Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Change is in the Air

Continuing what I mentioned in my previous post that it seems that Europeans were excited to fly back to the U.S., I have to say, I'm surprised at Obama's presence everywhere. While I was on the subway, a homeless (black) man got on and basically said this: "OBAMA! I am a Vietnam Vet! Hey, you're gorgeous! OBAMA! Can you spare some change? Change, yeah, ha ha! Obama!" That's a new way of getting money, I suppose. However, here are some visual examples that I found:

Tracie and I ate at this restaurant yesterday. As you can see, there is an Obama '08 sign in the window. I've noticed that many businesses actually have similar displays of support like this. When I visited Tracie at her Brooklyn apartment on Saturday, many barber shops that I passed by proudly displayed their Obama signs. There was one shop that had a poster that said "American Heroes" or something like that as a headline and then a picture of JFK and Martin Luther King, Jr. with Obama's picture bigger than either. The comparison was clear.
Driving into Manhattan using the Holland Tunnel, there was an unmissable large Obama/Biden '08 billboard on Route 9.

I took this picture on Grant Street in SoHo. Unfortunately, I didn't actually look at what they were selling, but I'm pretty sure it was t-shirts and stuff. (Fashionable, of course) You can sort of see some merchandise through the window where Obama's neck is. Tracie told me that a store nearby had been selling mugs during the election season and keeping a tally of how many McCain/Palin and Obama/Biden mugs were sold. She said the McCain/Palin ones totaled perhaps 10, while the Obama/Biden ones filled the window tally and actually extended elsewhere in the store. I feel like Obama has become a recognizable icon whose face will appear on shirts like Che Guevara. Political fashion icon? Perhaps.

I saw this children's book about Barack Obama at my local Barnes & Noble while shopping with my dad. All I could think was, "Seriously?" The title is Barack Obama, Son of Promise, Child of Hope and the opening page basically told of his biracial heritage. Now, I think it's great that the book wants to talk about biracial families, but a children's book about Barack Obama? Don't get me wrong, I supported the senator, but I thought that this was a bit much. Granted, I didn't read through the entire book, but I couldn't get past the fact that it's a biography for children. The man hasn't even become president yet and still has a lot in front of him. Yes, he has achieved a lot and yes, he is inspiring, but couldn't we wait for a book like that to come out?

This brings me to something I discussed with my friend Zach, whose French roommate asked him if he thought it was strange that the US is the only country where people will wear clothing with their presidential pick on clothing. It's a good point, but I think I've also become a little German in this sense. I question whether or not it's a good thing that people are so zealous about a political figure. Part of my questioning is also due to the fact that I'm reading The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein right now and I feel like it's making me paranoid about everything. However, I am also excited about Obama's presidency; I think he has some fantastic ideas and I think it's great how he wants to use the internet as a means of accessibility. The past 8 years have not been very good for the U.S. or its image abroad and Obama's presidency definitely symbolizes a change in direction. I am eager to see what he will do and what he will achieve, but I also have reservations about what will actually happen. Call me a pessimist, call me a realist, call me what you like, but that's just how I see it.

On a completely non-political note, what's up with Uggs?? I know I wrote about them before and how much I really, really, really despise/hate/loathe them, but yesterday I went shopping with my dad and there were waaaaay too many people buying them or wearing them. They're so fugly. Why would anyone wear them? If you have an answer, please, do explain. Thanks.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Ting-Tings & Back Home

On Tuesday (11/11) I went to Köln with Christian and David to go see The Ting-Tings live. If you haven't heard of them before, they're a two-person band whose song "That's Not My Name" is a huge hit in Germany. It's a pretty catchy song and their debut album is a lot of fun, so I thought it would be great to see them live.

Unfortunately, I thought the gig was (musically) disappointing. The night started off well and the crowd was pumped up and dancing, which is always great. However, as the short 45-minute set went on, I began to take notice little things that made me go "Huh?" At times, I wasn't sure if Katie White, the singer, could actually play guitar. I don't think she can, not well, anyway. Then there were points where there were definitely filler tracks. I always find filler tracks a letdown, especially when it comes to rock shows. The point of going to see a band live is to see how they perform and hear the songs differently. Sure, fillers at a pop concert are ok (like Madonna, who for the most part is dancing around frantically on stage), but at an indie rock show? Sure, the band only consists of two people, but the White Stripes are also only 2 people and they are simply amazing live. Plus, they don't use pre-recorded stuff and their songs sound completely different than what's on the album. To say the least, my enthusiasm for The Ting-Tings waned throughout the evening. I knew the setlist would be short since they only have one album, but they did not play all that well (again, my problem is the filler tracks). If the set was short and rocked, I would've been more impressed. My verdict: Don't go see The Ting-Tings live for more than 20€ until A. they come out with another album or B. they stop using filler track. However, if you're just looking for a great time to dance to a live band and don't mind spending the money, then go for it.

