Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Turkish Guy..

Sunday, May 6th. My last day before I started work! It was getting close, but still no Internet. I slept in until 11 AM and went into the "innen stadt" or inner city, city center, whatever... The festival was still going on too!

here's the link
I began by stopping in a shop for a coffee. But once I got in the shop, I couldn't find the coffee! I looked around a bit and the man behind the counter asked me if I wanted a coffee. Sure! He went and made me a coffee, it was in the front corner. Most shops have these machines, and you put a cup in and press the button and whala! Coffee! Some you pay first and others you get and pay after.

I went to pay for the coffee, and the guy wouldn't take my money, he said it was on him. He continued to talk to me and told me he was from Turkey and that I absolutely MUST go there. He even took out his iPhone and showed me the temperatures there, not that it did me any good, they were in Celsius and that doesn't really translate in my head yet haha! He kept holding my hand and telling me I was beautiful (Slightly creepy!) but he was nice! I told him I had to go to the church and he just kept talking. I got his whole life story. His daughter owned the shop and he worked there while she was in school. Finally I told him I would come back when I could and left. Never wound up going back though, oops!

I walked into the city and drank my coffee on the way. I found the cathedral and waited for someone else to go in first, I entered timidly. I didn't know what to expect after all. There was so much history here! I found some brochures in many different languages and grabbed on in English and walked around some. Like I said, there was so much history here! St. Laborious was buried here and I went downstairs and found his grave. and walked around more to find some gardens and some BEAUTIFUL stained glass. It also had the largest organ I had ever seen, the pamphlet said that the church had 3 organs, the Spire Organ, the Crypt Organ, and the Choir Organ, a total of 151 registers! That's 10,885 pipes, the smallest being 6 mm long and 3.4 mm in diameter and the largest being 5.24 m long and 28.7 cm in diameter! I said a prayer for my family and lit a candle too then wandered some
more in the church, which had been there since 799 AD! Sadly bombings during WWI and WWII had ruined parts of the church and so it had to be rebuilt a few times and needs constant repair. I made a small donation to the church through one of the drop boxes and went on my way.

I found a cinema in the city center and they had posters for many American films... all in German of course. I grabbed a few of the fliers that they had, who knows, maybe I'll see a movie or two while I'm here. Since the festival was still going on I stopped at a both and bought some "pommes" or fries and ate them there. It is still weird to me that Germans eat their fries with mayonnaise. I tried it anyways, and like I thought, it wasn't all that good. I don't at all like mayonnaise though, so maybe
that's why.

I came back to my room then and, well, I stopped for a few beers first and then came back. I have The Hangover on my laptop so I watched it and drank a beer. And played some solitaire and had another one. I heard someone in the kitchen again, so I quickly scuttled out of my room to see who it was. It was a girl from down the hall (not too social with me) but I introduced myself and went back to my room. The next day was my first day of work so, I quickly went to bed. Yeah, that and the beers helped too!

I'll be a drinking champ in no time!

Monday, as I said, was my first day of work and I woke up and showered then headed out on foot to work. I wound up being a few minutes early (good thing I found work earlier, or I would have been late) and waited for a bit before going to the door. It buzzed and I pulled, nothing. Ha! It buzzed again and I pushed, wow Gabi.. I went to the receptionist and explained that I was there to see Mrs. Grote and that I was from America and today was my first day. I was escorted to a room and asked to sit. A bit later Mrs. Grote came in and we sat down and talked. There wasn't much to say since I had already filled in all the paperwork but she asked me if I had any questions then I was on my way up to my department.

