I’m still not quite sure whether I want to write in English or German. But I think writing in English gives me a little bit more practice at really learning that language. I mean: that’s why I’m going to New York, right?
Writing these lines I’m sitting in a Boeing 747 flying from Frankfurt, Germany to New York, USA. At the airport in Frankfurt I felt like I was a heavy criminal because of all the security checkpoints.
The dinner was pretty good. Some kind of chicken filet. Right now I’m watching «Just my luck».
Hope I’ve filled all the forms the right way so I won’t get any problems getting in the States.
Unfortunately I’m not sitting at a window so I can’t take any pictures from the flight. But I definitely have some pictures from the airports in Zurich and Frankfurt. The first flight from ZRH to FRA was too short to take some pictures because you have to turn all the electronical devices off during starting and landing, you know. But I was able to recognize the Uetliberg, Eglisau and even - guess what - Rafz ;-)
What was the first thing I saw at JFK Airport? Yeah, right: three huge walls of UBS advertising. WTF?! Anyway, I had to wait for the passport control like half an hour. Then I was looking for my driver. Fortunately it wasn’t difficult to find him. The car was a really nice Mercedes Limousine. There was even a second guy, a bodyguard, in it. It was pretty scary and strange arriving at the Bronx at night. But I’m getting used to it and the people or very nice. I’m writing these lines in a hurry, so sorry for all the mistakes. I’m gonna write later that week about my host-family.
About an hour ago I came back from school. It was a cool day. I think the teachers at Aspect are great. You have to be very concentrated to focus on school because the view from the classrooms is just amazing.
There are a lot of Asian guys, some French etc. One girl is from Switzerland, but from the French speaking part.
We had to do a lot of paperwork and a 90 minute test so they could figure out which class we do belong to. I got into the proficiency class. There are two possibilities. Either you’ve got morning classes or afternoon classes. I wanted to go to school in the morning but it wasn’t possible. But there are definitely some good things about that. I could explore the night life every day! Because I have to be at school either by about 1 or 3 pm. It takes me about 45 minutes with the subway, which is really good. By the way, the so called «Schülerkurs» is nothing against a rush hour NYC subway train.
My host-family is really nice to me. Both parents work a lot. She’s a nurse and often has to work during the night. Their daughter, S. (21), has a one month old son, Tristan, with her boyfriend D. Then there are Q. (7) and N. (5). They go to 3rd and 1st grade.
On Saturday we went to the movie theater. It’s huge! There are about ten rooms. We watched «School for Scoundrels» and «The Gridiron Gang». Both are very good movies, I think.
Today I went to the Laundromat for the first time. Thank God a nice women helped me and gave me some advice. I think that I dried my stuff too warm though. Because my underpants for example kinda look smaller. I’m gonna figure that out soon.
Now this has nothing to do with the laundry but today I also received free Mentos on the street. No, not like in Switzerland maybe two or three, a whole roll! Or an other story: have you ever bought 8 postcards for $1 Dollar?
There is a coffee machine in school but, believe me, you can’t drink that «coffee». No way! Maybe the Hot Chocolate or the Swiss Hot Chocolate (nobody knows what the difference is). I haven’t tasted those yet.
The problem is, we only have 10 minute breaks. So what do we do? In a hurry we try to reach the next elevator and go downstairs. We hope that we can cross the street immediately because on the other side there’s a Starbucks. Then, most of the time there’s a long line in front of the security check. If you’re lucky you only have to take your wallet, your keys and your cellphone out of your pockets. If not you even have to take your belt off. Sometimes we make it, sometimes we don’t. But the teacher never makes a scene.
By the way, if you have a laptop on you, you always have to turn it on. That’s really awkward.
Today I visited the Chrysler Building and the Roof Garden of the Rockefeller Center. I saw the Radio City Music Hall (MTV VMAs), a huge UBS-Building, a Lindt Store, the St. Patricks Cathedral and a Columbus Day Parade. But when I was at Grand Central Station I saw a car on a bridge which was almost falling down (picture). Then I heard incredible noise from weapons and suddenly someone screaming: «It’s just a movie!»
Update: It turned out they were shooting «I am Legend» with Will Smith in it.
Seriously, I’ve wanted to write a lot more. I’ve taken so many notes for Blog entries. Until now (11/5) I’ve just been too busy. But now I’m trying to write every idea I’ve had down.
This morning I saw a squirrel in my neighborhood. It wasn’t really afraid of me. I didn’t expect to see that kind of animals in New York but in the Central Park you see a lot of birds and rare animals too.
