Saturday, September 17, 2005

Wild Car Ride

To be honest I didn't know walnuts come in green "fruits"! It was fun to collect the walnuts in their camps. Mark climbed one of the trees to shake it and make more nuts fall down, later on the oldest sister also went up. For more than a week my thumbs and my fingernails stayed dark brown from the walnut "ink". The oldest sister's boyfriend Pedro (he's Portuguese but also got fluent in Spanish) had arrived late at night. He was always joking around. When I got to talk to him alone for a while he told me that I was actually the 2nd "euro-asiático" he got to know. The other one he knew was a half-Danish-half-Japanese guy he had rented a room to. I asked whether he was more European or more Asian looking. Pedro said "To me he was a Japanese guy of this height!" (he indicated a really tall height). "His hair wasn't brown like yours, though", he said, "it was black."I gave him two big bonuses for 1) knowing the term Eurasian and 2) seeing that my hair is brown, not black. Thumbs up!We watched a Spanish animation movie "The Cid" after lunch and then had a sesta (siesta). After that we wanted to go swimming in the river close by. Mark and Diana didn't get going so her mother took me and we went to the river beach first. It was beautiful, but a bit late. The water was "fresh" to be euphemistic and we swam a bit. Later on Mark, Diana and Marciano arrived (just when we wanted to leave). At night Pedro took Diana, her oldest sister, Mark and me to Oporto by car b/c they wanted to go to a party. Pedro joked "If my driving stlye gets you sick, advise me!", I was like "yeah... sure...". In fact though, he seemed to drive much faster than Mark (it was late and he was in a hurry I guess), the street was always going left, right, left, right, up, down, left, right, sharp left, down, up, sharp right, up, down. I WAS getting sick! I tried to watch the street but it was too late. I was suffering but I didn't say anything... only after one hour when Pedro stopped the car I said to Mark in German "Mir ist wirklich schlecht geworden (I DID get sick)..." He told Pedro. While Mark didn't stop watching me w/ an air of empathy the rest of the night when we went to an ice café, Pedro seemed both boggled by a bad consciousness and angry, he had exclaimed "I TOLD her to advise me when she gets sick!!..."Instead of going to the party w/ them after the ice café and then after the party returning to Marco de Canavezes I asked them to take me home after the café. I kinda regretted not being able to stay another day in Marco' but on the other hand I spend a calm Sunday.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Marco de Canavezes

So I told you I made friends w/ this half-German-half-Portuguese from 4th year electrotechnics (automation). I like Mark for being funny, laid-back, generous, his taste in music and how we can make jokes about Portuguese things. He says he doesn't really feel home neither in Germany nor in Portugal. I found him to be pretty German in many respects, but not too much... kinda a good mixture, ha! I guess it's also good to talk to another person of mixed background. The shadow side to this friendship... I talk too much German and don't talk so much Portuguese (besides in shops, or ordering in cafés). In the first week of uni I nearly spent all my time w/ him cos he was like "Okay, so what you wanna do now? Wanna go there? If you have to do something, I can bring you, I wait and afterwards we can have a coffee! Come along to my girlfriend's house!"To be honest his girlfriend Diana, who was also pretty stressed out w/ 8h internship (Praktikum) in a hotel and 8h work in a café, got a bit bitchy once. I'm not romantically interested in Mark, mind you, and *he* was really eager on spending a lot of time w/ *me*. For the weekend he asked whether I'd like to go w/ them to "Marco". Diana's mother (they are from Ecuador) married a Portuguese man about 8 yrs ago and has a house in a rural area where they produce wine. I was greatful for the opportunity! So we took Diana's (21) middle sister Viki (23) and Marciano, the Portuguese water dog, and went to Marco de Canavezes by car, 1h45min to the North. (Actually the house is beyond this town)There the oldest sister (25) and the mother were already waiting for us. They were all nice, also the three dogs that seemed to be little bears (quite big), they were totally tame and sweet... but not to Marciano (which means Martian/Marsianer, by the way), we always had to seperate them from him so he didn't get slaughtered. They all talked more or less flawed Portuguese, when they didn't start chatting in Spanish (Mark's fluent in Spanish, too). Unfortunately the mother thought talking to me in idiot's Portuguese would help me (nah... on the contrary, I prefer complete and gramatically correct sentences).The house dates back to about 1700 but is partially modernized. I got my own room in a seperate building where normally Europeans on rural tourism stay. On the next day we should collect walnuts.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

hey, everybody...

