Chestnuts, Presentation, and Stress

October 18

A few weeks back in late September, I started to notice chestnuts (Kastanien/Maronen) on the ground around the city. I came across a huge pile on the grass and sidewalk near the University while I was walking around.

“I wonder if someone will clean this up?” I wondered. And my question was answered when the chestnuts were already gone the next time I walked around, and when roasted chestnut (Heiße Maroni) stands started to appear in a few locations in the city. I learned that these fallen chestnuts are harvested through the fall, and people can pick them up if they are on public grounds.

The stands weren’t opened today, so I didn’t get to try the roasted chestnuts just yet, but I eventually did later in the week. They remind me of baked yams and taro!

6 pieces (Stück) for 1 EUR…I got an extra! A pleasant and welcoming scent, and great for keeping your hands warm!

October 19

Uh oh, it looks like there is nothing to highlight for this day!

October 20

What do I want to do when I grow up? Sure, I have narrowed my possible careers, but is there a definite dream job that I want to do? For my presentation in International Human Rights, I focused on Cambodia because I am part Cambodian and have done previous environmental research for another class. I knew that Cambodia had a lot of human rights violations that needs to be solved, but I ended up stressing myself during the research. I went on a tangent with a few of my online friends, and seeing all these violations…it breaks my heart, and it’s scary.

Our presentations were a mix of online and in-person. I had signed up for the in-person presentation, and that’s today. I haven’t presented in-person since the pandemic, and every passing minute as I waited for my turn, it felt like there was a painful lodge in my throat, and it kept getting drier. It’s stage fright, except I’m still waiting.

It’s my turn now. It’ll be alright! If I stumble over my words, try again. Take a few seconds to think if I forget what I was going to say! Be loud and clear. I am presenting, and I am informing.

“Hi, my name is Brenda Vong, and my research topic is Human Rights Violations in Cambodia, specifically focusing on violations of speech and punishment. Now, for some quick background…”

Then it was over. I wanted to talk more, but our presentation needed to stay around 10 minutes. For the duration of the presentation, I improvised a lot since on multiple occasion I blanked out and felt overwhelmed. I need to rest and take some medicine once I return home.

The presentation room

The stairs located at the west part of the University.

October 21

It has been about 8 weeks since I arrived in Germany, and surprisingly, I’m still waiting to get my residence permit! I hope that comes in soon, I don’t want to be living in Germany illegally (max 90 days).

I have also been keeping track of my expenses from the Gilman scholarship. Most of my funding has been towards student accommodation, health insurance, transportation, meals, and technical expenses. A smaller portion goes towards my program tuition and deposit fees since they were paid for before the program started, and postal fees that are required for my legal documents. Letters are still prominent in Germany, and according to a friend, you can get responses faster!

However, it has come to my attention that I have been hesitant about my budget, or maybe that hasn’t changed since I have the same spending matters as in the U.S.. Buy what you need, not what you want, and under the impression of “what if I don’t have enough” for example, paying for tuition and student loans once I graduate. I have been mostly studying, working from my past and now current internship, and on top of that, the broadcasting fee and waiting for my residence permit! It’s busy and tiring, but maybe that is why I feel stress by the end of the week.

October 22

A day of grocery shopping! I often use Thursday, Friday, or Saturday as days to go grocery shopping. It’s certainly getting colder and darker outside, and I need some winter clothes and shoes! The difficult part about shopping for clothes is that it always comes down to three problems. Either it’s too expensive, it’s too big even at an extra small size, or I tell myself, “No, I don’t need it. I think? If it gets worse, I’ll get it.” Rinse and repeat. I end up buying nothing and only bring back groceries!

A Message from the Office of Global Engagement:

The safety and security of Drexel students is a priority for the University. As part of the efforts to support Drexel students that are studying abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Global Engagement has conducted a rigorous review of programming and provided additional support to participating students with customized pre-departure orientations and regular check-ins during the required self-isolation period and the term.

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