Friday, June 29, 2007

DB Interns

On Thursday night there was a gathering of DB interns to hang out/have dinner. Carolyn tagged along with us. We got there kinda late since we were wandering around the Altes museum. The staff of that museum was so grumpy. First they made me check in my lunch but not my purse. Then they wouldn't let me take off my sweater while inside. I guess I should've check it in if I wanted it to be off. Then they didn't like it when we were leaning against a display. Sigh. Anyhow, back to the intern gathering.

When we finally found the place, we had no idea how we were supposed to know who the interns are. We were going to ask a waiter but they were all busy. We saw some people sitting outside who were pretty young so we thought they might be the interns.
Carolyn to Jingwen: Well, they're dressed like you.
And it turns out that we were right. They were all pretty cool people. Most of them can speak English as well. One of them is a grad student at Berkeley. Another one is actually from L.A. and is a junior at Stanford. He and I talked about Catalina and other California things for a while. It was fun except it started raining and the restaurant people wouldn't let us open up their big umbrellas. So we opened up all our umbrellas. It was pretty hilarious. But it started pouring so we waited for a while inside, confirmed that there was no room, and went to another place. All in all it was a fun evening. We need to convince them to hold this gathering on some other weekday though. Thursdays is for museum hopping.

Another Weekend!

Get ready for another series of long entries! Tomorrow we're hitting the Berlin Zoo to see Knut, the polar bear. After that we're going shopping all day long even though it will be cold and rainy. On Sunday we are going to Hamburg. And no, we are not taking the nice, new train that goes from Berlin to Hamburg in 1 hour. We'll be taking the Regional Express which takes 4 hours and will save us 6x the money.

As for work, I am almost finish with my current project. I'm supposed to be finished by today but I had to wait until 5pm to make a call to Los Angeles. It was a good call though since I got all the information I needed. I will finish up my project on Monday and start working on something else. I'm supposed to be meeting with someone who will show me what the department actually does. I'm kinda excited except I think this means I will be working in a different office. I feel like I've just gotten to know the people I work with. I even showed them the the videos of 1.102 today. Anyhow, I don't think I would be working elsewhere for long though.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Mac & Cheese

So before I left MIT, I grabbed some Easy Mac off of the kitchen table in the Annex since I thought I might need some food on the first few days. I realized I haven't eaten them and bought 2 packs to work today. I was looking over the instructions and Oli comes over, wondering what I have. I tried to ask him if they have Mac & Cheese here and I think he said yes. I told him that Easy Mac works by magic. You just put water and microwave it for a few minutes. He thought it was cool.

So I go and microwave the thing and was stirring the sauce in when Oli comes back with his lunch. It only took him like 5 minutes to go buy lunch. I was impressed. Anyway, he waves me over to where he's sitting with the 2 ladies who work in the same department as we do and shows them my mac and cheese. I asked them again if they have this in Germany and one of the ladies said yes and was trying to say they come in a box. It was cool since they were all so amazed by it.

Oli then took apart each part of his salad and taught me the German names for them. He wanted to learn the English names for them too so we did this for chicken, pepper, cucumber, kidney beans, and corn. It was funny. Anyway, he tried some of my Easy Mac so I decided to give the other bag to him. When I bought over the unprepared bag, they were all so excited and wanted to see. haha. That was a fun lunch. Maybe I should introduce them to peanut butter too.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Bad Weather

Why did I ever leave California? I could've been there where it's sunny and warm everyday. Instead I'm here in Berlin where the weather changes by the hour. 2 weeks ago, it was blazing hot. So hot that you can feel the heat from the pavement. This week is really cool. It was 55F out there today. And the rain. It's low pressure here all the time. You see the clouds roll in and rain just start pouring out from the sky. Thunder and lightning is very common. These usually last about 10, 15 minutes and then it's sunny again.