Thursday I flew back home to New Jersey, where I'm currently writing this entry. My flight from Düsseldorf to Amsterdam was late, so I had to run through Schipol Airport to catch my connecting flight. Luckily, I got to the gate as it was closing. On the plane, I noticed that most of the other passengers were Europeans, but they were chattering the entire time about how great it was to be able to fly to America. In comparison to my flight back to the States in July, I thought people were actually excited to fly to the U.S. I'm not exactly sure why this was the case, but I have a pretty good guess that it has to do with Obama's election last week. Every weekly news magazine and several gossip magazines (like the equivalents of People or Us Weekly) had the president-elect or him and his family on the cover. There were several special editions about him. And Europeans love Barack Obama. It's almost as if they were saying, "Welcome back to the world, America!" The plane definitely had a more positive energy about it. Another reason for it could be that I flew on a KLM/operated by Northwest flight, whereas in July I flew Lufthansa (whom I despise). Who knows?

Being back home is still strange, especially because I know I'm here for only such a short time. Cars are big, there's no poo shelf in the toilet (hooray!), I noticed the Jersey accent much more than before, and people are louder. I think I'm slowly being Germanized and I'm not sure if that's good or bad...

Friday, November 07, 2008

The 2008 Election - From Germany

It's been a few days since Election Day and I've been holding off writing about politics, but after the outcome, I felt the need to comment. This is the first year that I've been a fervent supporter of any candidate. It was the first time I contributed money a campaign, despite the fact that I have very little money to begin with (still unemployed) and I joined the Democrats Abroad and helped them register Americans living here to vote. It was fantastic meeting the different types of people living in Germany and seeing how this election inspired so many people. One man I met had been living abroad for 20 years or more and hadn't voted since he left the U.S., but he thought the presidential election was too important that he couldn't not vote. There were several people my age that just had no idea how to get an absentee ballot. Then there were Germans who were just amazed at the fact that there were Americans here trying to get the vote out, regardless of party association. (We registered people as a non-partisan act, but if asked, we would respond that we were part of the Dems Abroad.)

During the last three weeks before Election Day, I could be found obsessively checking polls, the NY Times, Washington Post, Fox News, and YouTube. This NY Times article described me perfectly. Leading up the election, I was also interviewed by the Westdeutsche Zeitung (a local paper), though the article misquoted me (I do not and never did think that American papers were more pro-McCain than German papers; rather, McCain got more coverage in American papers than in their German counterparts.) To say the least, German media kept a close eye on the election, reporting on the debates, "Joe the Plumber" hitting the campaign trail, etc. German friends would ask me about the election, what were my thoughts, if I thought Obama had a good chance of winning.

Election Day finally rolled around (and the weekend before it could not have gone any slower). I baked "Obama cookies" from scratch, from the cookies themselves to the frosting. Granted, my first batch was rock hard and I threw them out and made a second batch (shown here), but I was definitely excited about them. A friend from my program last year, Rob, who lives in Pforzheim came up just for the election because he wanted to watch it with some fellow Americans. We went to a small party at this guy Frankie's apartment, whom I had met through the Democrats Abroad. The group there was pretty diverse considering the electorate at home: a Jew, a black man, two white Catholic guys, a Filipino Catholic, a German who had lived in D.C. for awhile, and me. On top of that, we had a three person crew from WDR (West Deutscher Rundfunk, one of Europe's biggest media companies) filming us for a story. We hadn't felt like going to Cologne for the big party there, but we had a great time anyway.

To make a long story short since everyone knows what the outcome was, we were celebrating victory at 6 a.m. Though our party was not big, emotions were running high and our WDR crew definitely woke up a little more at that point. (They were the only ones showing any signs of getting tired in the early hours of the morning) Going home on the train was slightly funny because we moved against the flow of traffic and thought it was almost like a walk of shame, except that the walk of shame was a walk of victory. (Or "wictory" as some Germans might say?) If you want to see the video that WDR made of us, you can see it here (it also covers the bigger Dems Abroad party in Cologne).

