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Tue, 1 Apr 2003
Germany - Flight over
So my flight was scheduled to leave Detroit at 5:45pm on Monday. My parents drove me to the airport and dropped me off while I went inside to the ticket counter. I met up with Allyn Schillinger there; he is going to Ulm, Germany with me. The terminal was fairly empty, so it didn't take long to get through the ticket line. My parents caught up with me after that. To get farther into the terminal, you had to have a ticket and pass through the security checkpoint. Therefore I hugged my parents and said goodbye to them. Then Allyn and I ventured towards the security people... I'd say we got through pretty quickly. I got the easy treatment... I just ran everything through the X-ray machine and then walked through the metal detector. After that, a lady took my laptop to a table and ran a white piece of cotton across it. She checked out the sample and then told me I was done. Allyn got more of the full service. He had to "assume" the position and be checked with a handheld metal detector. He got to leave his shoes on, but he had to remove his belt. They also checked his laptop.

After we got past security, Allyn and I had a couple hours to kill. We found our gate and sat there a moment. Then we went to the counter and asked if we could get seats together. They said they would look into it. Not having eaten anything besides the goldfish crackers my girlfriend, Megan, gave me, I was feeling quite hungry at this point. We wandered down the terminal, and discovered the most incredible thing! There was a Pizza Papalis at the airport! I enjoyed a delicious personal pepperoni pizza. :) After that, we rode the tram back and forth. Just because. Then we looked for the other Kettering group, which was flying on Lufthansa. We went to the gate we thought they were at, but we did not see them. As we took the slidewalk back to our gate, we slid past the people we were looking for. Our flight started boarding before too long, and I was pleased to get to our seats in time to have enough space in the overhead bin for my large backpack. It worked out well.

I am writing this on the plane to Amsterdam. We are about an hour from landing. I had no success getting any sleep on the plane. Allyn managed to sleep for probably an hour or so. I am not sure how I am going to get through the whole next day. I have set my watch ahead already, and it is 5am assuming I set it correctly. In Amsterdam, Allyn and I are goign to meet up with Eric and Jason, the rest of our merry group.
Tue, 1 Apr 2003
Germany - My first day in Germany
This is the end of my second day in Germany. It has been interesting. The trip to Ulm was not too eventful. Our flight arrived in Amsterdam on time or even possibly a little early.... about 7:30am. We were at gate E18 or so. We had the boarding pass for our next flight, and it was at gate B4. When we got off the plane, we followed the signs to the B gates. This involved walking past gates E17-E1. There were slidewalks avaiable, but they were not very fast; there were people walking casually next to the slidewalks, and they were going faster than us. Also, our tickets said 8.30 for the next flight. We did not get off the flight until about 7:40, and we were around E10 at 7:50. This made us fairly nervous about getting to the next flight on time. After the E wing, we walked through some parts with stores, etc. Then we through some "customs" thing (whatever it is called) where they checked everyone's passport. The lines moved very slowly, and our line stopped for a while when there was some girl who had a bunch of papers and was talking to the guy for a long time. When it was Allyn's turn and also for my turn, we simply showed the guy our passports and boarding passes, and he let us go by. We kept walking to B4, which was not too much farther, and we met up with Eric and Jason there. We made it there with plenty of time; it turned out that the flight did not leave until 9:15. After looking at our ticket closer, it had both 8.30 and 9.15 on it. We don't understand. We got on the flight on time. It was a KLM Cityhopper flight which means it was on a small plane instead of a big 747. We tooks a staircase down to exit the terminal where we got on a bus a was driven to a plane. It was a jet, but not a big one. Two rows of people on each side of the plane and only two flight attendents. My large carryon seemed to big to fit in the overhead bin, and underneith the seat was out of the question. Fortunately, one of the flight attendents had a bin towards the back of the plane that I could use.