These pictures are from last Saturday. There was a gay pride parade downtown. There were so many people watching! The streets were filled even though it rained on and off the whole day. You can see the dark clouds in the second picture. 2 minutes after I took these pictures, it started raining really, really hard. Luckily I got under a bridge before the rain started pouring. I waited it out even though I had an umbrella. It wouldn't have helped anyway.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Cologne and Koblenz - Part III

We took a Regional Express to go from Cologne to Koblenz. The trip took an hour. Last week when we went to Dresden, we sat on the second deck of the train and it was nice. So we climbed up onto the second deck again. Towards the end of the trip, someone came to inspect our ticket and informed us that we were in the First Class section. He pointed to the "1" written on the wall.

Train official: First class. That's why it's so empty.
Us: oooo sorry...

So we moved downstairs but we were almost there and had taken a nice nap on the large comfy chairs. Even though it was already 10:30am, there were still no one on the streets. I guess people sleep pretty late here on Sundays. We walked around the city. Koblenz is were the Mosel and Rhine Rivers met. This first picture is of the Mosel River. There were lots of ferries. We saw a Spanish one and a French one. This second picture is of a museum/boat/castle. They have a miniature armor of a knight on the boat along with a real horse and real pony. There were kids riding on the horses. Seems very popular with the kids.

After walking along the river, we came to a restaurant that was recommended by my guide book. It was a nice place. Service and food was pretty good.

This third picture shows both rivers, Mosel on the left and the Rhine on the right. At this corner there is a huge statue of Kaiser Wilheim (4th picture). By this time there were a lot more people around. Lots of families riding bikes and German tourists.

Across the Rhine there is a really big fortress, second largest in Europe. I wanted to take the ferry over and explore. But Jingwen wanted to take a ferry or train to Loreley Rock which is further down the Rhine and is supposed to be really, really pretty. So we went to check out the ferries but they all leave at 2pm and comes back at 7pm. We had to be back at Cologne at 4pm in order for Jingwen to make her train.

So at this point we decided to walk back to the train station to check out the train schedules. Something that we should've done before we left the station since walking back takes a while. When we got there it was almost 3pm so there was no way we could go anywhere else. So we walked back to the river and sat at a bench for a while before taking the train back to Cologne.

We decided that we would still go on a ferry down the Rhine at some point. It is supposed to be very beautiful, with vineyards and castles everywhere. We will probably go when we go visit Fan, my pen pal, who is in Bonn. Bonn is also very close by.

When we got back to Cologne, it was 4:30pm. Jingwen's train leaves for Frankfurt at 5:15pm. We wanted to climb the church since we didn't get a chance in the morning. Normally they open at 9am but the day we were there they opened at noon. There were many, many people also trying to climb up and down the church. The stairs were very narrow and twisted up. But we got up there in 10 minutes even though the sign said that round trip would take 30 minutes. The view was amazing. We only stayed for a little while and took lots of pictures. I went to see the bells while Jingwen left to catch her train. There were lots of bells in the church. The biggest one is huge, bigger than the Liberty Bell. I helped a couple take a picture.

After climbing down, I had to find a bathroom. Public bathrooms in Germany cost money. The one at the train station costs 1.10 Euros. I didn't even have that much in change so I went to find somewhere else cheaper. I came across a museum and their bathrooms were free.

There's a chocolate museum in Cologne but my train left at 6:48pm so I didn't have much time. I couldn't find it anyhow. My map from the guide book didn't show exactly where it was. So I just walked around the city some more and took more pictures. There were some ruins near the City Hall. People say that every time a hole is dug in Cologne, there's a very real chance of finding some ancient ruins.

At some point, I realized I was really hungry and went back to the train station to get some food. I got a bismark herring sandwich along with a bottle of Fanta. Bismark herring is a type of pickled herring that was supposed to be the favorite of King Bismark. Carolyn says she really likes it and recommended it to me. I didn't like it very much though. Tasted too fishy to me. Fanta is very popular here. It's in just as many places as Coke.

The train that I took to go from Cologne to Berlin is an Intercity Express (ICE). It's the fastest class of trains in Germany. It took only 4 hours. They have a digital display of the speed and the fastest that I saw was 250 km/hr. I was impressed. I had a seat reservation but it was in a smoker's compartment. A lot more people smoke in Germany than in the US. It would've been okay except the guy in front of me just kept smoking. He must have smoked a pack or two! I ended up moving to another compartment. The train has an onboard restaurant, music that you can listen to if you had headphones, and very nice bathrooms.

