UMass Welcome Event

Today was the UMass Boston International Students welcome event. I knew that it was supposed to be today, but I didn't know where or when or any other organizational info. So I checked the website and, sure enough, the time and place was on the OITA website (http://www.umb.edu/academics/oita) Just to make sure, I also sent an email to our German coordinator, who then appparently contacted Lurlene, since I got an email from her later today. But let's start at the beginning. I live so close to campus that I can walk over there. Takes me about 15 to 20 minutes and today, the weather was absolutely fantastic, so the walk along the harbor was just the perfect start for the day. 

UMass Boston really is RIGHT ON THE WATERFRONT :) The Buildings you see on the left there? Yep, that's part of the university! So I strolled along the ocean in the morning breeze, almost forgetting that it was only quarter to eight, just enjoying the view.... lots of sailboats out there....

Which reminds me, UMass offers free sailing lessons! I have to sign up for that... They also offer a free harbor boat tour every monday - but more on that on tuesday ;) I finally made it to the University Student Center (which is right on the tip of the "island", basically surrounded by water, with an incredible look on the Atlantic!) just to then learn, that exchange students don't have to be in until 11:30..... well .... I went back....

I mean, it's not like I'm gonna wait around for another 3 and a half hours when I can sit at home on the couch drinking tea.... besides, it was such a lovely morning and I really felt like walking, so I just went straight back. Back home, I saw the email telling me that the orientation started at 11.... ok, so I was JUST OUT THERE and they told me 11:30! Apparently, organization is not necessarily one of UMass' strong suites.... I made it back around 11:15 only to spend the next hour or so having lunch... well, it was nice to meet fellow international students but it still felt like I didn't really need to be there....

And future exchange students, here's a tipp: you're in Boston to MEET NEW PEOPLE not to hang out with other Germans! So, don't sit on a table with all the other exchange students from your program! Mix and mingle! That's so much more fun! I myself had lunch with a girl from London, one from the Ukrania, two girls from India and another one from Japan! That was way cooler :) The girl from London actually lives pretty close by, so I'm hoping we might do something together... That's what it's all about, after all!

The actual introduction wasn't that helpful, to be honest. You can pretty much find all the information online as well, so unless you mingle and meet some fellow international students, there's really nothing much for you at the welcome event... The important part is that you actually have to bring your passport, because they need copies of your visa and so on. I didn't bring mine of course, because nobody told me... So I'm gonna go back there tomorrow.... Well, at least I know the way by now ;)


Welcome to Boston :)

The fun thing about travelling is always the travelling part. When you're constantly moving and seeing different things, meeting new people... Or, as the postcard says that I've found today:

Exactly! That's why it's so hard to stand still ;) But it feels good to have arrived for now, though I'm already planning trips again... For my trip from Albany to Boston, I chose the Greyhound express and shocked my family with free wi-fi on the bus :) (yeah, welcome to America folks). I also took some pictures, but I apologize - it's my phones camera... 

So this is the Hudson River there in the back and down here we have the first shots right after the Massachussetts State border. I like it here... :) I also tried to take a picture of this one truck's bumper sticker, but my phone wasn't fast enough... "Life is good" it said. I'd have to agree... ;)

So, after six days of travelling in the UK, Canada and upstate New York, I've finally made it to Beantown :) My new "roommate" picked me up at South Station. I already liked Maureen from our emails and the one phone call on saturday and when I walked out of the Station and saw her waiting for me, waiving her arms trough the air, I knew we were gonna have fun :D She's a tour guide in Boston and even though it was her day off, she couldn't help but give me a quick little tour through the harbor and North End. Then we drove home to "my" new house. It's nice and cozy and the neighborhood is really nice too. Best part though: UMass is a 15 minutes walk from the house and I can walk along the waterfront *yay* The Atlantic is about 3 minutes from the house *YAY* and so is the next T-station! Needless to say, I'm pretty happy here... Couldn't help myself and already indulged in some of my favorite American groceries (Arizona Ice Tea by the gallon...omg!) but I've been trying to keep it pretty healthy :) first thing I bought in Boston was a new pair of running shoes, because with this neighborhood, I'm gonna do some serious morning running on my days off! The streets and the walk on the beach are calling me :) Tomorrow's the welcome day at UMass, I'll probably write more once that's through... 8 a.m. till 5 p.m. - what on earth are they gonna do with us? Well, we'll see tomorrow... Can't wait!


Albany, NY

So, yeah, Albany, New York. Not too much to see but a nice stop-over between Montréal and Boston :D AND there are some pretty cool people around there... went to two cool parties on friday, one Ukranian Independence Day celebration, the other one a latino salsa party *yay* I love dancing... ;)

Naja, die Entscheidung dort hin zu fahren war eigentlich eine Geldfrage (...ich hör die ganze Zeit meine Mutter singen wenn ich an Albany denke... :) ). Der Zug von Montréal nach Albany war einfach günstiger als all the way über Toronto zu fahren. AND Upstate New York is really beautiful :)

So, luckily my couchsurfing host Jeff has a motorcycle and he took me for a ride and we found this pretty cool parc just outside of Albany. From up here, you can see the pathetic skyline ;) AND the breathtaking landscape surrounding it :) So, we stopped in the parc and took one of the trails...

