It's turning a bit colder here in München, though it has yet to snow and stay (we had a light dusting about two weeks ago, and it melted almost immediately). The whole last week was awesome weather for November, and all you needed most days was a sweatshirt. I'm actually wondering if we will see some steady snowfall before I leave for warmer climates.
I have three days left in my German B12 course here at Goethe Institut, and then I'm off to the NCL-Epic ship next week as the new MIT (instrument tech) for Blue Man Group's travel production. I've been called upon to get to the ship a week earlier than originally planned and I should be there until mid-June. I plan to keep up the blog while onboard, though I've heard internet access costs 10 cents/min. Ouch! So, it's very likely I'll not be able to Skype anyone for the next 6 months and will only be logging on to upload/download emails and blog content. The ship will port out of Miami and complete alternating Eastern/Western Caribbean tours of one week each. For the last few weeks of the tour, we will do a transatlantic cruise and then port out of Barcelona the remaining couple weeks. For more info on the ship/tours, click here.
I'm excited to be around drums again soon. It's a pretty large part of my life...always has been...and I hope this experience will bring further opportunities when I return to Germany in June. The plan, after tour, is to immediately re-enroll in Goethe Institut classes, starting in B21 and taking it as far as I can until I land a job here. In other words, I will be enrolling in a class every month while simultaneously applying to jobs within Germany. If I get a job by August, then my classes will stop at the "B2" level. If it takes a little longer, then my classes will continue on to the "C" language levels, which is pretty high for a foreigner to achieve here. As far as jobs I will be looking at next year, I will be seeking further music industry positions. By the time I finish the tour, I will have professional player experience, group and private instruction experience, and tech experience on a major tour production. Some ideal job lines that will play to these knowledge bases include Artist Relations and Brand Marketing for instrument/music technology manufacturers. There are some great companies in Germany, so I'm looking forward to returning!
Getting cleared for working on NCL has been quite a process. I've undergone a huge array of medical tests over the last month (vision, heart, pre-existing conditions, and tons of blood work) and Maritime Law has also called upon a thorough criminal background check. I feel so violated...haha. Anyhow, it's opened my eyes to just how great medical practices are and how low the costs are in Germany. As of right now, I only have emergency medical coverage (through being a student) and this only covers pretty severe cases. So, I had all of these tests done "out of pocket" and can tell you that it was state of the art technology and testing...all for less than 200 Euro (if you don't know the conversion rate, don't worry about it...that's cheap by U.S. health care standards)!!! In fact, I had one last blood test performed by a doctor down the street, and when I picked up the results I asked him for the bill. He said (again in extremely good English), "it's no problem" and waived his hand. "Send us a postcard from the ship." Ha...OK...will do! I've heard time and time again about how bad the U.S. medical system is, with its HMO's, red-tape, and outrageous expenses that all seem to feed back to the pharmaceuticals industry (which has its hands in the government of course); and how many European countries have Socialist medical systems in place (that's MEDICAL SYSTEMS....not GOVERNMENT people...) that are designed to actually take care of the sick. But seeing things first hand...there was nothing like it. I thought I would receive over $1500 in bills and voiced my concern to Annette. I laughed when I found out how much everything cost. A lot of people in the U.S. have no idea how good things can be elsewhere and only see their system's benefits...this "We're Number 1" bullsh*t. Yeah, I'd love to rave about how great the American medical system is, but I was denied health insurance last year. I'm not saying Michael Moore's word is gold, not by far, but check out "Sicko" if you get a chance. It's an eye-opener, and it explains a lot of what I've gone through.
On other fronts, I am probably part of a tiny minority of Americans here that still cling to Fantasy Sports updates, playing football and hockey regularly. I can sit for hours in front of the computer and sift through each game, combing for interesting stat lines and players to pick up for my fantasy teams. I have asked around if there is anything similar going on here in Germany, and it looks like there is some sort of Fantasy Soccer website, though the fans aren't quite as gonzo crazy about that kind of thing here. Maybe someday I'll open a bar, called "Insomniacs," that doesn't open until midnight weekdays and 5 p.m. Saturday and Sundays. We can show all American sports and hope that somebody actually shows up once in awhile. It's very hard to get games over here, so the need is there...just the timing of the games is awful. For instance, I was up until 5:30 this morning watching the Eagles/Redskins. If you didn't watch Vick totally obliterate football records last night (stat line: 20 for 28 completions for 333 yards and 4 touchdowns; also ran 8 times for 80 yards and 2 more touchdowns), shame on you. What a sight to see! Click here for a glimpse of the human highlight reel.