yet to visit an extermination camp, like Auschwitz. The experience was spooky and eye-opening all at once. The former camp was literally on the edge of the town, with civilians living right along the prison walls. Our tour guide was very honest and tried to give us a good idea of what it was like to live in the camp, as well as to highlight some of the less commonly known facts about the camp. That evening I ate with friends at the restaurant B and I went to for his birthday in 2006.

"Work makes one free" - at the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp

Soviet Memorial at Sachsenhausen

I was very lazy on Saturday, but I still managed to get out and walk around, picking up an HDMI cable for my computer, and going to get Döner with Emmeline. We explored Alexanderplatz and the Museum Island a bit. We caught the end of an outdoor church service and a protest parade! Instead of “Occupy” banners, the protesters were carrying “Rockupy” signs! They were accompanied by a DJ in a van.
Alexanderplatz TV-tower

Me standing in/on Berlin!

Emmeline is trapped in the Humboldt Box!

Pointing at something...

Emmeline with her training chopsticks

Berlin is celebrating its 775th anniversary!
The third week has already begun and ended; I hope to keep up with posts a bit better once I get to Bonn!

Bis dann!

1 comment:

  1. Goodness gracious you have been having very many adventures! Are you going to know what to do with yourself once they leave you alone to research?? I'm reading faithfully, even if I don't comment on every one.