Honestly, I didn't expect to work my first day, but after I met everyone in the department (that was there) I was introduced to the company. Though I worked for Benteler last summer, I have never worked for this part of Benteler so I had some things to learn. Then I was put to work doing research on Shale Gas, most of you probably know it as Fracking, but this isn't for oil, it's for natural gas. I spent my first three days working on this research and I was asked to put together a PowerPoint presentation on it too. We're always looking for new venues for work. While fracking is banned in most of Europe currently (mostly because of the American failures / disasters) I think in the future it may be used more since there is only so much oil in the world and Europe is currently dependent on Russia for most of their gas, oil or natural. One of BTM's largest industries that they supply to is the Oil, Gas, and Drilling market.

here's the link
Before I knew it, it was lunch time and Katharina, the office secretary (a bit younger than my brother) asked if I wanted to go to lunch with her and Dominik, one of my co-workers. Of Course! We went out of the complex and to a nearby "restaurant" named Döner, it is a Turkish place that has food like gyro's but on... ciabatta bread basically. It wasn't bad, but not the best thing I had ever eaten before.

We went back to the office, we only have a half hour for lunch, I did more research and at 4 PM, I was told I could leave. I left work and immediately went to the bank across the street. I gave them the correct address / postal code and hoping that it would work out, I walked home. I found out that I only get paid once a month, on the last day of the month, so I guess it was good that I had money with me and had my parents transfer money to my account, or I'd be a bum!

I returned to my apartment to change out of work clothes and went into the city. Even with the festival over, there were a bunch of people in town at 5 PM. I bought a "käsebrötchen" which is very simply a cheese roll, bread with melted cheese on top. I went home and quickly went to bed.

Tuesday was my second day of work and it was MUCH like my first day. I arrived at 7 AM, I don't do sleeping in, and researched more about fracking. At lunch, Katharina asked me to go with her and Thorston for lunch. We went to a REWE, a grocery store near work, and that was great because I hadn't really found a good one yet. I bought some yogurt and some fruits and back to work we went. The day was over in no time. I walked back to the REWE and bought some "real food" before heading back home. I had a package at my door from Patrick. I finally had a German cell phone! Not that it helped much, I had no contacts. I also had a letter from the bank with my account codes. I quickly went to my room and filled in the paperwork to get Internet and returned it to my landlords mail box. Hopefully I would have Internet by Friday, spoiler alert, I did!

I also found out that on Thursday the 17th, we have a holiday and almost everyone takes the Friday following off. So I sent an e-mail to Joerg Reiting, a good family friend and made plans to visit them in Stuttgart that weekend. Looking at train tickets, it would cost me nearly 200 Euro round trip to take the train. Katharina suggested that I use a service for car pooling, mitfahrgelegenheit. It is common in Germany, someone posts on a website that they are going somewhere and they ask for so much money per person and say how many seats they have. I found a boy going to Stuttgart and he has an open seat! It will cost me 50 Euro's round trip!

On Wednesday I was assigned a new project and began working on it. I was to look for everything I could find about some specific competitors. It was slow work at first but finally I found much of the necessary information. I spent all morning online researching the companies.

For lunch, I went with most of my department to the Canteen, the cafeteria on the Benteler Campus. They have hot food every day but the meals change daily. There was schnitzel and potatoes, and vegetables, and beef patties, and much more. I had beef patties, vegetables and rice and it cost me 3,20 Euro. Not bad for such a big lunch! Again, the food wasn't great, but I haven't really had anything I can't live without yet. We talked and ate lunch but since our time was short, we soon had to go back to work.

In the afternoon, I had a few presentations from my boss about what Benteler Steel & Tube (BST) does and the different sectors of the company. Then I went back to work researching the companies from the morning. I think I will be doing a lot of this kind of stuff. It's a bit boring sitting online all day reading articles on the same thing all the time. I guess that's what I get with market research though.

the link is here
When I got to work on Thursday, no one was there yet so I had to wait in the hall until someone with a key to the door showed up. Thursday was a slow morning. Benteler has new software updates constantly it seems and this morning I had over an hour to wait for the installation to go through. BORING! I did much of the same, with research for the morning but at lunch I went on an adventure! Katharina and Dominik took me to a market that is in town every Thursday and I wasn't hungry but they had "hot dogs", more like a foot long sausage. We then went to Dominik's car and drove to the British army base (on the other side of town.) I was getting a bike! It would make transportation to work and the store a LOT easier.

