Sunday, July 28, 2013

July Bible Verse Photography Challenge

Can I just say how much I love this link-up? It's once a month, so no pressure, and it challenges me to be creative and come up with my own interpretation of a Bible verse. I typically am not creative. I'm more of a follow-the-instructions type of girl.

This month's verse is: Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your judgments are like the great deep; you save humans and animals alike, O LORD. Psalm 36:5-6

When I read this verse, my first thought was of a church tower. So here's my picture.

"The unity of a Gothic cathedral, we know, is not the static unity of a classical temple, but a unity born of the dynamic tension of diverse forces which impel the architecture upward, pointing it to heaven." -Pope Benedict XVI.

To see the other photos, head over to Flowers Round the Cross!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

7 quick takes, volume 12

Yes, I'm a day late. I was too busy doing nothing yesterday to write a blog post. Today I have to work on my paper, go to a party/get together, and spend a long time on the metro. So of course I have time to write a blog post. IES sent my parents an email warning them that after returning to the USA, I would go through a honeymoon period and then a judgmental period as part of my re-entry adjustment and reverse culture shock. To me, this sounds plausible but also sort of bonkers, since Germany and the US are not really that different, so I am going to defy expectations. This week's 7 quick takes will be things I like better about Freiburg. Next week's will be things I like better about the US, or Bowie specifically.

1. Reliability and cost of public transportation. Public transportation in Freiburg is heavily subsidized, and even more so for students. (A six-month student pass is 79E.) During rush hour, street cars come every five to six minutes. They rarely break and they almost always run on time.

2. Low alcohol taxes. You can get a good bottle of wine for 4E in Freiburg. For a student budget, this is a blessing for Sunday dinners.

3. Availability of foods for special diets. The regular grocery store had a large shelf full of lactose-free dairy products, and there is a house brand of gluten-free food and ingredients. I don't know if it was just our neighborhood, but alternative diets seem to be more of a thing in Europe than here.

4. Architecture. I mean, really, a city that dates from the early twelfth century beats a suburb that was planned and then built in the 1960s. That's not even a contest.

5. Closeness to other countries. I could (and did) take a day trip to France or Switzerland.

6. Lack of work. I had more or less nothing to do, so I got to spend a lot of time sightseeing and relaxing. It was a nice break semester, and I'm sure I will miss it as I head into my difficult senior year!

7. Closeness to extended family. I have two sets of family members, one in Berlin and one in Dusseldorf, which I rarely get to see. It was nice to get to see both sets twice, once near the beginning and once near the end.

To see the other posts, head over to Conversion Diary!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Last Full Day in Freiburg

Wow! I leave Freiburg tomorrow. I will spend the weekend in Duesseldorf with my cousin, and then fly to the US on Monday. We arrive in NYC late at night, so I won't be going home until Monday. So, technically it will take me four days to get home. But then I will be home! And I can't wait for that.

Today is going to be spent running around doing all the little tasks that one has to do before moving. I would like to purge some stuff, in the hopes of not needing an extra suitcase to get home. I am pretty sure that's a pipe dream, but it would be sooo nice. I am going to leave a lot of the stuff I bought on arrival behind, such as my coffee maker, extra blanket, and probably a pair of shoes as well. On the other hand, I have acquired several books, and I was not very far under the weight limit when I arrived. Does anyone know if they actually check the weight limit on carry-on bags?

I will try to get up a 7 quick takes post before I leave, but if I don't, then I don't. All my thoughts are focused on getting home at the moment!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Rome, Day 3

Day 3 was Sunday, and we didn't do very much touristing. We went back to the Vatican for Mass, of course. We got there over half an hour before Mass started and were late anyway because the security line was so long. The line for the Vatican Museums was over a mile long--apparently it was free museum Sunday.

 So many cardinals at Mass! Let the record show that Mass was over at this point. I do not take photos during Mass and heartily disapprove of this practice. After Mass, we zipped out to the square to see Pope Francis and hear him say the Angelus. Whoever is in charge of reading the Latin responses for the crowd to say needs to sloooowwwww down! I consider myself reasonably good at saying the Hail Mary in Latin and I couldn't keep up. Apparently BXVI's reader was even faster.

 Sadly, since I don't speak Italian, I had to wait to get home to find out what he said.
 Why are these pictures so blurry? Because this is what it looked like without zoom:
 That also gives you an idea of the size of the crowds. Shoulder to shoulder in hot sun with strangers who are all yelling. I got rather stressed out by this, and decided I would rather not climb the cupola than go stand in more lines with more crowds. So we went to a park, and relaxed, napped, did a little bit of birdwatching, and bathed our feet in the cool water of the fountain.

Then we wandered back into the city and had pizza and gelato for dinner.

I am ridiculously pleased with how well we did Rome on a budget! The folder on my computer is optimistically called Rome 2013, so we will see if I ever get back again. I would certainly like to.