I know I write too much – who reads this anyways...
I hope someone does! Please post comments!!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Portuguese university / FEUP== Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto

Romy and her friends in Coimbra had already told me that to eat in the uni's dining hall (German: Mensa) costs only 1,85€ including a main plate, a soup, water, a bread (Brötchen) and a dessert. Still I was a bit confused when I first went to eat at the student's dining hall at the faculty of Engineering in Porto. In Porto a full meal costs 1,90€ (who wants 5cents of change every day anyways?). But I wasn't so sure of it's „make-up“ so I missed on my dessert the first day. You get a soup, a glass of very diluted orange lemonade non-carbonated (ohne Kohlensäure) a main plate consisting of meat, fish or vegetables (that's the vegetarian plate) together w/ either rice, home-made French fries, potatoes or noodles and a salad. They put the fork, knife, spoon in a small plastic bag, same for the bread. But the funniest thing that happened to me when I ate in the uni dining hall for the first time and that made me feel as if I was in an American movie... One of the students let something drop that then broke w/ a shrieking sound. Then... synchronously all the other students shouted something. Unfortunately I didn't understand what they were shouting. But I was amazed by their timing and by the phenomenom itself. I felt like bursting out in laughter but I surpressed that feeling. Mark (the half-German) told me that the dining hall of the economics faculty (which is next to the engineering faculty, in the next building) is the best. So the next days we mostly ate there. FEUP has more girls than I've ever seen in TUB (Technical University Berlin)... and it's ONLY an engineering faculty. Mark said most of them are in their first yrs and that back then there weren't too many girls either. Also most of them are in civil engineering (Bauingenieurwesen). I was quite surprised about that... I don't think there are too many girls in civil engineering in Berlin. Most of the girls in engineering take courses that are somehow related to the environment (Energie- und Verfahrenstechnik, Technischer Umweltschutz). To be honest it's a weird feeling to have so many girls at the faculty. Mark presented me to one of them (she's in mechanics I think) cos she likes German and Germans. She was so sweet. She so wanted us to visit the Portuguese island of Madeira (Nelly Furtado's home) and said she'd show us around. She showed me some pictures of the island on her cell phone. Her cute laughter was refreshing. In fact there are few girls in the classes I take (automation, 4th and 5th yr).

Monday, September 12, 2005

1st day in uni

So my lectures started on September 12th already but the first week in the Portuguese semester is mostly about presenting the content and examination methods of the class (they call it „disciplina“= discipline or „cadeira“=chair) – that is... if the professor shows up at all. The first lecture I visited was 'Industrial Computation', a 5th year Mechanics course in automation. There were few and „old“ students. It was a bit difficult to follow the professor b/c he was talking very very quickly but I could note some things down and after his introduction I just walked up to him and presented myself as an ERASMUS exchange student. He was really kind and having said that I never had automation courses in Germany he explained to me which kind of „cadeiras“ the students normally have taken before being in the 'Industrial Computation' class. He advised me to have a look at 'Logic Systems'. The second lecture was 'Operational Investigation'. There were three docents: a woman and two men who showed us a power point presentation on what we had to expect. The woman was highly motivated. We'd have to hand in homeworks that make part of the grade and that involve lots of text!! Now this is the first engineering class that involves so much text – and on top of that: in Portuguese. We started to investigate on a problem called „Rio Negro“ (Black River) and I was lucky to have a nice Portuguese guy at my side who served as my live dictionary. A guy 3 seats from him was always looking at me in a curious way. After the lesson was over I went to talk to the lady to tell her that she should expect flawed Portuguese in my homework. She said that having attended the German school and having finished there her 'Abitur' (German „HS“ degree afyer 13 yrs) German was her 2nd language and that I could also hand in the homework in German so that my grade wouldn't be dependent on my language skills. The guy who had looked at me so curiously before seemed to have been the last student in the auditorium because when the lady asked what my first language was and I answered „German“ I heard him say „Oh. Sprechen Sie Deutsch?“ (= Do you speak German). He turned out to be half-German-half-Portuguese and was very delighted to have found someone with whom he could talk German. After the class we went to the Cafeteria together and chatted a bit. For the rest of the week he should offer me his help several times. I spent most of my time w/ him, he would drive me home or ask me what I'd like to do, take me to his favourite café, help me get a Portuguese bank account, take me to his g/f's house (she's from Ecuador) and on the weekend take me to his g/f's mother's house on the countryside where they produce wine.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


Serena was in Fátima, a very famous place among Catholic pilgrims, since the morning hours. Romy and I had decided to take a bus some hours later. Which, after we finally found the bus station that was hidden inside a building (we were expecting it to be outside), we had to find out had already parted (well... who ever said the departure was at 9:50am when it was 9:30??). We walked around Coimbra some more until we could take the 12:30 bus. My legs were starting to ache from all the ups and downs (stairs etc) in Coimbra. The trip to Fátima was quick w/ the express bus. The sanctuary was full w/ ppl. I'm not very familiar w/ Catholicism (my grannies are Protestant). There were also ppl walking on their knees, a place to sacrifice candles to Nossa Senhora do Rosário (Unsere Liebe Frau vom Rosenkranz) and an half-open building for services (and a Basilika I didn't get to see). I took the bus that would arrive in Oporto at 19:30 and was home at 20:00.


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