We had found it earlier that week on eBay listed for 60 Euro but we talked the woman down to 50 Euro. We went to find the house but the numbers were very weird and it took us a bit. Once we found it, we went in and took a look at the bike and I got to test drive it. Man, I am bad at riding a bike, well not really.... it's just been quite a few years. It worked fine and I fit on it so I bought it and signed a paper saying I wouldn't return it, or ask for my money back, etc.

We tried to fit it into Dominik's car... but it wouldn't fit. (I'll post pictures soon, there's a basket on the back for groceries too!) We tried every way too! Crap, now what? After some pondering, we decided that Katharina would have to ride it back to work and Dominik and I would take the car. Funny, isn't it? I couldn't even ride my own bike back since I didn't know where to go! Dominik and I got back to the office and not 5 minutes later Katharina arrived as well. She said that the bike worked well and I could ride fast on it, though she was quite out of breath. We laughed and joked all afternoon at work about it and finally it was time for me to go home.

I went into the city and found a t-mobile store where I found out that a German SIM card would not work in an American phone. Patrick will order me the prepaid android phone and that will be my best option. Since texting America from my American phone was costing $0.50 per text, the 0,19 euro charge peer text to America is nothing. I was happy that I bought and umbrella the other day too, because on my walk home, it started to POUR! That's Paderborn for you, there's a few jokes about the city, one is the locals call it "PaderBoring" or "PaderRain" and the other is "In Paderborn is is either raining or you can hear church bells, if it's both, then it's Sunday." There's a church on every corner here, and it rains near constantly.

That was also my first night actually cooking in the kitchen and I was to make pasta. The stove has no labels on it though to tell me which burner went with which knob. It took me a good 20 minutes to figure it out, but now I know! I made pasta and took it to my room to eat. Bed time!

Friday morning, again I woke up and went to work. Again, I spent my day researching the companies. It's hard to get all the information into one excel spreadsheet! But I worked and worked and worked on it. Still I wasn't done though. It was lunch time though and I had set up a lunch meeting with Ivonne, a trainee with Benteler who had worked with my mother in America for a few months. We went to Döner again but this time I had a box. Basically it was fries in the bottom with shaved gyro meat on top. It was pretty good actually. Ivonne paid for me too which was really nice of her, I will have to pay her back somehow. We ate and talked and sadly the lunch break was over. She gave me her phone number and told me to let her know if I needed anything.

Friday was fun! After a long first week at work, I was invited to have some fun with my co-workers. Katharina and Marcel (he was in America finishing up his training while my internship was
beginning last summer) invited me to go into the city with them. We were to leave work at 4 PM and head into town but I rode my bike to work so I left work at 3 PM or so. I rode home only to find….. Wait for it….. INTERNET! My Internet was finally working and I immediately checked all my accounts! Since mom was home from work all week with Shingles, I was able to Skype with her for a bit before Katharina picked me up. Mid Skype call, I got a call on my German cell phone (given to me by Patrick) and they were here. I quickly got off the call with mom and ran out to the car.

I was greeted “warmly” and we were off to the city! We had a hard time finding a parking spot that was free but finally we found a good place and walked into town. We started at the “Café Bär-Celona” and Katharina ate some food while Marcel and I had only drinks. I had a "Radler" (beer with sprite) and Marcel had a strawberry milkshake (it’s literally a milk shake here, I don’t think any ice cream in it … what kind of place is this!?) and then he had
a beer as well. When it was time to pay we asked the server to bring us the bill and Marcel paid for my drink. How nice! It was good to have contact again! The café had some really cool advertisements and so I stole one of the little books. Pictures below, some of them are funnier than all get-out.

After we left the café, we went to a restaurant and Marcel and I had pizza and Katharina had tiramisu. Yum! We sat around and
talked until about 6 PM, that’s when the table we were at was reserved next, and then we went into the city. We walked around and Katharina showed me a lot of things to see and do in the city, most of which I had already seen, but it was still fun to get the “tour.” At around 7:30 we left the city and headed home. They dropped me off near my apartment and we said our farewells and again, I headed into solitary confinement, or my room, whichever you please.
I got onto my floor and my neighbor, the one from Sweden was cooking. I stopped in and chatted for a bit and another neighbor walked by to ask us how our night was going. His name is Marc and he lives at the end of one of the halls. He seems nice, he invited us both (the Swedish guy and myself) to hangout in his room. I said sure, it’s not like I had anything better to do! I went down to his room and we listened to music (American rap mostly)
and watched TV, of course in German. We then took turns showing our favorite YouTube videos. I showed him all the Lonely Island videos and the Epic Meal Time ones and he showed me some spoofs of American music in German. It was nice having another connection and someone willing to open their door.