On Wednesday, I got calls from some Germans congratulating me on the new president. Everywhere you went, you could hear Germans talking about Obama and the U.S. I felt that I could say, "Hey, I'm American!" and be proud of the fact, rather than sort of mumbling it and being embarrassed. Because of the time difference, the newspapers didn't come out with the story until Thursday, but every single paper had a picture of Obama and/or his family, with headlines like "The dream is finally true" and "The new hope for America." It was impossible to doubt: The U.S. did well in the eyes of German media. We proved that we can change, that we are flexible, that we are a nation of hopes and dreams and the impossible is possible.

I'm sure that people living in the U.S. have seen articles about the world rejoicing, but I can say that it is really true and not exaggerated. We just turned a page of history and I, along with the Germans I know, are looking forward to the future.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Another Tale of German Bureaucracy

It's been a rather long time since I updated my blog. The reason why I decided to finally write something again? Because I'm sitting at home in Düsseldorf, barred from working due to the fact that I have no Arbeitserlaubnis (work permit).

Now, if you heard me talking before I left Germany in July to go to the States, I had planned on applying for everything at the consulate in New York. Well, I tried and the consulate told me I should just do it when I got here to Germany. I'm guessing that they didn't want to try processing the paperwork because they said they had to send it to Germany anyway, or someone really just didn't feel like doing their job. (Eh, it happens.)

After coming back here, I didn't have enough time to collect the extra paperwork required to apply here in Germany before I left for Salzburg for a short weekend trip with Christian. (Yes, the hills were alive with the Sound of Music, and yes, I made him go on a Sound of Music tour with me.) We came back to Düsseldorf for a day before jetting off again to Berlin for a few days since Alex and Elise were in town. When I finally got back to Düsseldorf, I had all the necessary paperwork from my (hopefully) future employers and was able to apply last Friday.

And now comes the wait. I went to the Ausländerbehörde (Aliens Department? That sounds too science fiction-y...let's say Foreigners Office) and handed in my stuff there. In the meantime, I received a "Fiktionsbescheinigung," which I don't have an English equivalent of, except for "fictional certificate." Obviously, this sounds like a joke, something that should only exist in my imagination, but it is pretty much a temporary residence permit for 3 months since the day I applied for residence and work permits, not since the day I entered Germany. (So I bought myself, literally, an extra two weeks time for 20€.) The man in the Ausländerbehörde said that the Arbeitsamt (Labor Office) could take anywhere between a few days and 10 weeks to approve my work permit, but until then, I'm not allowed to work. Fantastic. A few days versus oh, 70 days?

Because I'm not allowed to work, this has been my daily routine:

-wake up at 9 a.m. since I would have to wake up at 9 for work.
-turn on the computer at around 9:20 and read the news for two hours or more from various sources, like the NY Times, LA Times, Washington Post, NPR, BBC, Der Spiegel, and the Frankfurter Allgemeine. I tend to start stressing about world events at this point.
-once done with the news, I switch to TheDailyShow.com and watch the previous night's episode of the Daily Show in order to relieve some of the stress.
-after the Daily Show, I watch the previous night's episode of the Colbert Report.
-at this time, usually around 1 p.m., I finally get hungry. I scrounge around the kitchen for anything to eat because I'm a bit lazy and don't want to go out while it's raining to the grocery store.
-the afternoon is spent either playing Guitar Hero, reading a book, or brushing up on my Cantonese. "Brushing up on my Cantonese" means me trying to use a book my mom gave me to learn to read (the characters are kind of small) and/or watching a Chinese soap opera called The Drive of Life.
-the afternoon at some point will also consist of me coming back online to talk to all the people at home just arriving at work. This pretty much ends up occupying the rest of my time before I get bored and go back to any of the three activities listed above.

So that's pretty much my daily routine until Christian gets back, when we'll cook dinner and then sit around watching trashy German television. (Admittedly, it's pretty funny.) The evening usually goes by pretty quickly because I'm actually talking to someone rather than just IMing with them. I might read some more, do some more Cantonese.

