Music I’m Listening to

My music tastes are all over the place, but here are a few of the artists I’ve been obsessed with this year, in no particular order.

  1. Hippo Campus: This is an indie band from Minnesota whose music I’d describe as mellow and easygoing. I saw them live in November and they were amazing. Their songs are about growing up, friendship, and love. I really appreciate the fact that they can actually sing and are all highly skilled musicians, who also use their platform to advocate for women’s rights. Favorite songs: Simple Season, South, Buttercup.
  2. Noname: She’s a severely underrated rapper from Chicago whose lyrics are original and poetic. Favorite songs: Shadow Man, Reality Check, anything she’s done with Chance the Rapper.
  3. Early Eyes: Another band out of Minnesota with a very laid-back but quirky sound. Favorite songs: Take You, Minutes.
  4. Remo Drive: Another band from MN (why are there so many talented bands out there?) that I saw live when they opened for Hippo Campus on tour. They’re a self-described emo band. Favorite songs: Yer Killin’ Me, Name Brand.
  5. The Aces: They’re an all female indie pop band from Utah. Favorite songs: Physical, Stuck.
  6. SXTN: A German female rap duo with upbeat party music. Favorite songs: Die F*tzen sind wieder da, Er will sex.
  7. Willow Smith: She’s everything, and needs no introduction. If you haven’t heard any of her latest music, please open a new tab, go to http://www.youtube.com, type her name, and listen to every song she’s posted. Favorite songs: Wait a Minute!, Your Love, November 9.
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My Course Load This Semester

I’ve been asked quite a few times now what kind of courses I’m taking, but it’s also hard to describe in just a few words without confusing people. I thought I’d use this post to go into a little further detail about those classes and what we actually do in them.

1.) System Dynamics: This class is a little hard to explain, but we essentially analyze how different systems (mechanical, electrical, thermal, hydraulic systems, etc) of a device work together using concepts from some of the pre-requisite math classes (Differential Equations) and a course called Numerical Methods using MATLAB (a computer program). It’s not as difficult as it sounds, as long as you understand the math behind it.

2.) Applied Thermodynamics: This course is the second part to the Thermodynamics class I took a few semester ago. We learn about gaseous mixtures, psychrometrics, combustion, power cycles, refrigeration cycles, etc. It’s hard, but I did manage to get a perfect score on our last test on Combustion!

3.) Electronic Circuit Analysis: This is a class about electrical circuits for non-Electrical Engineering students. We have to take it because many mechanical systems also have a electrical component to them. Difficulty level: 5000

4.) Intro to Applied Math: We learn about Fourier series, partial differential equations, complex variables, Taylor and Laurent series and residue theory. It’s not as hard as it sounds, you just have to remember the formulas and some calculus concepts.

 

5.) Thermal-Fluid Systems Lab: This is a lab that involves experiments relating to fluid dynamics, thermodynamics, and heat transfer. It’s an 8am lab, so it’s awful. Not hard, but still awful. We had to do a group project as our final exam, in which we had to design, build and test a supersonic converging-diverging nozzle. It was awful and group projects are the worst such an interesting experience. We ordered the wrong sized parts and didn’t even get them until the week before Thanksgiving, and then decided to try and 3D print the nozzle instead of using our aluminum block in an effort to save time. The people who printed our nozzle first printed something that was about 4 in long, instead of nine. The next time, they printed the wrong design and the bottom wasn’t flat (it looked like a boat). We decided to give up on that plan and go back to our original plan, but it was a very long process and the project was not finished until late the night before our 8AM presentation.

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Using the milling machine to cut the nozzle

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Top view of our nozzle

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Bottom view of our nozzle

5.) World Literature I: We read literature from ancient times to about 1600. This is obviously the easiest class on my schedule, but it has also been disappointing. There’s not a whole lot of meaningful class discussions, partly because the majority of the class doesn’t do the reading or understand what we’ve read. There’s about three or four of us that contribute to these “discussions.” The professor makes powerpoints that basically give you everything you need to pass the test, and yet students still complain that the class is “hard.” Fortunately, this is the last non-technical elective that I have to take.