The topic of tattoos came up in our conversation and I showed him the one on my foot and tried to explain it. It didn’t translate well I guess because he asked “So is it typical for Americans to get a tattoo of a map with their school’s location?” Aunt Sarah later told me I should have said “No, it’s for when I get lost so they can return me safely home.” But instead I tried to explain what Houghton meant to me … How is that possible even when I’m speaking English?!?!
He also works for Benteler but he is 25 or 26, (ha! He says I’m too young!) so he did somewhat of an apprenticeship with Benteler and recently finished his exams and they gave him full time employment. He works “an der Talle” which is a plant a few Kilometers down the road and they focus on Automotive.
We were talking and drinking wine and heard a commotion outside. Apparently there was a party going on downstairs. We decided to check it out and it wasn’t bad. Like Houghton, there were maybe 4 girls and 15 boys so Marc said “In Germany we would call this a Penis party” and I said, “Yes, in America it would be called a Sausage Fest.” At least we understand each other’s humor. We hung out for a while and drank a bit, though I am not sure of what. It tasted like mouthwash, apple juice, and Everclear……. Yeah, not even close to good. Oh well, I had had enough and was hoping to Skype with my brother so I went upstairs. I guess I forgot to tell Marc where I was going because suddenly he was in my doorway. He asked why I had disappeared and I explained it. We said good night and I sat in my room, no one was on Skype.
As you may well know, I’m a hugger! And for me going two weeks with no hugs, is HELL. So somewhat awkwardly, I went to Marc’s room and knocked on the door. I had to explain to him how homesick I was and asked him for a hug. He said OK, but it wasn’t the same as a hug from mom. Whatever, it’ll have to do. I went back to my room and Skyped with mom for a bit then Jeff called too. I got to see the kids and everything! At about 2 AM, I went to bed.
On Saturday I got out of bed at 8:30 AM and showered and off I went to find the “Flohmarkt” or flea market on the main university campus. I was smart enough to look up directions on Google Maps first though since I had no idea where I was going. I biked through the city and down some side streets and up a MASSIVE hill. And finally, I was there. It was much bigger than I had thought it would be, but that’s not a bad thing! I parked my bike and locked it up and headed into the booths. At first, I was timid and afraid to speak to the sellers so I just looked. Finally, I found a scarf at a booth and asked how much. Only €0,50 for the one I wanted. Sold! I kept walking and found another scarf; they are all the rage here. Everyone has them on. Men, Women, children… Everyone. So another €1,50 or so. I continued and I came across a jacket that looked nice. I had only brought one jacket from America that was “work appropriate” other than suit jackets that are difficult to wear on a bike. I tried it on and it fit me perfectly. I was afraid to ask how much it was, knowing how expensive clothing in Germany was. It turned out to only be €4! So I bought it. I had seen all the booths and decided it was time for me to go home. I needed a nap.
On my way home I passed three or more grocery stores so I stopped in a REWE and bought some potatoes and yogurt. I continued on my way home and rather than making a necessary turn, I decided to go straight since Katharina had said there was a grocery store there too, an ALDI. I went in and looked around and bought some fruit, bread, and chocolate.
I finally made it home to the apartment and wound up on the Internet. Finally, took a short nap, OK, a long one (two and a half hours or so.) And it was 6:20 PM. I almost forgot that I had plans to go to dinner with Dominik and some people from work at 7 PM! I got ready, but soon my phone was ringing and I was summoned downstairs. I went out and got in the back seat, we were going to “The Roadhouse” supposedly a typical American diner.

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