Leider hab ich meine Kamera vergessen... die Bilder sind alle ausm Internet, aber der Trail is der selbe ;)

I just loved the rock formations and all the hidden little caves and cracks in the wall... absolutely fascinating :) Also, kind of exhausting, but definitely worth it! AND I finally got to go on a motorcycle ride! That was pretty cool too :D The only more or less pretty part of Albany is Lark Street with lots of little shops and restaurants and stuff. We picked up another couchsurfer in town after the parc hike and that's when we took a stroll down Lark Street. (Again, the picture's not mine... -.-)

It was definitely a good decision to stop in Albany. And the bus ride to Boston was an express, so it was quick and painless (and again right through a beautiful patch of land!) And now I'm finally in BOSTON!


About Trains, Borders and Decisions...

After a very brief visit, it was time to say good bye to Montréal on Friday. The original plan was to get a greyhound travel pass and go to Toronto and Niagra Falls before driving over to Boston. However, somehow I've decided not to..... gut feeling and all that ;) So, I was looking for other possibilities to get to the States and found Amtrack! (www.amtrack.com) Not that I hadn't known about the US train system before, but I didn't think it would be this inexpensive... The trip from Montréal to New York city (which is considered one of the top ten train routes in the world!) starts at 60 $. Since I didn't have the money to pay for a night in the city, I've decided to get off in Albany and found another couchsurfing host there.

The first thing I noticed on the train was the immense space between the seats. I could fit my suitcase in front of me and STILL have enough space to sit! (Granted, I have short legs, but still...) I was standing in the aisle and trying to decide which side to sit on and my gut feeling told me "left" . Since my gut isn't in charge of directions, I sat on the right - and was wrong. Not that the view on the right isn't beautiful, too, it's just that the river shore the train is following? Well, it's on the left.... -.-

All the way towards the border, I was wondering how we're gonna deal with customs. I only remebered the Greyhound trip last year, where everybody had to get off and take everything with him to the customs building and stand in line for an eternity - and I couldn't picture that happening with a train. Turns out, the officers actually board the train and go from row to row asking you what your purpose is comming to the States and, in my case, what on earth I was doing in Montréal! (so, why were you in Montréal? Where did you stay? What did you do there? Why did you go there? - Seriously people? Haven't you ever heard of TRAVELLING???) Anyways, after a lenghty explaination that yes, I had indeed only stopped in Montréal for sightseeing and no, I didn't have a boyfriend or family there and yes, I only stayed there as a tourist, I was finally sent to the officer with the stamp (and *yay* finally a nice/good-looking border control officer!) I had a nice chat with him and was officially welcomed in the States :) Still a little weird that they didn't scan the baggage though...

And then came the River Shore... On the other side of the train, unfortunately, but I could still see it. And yes, the ride really is breathtakingly beautiful! I also realized that I am much more of a nerd that I had thought... scenes from movies seen in class kept rolling through my mind... crazy....

In Albany (not pretty, by the way) I was picked up by my next host and realized, that I really had made the right decision by deciding to go down this way instead :) Jeff is a great host! We went to two couchsurfing parties and I met a ton of new people. He even took me on a motorcycle ride to a state parc nearby with an amazing view over upstate New York! So, yeah, I should really go with my gut feeling more often... ;)


Nachdem ich vor ziemlich genau sieben Jahren schonmal von London nach Montréal geflogen bin und dann im Endeffekt nichts von der Stadt gesehen habe, hab ich mir jetzt mal ein bisschen länger Zeit genommen :) Mein couchsurfing-host hat mich vom Flughafen abgeholt und das erste, was mir in Montréal aufgefallen ist, waren die Treppen. Die typische Bauweise der Häuser besteht aus einem zweistöckigen Backsteinhaus, das in drei Wohnebenen unterteilt ist. Die Treppen befinden sich in diesen Häusern aber nicht innen, sondern grundsätzlich außen am Haus, wo sie sich in verschiedenster Art und Weise in Richtung erstem Stock winden. Faszinierend... vor allem, wenn die ganze Straße so aussieht ;)

Am Mittwoch ging's dann erstmal in die Stadt. Nach den ganzen Parks in London bin ich zum "aklimatisieren" erstmal in die Botanical Gardens gefahren. Da ist direkt neben dem Olympiastadion und die Gärten sind wirklich wunderschön. Was mir allerdings aufgefallen ist: im Gegensatz zu London sind die Gärten nicht so Schallabgeschirmt wie zB Hyde Park, obwohl hier auch viele Grünflächen und Bäume sind usw... 

