Mittwoch (7)

Well, 6.5 weeks of sitting at a desk all day later, I finally was pushed over the edge… and to hot yoga. My tight, cramped body was crying for some sort of ailment. And I suppose I pretty much accomplished my aim.

Despite it being only my second bikram class ever, I was able to focus on actually doing the poses well as opposed to just not barfing the whole time–which is all I remember from the post-Mammoth detox hot yoga I did once in high school with a few friends. I did confirm after the class though that we got all of the 26 postures in, though. (It just seemed like there was so much savasana!)

So yeah, besides being super fit (love how my blog posts alternate topics between food and exercise), I just folded my laundry, and I’m missing three socks. I am also missing an earring. And the bottom to my protein shake mixing bottle (lol food + exercise in one).

Please let me know if you’ve found any of the above. Or if you can explain to me why, when, and how UK planning policy shifted to mandate Housing and Employment Land Availability Assessments instead of Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessments and where the SHLAAs are still extant and where they are not. Thanks.

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Brussels

This weekend, Brussels tried its very best to teach me the two most valuable things in life: chocolate and comics. Okay, the former, and I certainly get. But unfortunately, I missed out on the well regarded Comic Strip Museum (did make it to the Museum of Figurines though—two people’s private collecting of thousands of comic figures), and I will continue working to greater appreciate comics. Nonetheless, a wonderful weekend.
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My friend Shannon and I had our priorities straight from the beginning of the trip. We set out Saturday morning to get our first-ever, authentic Belgian waffles. Surprisingly, I won’t say there were no disappointments. I actually enjoyed the waffle I had in Amsterdam, which was shaped like a Liége-style waffle, but probably had the consistency closer to a Brussels-style waffle, way more than the Liége waffle I tried here. I suppose even the crystallized sugar of the Liége waffles here don’t make up for their denseness (I don’t like how dense they are). However, the Brussels-style waffle that my friend and I also split 110% fulfilled my expectations, from its sweet and fluffy core to the rich chocolate sauce on top—something I hesitate to even call ‘chocolate sauce,’ given how that calls to mind something like Hershey’s chocolate sauce, which is basically incomparable.
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Other food successes of the weekend = chocolate and numerous free chocolate samples. Deepest food regrets = bland sausage and never getting a second (or third or fourth) Brussels waffle.
But okay okay, perhaps there is more to life than food, and I think Shannon and I did end up breaking a bit more than even with the Brussels City Cards we bought. AKA museums! Had there not been free samples, my favorite museum would not have been either of the chocolate museums we visited (they were kinda pathetic). But… the free samples weren’t. Also, now I am an expert in making chocolate truffles, as we saw the ~same demonstration on both sides of town.
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Also, yeah, food, I like food, but other fun fact about European food—a bit more distanced from my own tastes—is related to the lax safety regulations here. Nowhere is the states would you ever see bins of chocolate (free samples) just sitting there, waiting for tourists grimy hands to dig deep, with no serving utensil in sight. (I’m sure my own hand was only grimy hand #49238 of the day.)
Other museums successes of the weekend include seeing my oboe’s ancestors at the Musical Instrument Museum and  learning about the f-ed up nature of the institution of marriage (marriage historically = man owns woman) at the Museum of Costume and Lace.
As I seem to be veering in the direction of superlatives here, Most Bizarre Moment of the Weekend goes to playing interactive sports games inside the Royal Palace under a ceiling tiled with green, sparkly (dead) beetles.
Most Pathetic Park goes to the one right outside the Royal Palace, which I forget the name of, but consisted of some unkempt grass, gravel pathways, and a bunch of people sitting around the fountain playing Pokemon Go.
Most Quaint Dining Location goes to the garden of a super hippy bio store, where I enjoyed some fake meat and an organic, gluten-free beer with the neighborhood cats and some pretty tiled chairs.
Strongest Drink goes to my margarita purchased at Brussels Urban Beach, which I enjoyed on imported sand on the concrete banks of the river while watching some type of Latin American dance being taught to enthusiastic tourists and locals alike. Weakest Drink goes to Hoegaarden beer. (FYI world, I’m not an alcoholic—the three drinks I’ve mentioned here sum up all of the alcohol I consumed this weekend.)
Best Bed in my Hostel Room goes to the one I so impressively snatched Saturday morning when the dude who previously had it left. It was right next to the window and only with one other (non-bunk) bed, with a giant locker barrier separating it from the two bunkbeds on the other side of the room, where the hardcore snorers resided.
Kitschiest Tourist Attraction by far (even beyond the silly chocolate museums) goes to Mini Europa. Most Expensive Tourist Attraction also goes to Mini Europa. Most Absurd Meeting Place to Hang Out with y Belgian Friend Whom I Hadn’t Seen Since I Met Her in Madrid Two Summers Ago goes to Mini Europa. Most Obnoxious Location to Get to the Bruxelles-Nord Train Station From goes to Mini Europa.
Cutest Cat goes to the tiny kitten wandering around the exit of Mini Europa.
Longest Train Travel of the Trip goes to my Mini Europa —> Bru-Noord Station —> Frankfurt —> Hamburg route.
Most Obnoxious Wifi goes to the Deutsche Bahn hotspot, which I paid 30 euros for a month’s access to and totally regret!!
And now that this has turned into a bitch fest, I’m going to proceed with the train work (my usual work stuff) that I neglected to do on Friday after my computer died. Peace.
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Update: currently freezing a little bit outside at the Frankfurt Hbf while eating the first lettuce of days in the form of a relatively lettuce barren McDonald’s salad. I entered the McDonald’s initially to try to find a relatively comfy place to spend what I recently learned has turned into a 90-minute layover. (Had I known that before I entered the McDonald’s, I could’ve gone into town, hung out at the hostel across the I stayed at across the street a few weeks ago, or even searched far and wide to find a grocery store open on Sunday then bought a bag of lettuce and the appropriate ingredients to procure something more substantial than my McDonald’s “Big” Salad.) But then after I saw on the sign the train was delayed, I utilized the internet to confirm, and then the internet lied to me, and then I raced back outside to catch the train, and now I sit here in the cold.
At least the DB Hotspot is working for like the first time ever. *Knock on wood*

