Rapid-fire updates about the last 8 1/2 months: Eurotrip after exchange year was fun, getting back and seeing friends and family was great, college started off well, and I am loving life right now but still have many fond memories of my time in Germany and traveling around Europe.

I'm at the University of Virginia studying Economics and Anthropology (Foreign Affairs? Global Development Studies? Philosophy?) while keeping up with my German and learning a little bit of Spanish. Right now I'm on Spring Break, although with the snow it doesn't quite feel like it. Tomorrow I will be going back to my high school to talk to students there about gap years, which, I hope, will bring this whole thing full circle.

I hope at least a few of you out there have gotten something from this blog. On my end, it was definitely fun to write and is even better to look back on. If you would like to contact me with any questions or comments on any of this, the best way from now on will be to e-mail me: kevinpuj at gmail dot com

I encourage all of you to check out opportunities to do something you've never done before. Students, I urge you to consider whether a gap year would be something for you. It's a fantastic time to get out there. Definitely check out the Congress-Bundestag Exchange Programs, which include programs for college and vocational students, at www.usagermanyscholarship.org

Perhaps a future iteration of this blog will document possible Teach for America or internship abroad experiences. Who knows what is to come. :-P

Take care.


"Public Viewing"

For those of you following the Euro 2008, the European soccer championship, you already know what a fantastic game it was last night as Germany beat Portugal 3:2. For those who aren't, I'd like to let you know that my (second) favorite national team played brilliantly in the win against the favored Portugese national team.

I watched the game at a "Public Viewing", which is a German term using English words to describe a mass of fans watching a game on a public square. This is a brilliant solution to the German problem of having 30-40 million soccer fans (in a nation of 82 million) who all want to experience the stadium atomsphere but don't fit into the stadium.

In the small city of Gütersloh (pop: 96,000), more than 5,500 fans packed themselves into a small area to cheer on their national team from afar.

A picture of the "Public Viewing Area". You can see the giant screen in front of the old courthouse.

Celebration after the first goal.

After the game, as is popular with the Turkish, Russian and Croation minorities after a win in this tournament, fans got in their cars and hit the streets. They drove through the city for hours honking, waving flags and cheering. A line of cars full of boisterous fans was still crawling by an hour and a half after the end of the game.

I had a great time at the game, and I know I'm pretty lucky to be in Germany during a tournament like this. The only people I'm jealous of are those who got to experience the World Cup here in 2006.

In other news, today was my last day of school. I got my report card, which turned out to be a very good one, and said goodbye to teachers and some classmates. On Sunday I'll be going to Austria with my host parents and one of my host siblings for a week of hiking in the Alps. After that, I'll come back and say goodbye to all of my friends here before embarking on my travels around Europe. Until next time!