I got back to Berlin at around 11pm and go to the S-Bahn to go home. When I got off, I saw Jingwen. We ended up taking the same S-Bahn. Which was good since we had to wait a while at the bus stop for the bus. After getting back and showering, I slept at like 1:30am. I was so tired at work the next day...

Monday, June 25, 2007

Cologne and Koblenz - Part II

So I finally got to Cologne at 7am Sunday morning. I met up with Jingwen at the train station. She came in on an earlier train. We then proceeded to walk around the city, which was completely empty of people since it was so early on a Sunday. We didn't start to see a good amount of people until after noon.

We went to the famous Kölner Dom which is a huge church, very beautiful Catholic church. There's an alter inside that is supposed to contain the bones of the Three Wise Men. There was service since it was Sunday but they were only in a corner of the church. Did I mention this place is huge? All the windows had stain glass. They were really, really nice. I took a picture of one but it didn't come out very well.

The church is really tall as well as big. We couldn't get the whole church in a picture unless we were really far away. You can pay to climb up the 509 steps to the top and get an amazying view of the city. We did that in the afternoon and that's where the picture of the city came from.

After looking around in the church for a while, we walked around the city. The city has a pretty big shopping district. But again, it's Sunday so nothing's open. The city was pretty quiet since it was so early. We got bored so we went back to the train station to check on tickets to go to Koblenz.

Koblenz is about midway between Cologne and Frankfurt. Cologne being north of Frankfurt. All three cities are near or on the Rhine River. It's a smaller town but has a few historical sites and just a really nice, pleasant atmosphere. It takes about an hour to get there on the Regional trains so we left Cologne at around 9:30am. More on that part of the trip in Part III.

Cologne and Koblenz - Part I

We went to Cologne on Sunday! In German, it's actually Köln in German. Anyway, it was quiet an adventure. Let's start at the beginning.

We decided to go to Cologne because Jingwen was in Frankfurt for work. They are both cities on the west side of Germany. We had planned to go on Saturday but Jingwen couldn't get the special priced ticket for Saturday in time so we went on Sunday. So I wandered around Berlin on Saturday by myself. I will post about that later. Sorry, these past few posts have been out of order.

Anyway, I got a ticket to go on a night train that would from Berlin to Cologne in 6 hours. It's like a red-eye flight, except on a train. I left my dorm pretty early, around 10pm. The sky was still bright. It didn't get dark until almost 11pm. You might have heard that beer is the national drink in Germany. They actually have a drinking age but no one even knows what it is. Teenagers have a lot more freedom to drink and party here than in the States. Schools let out at 1pm so we always see high school students just sitting around looking bored. These high school kids go out and drink on Saturday nights. I met a bunch of them while on the Berlin local trains. They were really drunk.

I got to Berlin Haufbahnhof pretty early for my train. Haufbahnhof means main train station. Most cities have one. Most of the stores were closed except for a few food places. So I was walking around when I got stopped by 2 police officers. One of them spoke English and asked me for my passport. I had thought about bringing my passport with me but didn't see a need since I wasn't going to leave the country. They then asked if I had any other ID. I handed over my ID card for the local train, MIT student ID, and later my Bank of America card. None of which they were satisfied with. I was really confused. The first thought that came to my mind was that something really bad, like a robbery, must've happened and now they're looking for the bad guys. But that didn't seem like the case. Anyway, I had to go with them to the police station, which is still in the train station. They asked me for my name, date of birth, and later my address here in Berlin (which I managed to mess up). They kept asking me where I live in Berlin. I told them and they seemed disappointed. I think that had I lived any closer they would've taken me there and got me to show them my passport. After all this, they said it was okay and let me go. I asked if it was normal procedure multiple times but I don't think they understood me. Finally as I was leaving, one of the guys answered and said that everyone in Berlin carries their passport around with them. Not sure if this is actually true but was pretty shocking to me since the shortage of passports in the States had been on the news lately. And I read on a website today written by a German national who went to the US for grad school about the differences he noticed in the two countries. He said that German police frequently stops people and asks for ID, especially if you're a foreigner or look foreign.