Riding the subway you sometimes see painters. Using just a pencil they’re painting either people in the subway or other people out of their minds. It’s amazing to watch them doing it because they are so fast. Today one artist has painted about 8 pictures in 30 minutes.
Today I’ve been to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. I should have been earlier at the pier. I had to wait over an hour to get on the ferry. Before you can enter the ferry, you have to go through a security check (why wasn’t I surprised?), which is even more annoying than at the airport.
Otherwise the day has been amazing. The weather has been beautiful. In the museum at Ellis Island I’ve visited the exhibit about famous Americans with Swiss Roots, which was very interesting. Check out the Photo page (the Photocast!) for pictures.
In Switzerland I probably would haven been uncomfortable but here it was actually kind of cool. For lunch I went to KFC. I sat on a table with two chairs. I looked around and saw a man on the next table who acted quite weird. He had something like a diary, which looked somehow familiar to me. I couldn’t figure it out. Then a police officer who obviously took a break sat to me. When the other man left, I saw his badge for a short moment and I knew that it was an undercover policeman.
I’ve visited a few museums so far, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum and the Tribute WTC Museum. Some things are interesting. In the MoMA I saw the iMac G4, which is still in use at home. Or the figures from Alberto Giacometti which are on the 100 Fr. bills.
In the Met I was interested in the ancient Greek art. I’ve seen a lot of vases!
Sometimes there were a lot of people around a picture. Most of the times I thought they looked awful. It turned out that they had been drawn by Picasso, Monet or another famous artist;-)
If you think you know what nightlife means, you have to go to Times Square at night! It’s awesome. There are so many lights, people and cars. You see every kind of fancy car! You can buy the newspapers of the following day etc.
Anyway, I went to the movies there. I saw Flags of our Fathers which I can recommend. Clint Eastwood did a great job as a director. I bought a large drink. I guess it was probably 1 liter (or more). Then I found out that you will receive a refill if you buy a large drink (only with the purchase of a large drink), so in the end I had a lot of soda and I had to use the bathroom many times.
Too bad! Today at the security check in the Empire State Building I missed a onetime opportunity. As usual I had to turn on my laptop at the check. There was quite a long waiting line. During the starting process of my PowerBook I turned the display toward the security guy, so that he could see that it’s working. Meanwhile I was checking out a beautiful woman who was about to step through the metal detector. The guy saw that my computer was working, so I turned the display around. He couldn’t see it anymore. So he asked that woman what was on the display. She said: “Some Mac stuff.” Unfortunately I didn’t have a quick response and didn’t really get why he asked her that. After she was gone he said to me something like: “Dude, I wanted to set you up with her!”
Later I realized that this wouldn’t happen so soon again, being set up with a girl using my Mac!
We went to the preseason game against the 76ers (Philadelphia) tonight. It was cool. I thought the Madison Square Garden would even be bigger. During a break I ate a footlong Hot Dog (35 cm!). I was surprised to find a baby changing station in the men’s restroom.
Anyway the Knicks won 113 -102.
During the last couple of weeks I haven’t experienced much of the American Dream. At least that’s what I thought. Now I realize that I have. When I told somebody in Switzerland about my college plans and that I maybe wanted to work in the Silicon Valley later, they didn’t say anything about it or they even asked if there are still enough jobs available as a computer scientist. It’s different here. Everybody I’ve spoken to told me that I should do that and that if you’re good, you can work wherever you want.
So much has been going on this weekend. Saturday was Nathaniel’s sixth birthday. We had a huge, very sweet birthday cake with every kind of color.
On Sunday we went on a trip to Sixflags, NJ. It was just awesome, a little bit cold though. Unfortunately the roller-coaster you can see above was closed due to the windy weather and we went there very late. But we had a great time. I really liked the Superman ride. We want to go again next spring, but this time very early.
Indeed, the roller-coasters in Europa are crap if you compare them to Sixflags!
The Halloween party organized by the school was great. Almost everybody wore a costume. It was so much fun. With my Scream mask and the included blood effect I was able to scare a few girls. A lot of teachers showed up.
And now the best part: I only paid for one beer but I had about three (I think) and a Martini. The school director (actually he’s just the assistant school director, but the school director is never here because he’s moving from Ireland to New York) paid the rest! I left the party, which was on Tuesday of course, at about 2.40 am. Thanks to the 24/7 subway I was in bed at 4 am.