Cologne/to Brussels

I am literally so pumped right now that the majority of the people in my hostel room right now seem to be winding down and getting ready for bed. I just spent the past 7 hours on trains finishing ~2.5 hours of work (out of the 4 hours of the workday I skipped), and then killing my computer battery watching a movie before I could finish the lesson plan I was making. And not sleeping–not sure why, given my current state of exhaustion. (Sitting at a desk all day is tiring and also sometimes time differences are tough, and I’m just too popular when my friends want to talk after my bedtime….)

 

And indeed, I am working on a lesson plan for Masters students–it’s casual… But actually the lesson is in the form of a PowerPoint presentation on how to give a good PowerPoint presentation, and so there’s no pressure there at all….

 

In addition to my stupidly not sleeping on the train, I gave myself a nice, two-hour layover in Cologne (or Köln, as non-Americans would say). As I usually do, I toured my way through the area adjacent to the train station through food and beer and sweets. Couldn’t think of a better way…

 

Also, I’m so incredibly pumped to be in BELGIUM (Chocolate! Waffles! Beer!).

 

Also, also, had some flashbacks to my 6th grade French class on the walk from the train station here. I forgot that they spoke French in Belgium until the creepy guys began to talk to me… And then I realized I remembered some French!! Fun fun.

 

Also, right now the girl in the bunk next to me is singing softly in Korean, and I think that will be a nice serenade to sleep. (Also props to her for courteously telling me that I was using the linens for everything when I was making my bed a few minutes ago. It’s definitely better with the right sheets in the right places, and my pillow case not used as a duvet cover.)

 

So I just re-read through this post, making my usual grammar edits, and I realize that I only sound slightly insane. I blame the tiredness. But clearly, you all, blog readers, are too important to leave hanging until another time when I am more coherent. I think the pictures for this post will have to wait, at least….

Update

The spider count in my room is up to 7 now.