Even after all this I still had to wait a while for my train to come. But I guess it's good that I went so early. When I was on the platform, there were fireworks off in the distance. It was a pretty nice view from the platform. That went on for a few minutes. My train came a little late, 5 minutes or so.

When I got on and found my seat (you have to reserve a seat for night trains), there were already people in the compartment. In fact, all 6 seats were already taken. One of the guys asked me to switch a seat with one of them and showed me a ticket with seat number 85 on it. I was supposed to be in 95. Well, he didn't really speak English but I figured that's what he was trying to say. So I was like "okay" and went to the next cabin, which has seat number 85. I opened the door and these 2 ladies did not seem too happy to see me. One of them insisted that I show her my ticket and pointed me back to 95. I looked over at seat number 85 and sure enough, that seat was taken up by the other woman's feet. I made it pretty clear to her that I had switched seats with the people in the next cabin but they didn't want me to sit with them. So I went back to the other cabin to try to get that guy to show them his ticket. But one of the train officials came and asked the group of people to go back to their original seats.

Which all worked out in the end since that guy had already asked quite a few people to move to different seats. The seat reservations don't really matter unless you're sitting in someone's seat and that person actually cared about where they sat. So I ended up in the cabin with one other person. We sat there for a minute or two and this French couple walked in with a huge suitcase. The husband didn't seem too happy with the seats. I think they had reserved a cabin with beds. He goes off to talk to the train officials for a while. The other lady and I wanted to turn off the lights to the cabin so we can look out the window. Only problem was, the French lady didn't speak any English. Neither did we. Well, the other lady spoke a little bit but she didn't know how to say "light". And later we found out that the French lady didn't have her prescription glasses and couldn't see anything. So all the pointing at the lights was useless. We just ended up turning the lights off and she was okay with it. The couple moved after a while to another cabin and the 2 of us had the whole cabin to ourselves. Which was really nice since we got to lay down and sleep.

So this thing is getting pretty long and I still haven't gotten to the actual trip yet. This trip might take 3 parts. heh.

Greece - Day 2, Part II

After the windmills we walked into the tourist part of town. The streets were narrow and winding. The whole island is pretty small and hilly. So there weren't too many cars. Many people have scooters and motorcycles. Many tourists rent them to get around. Which would be nice since you won't have to wait for the bus. But I would be really scared to go down some of those hills on any kind of wheels.

Mykonos is famous for its windmills, cats, and pelicans. We saw lots of postcards and other things with pelicans on them. But it wasn't until almost evening that we saw some pelicans. Here I am with a pelican near a restaurant.

After we got tired of walking around, we found a really nice place to sit. It's an alley where, if to go to the end, there are stairs leading to some rocks by the ocean. Here's Xiumin sitting at the end of the alley on a rock with a really nice view.

We took many pictures from that spot, including many pictures of the sunset. The sunset was really nice. It took a while and everything was really pretty.

I had a gyro for dinner. We think it's a Turkish thing since they are a lot like doner kabebs here in Germany. It was good. They give you a choice of meat, usually chicken or pork. There's a special sauce, tomatoes, other veggies, and fries all wrapped up in pita bread.

We didn't get back to our hotel until almost midnight. We hunted around for wireless but couldn't find any. I went up to the front desk and they showed me a computer where you can use the internet for free. That was really nice. Xiumin noticed a wireless thing and it turns out that they actually do have wireless for the hotel. It was just that we were in the basement and needed up to get up to street level.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Greece - Day 2, Part I

Oh man, this took so long to load. I miss MIT. Anyhow, Day 2. We woke up at around 6am, ate breakfast at the hotel, and our driver took us to the port. Our travel agency arranged all the transfers so that we got picked up and such.

The port is amazing. I've never seen a port that's so alive. There were so many ships. Our ferry (2nd pic) is huge! It's very nice too. We found some seats on the top level. You can also get beds and nicer places on the boat if you paid more. The first picture is me on the boat with the Greek flag and port in the background. It took 5 hours to go from the mainland to Mykonos.