Friday, July 12, 2013

7 quick takes, volume 11: scattered and short

1. This may be brief, because I have a paper to write! Normally, I don't really freak out about papers, especially not in philosophy, because that is my major, and I am good at it. (That is magnanimity, not pride. I hope.) This paper, though, is causing difficulties, because the library system here doesn't work super well, and it's in German.

2. The library system here. Sigh. I could write a whole ranting post, but I won't. Instead, I will say that while the Uni Freiburg renovates its library, the rest of us suffer. My typical way to get a group of secondary sources together is to find a call number that's relevant, and then flip through the books on the shelves around it. Here, because the books are not on their shelves for the duration of the renovation, you have to put the name of a book into their computer system and they will fish it out and you can go pick it up in two days. This makes it harder to find secondary sources, and harder to procrastinate.

3. Let me just say that while my super sturdy (and bright pink!) backpack may be designed for carrying around many large hardcover books, my back is not.

4. On a more cheerful note, I don't have any work to do other than that paper, so I hope to get in at least one more good birdwatching trip before I leave.

5. Does anyone have any experience traveling through Pearson airport? I have a really long layover there, and I'm wondering if it's worth the hassle to leave the traveler area and try to meet up with my aunt who lives in Toronto. On the one hand, I would have to go through immigration an extra time (or maybe two), but since Canada and the US are pretty friendly, it shouldn't be sooo bad. Should it?

6. Freiburg has a wine fest! I went with Kevin and a friend. We had a great time, although I didn't manage to get any very good photos.

7. Last but not least, please pray for a friend of mine, who fell down a hill and broke his nose and required 91 stitches to repair the damage done to his face. 

For some quick takes with maybe a coherent thought running through them, go see what other people are saying at Conversion Diary.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Rome, Day 2

To catch up, I'm going to have to post a little more frequently. Don't expect this to continue!

 I think the Rome metro looks like a tapeworm. I'm sorry. It does.

 Pope Leo, founder of CUA, hanging out in St. John Lateran. Is there a reason he always looks like he's playing with an invisible yo-yo? I would like to know.

 So much gold! Why exactly we went to Mass at St. John on the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul is not clear to me, but apparently it's a Holy Day of Obligation in Rome, so it's a good thing we went, even if we picked a strange church to do it in.

 On our way to another church, we saw this trail through the straw that a bunch of ants had made.

 This is Santa Cruce, I believe. It's hard for me to tell because I have no pictures from inside it.

 Kevin, reading the map. A common occurrence.

 I forget which church this is, but it is covered in mosaics so I automatically love it.

 St. Sophie, virgin and martyr! My self-adopted patron saint. Her relics are in a little church in Rome near St. Mary major.

 See that underground basement part? That's where the relics were kept. We couldn't find them, so we had to ask a Benedictine (in Italian!) who unlocked it for us and let us go down. Don't be worried by the lit candles. We didn't interrupt Mass; they were setting up for a baptism.

 Cardinal Wuerl's church was unfortunately shut.

St. Paul outside the Walls is my favorite church ever. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

 The pictures fail to do it justice, really. It's so large, and so gold, and so overwhelming.
 The Forum.
The Colosseum! Photo credit goes to a kind fellow tourist.

Wow, I got all of day two into one post! Let me tell you, it was an exhausting day. We saw tons of churches I didn't take pictures of and walked miles and miles.

Next up: Sunday!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

So far behind! Rome, Day 1

On blogging, that is. In terms of schoolwork, the library books I ordered come in tomorrow and I am going to print out my online articles today, so I'm in good shape there. I hope. Due to IES program requirements, I have to turn in my paper five weeks early, so I can only hope that in two weeks I can get a paper up to the standards for a paper everyone else has seven weeks to write. But what can't be cured must be endured, and I am resigned to the (very real) possibility that I may well not get an A in this class.

I still haven't posted the Rome pictures, and I went to Berlin and those pictures aren't even sorted. So here, without further ado, is a substantial dump of Rome pictures. I think it will take several posts to get through them, so here is day 1.

We arrived on Friday at about 2, and went to go check into our hostel. I had been worried about it, because the internet reviews were not stellar, but let me tell you, it was great. For 20E/night, I have zero complaints.
 This is Kevin's favorite bridge in Rome. Perhaps he will be so kind as to remind me in the comments of what it is called.

 First view of the Vatican! We followed the advice of a CUA philosophy professor--if you come at St. Peter's from one stop farther than the tourists go, you get this amazing view as your first view.

 Roman pigeons love to do this. I don't know why.

 The day was so good from a weather perspective it was hard to get photos! The sky kept getting blown out.

 Us at the Vatican. For a tourist selfie, this turned out pretty well!