These are some of the courses that one would take as a junior Mechanical Engineering student at my university. I’ve already registered for my courses for next semester, and I’ll share those in the spring. By the time anyone else sees this post, I’ll be starting my exams, so wish me luck!

Imani

What I’ve Been Reading

“I would love to join a book club with you, but you read more than you breathe so idk if I can keep up.” – a very good friend of mine, and fellow avid reader, Shanel. I eat books for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and it’s no secret. Reading keeps me somewhat sane in a world where it’s all too easy to fall apart. With my current schedule, I haven’t been able to read nearly as much as I’d like to, but I make time for the things I love. With that being said, I thought I’d share what kind of books I’ve been reading this year. It’s a lot of science fiction, as well as some various types of nonfiction.

I joined a science fiction book club here in Greensboro back in August. I found the group on Facebook and showed up to the local indie bookstore to discuss the book they had chosen: Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer. I was the only student there amongst older professors, but it was still a great discussion. Because of them, I’ve been reading some really interesting sci-fi books, such as Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, The Salt Line by local Greensboro author Holly Goddard Jones. I’ve missed the last two meetings because of school and work, but they’ve also read Mercury Falls by Robert Froese. Below you can see the books I’ve finished reading in 2017 so far, and then what I am currently reading now.

If I had to choose, I’d say my all time favorite book I’ve read this year would have to be Too Like the Lightning. I read one novel in German (Hirschluder), a feat that I’m very proud of. If you’re interested, you can also keep up with what I’m reading or planning to read on Goodreads. I’m pretty good about keeping it updated. Most of my book recommendations come from my amazing cousin Freya, the book plug.

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/58507299-imani-sinclair

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What I’ve read so far in 2017

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What I’m reading now

If you have any books that you think I’d enjoy, please share in the comments. These are some of the books on my amazon wish list if anyone is feeling extra generous this holiday season: http://a.co/d48FeRy

I’m back!?

Hi there!

I’m sure you thought you’d seen the last of me, but I’m back with some general life updates and a half-hearted promise to blog on a more regular basis. Fall semester has not been a walk in the park, but there have been a few good moments that I’ll share with you all.

A band I absolutely love has been on tour this fall and I went to see them in Athens, GA. I left school on Monday afternoon and drove home to Atlanta, then I drove to Athens the next evening for the concert. After the concert (and after meeting half of the band) I got in my car and drove all the way back to Greensboro, North Carolina, because I had a circuits test at noon. The band is called Hippo Campus, and they’re amazing live. I didn’t know anyone else going to the concert, so I went alone (story of my life). After the show, a group of fans (including me) waited in the parking lot to meet the guys and get pictures. I met another black girl that was there by herself and we decided that’d we meet the band together so we could take each others pictures. When the tour bus door opened, we ran  walked at a reasonable pace to meet them. AND THEY WERE SO NICE AND AMAZING. We talked to Nathan (guitar) for around 7-10 minutes about life on tour, what he feels like he’s missing out on being on tour, and life in general. This was honestly the highlight of my month year. I was first introduced to their music at a very stressful time in my life, so being able to meet them meant a lot to me. I plan on meeting them again in January when I see them in L.A, this time with other amazing people that I’ve gotten to know through this band. As for the girl I met in the parking lot, we exchanged Snapchats and have stayed in touch.

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Nathan and I

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Zach

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Nathan

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The venue (40 Watt Club) after the show

The next cool thing™️ that happened this month is that I met a professor in the English department here at A&T who is from Germany. Her research is on African American and Afro-German literature and how they are related. I met her at a movie presentation related to the “Homestory Deutschland: Black Biographies in Historical and in Present Times” exhibit that has been on display in our university gallery. The exhibit showcases Black Germans and their accomplishments. We spoke in German and English and she invited me to view the exhibit with her so she could hear my thoughts as a black student who has studied abroad in Germany. She walked me through each display, as well as showed me some other resources about Afro-Germany to explore on my own. I think we spent a little over two hours talking that day. I haven’t had a chance to practice speaking German much since I got back in August, so it was great to be able to switch back and forth between languages. I’m happy to report that I haven’t completely forgotten everything.Screen Shot 2017-11-22 at 11.44.20 AM