We got picked up at Mykonos along with an Australian couple. Appearantly, this is one of the biggest vacation spots for Australians. Our hotel was up on a hill. The 3rd picture is the view we have from our hotel. Our room was so awesome! First of all, there were 3 beds instead of 2 beds and a cot like the night before. Then we have a couch, tv, fully stocked kitchen, bathroom, and patio. The room was huge! The staff were friendly. It was just such a nice place. I would come back to this hotel anytime. It's great for one of those "sit back and chill" vacations. Also, on Mykonos, all the architecture is the same. I think you can see the houses in the 3rd and 4th picture. They all have a height limit, white walls, and the windows and doors can only be painted with certain colors. I thought they looked really pretty. Our hotel was like that too.

After we got settled in, we went down to the beach and looked at the really pretty water. There's actually not much sand on the beach. It's mostly little rocks. We ate at an outdoor restaurant. We ordered squid and the fish of the day. The manager spoke English and claims he caught the fish this morning. The 4th picture was taken by him at the restaurant. He treated us to free ice cream. That was really nice. He told us afterwards that it was the grand opening of the restaurant. There's a hotel behind it and today they started the restaurant. That explained why they were so excited to serve us. He even offered to let us sit in the beach chairs under the umbrellas for free. You have to pay for the other ones on the beach.

After that we took the bus to Mykonos Town. This bus seems to be operated especially for tourists. We walked around the town for the rest of the day. Well, a lot of the time we were either taking pictures or just sitting on some rocks and enjoying the view of the sea and nice weather. I really love the weather.

Xiumin and I were really excited about these windmills. I mean, they're actually windmills verses turbines. They weren't spinning when we were there though. But they are really cool. After this we walked around the tourist part of town. A lot of the town survives on tourism. There were so many shops selling all kinds of Mykonos and Greek things.

I will talk about the rest of this day in a later post. I think this was the best day of my Greek vacation.

Greece - Day 1

So I haven't written about my trip to Greece yet even though it's been almost a month already! Well, anyhow, here are some pictures of my first night in Greece. Jingwen and I took a plane there from Berlin and we got to our hotel pretty late at night. Xiumin had been there since the morning and had walked around the city a bit. Our hotel was in a very central location. It's very small but it's good enough for us.

Even though we knew we had to be up by 6am the next morning to catch the ferry, we still wanted to walk around the city. We saw Acropolis from afar and just kept walking up the hill towards it. It's closed at night so we can't go in but it was a nice walk. There were still many people up even though it was late.

We saw many ruins around the area and took pictures with them. The area was pretty safe except for the cars. The traffic in Greece is crazy. No one looks. People just cross the street whenever they get a chance.

Anyway, we found after walking up a hill for a while, we found a rocky place (3rd picture) that had a very nice view of the city below. There were also a lot of tourists on this rock just hanging out and taking pictures. We took lots of pictures too and just sat there for a while enjoying the view. It was nice weather too. Real Mediterrean climate!

We walked around some more and heard people singing. We looked around and realized that we were in the back of one of those ancient theaters. We asked around and found out that people were rehearsing for a show called Carmen. There were lots of little kids in the show too. We couldn't go inside so we sat backstage and listened to the music.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Berlin Mitte

There's actually about 7 MIT students here in Berlin this summer. Jingwen and I met up with one of them, Carolyn, the other day for dinner. Today Carolyn and I went exploring the Berlin district of Mitte. It translates to middle of Berlin. We went up the Reistag, which is the parliament building. You can go up to the top and get a panoramic view of the city. It was very pretty. Plus there as no admission fee. We then went past the Brandenburg Tor and walked along the street called Unter den Linden. Both date back to when Germany was Prussia. We then went up the TV tower saw a even better view of Berlin. We had to pay for this one but it was worth it. Don't have any pictures to upload. Sorry. Neither of us had a camera with us.

