Post-GAC Website Fame

Posted on October 23rd, 2011 by

The man whose website made me famous

In my four years at Gustavus, I somehow managed to not get Gustie of the Week, but look at me now world. Front page of the GAC website (so this is what being a Swedish ambassador feels like). This will definitely be making the résumé. With my time in the spotlight now done, I have a new appreciation for what life post-Harry Potter must be like for J.K. Rowling (we basically have the same readership). Unlike J.K. though, I’ve still got more stories to tell.

I started my week by attending an aerobic kickboxing class with a couple girls from school. I’ve been running and such since coming to Germany, so I didn’t expect this to be anything too difficult. Oh Lord was I wrong. I walk in and there’s a huge dude with a tight lime green polo that says “personal trainer” across the back. To top it off, he even had the classic wrap-around microphone/headset deal that stays perfectly still even during intense workouts. As we start, I get flashbacks of taking aerobic dance at GAC, which is really just a lot of “It’s Raining Men” and my all-time favorite move, “the scoop” (the footwork on that one still baffles me). I can’t help but start laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. But slowly that smile fades as we begin the punching and kicking session. Sometimes the succession of moves is fairly intricate, but he never feels the need to demonstrate it more than once or twice. Even so, these Germans get it down immediately, and I’m forced (forced may be a bit strong of a word) to watch/stare at the girl in front of me do it. After a nonstop half hour, I’m definitely getting tired, but I’m thinking we’ve got to be cooling down and calling it quits sometime in the near future. Wrong. After an hour, we’ve had one water break (even that was only a minute long) and this guy is showing no signs of slowing his role… every time we’re doing an exercise he counts up in English until the last set when he counts backwards in German (I’ve never wished so hard in my life for German to be yelled at me). I have no idea how some of these people are still standing. Finally after an hour and a half, we’re done. I will never make fun of aerobics again.

Like this guy but with a headset

The next day, my soreness was quite manageable outside of my butt. Apparently in daily life, my backside doesn’t get the same level of use as when you’re trying to kick the head off of an imaginary adversary. But to be fair, it wasn’t as bad as the time I tried to keep up in a workout with Carl Stenoien (for those of you who don’t know, he was one of my wonderful roommates and a stud decathlete). The day after, my calves couldn’t even support my weight (which is not particularly substantial mind you).I still remember jumping out of my loft in the morning and upon impact, crumpling into a heap on the floor. Not ideal. But luckily, this time it was just a sore gluteus maximus.

The next day was another one of those reminders of just how real life can be. Quite a few of my classmates had worked with Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) before coming to the program, so the news that two MSF workers were kidnapped in Kenya was a bit of a shock. It became all the more real when they released the pictures of the two abducted ladies. One was the former supervisor of one of my classmates… he said he had even gotten a message from her not a week before. Unbelievable.

In class we have been exploring various health systems across the world. My group got to delve into the Cuban system, which was eye-opening. Cuba isn’t exactly an economic powerhouse, but their healthcare is unbelievable. They’ve got a higher life expectancy than the States and the amount of community support that is built into the system is incredible. I find it especially interesting, because I feel like some of their tactics can be implemented back home to help marginalized groups such as Native Americans. Masters thesis possibly?

This past Thursday, I started playing basketball. On the way in, I’m a bit lost and luckily run into a guy carrying a b-ball named Sebastian (he’s a German who studied at Emory in Georgia for two years; Sebastian was too hard for them to say, so they called him sea bass. The South: Always giving America a good name). We band together to locate the facility and find that it’s actually an elementary school… I enter the gym, I see about twenty or so ten year old boys doing circuit training. I was still loving life and playing on swings at that age. Deutschland, starting ‘em young. Before I can even finish taking in the scene, I get yelled at by the trainer/coach/referee guy for walking on the court in my street shoes. I then explain that these are the shoes I will be playing in. He wasn’t impressed. But really though, my running shoes can’t grace the floor of this gym that’s maybe one small step up from my parent’s old unfinished basement? This has got to be the only building that didn’t get bombed in the war. Anyway, after shooting a bit, we break into teams and start scrimmaging. It was a great to play again, and it really was an awesome way to get to know people. Afterward, Sebastian and I talked on our journey back home and decided to try and meet up the following day. Yay, a German friend who isn’t a woman.

An apple a day

Friday night I met up with Sebastian and a couple of his friends. We went to this party/dance deal that had a DJ and such. One thing I found awesome was that there was a foosball table there. I like to think I’ve got some foosball game, but after watching those kids, I realized that I am a mere peasant in the foosball hierarchy. The whole night was a lot of fun, and it felt good to speak German essentially the entire time. Some good news too. There’s a chance that Sebastian’s friends have a spot in their apartment opening up in January. This would be fantastic seeing as they’re awesome and a huge step up from the crazies that I’ve been visiting.

The World Health Summit started today here in Berlin. My university, Charité, is the host, so we got in for free. If not, it would’ve cost a thousand euros for me to get in (that is sheer and utter insanity). The welcome address was in this beautiful semicircle auditorium. It felt like being in the UN with the all the chairs in UN blue (that has to be a Crayola color) which were ergonomically shaped to force you to sit up perfectly straight. Not mention that each one had its own microphone. I felt so important sitting there. After that, I went to a couple talks with some crazy impressive people. The panel of one of the them included the senior editor of The Lancet (arguably the world’s foremost medical journal) and the Health Director of UNICEF (maybe you’ve heard of it). Pretty legit. Although it does make you feel a bit unaccomplished. Anyway, we’ve got two more days of this, so hopefully it keeps being awesome.

Hugs and hand pounds,


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