Monday, June 24, 2013

European Research Exchange - Doing Stuff

Man I can't really think of a good title for this week.

So this week I just kinda did stuff. It was realllllllly hot mid-last week, like 30+ hot. And it really sucks when there's no air conditioning. Sitting in an office all day in that heat is mind-melting. And the worst part was that after work I got stuck on the train for an extra hour with a billion people because of delays.

Also, follow me on Twitter.

The weekend was pretty ok. Went shopping on Saturday and bought a new shirt. Not too terribly exciting stuff. Prices here are about the same as in Canada I think. Some stuff is a bit cheaper and some stuff is a bit more expensive, but everything is pretty standard.

Oh, I also got my haircut on Saturday. So before I came to Berlin one of my biggest worries was what I was going to do about my hair, because I normally cut it every month or so, and since I'm here for four months I wasn't sure where I would get my haircut. I honestly was so worried I was gonna get a crappy haircut.

Ended up ok.

My flatmate recommended me to this place, so I went and got my haircut. My hair was getting really thick and gross, so I had to get it cut. Actually the barber(ess?) even remarked that my hair was really thick and it was "amazing".

I honestly don't think it's amazing to have thick hair >_> Gets so annoying. But anyways I think my haircut is ok. It's a bit shorter than I wanted, but it's actually not bad. So I'm content. Yesterday I went to watch the movie Man of Steel in Potsdamer Platz.

Berlin looks pretty nice at night.

And omg. Guys. So the North American stereotype is that everyone is super fat and eats tons of unhealthy foods and stuff. Especially in theatres and stuff when you buy popcorn and drinks. Like the extra large popcorn in Hong Kong is like the same size as the small in Canada, so I figured it was a NA thing to have big portions.

But no, I was totally wrong. So we ordered popcorn and stuff yesterday, and when we got our food we were so surprised as to how huge it was.

And I almost single handedly finished all of it. God I feel so fat.

The drink that came with it was just as tall, but not as wide. But it was still really freaking big. Like my mind was blown. The movie itself was alright. I felt like some parts of it was too over-exaggerated, but overall I would say it was a decent movie. Dark Knight > Man of Steel though IMO, in terms of movies and heroes.

Also I got a StarCraft beer opener at Meltdown.

My keychain is getting too bulky now.

Monday, June 17, 2013

European Research Exchange - New People and Old Palaces

So this week was pretty eventful. For like the first month I was here, I worked alone in an office room, so it was pretty lonely sometimes.

But last week a girl from UofT came to Berlin too via the same program I'm in, so shes working in the same office now. The guy that originally was in the office also returned, so now there's actually other people here yay. Also a friend from UOIT came to Berlin too, so I picked him up at the airport on Saturday.

I still can't get over how old school this airport looks.

So yay, I have more people to talk to and eat lunch with I guess.

I also went back to Meltdown on Friday since that's when they have their in-house tournaments. I got my best finish so far, reaching the round of 4. But I was knocked out by the same guy I lost to in the last two weeks. The ownership of Meltdown also changed since the previous owner left. That was kinda sad, I liked him.

As an aside, Fritz-Kola pretty good cola. (EDIT: Holy crap I totally forgot I already used this picture in the last post.)

Yesterday I went out to Potsdam for the day to sightsee. Potsdam is a city right next to Berlin, and I could take a train to get there. It has a lot of old royal palaces and apparently they were worth seeing, so since I had nothing better to do I decided to go check it out.

And man, that was so much walking. Sooo much walking. Like my feet are still recovering from yesterday. It actually kinda sucks how much pain I'm in right now >_>

Overall was a good trip though.

It's actually a really nice looking place. I went to the Sanssouci park, which used to be a palace. But now the grounds are now a park with palacey buildings. Lots of really nice buildings and cool scenery. It's also really big.

Like I don't think it would be pretty feasible to walk from building to building if I lived there. So hopefully the royal people back then had some sort of non-walking transportation >_>

Again, so many trees.

There's definately a lot to see though. Pretty cool place. The city in general had a lot of history to it, and felt different than Berlin. Might go back to check out some other places, but probably after I heal a bit.

Oh, they also had this freaking cool windmill. I have no idea why, but I really like this windmill. For some reason it makes me feel like I'm in like, a Playstation 1 era Final Fantasy game. But it was really cool. I also went to the top of it, and they had some really steep stairs and some big moving parts.