Lake and Swans

There's a lake about a 20 minute walk from where I live. It's called Schlachensee. "See" in German means lake. I went there last Sunday to check it out since many people said it's a nice place to swim and picnic. And they were right. There were so many people swimming even though it wasn't very hot. Lots of families with kids. They all biked there to swim and picnic. There are a few cafes and biergartens right the side of the lake too. I've been wondering what people do on Sundays since all the shops are closed. Even grocery stores. So I guess this is what they do. Nice way to spend a Sunday!

I also saw some swans there. You can see them more clearly in the second picture. One of the little ones was getting a ride on one of the big ones. They were so cute.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Dresden - Bastei

In the afternoon, we went hiking to see the Bastei Bridge. It is about 30 minutes outside of Dresden near the Czech border. It is in a nice vacation, camping area. There were a lot of families and kids going camping. I wish I could have stayed there to camp too. You can rent a paddle boat and go boating down this river. There were people rock climbing. We saw a little kid rock climbing too.

It took us 30, 40 minutes to get all the way up here. The view is amazing. The roads are very well kept. There were stairs for almost all of the way. We stopped a lot to take pictures.

Here's the Bastei Bridge. It's pretty cool. Stone and concrete, I think. Don't know if you can tell from this picture but it's very high up. Kinda scary looking down but the view of the valley below is amazing.
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We went to Dresden on Saturday. Jingwen and I found out about these weekend tickets that allowed traveling all over Germany, on slow trains, for 30 Euros. One ticket is valid for one day and can be used by a group of up to 5 people. Cheap! So we got up early Saturday morning and took a Regional Express to Dresden. The train trip was about 3 hours.

Once we got there, Jingwen's friend took us around the city. He's our year and is also studying civil engineering.

This church that I'm standing next to was rebuilt after World War II. Dresden was very heavily bombed so most of the buildings were either repaired or new. They used some of the original stones in building this church. There is a statue of Martin Luther in front of it. You can see him a lot more clearer in the second picture. We didn't go inside since there was a very long line.
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This is the street that I live on. Isn't it nice? Berlin is a city with lots and lots of trees, even in the city center. I can't imagine the effort that went into planting all these trees after the war. Anyway, I live very close to a big forest and some lakes. I hear that swimming in these lakes is very nice. I will check it

Friday, June 15, 2007


So I picked up the converter today from the post office. That in itself was an adventure. But unfortunately, after all the hassle, the converter doesn't work. First of all, it converts voltage. I don't need that. Which still would've been okay except that my laptop needs a 3 prong socket. The converter only takes 2 prongs. And the converter needs an adapter in order to fit into German sockets. Sorry Yalu, I should've said I needed a plug adapter.

So that's very sad for me but on Wednesday, I was walking by a hardware store. It occured to me that I can just make my own plug. So I got an extension cord, multimeter, and electric tape. The multimeter turned out to be really useful since they have different color conventions here. Anyhow, I've succesfully made my own adaptor. Looks a little ugly but yeah, it works!

Thursday, June 14, 2007


The plug converter is finally here! yay. I still need to go to the post office to pick it up though. It was too big so it didn't fit in the mailbox slot. It's on the way to work. Will have pictures up tomorrow!

Monday, June 11, 2007


It's been really hot here these past few days. Luckily, neither my office or my room faces south. I don't think there's AC at work and somehow the building keeps itself pretty cool throughout the day. Same with my room. Outside my window are trees.

Not much going on at work. I don't think I'm supposed to tell people what I'm working on. It's not that exciting anyway. I'm always waiting for my boss. He's one busy guy.

I've also decided that I want to do CME and go to Cambridge. I think it would be fun and an interesting experience.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Plastic Bags

You can't get plastic bags at grocery stores here. Everyone brings their own bags to put groceries in. Some stores make you play 0.10 Euros for a large plastic bag. Big change from Star Market where they double bag everything for you.

Everything's so much more environmentally friendly here. You can recycle almost anything. They charge you a lot for getting plastic bottles. You can only get your money back if you return the bottles to the store.

Friday, June 8, 2007


I just got an email today about CME - Cambridge MIT Exchange. Someone probably decided not to go and now they're offering me the chance to go. I don't know what to do! Do I want to go to England, experience a different culture and education system, make new friends? Or do I want to stay at MIT, hang out with Yalu, get to know the people in my department better, get some of my HASS-Ds out of the way? Help!


