Monday, January 7, 2008

DAY 7: First day of school

All the shops are closed on Sundays, so I couldn't buy a watch or batteries or an alarm clock. I downloaded some different alarm clock software programs and wasted at least an hour trying to make one work on my computer the night before. (by the way, day 6 was completely cold, rainy/sleety and uneventful.) As luck would have it, my computer had an "unexpected power down" during the middle of the night, so I woke up late. That's fine, Germans don't shower anyway, right...? Once on the U-Bahn, I experience my first "ticket check" from the authorities. I had purchased a 7 day pass last Wed, which expires at midnight on Tues, but the ticket checker apparently read my ticket wrong and started arguing with me (auf Deutsch) in front of everyone. I couldn't follow his German and said, "I'm sorry, my German is bad (in German of course)." He argued for a while that my ticket was invalid and then realized that he was wrong. He said, "oh...I am sorry." and walked away. The rest of the train looked at me and kind of shrugged their collective shoulders. I get to the class room, where class is already underway (only by 5 or 10 minutes), and inadvertently sit down next to the only other American (John from Tennessee). That's right, in American we are all called John. It turns out I'm also seated behind the only German (I thought there would be more than one) and in the same row as the Canadian woman who is also staying at Turnerschaft. Class was great. My classmates are from:
Turkey, Thailand, Venezuela, Turkey, Brasil, Brasil, Brasil, Canada, Thailand, Turkey, Laos, USA, Sweden, Thailand, Ecuador, Brasil, Japan, Laos, Brasil, China, Germany, Thailand, Liberia, Japan, Serbia, China, and China. There are 28 of us. We had a malting technology lecture (which largely focused on the shortcomings of the previous 2 years' harvests), a brewery arithmetics lecture (for which I must now go do my homework), an economics lecture, a basic chemistry lecture, and a plant equipment (malting) lecture. A lot of the lectures were sort of topic intros (no new earth-shattering knowledge), but it was very exciting to see where things are headed (good, I think). Afterwards, they had a reception which lasted for several hours to welcome our class and a Russian class, which also started today. Wolfgang Kunze was also on hand to sign copies of his famous text, "Technology Brewing and Malting." Apparently a new copy of the book was included in our tuition. I already had a copy of it, so after a couple of beers I thought it would be a good idea to have Kuze sign my new copy and dedicate it to a friend. Kunze had a little difficulty with the translation, but Kev (hopefully not reading this) will soon be getting a copy inscribed: "For Kevin, Major (Rather than 'May your') brewing adventures be successful. Be sure to listen to your friend John. He is smart now. -Wolfgang Kunze Berlin, 7.1.2008" Once I got back to Turnerschaft, I had a couple of beers with some of the members, one a particularly nice German who lives in Munich, was in town on business, and who's very recently ex-wife lives in BLACKSBURG! Small freakin' world!! By the way, I have several confirmations (from both outside and inside sources) that while, yes, some fraternities are associated with nazis, Turnershaft is certainly not one of them. Seems like a group of really nice people to me. Time for homework. Love you, Meg...Wish I had a phone.

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