I haven’t left the house in over 72 hours by now. Part of it is because Brussels remains under highest terror alert, but mostly because of the hailstorms this weekend and because I’m writing my dissertations.
It’s been 75 days since I left Minneapolis to pursue my Masters in Brussels. I first flew to Germany, and then got a ride to Belgium. All under U$ 330 Dollars. I wanna assure you I’m being as resourceful as I can with this grant, and that I’m thrilled to be a Rotary ambassador once again.
The carpooling driver from Denmark to Germany was of African origin, native French/English speaker who lives in Germany but works in Denmark, so that was a pretty interesting ride for me, so when the pouring rain slowed us down, I didn’t really mind.
I just got dropped off at this weird train station in Hamburg, not too long until Philipp shows up, wearing the same clothes as when I said goodbye a week before. I think he just didn’t want me to get confused, that way I would find him more easily.
I thought I had liked Germany the first time I came. But, man, I didn’t think it could get any better.
The weather was nicer, clubs were hotter, parties were cooler, people were more attractive, I was more excited and phoenix were flying higher! Life just keeps getting better and better!!!
If these few days here served for any good, it was to prepare myself for the First Rotex International Convention that will happen next weekend. I don’t think I am ready for that yet.
I have finally arrived in Scandinavian territory, starting Phase III of my Journey.
This trip was all about NPC (Non playable characters). Simply because otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten from Point A: Ahrensburg to Point B: Odense SV.
I left Ahrensburg with Philipp, where he helped me find my ride from the Mitchhahrhjcuirehfueh website (Mitfahrgelegenheit.de actually). And when we did, I said goodbye to him for the third time this year, and hopped in the car, to head north.
The plan was to get dropped off in Flensburg, the border city of Germany with Denmark, where Malou Rohde Trup would pick me up. Half way there I used a girls phone to text Malou just to find out there is a change of plans, she can’t pick me up and I’d have to take the train on my own. Alright, sounds good. But, how am I supposed to pay for that? I don’t have any Danish Kroner, so again I need to call Malou so she can help me figure that one out. At the end of the day I finally arrived in Odense and got picked up by Malou. The city of Odense is the third largest city in Denmark, and is the main city of the island of Funen.
Phoenix reunited after just a few months. I stayed with Malou for a week. I met her loving family, hung out with her crazy friends, burned old witches at the stake, had various flavors of Sumersbee, cleaned the house for sale, watched Les Mis over and over again, and last but not least; I saw the Scandinavian graduation hats for the first time, and fell in love with them.
What surprised me the most is that everyone in Denmark seems to speak English, from the little kids riding their bikes, to the grandparents feeding the ducks at the lake. So, it would be a hard job to get lost in this tiny country. A week later, Malou started preparing to go camping, and I had to leave for the Rotex Convention. Not without stopping in Ahrensburg again.
Thank you so so much for having me Malou, I missed you and it was fantastic seeing you. Love, Phoenix.
Something great about Phase II, a.k.a. Germany, besides potatoes, is that here you can get group train tickets. These group train tickets allow you to travel in a group of up to 5 people, and it comes off really cheap. So that is what I did to get from Kassel, town located on the Fulda River in northern Hesse, to the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, with only €7.
For my surprise, what thought would be the longest train ride, turned out to be extremely interesting as soon as a group of Rotary Exchange students hosted in Germany entered the train.
The only complication I had was not having a place to stay. No big deal, happens all the time, right? Well, the solution was clear to me. The first thing that popped into my head was to go on the Rotary Facebook page created for the former Exchange students and ask;
-Is anyone here going to be around Hamburg this weekend?
That same day I got a response from Annika Peters, former Rotary Exchange Student to Brazil. And that is where I stayed. That same night after I arrived in Hamburg and met up with her, we watched the UEFA European Football Championship match between Denmark x Germany at the Heiligengeistfeld. It was fantastic, the energy from the Germans was unique, and I am very glad I was on the German side that night.
Next day I met up with Philipp, former Rotary Exchange student and my roommate during the East Coast Trip in 2010. Earlier this semester he had come to Bordeaux, so this was my second time seeing him since our exchange. Philipp lived in Ahrensburg, little town in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. It is part of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region, situated in Stormarn. Its population around 31,700.