We arrived in Stuttgard on time, and started walking towards customs. Before we entered customs, I asked if anyone checked if we had people from Fachhochschule Ulm waiting for us at the gate. We started walking back towards the gate, but there was a guard who told us we could not go back there. So we decided to proceed our way towards luggage pickup and customs. The others picked up their luggage, and we also saw some fellow Kettering students in the same room. After all the luggage was picked up, we didn't see any Kettering people, so we went through customs. We didn't talk to anyone, and they did not stop us. We then met up with our fellow Kettering students and two of our German tutors. We loaded our stuff and ourselves into two tall vans and drove to Ulm. At some point around this time, I started wondering about my passport. The guy in Amsterdam never stamped it, and nobody in Stuttgard even looked at it. They never gave us any cards to fill out on the plane... I think I heard someone ask about them, and the flight attendent said it would be handled on the plane. After checking with other students, some had their passports stamped in Amsterdam, and others did not have their passports stamped. None of us understood why. After we got to Ulm, our tutors took us to our new homes. We each have an individual room. The Fachhochschule does not own its own housing; it contracts it out (in some way) to various independent dorms in the city. Most of the people live at a building on Heidenheimer Strasse (street). A number of others live on Gutenberg Strasse. I, along with three other students, live on Wiley Strasse. As it turns out, housing was really tight, and we got screwed. Technically, we do not live in Ulm. For that matter, Ulm is located in the state of Baden-Wertermburg, and we do not even live in the same state! Instead, we leave in the city of Neu-Ulm in the state of Bayern (Bavaria). While the other students can walk to the Fachhochschule in under 10 minutes, we need to take a 40 minute bus ride. Surprise!

At our dorms, we met Conny, who is another student tutor. We met our hausmeister, who does not speak much English. After waiting around for a while, he told us about the situation. He explained (through the tutor's translation) that a collection of dumpsters in one part of the parking lot were for three separate colors of glass, paper, and cardboard (I think). Then there were 4 garbage cans across the parking lot that are to be used for biological (food) waste. Then the four small, gray dumpsters next to those are to be used for the rest-- except for plastic. If we had plastic, there is a recycling center down the road that we should take it to. The tutors said they could show it to us later. After explaining all this, the hausmeister took us to see all of our rooms. They are actually quite large. I would say my room is approximately twice as wide as my Kettering dorm room. It has a closet as well. I share a bathroom with the room next door. The bathroom has two sinks, a toilet, and a shower. What is kinda sad as a look around the room, is that the room is pretty empty. It has a desk, two desk chairs, a small table, a lamp (missing the bulb) that can attach to the desk, and a long twin bed. The closet has shelves and another small table. The floor is wood. I think the room would look a lot more complete if it had carpet, a couch, a recliner, and wall coverings. But I doubt I will change much of it during my term. The rooms also have RJ-45 jacks with Ethernet to connect to the Internet with. However, first we need to see the administrator to set us up. The furnishings are not exactly "standard issue;" Allyn's room came with a counch and a large dresser. Chad's room has a comfy armchair. After seeing the rooms, the Hausmeister had us sign a contract and gave us our room keys and mailbox keys. It was at this point that I started to realize what an immigrant feels like. I have no idea what the contact says; it's all in German! I trusted that it was really a housing contract, and that I did not sell him my soul. Another frustrating thing is that the tutors would talk with the Hausmeister for a couple minutes and then tell us one sentence as a result of it. I'm sure they said a lot more than one sentence during those couple minutes. But while I wish they would tell me more, I am very aware that I am completely dependent on them and could not be doing this without them. We were done handling our housing around 1:30pm, and we agreed to meet again at 3:00pm to handle food and other stuff. Allyn and I spent a little time checking out our rooms, but then we also walked around the neighborhood to see what was there.

At 3:00pm, the four of us met up with Conny and also Ruth, another tutor who also happens to live in Allyn's building. We went to a store to buy various stuff. Allyn and I got glasses to drink the water from our rooms. Allyn got toilet paper, because his bathroom had none. We took our stuff back, and then the six of us got on the bus. Us Americans had to buy a day pass to ride. I thought we were going to go eat food, but I was wrong. I was fairly tired from not sleeping on the plane, and I fell asleep on the bus. I was woken up and got off the bus with the rest of them. We walked into some place that I thought said burgerburo on the door, but it was not a food place. Instead, we were there to register. I am not sure who we were registering with, or why we needed to register. I believe we were registering with some sort of government agency, and I did it because that's what the tutors told us to do. I was the last person to register, which might sound like a good thing, but that unfortunately meant I did not have a tutor to help me out. This was a problem, because the clerk did not know English hardly at all. After a couple sentences back and forth, the clerk realized this was not going to work, and fortunately a tutor came over to help me. They looked at my passport and asked me a couple questions such as my marriage status and religion. When it was over, they gave me my passport back, a carbon copy "receipt" from the form, and a folder that says " Unsere Serviceleistungen" and has a city bus map, a day bus pass, and a couple other papers in it. I really had no idea what was going on. We did other things after this; went cell phone shopping, towel shopping. We ate dinner with all the Kettering students at Barfußen. Then we went home around 9pm, and I fell asleep very quickly.

I was planning to talk about the last two days, but it is getting quite late, and I am feeling quite tired. Hopefully I can catch up tomorrow.
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