On a more practical note, I spent the beginning of the semester applying for countless part-time jobs, and so far I have been hired at not one, but two! I worked as a seasonal associate at a Halloween store for the month of October, and I actually loved it? It was usually really busy, but we had so much fun as a team. It was cool to walk around and help people with their costume ideas, or help people try on costumes and brainstorm together on cool accessory options. Unfortunately, the store is only seasonal, and closed a few days after the holiday. Now I’m a part-time associate at a department store near my house. I’ll be working my first Thanksgiving and Black Friday, so pray for me! I’ll also be working during the Christmas season, so I won’t be visiting Guyana like I usually do in December, but I do have some adventures planned for 2018, so stay tuned.

I will be posting again in the next few days (it’s already written and scheduled to post, I swear!) about what I’ve been reading this year, so you can expect to see that by Saturday. I also have a few drafts of blog posts I wrote in Germany that I may or may not post. They’re basically collections of random thoughts and experiences I had out there.

Until next time,

Imani

Reverse Culture Shock

I’ve been back in the U.S. for one month and two days now and I’ve had several adjustments to make. As much as I longed to be back in the South, there were many things that I found myself complaining about when I returned.

  1. Water: When I landed in the U.S., the first thing I did was fill up my water bottle from the water fountain in the airport. After my first sip, I almost spit it out. The water tastes like chlorine. I’d heard Europeans make comments about it before, but I thought they were exaggerating. It’s true though, and I miss the German tap water. Also, I’m not comfortable drinking water straight from the tap here like I was in Germany.
  2. Public Transportation: Issa joke. I have to drive everywhere and I hate it. There are no trains (besides Amtrak) in Greensboro and the buses are supposed to come every 30 minutes, but they seem to show up whenever they feel like it. In Braunschweig, the buses and trains usually came about every 7-10 minutes depending on the route, and were always on time. Very unreliable. Also the buses smell really bad and look dirty inside. The buses in Germany were usually very clean.
  3. Recycling: It’s so much harder to recycle here, at least where I live. In Germany you’d find recycling bins (with separate bins for glass, paper, plastic) everywhere, and the bins for regular trash were very small, so it discouraged you from just dumping any and everything in them. Here, there’s just lots of huge trash cans everywhere and if you want to put something in a recycling bin, you have to hunt for them or take it home with you (if you have a recycling bin, and many don’t).
  4. Grocery Stores: They’re so huge and overwhelming in comparison to Germany. You don’t have to bring your own bags, or pack them yourself as fast as you can before the Germans get mad at you. Checking out is a much calmer experience here. In Germany it’s a race to pack your things up by the time the cashier is ready to take your money.
  5. People: I’ve heard a lot of people complain about how fake Americans are. I used to get offended, but now I understand. Everyone is very “friendly,” meaning they smile and say “Hi, how are you?” and don’t expect to hear how you are really doing. I’ve experienced lots of very over-the-top and unnecessary greetings from acquaintances (very loud “Oh my God, how are you?! I’ve missed you! It’s been forever!”). These aren’t necessarily intentionally “fake,” I think that’s just part of how we do things and what’s considered polite(?) here. It’s still very weird. And don’t even get me started the dreaded small talk. Many people are also very indirect, loud, and move extremely slow.

Germans are very direct, and I love it…sometimes. It makes things really simple when people just tell you in clear terms what they want or what they are thinking. There’s no beating around the bush with them, which saves so much time and energy. The only drawback is that sometimes (often) they will tell you things you don’t really want or care to know (unsolicited opinions and advice). They are very comfortable telling you that we Americans are stupid for electing Trump as president. My favorite comment that I received at a party was, “Well, all empires fall eventually. The British fell, and now America will fall.” I didn’t really know how to reply to that one. Also, many of them do not care at all about hurting your feelings, so don’t expect them to sugar coat anything.

