I knew this trip was going to come to an end sooner than later, but somehow it still shocks me when I realize that I’ve spent three months in a different country and now I’m about to set foot on a plane that will take me far away from what I just adjusted to. Time goes by fast when you’re having fun! Although this must have been the rainiest summer Germany had experienced in a long time, those rare days of sunshine became that much more rewarding. Even on stormy days, I found other things to do than to travel from city to city or to go to the beach on the weekends. The best example would be this past week. Every day someone would say…”yup today the weather sucks, but have you heard about tomorrow? Tomorrow it’s supposed to be much better!”. In our case up North, those rumors never turned into reality. Most of the time, the weather was much worse on the days that followed.
I decided to make good use of the rain and storm—I took up Scuba diving. As a diver, it could be pouring in streams up above the surface, but deep in the ocean, you don’t notice a thing. When you have a clear view of the life at the bottom, all you really notice is the peace and silence of the ocean. It’s exhilarating to me! Monday was my first day of lessons, and since I’m a pretty quick learner and could demonstrate all the skills perfectly not just in theory, but in action in the water, I was able to become a certified SCUBA diver in a week. It was definitely a week I’m glad I spent in the water rather than on land. We had rain every single day, and on Thursday it stormed so badly, ships that were running into our harbor announced their arrival for the next days because they couldn’t fight the strong winds.
From August 11th until the 14th, another big event hit the port city of Rostock. It was the 21st anniversary of “Hanse Sail”. Many native Rostockers mark these days in their calendar because they hold high promises of amusement, fun, and action in the water, on land, and in the air. The Baltic Sea is known as the “Ocean of the traditional sailboats”. As the name proclaims, flocks of these beautiful sailboats travel to and from the harbor in Rostock and Warnemünde…especially during the Hanse Sail. On the day leading up to this event, a sailing regatta travels from the Danish Nysted to Warnemünde. Some sailboats dock in the city just for show, but others will even give the curious tourist or natives a ride for the afternoon. Many famous traditional sailboats find their way to Rostock during this week. For example, the 100 year old PASSAT (Travemünde) and the GORCH FOCK I (Stralsund)—theGORCH FORK (1958) is the schooling ship of the German Marine. Other big ships that were expected to come for the Hanse Sail, were the BOUNTY (1961, from the USA), the GREIF, and the STAD AMSTERDAM (2000).
It was fascinating to see the mass of people at the docks. I tried to keep my distance from the crowd as much as possible, because it was overwhelming how many people blocked the streets. If you can believe it, you basically were steered along the dock by an invisible force, a force so great, you didn’t have any control over the direction you were about to walk. Instead of putting up with unwanted pushing and shoving, I stayed on the safe side of Hohe Düne. There were still all sorts of things to see and do on this side. From the beach I saw the German Marine helicopters send off their parachutes, I saw most of the ships enter and exit the harbor, tried some new “organic ice cream”, had a peaceful tea-time at the Yachthafen Residenz Hohe Düne, I delivered my “thank you” cake to the divers at the Dive Center Hohe Düne, and finished reading a German novel. What else could I have wished for?!
Nevertheless, this trip has come to an end. Thursday is the day I must say goodbye to my German friends, co-workers, temporary basketball teammates and coaches, family, and the seals. This summer was definitely an adventure of a lifetime. I want to thank the DAAD for enabling this opportunity and for creating this blog so we could all tell our stories to the world. I learned a lot about how research is conducted in the marine sciences on board the “Lichtenberg” Research Institute and now have more of an idea of what to expect from upcoming masters and PhD research. Even the trip to Heidelberg taught me that there is such a wide spectrum of how and where research can be conducted these days. I’ve had the chance to reconnect with my homeland, my heritage, and unlike what I had expected; I could definitely imagine living in Germany again.
Vielen Dank für das Abenteuer meines Lebens. Auf Wiedersehen!