It was windy near the windmill.

Monday, June 10, 2013

European Research Exchange - Long Nights of Science and StarCraft

So apparently in Germany there is an event every year called "Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften", or the Long Night of Science. That's pretty much a day where a bunch of the universities and research institutes do public showcases of sciencey things.

So with nothing else to do on a Saturday I decided to check it out. I went back to Freie for the day and looked at what they had. Made me kind of sad though, because everything was in German, so there was really no point for me to go to the talks. But the demonstrations and small booths were manned by people that could do English, so that was good.

It actually wasn't really a long night since it only ran until midnight.

Me and my friend ended up going to check out the physics, computer science, math and chemistry departments. I found that a lot of the showcase booths were pretty basic stuff in terms of actual science. They were cool, but you could tell it was tailored to younger kids a bit more.

The highlight of the day for me was visiting the supercomputer they had at Freie. The actual presentation and mini-tour was in German, so I missed out on that, but it didn't seem too too interesting. But the actual computer room was cool.

But not cool enough to have air conditioning still.

It was pretty much just a giant underground chamber with some intense fan action going on to cool the systems down. The computer itself was just a series of processors and stuff just in their casings linked together, but of course it had fancy lights because fancy lights are fancy.
This week was also the finals for WCS Season 1, so I spent a decent amount of time at Meltdown as well to watch the games and hang out. It was pretty fun to hang out there to just like, chill with people and watch/play some StarCraft.

I tried this cola and it's pretty good. Better than Coke imo.

Not really sure what I want to do for this week. Although Dreamhack is this weekend, so probably more time at Meltdown haha.

Monday, June 3, 2013

European Research Exchange - Slow Week is Slow

So this week was pretty slow. Didn't really do that much. For the most part I was just at work working on stuff, but after work on Friday I headed out to Meltdown again. They have in house StarCraft tournaments every Friday, so I had to check it out.

I played in the tournament and won my first match, but lost the second. It was weird playing there since I used their mouse and keyboard. And man, German keyboard is weiiiiirddd. The layout on the keyboard is different than what I was used to, so I was hitting all the wrong keys.

Y and Z are switched, theres no tilda, shift key is smaller and the ctrl key is moved and renamed. (electronickeyboards)

It was super weird because Zerglings are bound to the Z key still, but it's in our Y position. So I had to rebind it to Y because that's in our Z position >_>

So that was Friday. Then on Saturday I decided to sightsee a bit more so I headed out to the Olympic Stadium. Berlin hosted the Olympics right before WWII, so I figured I'd check it out. It is a big stadium, but I don't think I was allowed inside.

Olympic rings.

They had some sort of event going on outside. I had no idea what it was though, but I discovered that they sell cheese pretzels. I didn't try one but I really want one now.

Afterwards I was gonna head home, but I saw that there was a memorial cemetery nearby, so I decided to check it out because I figured I wasn't really gonna come back to this side of the city again. So after a bit of walking, I found it.

The entrance to the cemetery.

It wasn't what I expected at all. Just seeing that entrance and I was like whoa. It looks like a park. It was a really nice area, but at the same time it was really kinda chilling. I was pretty much alone in the cemetery and it was really quiet despite being close to a major road.

Seeing all of the graves really hit home as to what World War II really meant. It's one thing to see a movie or documentary depicting the violence and deaths, and another to see a stone memorial dedicated to the dead. But when you see rows and rows of tombstones, it's really different.

There are some Canadians there too.

After visiting that place I was glad I went. Really memorable experience.

Yesterday was Sunday, and I'm starting to not like Sundays. Literally everything is closed on Sundays. I went to multiple big malls, and you could go inside, but all the shops are closed. The only things that are open are the random food stores.

I felt like a boss when I ordered my lunch in Mandarin.

Since I didn't have anything else to do, I went and watched Star Trek. It was an ok movie. Pretty cool effects and visuals. I really wanted popcorn though, but it was super expensive so I didn't get it. Regardless, it was a nice way to spend an afternoon I guess.

In general I would say the theatre I went to was better than the ones in Toronto, but that's not really that hard to beat I think.

The Sony Center where the theatre is looks really cool too.

Not sure what I want to do for next week. I think if the weather is good I might explore a bit more, but I don't have anything planned really. This city is too damn cold >_>