Dann bin ich nach vieux-Montréal gefahren, der "alte Stadtkern". Hach.... hübsch! Lauter kleine Gässchen und große, europäisch angehauchte Gebäude UND Pferdekutschen! Montréal is definitiv die europäischste Nordamerikanische Stadt. Dass hier alle Französisch reden trägt natürlich auch dazu bei.... Aber zum Glück sind die Meisten Bilingual /auch wenn ich es geschafft hab, auch ein bisschen Französisch zu reden ;) (Im Gegensatz zu Franzosen springen die Kanadier nicht gleich auf Englisch oder Deutsch um wenn sie mich hörn... faszinierend...) 

Abends hat Fracois dann Poutine für uns gekocht, eine Montréaler Spezialität! Pommes mit brauner Sauce und Käse... klingt komisch, schmeckt lecker! ;) Vor allem mit Francois' frisch gemachten Pommes!!!

Am Donnerstag bin ich dann einfach mal so in die Stadt gefahrn - und (leider) voll im Einkaufsviertel gelanded... hach ja... die Freuden von HMV und American Eagle... ;) Aber selbst wenn man einfach nur durch Downtown läuft ist Montreal ein echtes Schmuckstück! 

Fazit: If you can, go and visit Montréal!


About couch surfing....

IF you want to study in the US you'll probably also wanna travel some. There's a great, inexpensive and fun way to explore the country you're visiting: couch surfing! The concept is pretty simple: Locals open up their homes for you and let you sleep on their couch or in their spare bedroom. Those people are usually pretty easy going, like to travel and are excited about meeting people from different countries. The exchange is that when you come back, you also offer your couch to whoever is surfing in your region. This way, everybody benefits in a world wide community! Of course, you have to be up for it. Sharing an appartment with a complete stranger isn't everybody's idea of fun... BUT if you choose your hosts carefully and put a little thought in your profile, you might just have the time of your life! PLUS you'll be spending time with a local who will most likely have some indsider tipps on the region you are visiting!

Personal experience: The reason I bring it up is because I am currently surfing in Montreal and its been great so far! My host is a real darling, I have my own room and bathroom (that's luxus) and he gave me some tipps on what to visit while I'm here. He also cooked poutin for us yesterday, which is a local specialty. Unfortunately he has to work a lot so that he cannot accompany me on my trips, but then again, its the middle of the week - what else would he be doing? :)

So, yeah, check it out! www.couchsurfing.org and have fun exploring!



Hach.... die Engländer :) Sie sind einfach herzallerliebst! Hab mich gleich mal wieder mit den Bediensteten der Tube angefreundet.... und mit den Airport people! Heathrow is einfach schön! Zur "Begrüßung" gabs auch gleich einen kleinen Rundflug über die Stadt mit allen wichtigen Sights einmal aus der Vogelperspektive :) Das International Students House is echt fantastisch, direkt zwischen Subway Station Regents Park und Great Portland Street, freundlich, sauber - was will man mehr? Gestern schön morgens den Bus zum Marble Arch genommen, dann erstmal gemütlich ne Runde durch den Hyde Park und dann ab unter die Touris und Richtung Themse :) Ich hab echt mehr Fotos von Fremden gemacht als eigene... Could you take a picture of us? SURE! :D Hach... und Leicaster Square! Mensch, ich muss mir wirklich mal so ne Westend Show anschaun... Aber bin ja leider schonwieder weg... Naja, heute ist nicht aller Tage, ich komme wieder, keine Frage! :D

Olympic Medals on Leicaster Square

Das Beweisfoto ;)



....ich bin dann mal wech...

Today is finally here *yay* I'm off to London! Bags are packed, I'm sure I forgot something, papers are sorted and copied, leftover foreign money is scratched together and ready to roll! Can't wait to be back in London, if only for a little while. Tomorrow I'm off to Montreal where I will have my first couch surfing experience *excited* now all I need is a plan that will get me from Montreal to Boston and then I'm all set... :) Goodbye Germany! see you next year!


- 3

I'm packing... I think I will be packing and repacking till sunday... it's hard to find the perfect mix of clothes for 6 months and 6 different countries... But, luckily I've found a couple of ways to send a suitcase back, so once I'm leaving for California, I'll probably send a bunch of stuff back home... Should make it easier...

For my overnight stay in London, I've reserved a room ath the International Students House. 26 pounds for one night in central London sounds fantastic, I just hope it's not a pighole... if you wanna check it out, visit http://www.ish.org.uk/accommodation/short-stay-accommodation

Also, I need to do a little advertising for my around the world ticket :) I've booked via ReissAus! http://www.aroundtheworldticket.de/ticketangebote/ they have great routes but also offer custom routes and can give you an individual pricing offer. I've checked a couple of around the world ticket offers and theirs was the cheapest. They also offer single flights with students discounts, so make sure you check out their prices before you book somewhere else :)

Ok, so much for that... gotta get back to the suitcases... three more days to go *yay*