6. Alcohol Laws: In most places in the U.S., you can’t just walk down the street with an open beer in hand. In Germany you can have alcohol out anywhere except for on the public transportation. The legal drinking age in Germany is 16, but they also cannot get a driver’s license until they are 18.

7. Shopping: Stores are open later here, and the sales associates can be very overbearing sometimes. In Braunschweig most shops close around 7:00PM, and almost all shops close on Sundays, except restaurants and stores in the central train station.

8. A/C: It’s always too hot outside and freezing inside. The A/C is way too cold and I have to bring my cardigan with me everywhere, even if it’s 95º F outside. Most places in Germany don’t have A/C, so when it’s hot outside they just open the windows. However, it rarely got as hot as it is here in North Carolina in Braunschweig.

Auf Wiedersehen!

I’m going home! It has been a wonderful couple of months here in Deutschland, but it is time for me to return to the USA. I spent the last week finishing exams, moving out of my apartment and traveling between different Airbnb’s, and stuffing as much as I could manage into my suitcase.

I had to move out of my apartment on Monday, which is also when I had my last exam. To make my life somewhat easier, I checked into an Airbnb on Sunday evening so I wouldn’t have to deal with the stress of exams and moving on the same day. I ended up giving away a few things to my neighbors (I left things outside of my door, and my neighbors generously took them off my hands), and what was left (that I couldn’t bring home) had to be thrown out.

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Last view from my apartment window in Braunschweig

The room I booked was only available until Thursday, so I had to leave and check into another room much farther away. My host was an older German woman who lived in a house in a very quiet neighborhood. She was very nice, and preferred to only speak German, so I got some unplanned language practice. Unfortunately, she had a cat and I’m allergic, so that wasn’t fun. I tried to stay out of the house during the day so I could breathe normally, so I tried some different cafés and restaurants in the city.

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Typical German breakfast (from Fräulein Wunder in Braunschweig)

I also got to see some of the friends I met here in Germany before I left. We went bowling and then out to dinner at a Turkish place, where I discovered my love of Döner Boxes. Döner is a popular Turkish dish in Germany. The Döner Box has all the same ingredients, just thrown into a box with seasoned fries, and it’s only 3.50 EUR! I’m so upset that I just discovered this the same week I leave the country. My Turkish friends that I went with said they had never seen that in Turkey before, so I’m guessing it’s unique to Germany (but I hope not).

As much as I love Döner Boxes and Currywurst, I can’t wait to go home and eat tacos, lemon pepper wings (with peach drink from American Deli, obviously), brown stew chicken and rice and peas with cabbage and a Ting, beef patties, pad thai, and a million other things. Aside from the food, I’m also very excited to see my family and friends again, and have access to hair products designed for my hair texture.

This won’t be my last post, as I have a few more thoughts about my time here in Germany. I will be taking a much needed break from all things German for a little while though, so I’m not sure when that post will happen.

Bis dann!

Imani

 

General Updates

Hi there!

I’m still alive, still in school, and still in Germany. I have about one month left before it’s time to go back home to the U.S. My classes are wrapping up now, and the exam period will begin at the end of July. I’ve been using this time to hit the books, so I don’t think there will be any more exciting international trips for me. After exams, I’ll have one week in Germany with no set place to stay (my lease ends July 31), so I may do a small trip or two then, but probably somewhere within Germany.

German language progress:

I’m definitely getting better at forming coherent sentences in German, so that’s exciting. I’m in two different German classes, one for students with technical and scientific majors, and another conversational class. Both of my professors have commented on my improvement during the semester. In class, we had to retake the language placement exam that we took in the beginning of the semester, and I scored a C1, which is much better than the B2.1 that I earned the first time. (For more about what these scores mean, visit this site: http://www.goethe.de/lrn/prj/pba/bes/enindex.htm. ) Also, I just finished my first 300 page German novel: “Hirschluder” by Christian Oehlschläger. It took me a while (2 months), but it definitely improved my vocabulary. I’ve also been watching an Austrian show on Netflix called “Vorstadtweiber” or “Suburbia – Women on the Edge” that’s been really entertaining and has also exposed me to some more differences between Standard German and Austrian German.