23 May, 2012

cooking in a european apartment

As you can see, our kitchen situation is pretty limited here. I'm beginning to get a bit bored with it to be honest, but for the first two weeks it was a lot of fun to see how creative I could be. I don't have any recipes to share with you, but maybe the following pictures will spark some ideas. We had several meals that turned out to be quite good. They began with me pulling out the few ingredients that fit in our mini fridge and throwing something together, each step of the process inspiring the next without much foresight. Then we would sit down to eat, commenting: "hm, not bad..." (a few more bites)  "actually, it's pretty good..." (a few more bites) "Mmm, this is great!"

this recipe + carrots + garam masala

note: that's Turkey the country, not the bird, but I'm to lazy to re-edit the photo

this idea came from here. it's delicious

21 May, 2012

beautiful bookstore

We kind of have a thing for books. Along with our library, my appreciation of books themselves has grown. I began to notice how some books just feel better in your hands than others - they are just the right size, have just the right laxity to their binding, and the pages are just the right thickness. Others are admirable for the type-setting of the cover and the font of the text. Finding just the right combination of text, image, and color is certainly an art. Placing several books from the same publisher side-by-side adds a whole new dimension to book aesthetics. And of course, I never tire of finding a used book with some antique inscription on the front cover (an absolute must in my mind when gifting a book), or an old strip of newspaper stuck inside, a forgotten bookmark.

One of Ian's most exciting finds before my arrival in Freiburg was a bookstore, and I joked that when he showed me around the city all I would see was bookstores. I have in fact been to at least 5. However, the Buchhandlung zum Wetzstein is certainly worth returning to again and again. Just being inside of this bookstore feels nice. The books are tastefully arranged amongst photographs of famous authors and various small sculptures, paintings, and beautiful quotes hand-written by somebody who works there. I love this wall of colorful books. All of the same height and width, all with a different beautiful pattern that somehow is associated with the title or the subject matter, many of them classics.

If you ever are in Freiburg, please visit this place. Even if you can't read German. When you walk in at least two people will say "Guten Tag" and ask if they can help you. Don't miss the case of  facsimiles and first editions, or the back room full of signed and rare books. It's one of the few places where I have heard people say "Aufwiedersehen". When we walked out today, we each received such a lovely farewell from each of the 3 people working there. That's 6 Aufwiedersehen's, which is 24 syllables. These people love books so much that they also love all other book-lovers.

Of course, Ian has found and purchased some really great books here, including a few that he couldn't find elsewhere and they kindly ordered for him. He is already trying to figure out how he is going to get everything home and still has 2 months left!

Reading in the Biergarten -- too good to wait!

17 May, 2012

university rap

To be honest, all this studying really wears on one more than I expected. I mean, it's taking me several more hours of burying my head in a book each day than I had hoped for, to stay on schedule. I could go on and on about all the psychological and emotional stress of medical school and preparing for this scary exam, but I'll save that for another day.

Instead, I will tell you about the inspiring hour-and-a-half that I spent studying at the Freiburg University. I needed a change of scenery and decided to go into the city with Ian for his evening lecture on Heidegger. What makes it so very cool, is that this lecture happens to be going on in the very same classroom that Martin Heidegger used to lecture in himself. I know, this isn't very exciting for somebody who doesn't know much about this philosopher - or anything, for that matter, as I certainly would not if it weren't for marrying a philosophy student. Suffice it to say that many would consider him the greatest philosopher of the 20th century.

A lecture at Freiburg Universität was, indeed, everything I had hoped for. The classroom slowly filled with young grunge-hipsters of the German sort and overly-composed retired intellects, quite the contrast to say the least. Finally the professor entered, with a boyish smile and a head full of windswept gray hair, flirting with his scandalously young girlfriend as he approached the lectern. He fit the bill perfectly - his glasses with thin round frames did nothing to hide his frequent left-sided facial tic; his stylish and well-fitted tweed sport coat (handkerchief and
all) was offset by the rather less-stylish wide navy blue tie and basic button-down.

Of course, I could hardly understand what he had to say, so I read about endocrinology. But I managed to notice that the room was engaged and entertained enough to offer the occasional chuckle at his anecdotes. The lecture was concluded not with applause, but with a chorus of rapping knuckles on the desks.

15 May, 2012

highlight of my day

This really did just happen to me, and it really was quite exciting. (pitiful). So, for all the other medical students out there studying for boards, here's a question for you:

While flipping through flashcards on a rainy afternoon, I fell asleep curled up on an arm chair, with my right arm, held in flexion, between the chair and my body. When I woke up and stretched, I realized that part of my right hand felt tingly and my 4th and 5th digits did not extend with all the rest. Name that brachial plexus lesion!

14 May, 2012

downtown Freiburg

I have only spent one day in downtown Freiburg. Actually, only half of one. It's pretty sad, but I'm trying my best to accept that that's just the way things are for now and it's just for a limited time. 28 days actually.

Freiburg is much livelier than I had expected, at least in comparison to our quiet neighborhood on the edge of the Black Forest. Close to half the street traffic is probably people on bicycles, so there are bike lanes everywhere! We really just wandered about the city without a plan (or as we would say in German, wir sind gebummelt), but the day was filled with many little pleasantries. Like stumbling upon the former home of philosopher Edmund Husserl,

or unexpectedly interesting spots around the university.

Hmm.. what else have I got? I didn't bring my camera, just my iPhone, but here are a few more pictures for you. Hopefully, soon I will return to the city and will have more of a story to tell.

Münster Cathedral

Beer, of course.

sitting on the steps
of Augustiner Platz

where they even have an Occupy movement.

08 May, 2012

schwarzwald rain showers

I will be spending the next 6 weeks in Europe. Mostly in Freiburg, studying for the USMLE Step 1. Ian is taking a semester of classes at the Albert Ludwigs Universität, which was more than enough of an excuse for me to come along.

It's a short walk into the Black Forest from our apartment, where we have gone almost every day. It really is a fairytale land. On Sunday we took a path that led up to a clearing, offering a gorgeous view of houses nestled into the hillside. As soon as we reached the top of the hill we saw that there were huge rainclouds headed our way. We decided to keep walking anyway, figuring that we would get wet even if we did turn back. We managed to take a bit of refuge under some trees and didn't get too wet after all. It was amazing to watch this storm pass over the distant city, temporarily disrupting our view of the buildings, and finally to clear once again to bright blue skies and chirping birds.


By the way, if you happen to be studying for Step 1 also, or just happen to be interested in the embryological development of the heart, don't miss out on this video - it's a gem!
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