I know a lot of people say that I should enjoy the time while I wait for my work permit to get approved, but at the same time, I feel absolutely helpless. Of course, the situation is out of my hands and if the Arbeitsamt feels like rejecting my application, then I need to find a plan B pronto. Additionally, because I'm sitting around reading the news all day, I tend to get stressed out about the upcoming election, which, like the work permit, is also out of my hands. It doesn't help that I get infuriated by both sides when I read articles, op-eds, comments under the articles or on YouTube that are misinformed about either side, skew the facts, sexist, racist, etc. etc. It makes me just want to scream, "Can't we just focus on the policies here? Who cares if Barack Obama is black?! Who cares if Sarah Palin is a woman?! Get the facts right and move on!"

I usually don't like being political in my blog, but I guess since I have time, I will devote some of it to writing about that the next time...but for now, I'm just hoping that I get a work permit soon.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wir sind im Finale!

Unless you live under a rock or in the United States, you would know that the European Cup (for this little sport called soccer) is happening at the moment. It's probably the biggest sporting event here in Europe after the World Cup and similar to two years ago, there are flags of every country hanging from windows and flying from cars. Interestingly enough, I think Germans are showing their national pride more than they did two years ago, even though the European Cup is taking place in Austria and Switzerland. It's probably a result of two years ago that they actually showed pride and now feel like it's OK.

Last night Germany played against Turkey and it was intense. In order to understand why, it's important to know that the Turkish population in Germany is extraordinarily high. When I lived in Berlin, my neighborhood Kreuzberg was pretty much a Little Istanbul. Interestingly enough, Turkish families can live in Germany for generations but never get German citizenship. To make a comparison, Germany playing Turkey would be similar to the United States playing Mexico in a sport that everyone cared about (I don't mean soccer, I just mean it generally). Even then, I don't think the comparison even comes close to what the game meant. I will definitely admit that I probably don't comprehend what exactly it meant because of the deeper political and cultural issues that exist between Germans and the Turkish population, even if I have spent 2 years living in Germany.

Turkey scored the first goal of the night, but not too soon afterward, Germany brought the score to a tie. During the second half of the game (around the 59th minute, I think), the TV feed suddenly went dead for a good six or seven minutes. Everyone was shouting, complaining, and wondering why the feed wasn't working. (Apparently a transponder or something was struck by lightning) Luckily, the Swiss television station kicked in and their feed was shown instead. Two more goals were scored by each team and it looked like the game would go into overtime, but then Phillip Lahm from the German team made an incredible shot in the 89th minute for a German win. It was really amazing and considering that the Turks have made some seriously awesome comebacks during the Euro Cup, I was a little nervous that they would score, but there wasn't enough time.

After watching the game with Greg, Megan, and Megan's roommate, we went over to Zülpicher Platz because we knew that everybody would be out on the street partying. It was total chaos, everyone cheering, cars honking, people dancing in the street and waving flags around. My three companions left because they needed to go home, but I found Johannes and Matthias from work and continued partying with them instead.

So Germany is in the final on Sunday against either Russia or Spain, depending on who wins the game tonight. It'll be extremely exciting because Germany is in the final and if they played like how they did against Portugal, I think they have a good chance of winning. If they play like they did last night against Turkey (even though they won), I'm not sure if they would have a good chance at all. My dad arrives in Germany on Sunday and I'm going to bring him somewhere to watch the game. It's called culture.

For the time being, I can't upload any photos...but I will once I transfer them to my computer.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

First off, I promise I am not giving ANYTHING away. I am discussing no plot points whatsoever...so it's ok if you read on. :)

Last night, I saw Indy 4 and it actually wasn't that bad. If you think about the other movies and how absurd they are (I mean, c'mon, the Ark killing everyone? The dude taking the heart out of the other guy? The Holy Grail?), it's not that bad. Sure, you think, "Wait, wtf?" but then you realize, at least it sort of has to do with archaeology and it's better than Temple of Doom. Shia LaBeouf is not nearly as annoying as Shorty, though he does have some points where you just want to slap him.

There are definitely way more kitschier moments than in Last Crusade, but the absurd is pretty comparable to Raiders. Some of the jokes were necessary in some way because Harrison Ford is (much) older. The special effects could've used some work, but I don't think they were going for reality...I think they sort of wanted to keep with the cheesiness of the original movies and how the effects weren't 100% convincing. The "phobia scene" was pretty good, though. I definitely thought, "Ew, gross" like in the other movies.

