Sep 28, 2010

@ UMaine

I’ve been at UMaine for over a month now, so I guess it’s time that I describe in more detail what the university here is all about. As I’ve mentioned before, the campus is pretty big and beautiful. I imagine it’s going to be even more beautiful as more leaves start to change. Despite the beauty of the campus, it is also very, or better yet, too quiet here most of the time. The only time when it gets a little bit busy is in between classes. For about ten minutes students are leaving classes and heading home or heading to get something to eat or some coffee, but after that it’s just very quiet again. During the weekends it is even quieter, which seemed almost impossible to me at first. However, since most students here are from Maine, they leave campus to go home on weekends.

Fogler Library

So what does a typical week look like for me? Luckily, and mainly thanks to my planning ahead, I only have classes Tuesday till Thursday. Yep, I have a four-day weekend. Which does not necessarily mean that I don’t have anything to do, because the three classes that I am taking are pretty intense and there’s always a lot to read and prepare. But I really enjoy them. The one bio class that I’m taking this semester is called “Wildlife Policy and Administration” and deals with laws and regulations concerning wildlife here in the US. Not surprisingly, I am the only European student (and probably the only student NOT from Maine) in this class, so my teacher is happy that I’ll contribute a European perspective. The other two classes I’m taking are English classes, one is “Technical Editing and Document Design” which is really interesting and actually teaches skills an English student can use in the real world out there (wherever that is…). My third class is “Literature of the Enlightenment”. It is a very small class, i.e. we’re only ten students and we have to read loads (novels, short stories, essays, and poems) but I really enjoy it.

Not MY feet!
Okay, so I promised to talk about my weekly schedule here. Usually I go to the library at least every other day and spend a couple of hours there reading, writing essays, doing assignments, and writing for my blog. My bio classes are early in the morning so I am also done early and I try to continue studying right after. I have one evening class which is a little exhausting but thanks to my roommate dinner is usually ready when I get back home.

Pumpkin enchiladas - yum!
Sunday breakfast - pancakes
I am living in a student dorm for graduate students because that was simply the easiest way to do it and arrange it from home. Even though my room could be way nicer, I am getting along really well with my French roommate so that makes up for it. And luckily, as graduate students, I have access to a kitchen. Honestly, without that I would either starve here or gain about 100 pounds. But more on the food issue some other time.

My dorm

Sep 21, 2010

Out of sight?

Things have been really hectic and crazy busy ever since I arrived at UMaine on the evening of August 24. Sorry for the false promise about frequent updates. But I’ll TRY to improve.

The first couple of days at UMaine (in Orono) were filled with orientation for international students. Fun. No, seriously, partly it was interesting and helpful, but about half of it was redundant and I could have spent that time sleeping in. One advantage of all those forced mixers (starting with a mixer upon arrival) was that I got to meet all new international students at once. And since we all didn’t know anybody here, and especially us Europeans felt an instant connection, we decided to all become friends and hang out for the rest of the year.

Bear with me if this post does not follow a chronological order, but I am just trying to put as much information in it as possible and as I am writing I remember things or stumble upon things that I would like to share.

The river

Favorite place in Orono: Pat’s Pizza. I discovered this jewel on my second night here when a group of international students headed there to get dinner (we were too late for the cafeteria). I had a veggie burger which was quite alright but at later occasions I should discover that they had, in fact, delicious pizza and calzones. Another advantage is that underage people are allowed to go there, which is not necessarily the case in every establishment here. And they have good, cheap beer, and the staff knows me and some friends by now.

At Pat's Pizza
Enjoying calzones

Apart from Pat’s Pizza, there is not much going on in Orono, which is the town bordering on UMaine. There’s a couple of pubs and restaurants but nothing major. However, I am happy that I always have the possibility to go to Orono when I’m sick of campus. 

The campus is gorgeous and huge. Luckily I got a free bike about a week ago so it’s much faster to go to the other end of campus, where for example the rec center (the university gym) is located. One thing that I am really looking forward to, and it has already begun, is the changing of the leaves. The first trees already glow in bright red and yellow but in about two weeks time it is going to be magnificent.

The Black Bear - UMaine Logo

Sep 6, 2010

First stop in Maine: Portland

After a couple of days in Boston, I was very excited to go to Portland and finally see Maine. And I wasn’t disappointed. I took a Greyhound bus from Boston and now I know why people avoid them. They tend to be late. Even though I was tired when I arrived in Portland, I ended up going out anyway.

My first real day in Portland started with delicious blueberry pancakes. I spent the day walking around with friends and discovering Portland. The weather was beautiful and I really enjoyed myself. Portland has many small and very unique restaurants and shops which I liked a lot. In the afternoon I had an amazing cake milkshake and I tried fried pickles. They weren’t too bad but they are simply not the kind of food that I enjoy. For me, as an Austrian, you just don’t fry pickles. But I don’t mind trying new things. Well, as long as they are vegetarian anyway.

Cake milkshake and fried pickles

Part two of my tour through Portland started in the evening. At first I shared a delicious pizza (I fear that I am going to use “delicious” until it becomes obsolete in this blog post) and a bottle of really nice red wine with Andrew. Thanks Travis for that pizza! Then we headed to a bar overlooking the city where we had Martinis. It was beautiful. Next we went to a couple of bars/pubs and I had a beer that tasted like pumpkin. Interesting.

The next morning I was pretty tired from going out the two previous nights. However, my tour of Portland wasn’t over yet. Andrew took me to get some grilled breakfast sandwich (one more thing I have never had before in my life) and then we went to Portland’s most photographed lighthouse. Unfortunately it was pouring and we got soaking wet but it was still gorgeous. I was supposed to take the bus to Bangor at around noon but by the time I got to the bus station it was full so I got a free ride on the next one four hours later. So we went back home and watched the movie State 51 (at least I think that’s what it was called) which was the perfect movie for a lazy afternoon.

At 4 pm I was finally on my bus to Bangor and UMaine. This time I took a Concord bus. They are on time, so much nicer, you can watch a movie, and you get free water and snacks. More on my first week at UMaine will follow soon.

PS: I am really tired at the moment so excuse this slightly uncohesive blog post.