February 21, 2006

It’s That Time

Filed under: Travels, Personal, Germany — Alex Ravenel @ 7:15 am

Well, this is it. In less than an hour, I leave Tübingen. Last night, I went out with some friends for the last time. It worked out very well, with me seeing my two teachers from my summer Sprachkurs once more before leaving. It felt like a proper sendoff, and I’m glad it worked out that way.

All of my things are packed, and I’ll soon be catching the bus to the airport. I’m not looking forward to my 10.5 hour flight to Atlanta or my three hour layover once I get to Atlanta, but I am ready to get it over with–and certainly ready to get home.

I suppose this also means the end of regular posts here. I have a few more posts that I’d like to get up, so there will probably be a few more at some point, but nothing on a regular basis. If you’d like notification when I post something, sign up on the email list with the box to the right.

I guess that’s it then–my study abroad experience is over.

Bis Dann,

February 19, 2006


Filed under: Personal, Germany — Alex Ravenel @ 11:29 am

There are a lot of changes going on right now–with me, and with Tübingen. The most obvious is that on Tuesday morning, my time here in Germany is done, and I catch my flight back to the US. I’ve been busy getting things together, packing, cleaning, closing bank accounts and cancelling cell contracts. My room is bald, with nothing on the walls or bookshelf for the first time in six months.

Beyond that, it has started to feel like spring is peeking it’s head out in Tübingen. Yesterday, the thermostat almost hit 50, the highest it’s been since November. I’ve had my window open all day, and it’s a delight to get some fresh air–and hear the birds chirping, something else that’s been missing for a while. The creek behind my dorm has melted for the first time in several months, and the weather has become completely unpredictable in that early-spring way, when it will go from sunny to rainy to windy to sunny to snowing to sunny in the span of an hour. While it’s a bit early for the flowers to start blooming, it’s a small hint of spring, and I love it. It’s making me wish that I were going to be here to see it in it’s full glory, when the flowers return, the cafes reopen, the fountains lose their winter covers, and geese and gondolas once again move up and down the Neckar. Unfortunately though, that’s not big enough reason to make me stay.

Two days and counting…

February 17, 2006


Filed under: Personal, Random — Alex Ravenel @ 11:31 am

She’s just done it again. To give an idea of just how quiet my music is, when I turned it down one notch, I was unable to make out the words anymore, and I’m sitting less than three feet from the speakers.

I’m not chalking this one up to cultural differences anymore. I’m just going to call a spade a spade and say that she’s being totally unreasonable.

February 15, 2006


Filed under: Personal, Random — Alex Ravenel @ 11:41 am

I like to think that I’m quite respectful of my suitemates. I pick up after myself, make sure to do my part of the cleaning chores, and am careful to be quiet, especially during hours when people might be sleeping.

Apparently that’s not enough. I was listening to music in my room, at a very discrete level, at 11:30AM, plenty late enough. Nothing loud at all, no booming bass, the music was quiet enough to be only lightly heard at the other end of the room. The girl that lives next to me came over and asked me to turn it off.

Excuse me? Last I checked, I lived here too, and if I want to listen to music at a completely acceptable level, that’s my prerogative. It was 11:30AM. If it was 11:30PM, or 8AM, I might understand it, but it’s lunchtime for goodness’ sakes. And her obsession with pure silence certainly doesn’t extend to her–slamming doors as she runs out of her room at 7:30AM, or talking loudly on the phone and laughing even louder at any hour she pleases. I’ve been awoken by her more times than I can count, but when I listen to my music quietly during the day, apparently that’s not acceptable.

I’m going to try to chalk this up to cultural differences and the German need for everything to be perfectly in order, but I’m still a bit miffed.

January 16, 2006

Coming to a Close

Filed under: School, Personal, Germany — Alex Ravenel @ 3:22 pm

I haven’t made this terribly public yet, but most people already know it, so I figure it’s time to just put it out there, and explain my thought process on the whole thing.

Originally, I was planning on staying in Tübingen until mid August, a period of time of one year here. However, as I got further and further into my time here, I started to question whether this was the right decision to have made. About a month and a half ago, after some long and hard thinking on the subject, I decided that I would not return here for the second semester, and would instead return to the US after first semester here ended in February.