Also I think the audience that I saw it with was not as into it as my family and I are. They definitely missed a ton of jokes and references to old movies. They also 100% missed the homage to Star Wars when Harrison Ford says, "I've got a bad feeling about this!" I laughed a lot at that, but no one else seemed to. Silly Germans. It could be due to the fact that perhaps they hadn't seen the movies in English and thus missed a ton.

All in all, I would say that I was entertained and got my 5€ worth. I hope that a fifth movie will not be made because honestly, an Indiana Jones movie is not an Indiana Jones movie without Harrison Ford. He can't possibly make a fifth movie and being relegated to the role of sidekick next to Shia LaBeouf would just be an outrage. This movie doesn't let down like the last three Star Wars that came out and definitely does not suck as much as Jurassic Park 3 did. Though one thing definitely did suck: The Communists are not nearly as bad ass as the Nazis. It doesn't ring..."Communists...""Reds..." blah blah. Nope. It's always going to be "Nazis...I hate these guys!" As much as I love Germans, they're very good at being bad...at least in Indiana Jones movies.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Forever and a Day

I do realize that it's been forever since I last wrote an entry, but after entering the 9-5 world of having a job, life abroad tends to be a little less exciting. Working at Clipfish has been a lot of fun and I've been learning about internet media. I've decided that it's not exactly where I want to go in life...I'll leave that to other people. My coworkers are all very friendly and we can all have a good laugh together, but because I generally tend to avoid Köln (aka my apartment) on the weekend, I don't go out with the other interns nearly as much as I would like to.

On the other hand, I have spent pretty much every weekend in Düsseldorf with Christian and his friends. David (friend and fellow participant in my program) moved to Düsseldorf in March or so, so I see him on the weekend occasionally as well. The weather last week was amazing: sunny, warm (70 degrees Fahrenheit, 22 degrees Celsius) and summery. The sun goes down now quite late at around 9-9:30. Last Friday was Christian's birthday and we spent 8 hours outside with his friends.

Other developments that have happened since my last entry is that I'm officially moving to Germany after my program is done. I managed to secure another internship in Düsseldorf at a small editing house called Pirates n Paradise. They edit commericals for TV for products like Schwarzkopf, Chio Chips, Cab Beer (actually any kind of beer that is with the Krombacher group), etc. There might be a job at the end of the internship which would be pretty sweet, but I'm not banking on it. I'm just sort of using it as a way to get a visa in order to stay and keep searching for a job I want. I have decided, however, that after this internship, I can't do any more, otherwise, I will be stuck doing internships for the rest of my life. I need money! The good thing about them being in Düsseldorf is that it means I can move in with Christian. I'm definitely looking forward to that instead of having to take the regional train every weekend.

I've also finally started up my website/guide to living abroad in Germany. If you want to check it out, you can see it here. I had written way more articles for it, but unfortunately, my computer broke last week. I'm not sure what's wrong with it except that the screen won't come on and it doesn't work when I hook it up to an external monitor. Bleh. I wrote a few articles and saved them on there but didn't post them, so they'll have to wait. Feedback would be greatly appreciated...just remember that it's very barebones and I still need to add links and photos. I think I'll probably get a lot of work done on it when I'm at home for a month before I come back here. I'm currently using Christian's laptop since he just bought a new desktop. It isn't worth it really to pay to get

Other than that, not much else has been happening. I already have tickets to go see Indiana Jones 4 on Wednesday evening, so for all you guys in the U.S. : HA! I get to see it before you. (And of course in English) Hopefully it'll be good. Saturday I'm leaving for Berlin because we have our closing seminar and I'll be there for a week. Then 4 weeks left working at Clipfish, Ba comes to visit at the end of June, two weeks in July free (one of those weeks will be spent in Berlin with Ba), and then I'm back in the States. Time flies.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

German Porn Law in Practice & Bombs

It's been a rather long time since I last wrote in my blog, but to be perfectly honest, nothing extraordinary has happened. Christmas was fun because Tracie came to visit and we celebrated with Christian and his family. We mainly kept busy doing tourist stuff, drinking Glühwein, and visiting Christmas markets. It was a good Christmas. Then I spent another New Year's in Berlin with Christian and friends Timm and Patricia, which of course, was a blast.