 It was St. Peter and Paul on the Saturday, so St. Peter got a lovely robe, and if you donated some money to Peter's Pence, they gave you a holy card! So I did, at basically every church we went into.

 Isn't it every Catholic girl's dream for her boyfriend to take her to Rome and then find a photo op with a Swiss guard?

 Because our minds cannot always be set on the eternal, I offer you this photo of a seagull eating a dead something. This is probably on of my top five favorite photos from this weekend. Analyze away, armchair psychiatrists! (I spelled that correctly on the first try. Exhibit A of why everyone should study ancient Greek.)

 There is a specific spot in the square, and if you stand there, all the columns line up. For those of you who are thinking, "Wait, did they not before?", I offer you the next shot:

 This is what I saw when I turned around to look at the other side. Apparently they don't usually appear to line up. I would make a terrible detective--I'm so unobservant!

 The bridge, again, from the other side. Or maybe it was a different bridge. Kevin?

 The Pantheon.

Apparently every other tourist in the world wound up at the Trevi fountain at night. I don't like crowds, so I took a picture from the side, and I think it turned out pretty well.

Next installement will be either the pictures from Saturday or half of the pictures from Saturday. We did a lot of stuff. (Note: I have asked Kevin to comment and fill in my blanks, but obviously other readers are free to do the same, or to straight up correct me if I got something wrong.)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th?

I have a rather complicated identity when it comes to nationality. I have dual citizenship: US and Canadian. I spent three of the first eight years of my life in two different foreign countries: Canada and Germany. I have never had any other passport than a US one, and I've had four passports.

As a child, I was constantly called un-American by my friends. Some of their reasons were completely trivial (I didn't like cheeseburgers when I was younger) and some were more substantial (I refused--and still do--to say the Pledge of Allegiance). From the ages of, oh, nine to eleven, I identified more with the Canadian side of me. It's easier to agree that no, you aren't really American than it is to fight back. Then we moved back to Germany, and I became an American again. If you normally live in America, and you have an American passport, you count as American to the Germans.

As I have grown older, I have become more and more ok with the idea of being an American. And rightly, I think, because I *am* an American. There are many ways of being an American, and everyone who has American citizenship is an American. Two years ago, a friend said, of my opinion on a certain political matter, "Oh, you're just saying that because you're Canadian." I told him in no uncertain terms that I was 100% an American citizen and had every bit as much right as he did to have political views that differed from his and my opinions deserved exactly as much respect as his did, and then I walked out. No one has ever said anything like that to me since. For a while, I was secure and happy in my American-ness.

But now, I'm feeling conflicted again. I am willing to be an American, I want to be an American, but I am a Catholic first. And it's looking more and more like America doesn't want Catholics to be Americans. I can't support killing children with drones, a government that seems set on destroying the family, and a disturbing lack of religious freedom and conscience clauses. If being an American and being a Catholic aren't compatible, or if they soon won't be, then what? (Certainly Canadian citizenship won't help me here!)

To this day, I have never regretted not saying the Pledge of Allegiance. But over the past few weeks, I have become even more thankful that something held me back from it as an eight year old. The trend is a disturbing one, and unless things change, this will not be an America I want to be pledged to.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

June Bible Verse Photo Challenge

I am squeaking in just under the wire here, because I forgot that the link-up was this weekend, so I went and scheduled a trip to Rome. I didn't have time to take a special picture, so here is a preview of my Rome photos. Given that there are over 500 to sort through, the rest may be a while in coming.

This month's verse is: "It is you who light my lamp; the LORD, my God, lights up my darkness." Psalm 18:28

So, bright, and religious? Hmm. With this weekend's weather, that wasn't so hard! And as a bonus, you get three photos.
Irritatingly, the photo that best fits the quote is not a good photo. This flame has been burning since...2005? I think. Pope Benedict lit it. Since it is kept behind glass, so no silly toddlers or immature atheists can blow it out, I didn't get a very good photo of it. So here are two more photos, which are sort of lacking in the darkness quotient, but still (I think) worth posting.

 This first photo, of course, is St. Peter's in the Vatican. Obviously a must-see for a Catholic visiting Rome. I have to admit, though, that I found it a rather stressful place, because there are sooooo many crowds. Not only were we there on the weekend of the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul, we were there on the weekend where entrance to the Vatican museums are free. And the weather was beautiful. And we went to the Angelus with Pope Francis. So there were vast quantities of people, and that is not my favorite thing.

This is my favorite thing! St. Paul Outside the Walls is my new favorite church ever. It has passed the Dominican House of Studies in Washington DC in my eyes. I have no idea why it was so impressive, but when I walked in I started crying. If I hadn't already been a Catholic I would have converted then and there, I think.

More photos to come!

If you want to add your photo, go to Flowers Round the Cross and add your link--I haven't given you much warning, but at the time of this post you have nearly nine hours. So, ready, set, go!