Friday, May 31, 2013

München und Köln

29 May 2013
I climbed up a tower in the center of Munich with my cousin's partner which had a great view. We then went to my aunt's house for dinner and talked.

30 May 2013
I went to the Deutsches Museum with my cousin's partner in the morning. It is a large science museum with some really interesting exhibits for all ages. We then went to my aunt's house where we spent a few hours. We talked about family and I told her how big our American family is. We had dinner and it was a good evening. After that we went home and I packed for my trip to Köln. I realized how much there is to do in Germany, and all of Europe. There is so much to do over here that I want to see and it is so diverse, it is a little overwhelming. It would be easier to spend more time with family if there fewer other attractions and it would be easier to see everything else if I didn't have so much family here.

31 May 2013
Today I went to the train station around 9:00 with my cousin's partner after dropping my cousin off at my aunt's house. The train system in Munich is extremely efficient and useful. If I lived in Munich I wouldn't bother getting a car until I had children. I met a nice man (about 32) and we talked about all sorts of things. He was a Political Science/Economics major like what I am looking at and we compared the systems of Germany and the United States. One thing I am a little surprised by is that the ICE train doesn't go full speed because the tracks are not maintained well enough for 300 km/h which they are designed for, except in a few areas. I hope that in the next 5 years the German government will seriously look at improving the tracks so that trains can go at the speed they should be going. I am a little worried that the creation of freeways will replace the great train system here in Europe, but since they are purchasing more trains along with building more motorways I think this is fortunately unlikely. It is a very smooth ride and very comfortable. On my way back on Monday I am going to go on the slower trains which will probably be similar to the AMTRAK trains back home. The German countryside is very beautiful, and I am enjoying everything about this trip. Mainz looks like a very beautiful city that I would like to explore someday. When we were between Mainz und Köln a man who is probably my age came through in a straw hat singing for people and selling postcards for 2 Euros each. Who says Germans have no sense of humor?

I arrived in Köln a few minutes late and met my friend, her boyfriend, and two of their friends at the train station. We went up into the Köln cathedral which is magnificent, the second largest cathedral in the world! We climbed to the top of a spire and looked out at Köln which is a great city. We took the train to where my friend lives with her boyfriend and then went to a restaurant in Frechen where we had some food. Northern German food and standard "American" food is almost identical. We came back home and talked about whether my friend and her boyfriend should move to the United States. I love my country, but given how they have inexpensive health care and education here, made sure they were aware of some changes they are not prepared for that Germany has set up. Would I ever say to a friend to move to the United States? If the person is European, probably not given the difference in distribution of wealth between Europe and the United States and how health care is statistically speaking of the same quality in the US but a lot more expensive, which when I explained the types of costs associated with health care at home they were shocked. When I explained how my university will cost $8000 for tuition alone and they pay €3600 a year for the same thing here, they need to keep it in comparison that raising a family might be easier in Germany. Of course this is comparing apples and oranges for the same career and one has to make careful planning to maintain his/her standard of living in a new country with a different set of rules. I hope in the future I won't have to be such a spoil sport, given how I have a good bit hanging on the fate of the USA. I shared some statistics with her boyfriend on distribution of wealth in relation to income so they can decide whether it will work for them and their particular situation. Only time will tell. It is really good to see her again.

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