Greetings once again. I am trying very hard to have a much shorter travel update this time around. This should be aided by the lack of any very long trips to have happened in the past two weeks. When we last spoke I had returned from Paris and had been in Leipzig for a week.
I would like to begin this post in the same way I began the last post, that is, discussing the German class situation. It seems that I owe ACU a moderate apology for being fairly harsh. Not long after I made my comments a couple of weeks ago, we were informed that if we did not achieve the grade we desired for the first “three hours” of German (German 111), then we would be permitted to retake it and replace our grade. If we did like our grade, then we could continue on to the next “three hours” (German 112). I ended up with an 81, though I suspect grades were played with a little, and decided I was alright with that and have continued on to German 112. This solution by ACU, while not the best (mainly because it charges six hours worth of money for three hours worth of tuition for those who retake 111), is workable and better than I thought would happen (at least people’s GPA’s won’t be shot). Nevertheless, the pace is still ridiculous, but I think I can handle it, especially since I have an idea of what is coming having already taken 111.
There is not a whole lot to write about in terms of us just being in Leipzig. My last post gave sort of the daily routine. There are, though, two stories of merit. The first is the detailed adventure of me losing my wallet and trying to rectify that problem. The second is about the excitement of when Trevor Thompson, a faculty member from ACU, was here to teach us Church history things.
My wallet. I am a stupid person. When we went to Berlin the first time back in January I decided to buy a new wallet. My existing wallet wasn’t really equipped to deal with coins, and coins play a much bigger role in the currency here since the smallest denomination of bill is a 5 and the largest coin is a 2. This was sort of a pouch type thing that would also allow me to carry my assorted travel documents around with me when travelling, including my passport. Normally I left my travel documents and passport in the flat when I was just chilling in Leipzig, and only put them in the pouch when we were travelling out of Germany. Well, it seems that I forgot to take them out after being in France. One evening about a week and a half ago we, that is Kyle, Laura, our friend Christin, and I, all went to see Avatar in German at the cinema in town. I am not sure how this happened, but as we left the cinema I realized that my wallet/pouch thing was missing. We looked all over for it. We asked at the information desk. We even called the information desk the next day, all to no avail. So, when we got back to the flats I called Bank of American and cancelled my debit cards, and two days later I made my way to the embassy in Berlin, because, apparently, the US consulate in Leipzig doesn’t do passports. The main problem with going to Berlin was that the embassy was only open for US citizen services between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. meaning I would have to get there before noon. Why this is the case I have no idea. If I wanted to really fork over the money I could have gotten to Berlin in plenty of time, but I didn’t really want to do that, especially since I lost about $120 dollars in my wallet. So, I decided to take a cheap train that would put me there around 10:50, and then take the subway to the embassy. I didn’t realize that I would have to travel the length of the entire city just to get to the embassy. I emerged from the underground at the right stop at 11:40. I looked to my left and then I looked to my right and I didn’t see the embassy. I decided to guess, turned left, and about 7 minutes later I saw the embassy. I crossed the street, made it through the security checkpoint (they made me take a drink of my coke to prove it wasn’t poison), and then made it to the section that deals with US citizens with about 2 minutes to spare. There was no line and it only took about twenty minutes to get everything in order. I am going back on Tuesday to pick up my passport. The trip to Berlin did, however, allow me to see Alice in Wonderland in English, which was nice.
The other tale, the one regarding ACU instructor Trevor Thompson, begins a week prior to today. Actually, it begins a week or so before that when Curt Niccum, my Church history professor, informed us that he was too sick to travel to Germany, and so he would be sending Trevor Thompson instead. A week ago Kyle, Laura, and I met Trevor at the Haubtbahnhoff and escorted him to the flats. He stayed in Ron and Janine’s flat while they were away in Italy. On Monday Laura and I gave him a tour of the city center as best we could. We showed him Nikolaikirche and Thomaskirche. We showed him the memorial to the Jewish synagogue that was completely destroyed and we left him at the Stasi museum while we went grocery shopping. On Tuesday we all went down to the Thomaskirche and really examined the building. Afterwards we went and had cake and coffee and discussed our various thoughts and such. On Wednesday we all went to Dresden and we got a tour of the Frauenkirche, the main church in Dresden which was destroyed by the firebombing in WWII. The tour was buy a man named Sebastian whose company had been contracted to restore all of the wood in Frauenkirche. He really knew his stuff. We also went to the Green Vault which holds all the treasures of the Duke of Saxony. There was so much awesome artwork, sculpture, and jewelry that I could barely take it all in. On Thursday we went to Berlin. This time Berlin was not cold at all and, actually, I wore short sleeves! We spent all of our time in the Pergamum museum. This museum holds a lot of the artifacts from the ancient city of Pergamum in Turkey. If you ever visit Pergamum you will note that the great altar of Zeus is missing from the center of the city. This is because it was taken apart stone by stone, transported to Germany, and reassembled. It is likely that this is the “throne of Satan” referred to in Revelation. Also present were the Ishtar gates. There were also taken apart brick by brick and reassembled in Germany. They were extremely impressive. On Friday we had “class” time where we talked about things ranging from the ethics of war to cultural appreciation. That evening we attended a Bach concert. Now, I am not really one for classical music, but this music wasn’t depressing and boring like some other stuff I’ve heard; it was actually very lively and happy. I enjoyed the concert very much. On Saturday Trevor returned to Berlin where he flew to the States from.
On Friday we leave for the Balkans. I am unbelievably excited about this trip, and am excited that my passport will be ready in time. I will probably update again after that trip.