Friday is here and so is the sun. It's been cloudy over here all week. I'm meeting up with other students from MIT on Saturday for dinner. This should be fun. There are 7 of us here in Berlin. But we're all over the city. Only Jingwen and I are together, I think. And did I mention this city is really big? It's the same size as L.A. and NYC but less populated than either of them.

Not many other plans for the weekend. Maybe go do some shopping. I managed to buy sticky rice last time I did groceries. There biggest department store in Europe is also supposed to be here. So maybe some window shopping too?

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Greece pictures and stories

so i've decided not to continue my stories about greece until i upload pictures too. it's better this way, i think.

Sorry, English?

i don't know how many times i've said this in the past few days and gotten head shakes in response. it's so sad. no one at work speaks english. my boss speaks some english but he's always busy or in frankfurt. his secretary speaks no english at all. the guy that i share an office with speaks very little english. they're all very nice though. yesterday they got me tea and grapes. today i showed the guy that sits next to me a satellite image of MIT using wikimaps. we found our workplace and then he showed me where he lives. the guy lives like 120 miles away and can get to work through an express highway in 1 hour! i was very impressed.


i accomplished a lot yesterday. i managed to buy a monthly public transit pass and register at the foreigner's office. and yes, all this involved a mango.

after i played around with electronic ticket machines and failed to find the monthly passes, i decided to take my changes at a ticket booth. the guy i talked to at potsdamer platz asked me for a student ID. so i handed him my MIT one, infinitely useful, right? anyway, he said that i needed to be a student of berlin. so i tried to tell him that i'm an intern. i even showed him my DB card but he wanted a letter. so i was sad and left. on the train, i realized i had papers saying that i'm an intern. i took them with me in the morning so i can register. so after spending an extra 2.10 euros for the subway ticket, i arrived my destination and proceeded to ask again. the lady at the ticket booth spoke very little english but she acceptedc my documentation. but she needed a portrait of me. now i'm really sad since i had no idea how i was going to get her a picture. she tells me there's a picture taking machine downstairs. elated, i go and find that it needs exact change. this is where the mango comes in. i bought a mango from the fruit stand, took a picture, and finally got a monthly ticket. this thing costs 50.50 euros. expensive! but a lot better than buying single tickets all the time. *sigh

Sunday, June 3, 2007


my apartment in berlin is pretty nice. there are 6 rooms and we share a kitchen, living room, and bathroom. 2 people just moved out yesterday so right now there are only 3 people living there: me, jingwen, and a taiwainese girl. the kitchen is fully stocked with pots, pans, plates, knives, and forks. we have a tv and couch. my room is pretty big. comes with shelves, closet, table, chair, bed, and rug.

more later

will post more later... running out of time.


I just got back from Greece earlier this morning. Clear waters, blue skies, white houses, it was amazing. Can't upload any pictures right now since I can't get online in my room. computer is running out of battery anyway. really need that plug converter!

so i'm at an internet cafe right now and this german keyboard is giving me a hard time about captializing things...

anyhow, i was in greece for 5 days and 4 nights. day 1. jingwen and i got to greece at around 9pm at night. we took the metro into the city. it was really new, clean, and nice. we think they upgraded things because of the 2004 olympics. we got to the hotel and met up with xiumin. the 3 of us went for a walk that night since we were going to be leaving early the next morning for mykonos. we walked around the city and up the hill to acropolis. unfortunately, it's not open at night. but we found a really nice piece of rock that had a great view of the city. we also came across an old theatre where people were rehearsing for a show. we sat backstage and listened to the music.

day 2. we took a ferry to mykonos. the ferry left at 7am and took 5 hours. mykonos is so beautiful. for historical reasons, all the houses look alike with whitewash outside and blue doors and windows. they are so pretty. the hotel we stayed in was amazying too. we got our own fully stocked kitchen, patio, couch, tv. it was great. we went down to the beach and played around. then we walked around the town and took pictures of windmills, pelicans, and the sea.