Even though I had just seen him a couple of months ago, I felt like this was foreign territory. I would finally meet his friends and his family, after hearing so much about them. I spent four fun days in Ahrensburg with the Roehls, the Ma’am and Sir were very kind and cooked me plenty of kartoffeln.
I partied in Hamburg, walked through the Reeperbahn, street in Hamburg’s St. Pauli district, one of the two centres of Hamburg’s nightlife and also the city’s red-light district. In German it is also sometimes described as die sündige Meile (the sinful mile). Had my first conversation with a lady in a fanny pack – here is a tip for the ladies that are visiting the city, don’t wear fanny packs, or you might get mistaken by someone else.
I left Ahrensburg on the 22nd of June and went to Odense to meet up with Malou Tolstrup Rhode, another former Rotary exchange student.
Phase II! I finally get to see something in Germany besides the interiors of the Munich airport. I see germans, germans everywhere! After another long day of traveling, switching trains and eating homemade sandwiches, I finally arrived in Frankfurt.
Once I got there I was received at the train station by Carolin Dippel, a German Rotary Exchange student that lived with my family in Brazil while I was an Exchange student in Minnesota in 2009/2010. Which means I only cohabited with her for two weeks, three years ago. So I wasn’t sure how things were gonna turn out.
Not to my surprise we hit it off just fine! We went partying on my first night there, I met all of her friends, we got the chance to speak Portuguese, which always makes me happy, and ended up helping her since she went to Brazil just a couple weeks after I had come to visit.
With her family, I had the chance to see some old castles in the region, like the Waldeck Castle. Its ruins lie high above the Baybach valley. It was the main seat of the Hunsrück Family Boos. The castle was in use until 1833 when the family of Boos von Waldeck sold its holdings in the Rhineland. We also visited the Kellerwald-Edersee National Park, Hesse’s only national park.
My favorite part about visiting another country is staying with a family that is welcoming, if they are also great cooks, I woun’t complain. That way I get to taste great, local, homemade food. And so far, I loved german food. By that I mean; KARTOFFELN, kartoffeln everyday! I am not a beer drinker, so potatoes became my favorite german specialty, and I made sure to have them the 7/7 days I spent in Felsberg with the Dippel’s.
Being in a foreign country where I don’t know the language, I thought Germany would scare me a little bit. But I had such great hosts that by the time I left I could even say some words in the native language:
– Danke für das essen.
– Danke für das frühstück.
– Danke für di kartoffeln.
– Zwei kurze, bite!
I’ve been thinking a lot about this summer, and I have decided to divide it into phases. Yes, phases, like in a game. I’m still not quite sure what will make one phase different from the other, or how they are going to work. But let’s use RPG games as a metaphor.
In a Role Playing Game you assume the role of a character in a certain setting and created scenario. The players must take responsibility for acting out these roles within the narrative. Being in charge of the decision-making and character development, while undertaking quests that will help him discover his purpose in action, and also achieve his final goal and destination. Actions taken within many games succeed or fail according to a formal system of rules and guidelines that are given to the player. But of course there can be interpretation of the rules or free form decision making within them.
In the world of RPG games there are also the NPCs. Non-player characters that have a role as the “supporting cast” or “extras” of a roleplaying narrative. Non-player characters populate the fictional world of the game, and can fill any role not occupied by a player character. And just like in real life NPCs might your be allies, bystanders or competitors. One way or another, these characters are fundamental in anyone’s life, as they inspire, teach and helpll help us achieve our goals and complete phases.
The main objective of an RPG is for players to get their characters from one adventure to the next, learning and seeing as much as they can throughout each phase. Now that, my friends, sounds like real life to me! The difference is that I’ll create my own narrative, and I won’t do it sitting on a couch all summer.
Still following? Not too complicated.
The scenario this time is Europe.
The phases I still don’t know. t is like in real life, I guess, one never knows what lies ahead. What I do know is that I am ready for whatever is up next.
The most important are the rules. I have mentioned them before, but I’ll remind you what they are. It’s quite simple.
I hope I can see many of my friends again. I hope to meet many NPCs that will help me throughout my journey. I hope to see a lot and learn as much as I can. For that, I’ll fly like a Phoenix.