My reasons for this are many. Not least of which, I’m bored. I only have classes two days a week, which, while it sounds like a blessing at first, quickly becomes tiresome–I have nothing to do, ever. I’ve never felt so unproductive in my life. Sitting in my room, or a cafe, or the library, or wherever, while wonderful for a while, quickly becomes boring. I need to do something, accomplish something, and I don’t feel that I can do that here. Also, while having five day weekends is great for travelling, I’ve become somewhat tired of that, too. Living out of a suitcase, sleeping in hostels… I’m tired of it. I’ve also become bored with Tübingen. Tübingen is a wonderful town, and is intensely beautiful, but one can’t help get the feeling that there’s just really not much to do here once you tire of the cafes. And if I’m tired of travelling, but tired of Tübingen, I just can’t help but get the feeling that maybe I shouldn’t be here.

Then there are the personal aspects. I’ve yet to really meet any Germans, one of my primary goals in coming here. Germans are notoriously “cliquey,” and while every one that I’ve met has been friendly and outgoing, I’ve yet to strike up anything resembling a friendship with any of them. In addition, many of the Germans here go home on the weekends, or at the least to Stuttgart, leaving the town dead for 3-4 days a week, and it makes it even more difficult to meet anyone.

It was a hard decision to make, however. I was, and still am, worried that now is my greatest chance to travel, to see things, and that I may be throwing that away by heading home. However, like I said, I’m tired of the travelling, and have already been lucky enough to see more than many people twice my age. London, Paris, Rome, Venice, Berlin, Munich, soon to be Prague and potentially Vienna–I’m very lucky to have experienced all these wonderful cities. But through it all, I can’t shake the feeling that they aren’t mine, that I am just a visitor, that despite my best efforts, I can’t call them, or anywhere else on the continent of Europe, home. It’s all becoming a blur to me, and when you start to lose that magic spark of travelling, when you wouldn’t cross the street to see another Monet, when Paris is “just another city,” I think it’s time to head home.

If nothing else, this experience has led me to realize what I have at home and how lucky I am. It’s put a new perspective on myself, my life, my friends and family. I know more now about what makes me tick, what I want out of life, and how important the relationships of those close to me are, even for someone like myself who tends to have a loner streak. I am thankful for this; this is perhaps the best thing to come out of it all, even beyond all the incredible cities and sites I’ve gotten to see over the last six months.

Anyways, I still have over a month here. My flight back to the US is on February 21st, and before that date, I’ll be travelling to Prague and London, and hopefully going skiing as well, so there should be plenty up here in the meantime. I’d also like to cram in a trip to Vienna, but I’m not sure that will happen.

For better or for worse, the decision has been made, and at the moment, I’m glad I made the decision I did. In the future, I may post more about my thoughts on Tübingen itself, and why it is a great town to visit, but not one I want to live in, among other things.

November 17, 2005

An Update

Filed under: School, Personal, Germany — Alex Ravenel @ 4:43 am

AuftenhaltsgenehmigungIt’s been a few days, so I thought I’d post with a quick update. I finally got my visa the other day, meaning I can now legally stay in Germany until November of next year. This thing is huge though–it takes up two whole pages of my passport, though I must say, I’d rather have it than two pages of generic, boring EU passport stamps. It also says that I can work 90 full days, or 180 half days, during that period of time. Nice gesture, but I doubt I’ll be finding gainful employment here when 10% of the native German population can’t find jobs. Anyways, the visa was my last “official” thing I had to do here, and it feels good to have all that paperwork behind me. No more reams of paperwork, funny opening hours, and long lines to take care of seemingly trivial tasks.

Also, the thought has been running through my head to come home for good after this semester, at the end of March. Things are great here, but I’m getting burned out on travel, and once I lose that, there really isn’t any other pressing reason for me to be here. I’m hoping that until March is long enough for my German to really pick up, but that’s something we’ll just have to see about. Also, if I leave early, I’ll be able to take both summer sessions at UNC, meaning I’ll be able to finish a German major without having to take two 18 hour semesters senior year. This isn’t a final decision to come home, but it is something that has been heavily weighing on my mind recently.

Tuebingen Stiftkirche, DetailClasses have been going pretty well for the most part. I’ve dropped my one “real” university class because I couldn’t understand anything the professor was saying. Our grades in that class would have been 100% based on a final, and I didn’t think that I would be able to pass it given my difficulties in understanding what was going on in the class. My other classes are going wonderfully though. I’m becoming much more comfortable with my German, and the classes are getting interesting. I have two projects I’m working on right now, although only one is really “work”–the other involves me going to different bars around town and then writing about what makes each one distinct. I did the first “research” last night.

I’m hoping to pick up my travel schedule significantly soon, realizing that if I do decide to go home early, there’s still a lot I want to see. I’m going to try to go to Vienna next weekend, and then probably Würzburg, Bamberg, and Nürnberg the next weekend. Hopefully there will be plenty more posts from such places…

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