Monday, September 7, 2009


In the last few days I’ve come to realize some things about myself. Some that were not so much of a surprise, but more of a confirmation that yes, I am a certain way.


Whenever I take the Meyers Briggs Type Indicator test I fluctuate between an Extrovert and an Introvert. I ride a fine line between the two. I’ve blogged before about being able to see my extroverted qualities about needing to process out loud in order to think through certain subjects. Many of you have been my sounding board for such this purpose. Today however, I realized that the introverted side of me is coming out. I am definitely overwhelmed by the scale of Berlin. It is huge! The train station that I arrived in is one of the largest in the world and Berlin has 4 or 5 stations that are all connected by the S-Bahn system.

In order to get to my hostel I had to travel to a different train station and then take the U-Bahn and then walk 7 or 8 blocks, and looking on a map I am still in the city center of Berlin. What I want to do is crawl into my bed at home and pull the covers over my eyes. It’s just all so overwhelming! I had to take a deep breath a few times in order to keep myself together. I also reminded myself that there was no time schedule to keep to, only my own. That helps relieve a lot of pressure and is something I keep trying to remind myself of.

Basically, I am reminded here that I need my alone time and can’t handle the sensory overload – I’m sure by the end of the week I’ll be fine with everything though – but I also need to have time with the people I love. I’ve been able to talk to my parents a lot since I’ve been gone and I’ve been able to talk to Eddie and other close friends. It’s been great to be able to process things and get updates. Just this afternoon I was having a moment of frustration and stress. At the very moment when I was telling myself I needed to walk away Eddie called and the timing was perfect. He was able to listen to me process what was going on and he helped me come up with a solution (or at least a next step) since I wasn’t thinking straight. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of spending time with loved ones and good friends.


I am just like one of Pavlov’s dogs. No, I don’t salivate whenever a bell rings, but I have been conditioned to associate certain noises and sights with specific ideas and thoughts. I think that I have watched too many movies about World War II and the Holocaust. I have discovered that whenever a German police siren (and maybe all European sirens, but I’m not sure yet as I’ve only heard the German one) goes off my mind instantly thinks about the Gestapo and/or the Nazis. I know perfectly well that the Nazi system no longer has any authority, but I can’t help it! My dog-like brain has been conditioned to associate that noise with that period of time. It’s embarrassing to admit, but sadly true.


I refuse to go to Starbucks while I’m in Europe. Absolutely refuse. I was just thinking yesterday that I was actually kind of surprised that I had not seen any yet and then suddenly I saw 5 in a 4 block radius. The map I have of Berlin identifies where all of the stores are in the city. That and McDonalds, Subway, and Dunkin Donuts. I will not purchase anything from those stores unless I am in absolute need and am desperate for nutrition.


It takes me a long time to grocery shop but I really enjoy the process of finding what I need and figuring out the best deal. I hate feeling like I am holding others up in their process, but I enjoy my ability to be slow and methodic. I like to think things through and make a decision about what it is that I need/want. I don’t like to be rushed. When I’m grocery shopping I’m alone with my thoughts and I feel in control. I like knowing that I’m getting the best deal and am choosing what I am going to consume. It’s a powerful and very ‘adult’ feeling that I get. I like it. That probably says something about me psychologically, but I’ll let you psychology majors figure out what is wrong with me and let me know. Today I went to the store to buy food for the time I am in Berlin. I spent 10,79 Euros – probably about $16 or $17 and I got a whole loaf of bread, some Muenster Cheese (my fingers still smell like it), a 1 liter bottle of beer (German beer #2), a bag of carrots, a bag of apples, a container of nectarines, a bag of chips, a large chocolate bar, yogurt, granola, and milk. Considering that if I’d opted to have breakfast each morning at the hostel it would have cost me more than what I spent on all that food, I think it’s a pretty darn good deal.

Don’t worry though, I still will eat out on occasion and get the experience of Germany. Goodness, you people worry too much. ;)

I’m afraid of Russians and Germans:

Ok, I’m not really afraid of them, but again this goes back to my conditioning, everything I’ve ever seen or known about these two countries has been very intimidating and harsh. I’m not a fan of intimidating and harsh. I don’t want to be grabbed off the street and pulled into some dark alley, thrown into a van, and taken to a strange prision where my identity is wiped away never to be heard from again. I KNOW this is not going to happen to me, but I just don’t like dealing with authority. I think this is the root of my fear of the military and even police. Yes, if you didn’t know, I have an irrational fear. I know, there is something wrong with me.

Anyway, I found out today that there is another “bump in the road” so to speak with my Russian visa. Last week (or maybe the week before) I requested a letter, through a US agency, that would allow for me to visit Elizabeth in Russia. I got the word that the letter had gone through and I have a scanned copy of it online/in my e-mail. The problem is that the Russian consulate requires an original document when applying. So, I asked the US agency to send me the letter in Berlin where I would pick it up at a post office. I discovered today that the post office I directed them to send it to does not exist. Apparently in my haste I did not check the date of the website where I was getting my information from. The site is 3 years old and in a more current website I found information indicating that the post office I had directed the mail to go to did not exist. I have e-mailed the US agency to see if I can get another letter sent to me at a correct address in Berlin (or another city) but I also talked with Eddie and he suggested that I find a post office here and see if they can track the letter. Maybe it is elsewhere in the city and I can pick it up. We’ll see. Say a little prayer for me that it’ll work out. I’d very much like to visit Elizabeth.

My hostel here in Berlin is pretty typical I guess. It’s very cheap, so I’m a fan of that and I’m quite glad to be able to use the fridge and kitchen area. I even have a stove available to me. I may have to cook some sausage tomorrow night. The internet is spotty. For some reason my computer will pick up the network but doesn’t want to connect. I had trouble with it at the last place I was staying too. I hope my little netbook investment isn’t beginning to give out on me. I’ve still got 3 ½ months to go! Hopefully I can make it work.

I have a small callous/blister developing on one of my toes – the fourth toe, would it be the ring toe like your ring finger? I don’t know. Anyway, it’s sore. Hopefully it’s better tomorrow – I have a lot of walking to do! I may go to bed early tonight – I’m getting tired already and it’s only 8:30pm. I guess a day of traveling, some stress, and a beer will do that to you. Maybe it’ll be good for my toe to rest. Haha. Well, here’s to tomorrow – good weather, good news, and good luck.


gail said...

I am glad you are writing and processing! I am glad that Eddie called at the right time :)
I would like to send as much encouragement as possible!!!!! Weird how we have responses that come out of us that surprise us - the sirens and such. Just remember the majority of people are GOOD, just a few bad apples - but that is what the stories are all written about - otherwise they would be sweet boring stories! We want you to have an exciting sweet adventure - and you shall by golly! I wish I could give you a hug though! Like you said, don't be in a rush, take it moment by moment - be aware, be safe, and ENJOY what God has in store for you!!! Love and hugs, mom

Elizabeth Joy said...

I'm afraid of Russians too...

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