In January, I was in Dresden for a week for my program's mid-year seminar. There were 24 other people there and it was really great seeing some familiar faces again. Dresden is a beautiful city and we were also in Leipzig for a day, where I would've liked to spend more time, but that will be for the future.

Two weeks after I was in Dresden, I went with David and Paige (two friends not in Köln, but they were for the language course phase) to Valmeinier, France, to go snowboarding for a week. It was my first time outside of Germany since arriving in August, and it made for a very relaxing, fun trip. We had some really good powder because one day it snowed a bit and the visibility was really poor. However, the next day, one mountain was fantastic with really wide, long runs. I also finally realized riding a board the right size for me is a lot less strenuous (I mean, this is a huge "duh," I know, but I like my board at home) and therefore, I will have to get a new board for next year. For the week, I think I spent less than 650€, all expenses included, even the fondue (the best fondue I've had in my life) and raclette that we had.

To make a long story short, fast forward to now. Last week, the final phase of our internship started. I had to start work on Monday, even though it was Rosenmontag, the biggest day for Karneval. If you don't know why this is significant, let's just put it this way: Köln is THE city to celebrate Karneval (Mardi Gras over a few days) and when I told people I had to work Rosenmontag, they all asked, "Spinnst du??" (Are you crazy??) For a better description of Karneval, read my blog entry from two years ago in Düsseldorf.

The company I work for is Clipfish, a German competitor of YouTube and subsidiary of RTL, the biggest TV, radio, and production company in Europe. Unfortunately, you can't access the website if you're living in the U.S., so you can't see the stuff that I deal with. The reason for it is that there is a "Sexy Videos" category that would be considered pornographic at home and I guess it's easier to just block the entire site, rather than having to make sure everyone consents to the content.

This actually brings me to an interesting point about my internship. One task I have to do is read through complaints, whether they have to do with copyrighted material, videos that might be considered "too brutal," videos that are "damaging" to your person, videos that are considered "immoral" or "pornographic" by some users, etc. I have to sit and watch the videos that people complained about, deciding whether or not they should be taken down or not. The pornography complaints are interesting because of the fact that most of the "Sexy Videos" offend my American sensibilities and I would just automatically write them off as pornographic in the U.S. However, because I am in Germany, I usually ask the other intern if they're a little more extreme and always attach "Sorry to ask you again, but as an American, this is porn, but what do you think?"

Now, if you know me personally, you know that the main topic of my senior thesis was comparing pornography law between (the former) West Germany and the U.S. during the Sexual Revolution. You would think that this would help me with my job sifting through the videos. Yes, it does, but putting pornography law into practice on the internet is much different than with film and printed material today. Additionally, the fact that I grew up in a society where pornography is easy to spot makes it difficult to say if something here is or isn't (basically, boobs are a good indication and anything below the belt is definitely porn) . For example, German pornography law states that if a sexual organ is portrayed in a way that emphasizes intercourse (whether it is actual sex or masturbation), then it is pornographic. However, the important thing to know is that you can see a vagina or a penis on television if it's in a documentary, even if it is a documentary on sex drive, masturbation, or having kids. For me, the area that gets really gray is when there are videos that have a girl stripping down naked and shows her crotch, but it's not a close up or anything. As I already said, that's definitely porn in the U.S., but here, it's pretty difficult to say yes or no, and that's when I ask the other intern. (The picture I posted is a screenshot of the "Sexy Videos" page I made for those of you who can't access Clipfish from the U.S. It'll give you a vague idea of what I am talking about and it's probably NSFW if you click on it to make it bigger. I made sure to make it small enough if you're reading this page that you don't get in trouble.)

On a completely different note, I had an interesting experience on Friday when the building had to be evacuated. The reason? "Bombenentschärfung," or in English, a bomb needed to be defused. Have no fear, it wasn't a terrorist looking to blow up RTL's offices. Instead, construction workers nearby found a bomb from World War II not too far away from the offices that had never exploded during the war and therefore, needed it to be defused because it could theoretically still explode even though it's more than 60 years old. I thought it was a completely crazy idea, but apparently this happens now and then throughout Germany and for Germans, it's nothing new. In fact, it was just a pain in the ass, a disturbance to the normal work day. We had to stand outside the building for about 2 hours (the other interns and I sat around talking and played word games) and then were allowed back in.

All in all, an interesting first week...