I have received my grades in Dynamics and in Controls, and they're good! They were both 1.3's and just one point away from a 1.0, the best I could have gotten. I suspect the only thing keeping my currently inflated ego from taking off is the perfectionist twitching about that one point.
Side note: I realized after I posted my first few grades that perhaps giving the details would come off as egotistical. However, inconsistently reporting on my grades after I'd already begun would annoy me too much to stop.
As a result of passing those exams, I can take whatever classes I feel like this coming semester. I just have to watch out that I can take exam before returning to the States. My current list of courses is pretty extensive. It will dwindle once I can talk to the teachers about exam schedules.
In other positive news, my academic Adviser at CMU informs me that I can take the class MSE (one of my last required core classes) fall semester without taking DSC (its prerequisite) provided I take the DSC analog at the University of Pittsburgh. Given that this will save me a whole semester off my school time, I accept that compromise wholeheartedly! Now I just need to know when those classes meet so I can schedule around them.
Yesterday, I took a few trains out to a little town outside of Bonn called Königswinter to try and visit the castle Drachenburg on Drachenfels in the Siebengebirge. That means I visited the Dragon's Keep on Dragon Rock in the Mountain of Seven beside the town of King's Winter. I could barely contain the "Game of Thrones" fan-girl in me on the way over, even if the castle was from the late 19th century.
When I arrived, I had about a half hour trek up the road to get to the castle itself. Within ten minutes I was thanking God the chilly day. Walking uphill always takes more effort than I expect it to. Eventually I reached the gates to the castle where I saw a sign announcing that until the 23rd of March, visitors could only enter on weekends.
For once, a plan falling through did not upset me. I was still on a mountain full of nature trails. I had paid nothing for the trains due to my student ticket. Why not take a hike and come back for the castle some other time? I set off in my quest to meander. As I wandered, I discovered something I had not heard of when researching the area. On a peak not far from the main castle, I spied the ruins of a far older one. I made my way to it. A sign explained that it had been built in the 12th century on the real Dragon Rock, so named for its volcanic creation.
Much of it had been stolen over the years to build other structures, including the Cologne Cathedral, until it received legal protection. One thing that did remain, to my great pleasure, was half of a watch tower peppered with arrow slits. They even had beveled insides to allow archers greater maneuverability.
After hanging out in the ruins for a while, I headed back down to explore the trails further. One lead to a semi-isolated mini-crest of rock, which I promptly scrambled onto. Looking over a town on the Rhine, knowing no one could see or hear me, I sensed the urge to sing out loud for once. So...I belted the fragments of "Let it Go" from Frozen that I know. I think I broke the imagined-versus-actual coolness scale at that point. I climbed back down and saw a sign indicating a cemetery in the area. I have intended to visit a cemetery and look at names for a while now, so I took off in search of graves.
After descending a surprisingly far ways down the mountainside, I found the forest cemetery. Each grave had a stone border. Within that border, they ranged from a simple plaque to a well tended garden. The path wound back and forth along the mountain creating little pockets of graves at each level. It seemed to lend intimacy to the place.
I came around one bend to see a larger lot for the Adenauer family. One of the people buried there was named Konrad Adenauer. I did a double take. Was that not the first Chancellor of West Germany after WWII? I turned around and found myself face to face with a sign declaring that that was exactly whose remains lay buried behind me. I had really not expected to run across the resting place of a famous politician.
Not long afterwards, I hiked back up the way I came, which took a lot longer than the way down had. I do not know when I will return to get a tour of the castle itself. I just know when I do that I'll probably spend just as much time traversing the trails outside as I do admiring the architecture inside.