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November 2012

The Kaiserslautern Fountain

Back in August, my mom and I went to Germany to visit some longtime family friends. You might recall our bus tour in Frankfurt. Most of our time however was spent in Otterbauch, Otterburg, and the larger town of Kaiserslautern. 

Kaiserslautern is a charming town in Rhineland and is located on the edge of the Palatinate Forest. It was the favorite hunting spot of Holy Roman Empire of Frederick I who lived in the 1100's. Kaiserslautern is located on the Lauter river, hence the name. 

Nowadays, Kaiserslautern is home to 50,000 NATO employees. I want to show you more of this charming place, but today, I want to show you one of my favorite featured of the town. This lovely fountain is a representation of all the industries through out time that made Kaiserslautern thrive throughout its very long history. Check it out!

The fountain topped by a king, actually 2.

I just love this owl with its glasses and gears, very steampunk!

The elephants are another of my favorite features. I have no clue what industry they represent, but they are charming!

I actually love these insects, and the fact that the water is coming out of their bums. 

It wouldn't be K-town without the Kaiser fish!

Mom and I joking around. This photo is to remind me to never have bangs again!

This was one of those pieces of art that you could stare at for hours and still find some new detail you hadn't seen before. This has got to be one of my favorite fountains. Do you have a favorite fountain? 

 

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Part One of School Daze in Holland Series: MBO, HBO or WO, Higher Education Levels or TV Channels?

Welcome to part one of my series of unknown length trying to explain my experiences in Higher Education in the Netherlands. This series could go on indefinitely, or, it could be 3 posts long. We will know when we get there. 

In part one, I would like to explain some of the different types of Higher Education available in the Netherlands. Today we are going to focus on MBO, HBO or Hogeschool, and WO or Universitit. These different levels are hard for foreigners to grasp mainly because they try to compare them to the Higher Education Systems of their home countries. Don't do it! 

*It is important to note that the levels start in high school, but since I haven't attended high school here, you are going to have to look elsewhere for this information.

MBO is for immediate entrance into vocational studies. The type of things available for study here are graphic design, computer languages and multimedia, teaching assistant, youth worker, and so forth. MBO get a bad rap sometimes due mainly to the different level and deregulation of the schools. I have yet to see a MBO available in English. This is strictly for the Dutch and doesn't really have an international equivalent. 

HBO is often referred to by Americans as a Community College equivalent. I don't really think you can compare the Dutch System to the American one due to the fact that International HBO students do earn a bachelor's degree. The difference mainly between HBO and WO is that HBO is more practical and hands on where are WO is more theoretical. For example, if you want to be a teacher, journalist, social worker, or manager you would go to HBO. I am currently in HBO for International Tourism Management. I wish it was more of the cake walk that people who do not understand the system make it out to be. I am more intensely busy in my HBO program then I was at either of the two US Universities I attended. HBO students are also said to be more prepared to go straight into the work market due to the many practical aspects of their studies. 

WO or Universitit is as I said before more theoretical and research intensive. This is for your scientists, future doctors and lawyer, historians and so forth, go. 

HBO students can get a HBO Masters, or they can get a WO Masters after the HBO Masters. 

I hope this cleared up some of the differences between the different levels of the Dutch System. I know it is confusing, so questions are always welcome. 

 

Image from Wikipedia

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6 Reasons Trains are Better than Cars

Audrey Hepburn

I do not miss driving. Seriously, the process to get a driver's license in this country is insane and I have no desire to have one again. I quite enjoy my daily commutes by train. Sure, it can be annoying when they are slightly late, and I hate not finding a seat, but these things are rare enough that the trade isn't even comparable. Here are 9 reasons trains are better than cars. 

1. I get more done in my daily commute. When I lived in the US, I would drive to work each way for at least 30 minutes. In that time, I could only accomplish one thing, drive. In the same amount of time on a train, I can read, study, or do my homework from the night before. I can also eat my lunch or dinner. I can plug in my computer. My commute is no longer a time suck, I am more productive. 

2. There are bathrooms on the intercity's. A little background, in the Netherlands there are sprinters which stop at every train station along the route, or there are intercity's which stop only at major stations. Intercity's have bathrooms on board. While I have never used on personally, it is comforting to know that if I needed to I could. Unlike in a car where you have to find somewhere to pull over and go. 

3. Trains are better for the environment. If there are 100 people on a train, that is 100 cars that are not on the road. The carbon footprint is less.

4. Traffic sucks. Let's face it sitting in traffic is a bummer. I would much rather be the person in the train whizzing past the cars stuck in traffic. 

5. The view is better. Even though I take the same train from Utrecht Centraal to Amsterdam Bijlmer Arena four to five days a week, I always see something new when I glance out the window. If you are going to a new city, this can be even more exciting. 

6. Trains are romantic. For me, traveling by train makes me feel more European. Like Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face. Or another equally glamorous film star of Hollywood's Golden Era. For me train travel is like being in an old movie or reading Agatha Christie. There is a pure sense of romance about being on a train.

I love trains, for me they are the best way to travel. My ultimate travel dream is to do all the great train routes of the world.

Who's coming with me?

 

Image from http://vintagelifestylemag.co.za 

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