I think I made two of them mad when I went into their corner earlier to grab a bag, but now I believe they have found more secure shelter in my suitcase. Sensible.

 

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Montag (5)

Moral of the workday:
Humans are imperfect, politicians are liars, and government sucks.
I received three email responses from England’s Office of National Statistics, England’s Department for Communities and Local Government, and the Liverpool Government this morning. Each response stated that the data and reports I was inquiring about either are delayed in their publishing or will never exist due to the fact that the English government cannot hold its shit together for more than five years.
Meanwhile, the Office of National Statistic simply doesn’t keep data on general land consumption practices. If any Stats major friends want to help me turn this data (https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/live-tables-on-land-use-change-statistics) into a figure like this (https://www.umweltbundesamt.de/sites/default/files/medien/384/bilder/dateien/2_abb_anstieg-suv_2016-07-01.pdf)—in order to compare what’s up in Germany vs. the UK—plz hmu.
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Train from Amsterdam

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20:28
On the train back to Hamburg, now. Or to be more specific, back on the train to Osnabrük that will be ending early due to “technical problems for the trains in Germany where the air conditions do not work, as usual.” And so then I’ll be on a train from Bentheim to Osnabück and then eventually back to Hamburg. And I’m currently on page 97 of the Oxford Core Strategy Sustainability Appraisal Report.
Perhaps I shall eventually write about the past three wonderful days in Amsterdam. But I really have to finish reading this report…
20:37
PYSCH the document was only actually 117 pages (and the other 236 appendices!).
So I’m done!
And I think beginning to sort through a weekend’s worth of (mostly terrible food) pictures.
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Okay, now for real about the weekend, in food highs and lows form, of course:
Friday —
  • High: Herring with a Dutch flag in it
  • High: Dutch pancake with chicken, ginger, and cheese
  • Low: Dutch pancake was unfortunately just 50 meters away from apparent best pancake place in Amsterdam
  • Low: tasteless kombucha
  • High: “Best apple pie” in Amsterdam—there crust-apples ratio was a little high for me, but it was nonetheless delicious
  • High: Beer
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Saturday —
  • Low: Corn nuts for breakfast, which were left for us in the Airbnb and a day later, I realized, chipped my tooth.
  • High: 2 almond and 2 pastries for 1 euro at the Albert Cuyp market
  • Low: Bitter avocado-banana smoothie at the Albert Cuyp market
  • High: Stroopwaffels from Albert Cuyp market
  • High: Koko ball from Albert Cuyp market
  • Low: It is 10 a.m. maybe and how much sugar have I consumed so far today? but it’s okay because I was super energized to (Van) Go(gh) to a certain museum.
  • High: Vegan dessert free samples as far as the eye can see at a special event at de Foodhallen
  • High: Best hot dog of my life, possibly—lamb with pickled vegetables and special pepper sauce on a pretzel bun at Foodhallen
  • Low: warm soda from grocery store after a little bit of a death walk from the metro station to trying to find a (slightly pathetic, ultimately) windmill
  • Funny: Watching my friend be so sad after she realized that she bought a giant bottle of sparkling rather than still water (after spending ~15 minutes in the grocery store looking for the perfect bottle of water)
  • High: fried mussels and cod, and more herring at market #3 of the day—happened upon after visiting the windmill
  • High: late-night waffle
  • Low: late-night McDonalds
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Sunday:
  • Low: why did I eat corn nuts again as a breakfast snack
  • High: Lamb, egg, cucumber, pickle, and radish sandwich for brunch at a such serene yet cool cafe sitting on the water about a ten minute walk from the Central Station.
  • High: cheese samples outside of tulip market
  • Low: Cheese sample lady saying there wasn’t much to see in the particular neighborhood I wanted to explore next
  • High: Locally-produced ice cream bar from a “bio snack bar” in the Amsterdam Noord neighborhood
  • Low: if only I hadn’t spent all of my money ever by now I would’ve eaten at one of the most incredibly hip “cafes” (but also referred to as sustainable fun parks—hard to describe…) I explored in the Amsterdam Noord neighborhood
  • High: cheese sample lady was so wrong
  • Low: A fish/potato salad, which I bought for dinner from a grocery store, spilled in my bag a little, forcing me to eat in all in the early afternoon and rendering me stuffed for the rest of the day.