New York is a great city if you like going to concerts. I wanted to go to the Killers concert but I was one day too late, it was sold out. Almost every week there is a very good band playing, like the Rolling Stones last week. I don’t even remember who else. Next Thursday (11/9) I’m going to the Death Cab for Cutie concert in the Madison Square Garden Thater. In February I’d like to go to see Justin Timberlake. Tickets went on sale last Saturday. They were still available during the week, so I’m trying to order some tomorrow.
Today I went grocery shopping with my host-family. Actually I can’t really describe it. You have to see the shop by yourself. It’s huge. And so are the products you can buy. Just one thing I want to mention: from far the bag filled with about fifteen onions looked like it would contain oranges.
After having dinner with Marie and her other friends I entered the Subway at about 12 o’clock (or later). I was always wondering how they clean 24/7 stores, for example. Now I know how they clean the subway. They basically float it with a lot of water and soap. So it could happen to you that the stairs you want to go up look more like the Niagara Falls than anything else. Except for the soap bubbles.
This Wednesday I had lunch with my relative and walked down Fifth Avenue about 20 blocks to go to school. In a specific cross street there were a lot of people just sitting there. “What the …?!” I thought. Later I found out that they already must have been waiting for the new Playstation, which is released today. I went to Best Buy to take a look at it. The graphics are quite good but not that much better than an X-Box 360’s (yet). But would you pay 500 bucks?!!
Also released this week: the Zune. By Microsoft, by the way. Its color (at least of the demo model), brown, was horrible. It’s too big and the user interface sucks. What looks like a wheel does not work like a wheel! One could say that the display is a little bit bigger than the iPod’s. True, but the resolution is the same! And you always have to turn it 90 degrees if you want to see a video.
Next week I have to check out the Wii, the new console from Nintendo, going to be released on Sunday. In the commercials the controllers look awesome, so far. I’ve already seen the actual console today. It’s very tiny. I’m looking forward to playing it.
I was just checking out the new Wii, made by Nintendo. And I have to say: this tiny console definitely rocks. I was playing a racing game. I had to control the car by moving around the controller. It was difficult but so much fun. I think I have to go to the Nintendo Center to play the Call of Duty 3 too.
In the morning I went with the students living with the same host-family to school to watch the Macy’s parade. The balloons were huge. My favorite was Scooby Doo.
In the afternoon we had dinner with our host-family, including some relatives. I think we were about 15 people. We didn’t eat a turkey but a lot of other delicious food. And by “a lot” I mean a lot! Then the guys watched football. And after football Spiderman 2.
For those of you who don’t know what Black Friday is: It’s the day when every New Yorker (and American) tries to make as many bargains as possible.
The streets were crowded. I wanted to go to the Apple Store (of course – what have you expected?!) to see if there were any special sales…
Now I’m a proud owner of a silver 2GB iPod nano, a Nike + iPod sensor, an armband for running and Nike earplugs.
We went to the movies and watched Déjà Vu. I can only recommend this movie. Denzel Washington is – of course – great. The movie is funny, contains a lot of action, love and makes you think about traveling in time and changing the future. It’s the first movie that plays in New Orleans after Katrina. Funny detail: the Apple stickers on the Hummer H1 which is used to pursue the bad guy.
Today I had to try my new running equipment out. It was awesome. I never had that much fun doing exercises. My physical condition is really bad though. There’s a reservoir in my neighborhood where I can run around. The distance is almost 3 miles, which is perfect. I received live feedback from a nice female voice whenever I wanted and I was listening to my music. Now I can plug my iPod into my computer to evaluate how I was doing. Check out nikeplus.com for more infos.
About a month ago I read an announcement on the page of Nada Surf about an upcoming concert. I hadn’t seen it before, though. The concert wasn’t part of a tour. It was organized by Cingular and others. To get tickets you had to subscribe by text message. I did that. Last week, on my birthday, I received a text message about the concert. I had to respond immediately. Luckily I was fast enough and won two tickets to my favorite band’s concert. Unfortunately the last line of the message said it was 21+. Well, I had one week to think about it. They checked for the ID’s, of course, but thanks to Photoshop & Co. I could solve that problem and got in.
The concert was awesome. Nada Surf rocked. I would have given almost anything to see them. But it was free! I felt so lucky there. They played all their best songs. The atmosphere was great. The Hiro Ballroom in the Maritime Hotel is pretty small but very nice, decorated with Asian art and Christmas stuff. Everybody was very close to the band.
Best Monday night ever! And one of my goals for New York completed.