 

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Train to Amsterdam

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5:50
This group of guys in from of me is really chatting it up in this quiet car on ICE 27. Granted, I ended up in the quiet car by chance, but now that I’m here, I’d love a bit less obnoxiousness—particularly at 5:50 a.m. I could use a few moments of rest before reading Oxford’s Core Strategy Sustainability Appraisal.
6:05
AND NOW SOMEBODY IS SNORING.
P.S. I guess this is still better than when my flatmates threw a party at 4 a.m. two mornings ago.
8:55
I finally decide that it might in fact save me time to take my own set of notes on the Oxford Core Strategy Sustainability Appraisal before trying to fit the appropriate objectives, indicators, lines of argumentation, etc. into Annegret’s analysis framework. I began to do so, and then there was an announcement, and then everybody got up. We all paraded off of the train, down the stairs, under the tracks, up the stairs, and now I’m sitting on train #3 of the day. Also, only train #1 out of three had wifi. And that was my chosen nap train. Ah, well.
Also, damn. People next to me are eating very good-looking sandwiches. I already ate my oatmeal and two apples. It is still before my usual breakfast time—at my desk around 9:15—yet I’m ready for lunch :/. Maybe two hours until Amsterdam…
And ooh—just checked out Google Maps, and it looks like we are right on the border of the Netherlands. This delay is just like the usual one at immigration/customs, the…
9:20
Somebody just came and asked to sit next to me even though there are numerous empty rows in this car, proceeded to play the game of his phone with the volume all the way up, and then when I put the arm down in between us, he gave me a dirty look and got up. Nice.
9:25
Page 8 of 312 of Oxford Core Strategy Sustainability Appraisal Report. Kühl.
9:42
Why is everybody on this train eating cookies???
9:45
I don’t want to look at my computer anymore—I just want to look out the window.
(Shall I complain more? It’s the German way, I’m told…)
10:41
Page 17 of 312 of Oxford Core Strategy Sustainability Appraisal Report. (I took another nap). Fantastisch.
11:15
Arriving in Amsterdam. Very ready for the weekend.
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Work (and Other) Notes

Monday, 7/18 (oops, I mean 18/7, because that’s how things work here)
Work notes:
Well, I think perhaps the most ridiculous moment at work today was when I realized that the only source that I could with information on the Liverpool Asset Management Project (LAMP), was from a website called ukessays.org. As in, a website used for students to buy essays to submit for their classes—to cheat.
But besides that, this may have been one of my most productive days ever.
Tuesday, 19/7 —
Work notes:
After 4 weeks and 2 days, I figured out how to lower my chair. I also drank a record of 4 bottles of sparkly water today. (Don’t worry, they were all from my reusable water bottle—there is a sparkly water machine here.)
But apart from those things, this may have been one of my most unproductive days ever.
Gym notes:
I cleaned my sneakers with a baby wipe before I went to the gym tonight. Then I biked there in my clogs.
It also was a great (but ultimately pretty sad) show to watch fit boyfriend in the front die in the ‘Complete Body Workout’ class of 97% women (the other few guys knew what they were in for).
I also held plank for the longest. (I’m not competitive.)
Biking notes:
Today I was biking around the Hauptbahnhof (the central station) to do some errands, and I hated everybody. I wanted to ring my bike bell. Then I realized that I left the bike bell that I purchased (paid for!) on the counter at the store I bought it from two weeks ago. After it was rung up alongside my  other items and slid down the little slidey thing, where you pack up your own bags. Damn.
Friend notes:
I have four spiders (daddy longlegs) I found in my room when I was cleaning the other day. (I had five, but I put the first one out the window before I realized it was going to be a party.) They hang out in their respective corners, and they are fine company.

Bremen & Cuxhaven & Trains

My friend from Belgium was supposed to visit me this weekend, but I got a bummer of a text a few hours before her plane was to take off on Friday that the flight was cancelled. Luckily, I have like one friend here, and I have attempted to compensate for the lack of Belgian friend with a variety of activities.
On Friday I accidentally missed a party that I thought was on Saturday, but my time was well spent googling a bajillion organic farms in South America (#Fall2016?). Saturday morning, I paid for an expensive “bagel” at a chain coffee shop nearby, but in retrospect, the price of the bagel—and more importantly, lack of free wifi—was worth it to get a few hours of weekend work done,  since I ditched early Friday. After finishing reading the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership’s Growth and Strategic Economic Plans, I attempted to make a table comparing those two the form Regional Spatial Strategy in North West England. That was too difficult, so then I went to Sportspass. I got yelled at for wearing my outside sneakers, but I promise it wasn’t even wholly my fault–I was planning on taking a pilates class, but it got cancelled, and I didn’t think to take off my shoes for ‘Full Body Workout’.
I think after I got home yesterday was the first time in two weeks all three of my flatmates and I have been in the apartment and awake at the same time. It was nice to chill with them for a bit before meeting some other DAAD interns, one from Berlin and one from Hamburg, to check out the street fair happening on my block. I must admit, it was a pretty… basic fair, with the booths consisting of either homemade food or people’s old items they were selling. But then also music and beer, of course! It was honestly pretty charming.
I then unintentionally lied to the two other interns and said we were going to go look at art my flatmate and her friend made, but turns out that what I thought was the art was in fact just the posters announcing an event they organized. So we went and painted with a few people who live in the refugee housing a block away from my building. It was really lovely to be able to put some names to faces of the people whom I see walk in and out of the housing center every time I walk home.
And oh god—I just remembered a dream I had about us painting, but then people covered up my section fate painting. Stressful. I was pretty proud of it.
Then we went and hung out in the Schanze because that is what the cool kids in Hamburg do.
And today, per my sister’s advice, I am adventuring. I was planning on going to the Wadden Sea, where the tides go so low that you can walk across the mudflats to small islands. However, turns out that the coolest part of the Wadden Sea is in the Netherlands, and I didn’t feel like that much of an adventure early this morning (even though I do have a rail pass to use of 6 select days in the next two months that I can use in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg).
Anywho, I planned to go to Cuxhaven, to check out the sea from there, but at the last minute I checked the tidal calendar, and the next low tide (after 5 a.m. this morning) is around 6 p.m. tonight. So, I’m actually currently on a train to Bremen, and I plan to take the extra hour ride to Cuxhaven closer to the evening. I’m currently typing this on my laptop and am certainly not equipped for a very nature-y expedition today, but I do plan to step into the mud a bit, but I did choose to wear my lightweight sneakers (as opposed to clogs) this morning because they will be easier to carry as I possibly step in the mud for a second.
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Shit, I’m eating another slice of dry carrot cake. I wasn’t going to do it (I do understand that the definition of stupidity is not learning from one’s mistake), but the server recommended it!! Ah, well.
Because also Bremen is fricking amazing. Sure, I may not stay longer than three hours, but it is a really incredible city. It was 110% worth coming here just to look around at the buildings in the Marktplatz.
I’m going to enjoy the free wifi here for a bit longer and then continue I think maybe onto Cuxhaven?
Also I forgot my tupperware, so the half of my cake (without frosting) is going in the bag I was just carrying my sunblock in.
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I’m now on my second train from Bremen to Cuxhaven. I should be arriving in about 30 minutes. In the meantime, I am using this train ride to draft some emails to solicit advice about my lack-of-fall-plans saga from some Northwestern professors, eat the rest of my cake out of a plastic bag, and watch the cows and windmills out the window.
I love trains. Maybe I should forget food and pursue a career in trains.
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Last update of the day: walking on the mudflats in Cuxhaven, I felt a little bit like Jesus, and it was super cool. Walking three miles back to the train station was less cool. But then I listened to my audiobook about backpackers on the Appalachian Trail, and I dealt with it.
I had a great day.
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