How selling beer improves your German

After the excellent journey throughout Austria that was explained in my last blog, we came home (to Freiburg) to tackle finals and saying goodbye to the first batch of IES students going home. IES took us all out to a lovely dinner with our classmates, professors and the IES faculty on the last day of finals, so if you see pictures of us all dressed up on facebook, you know why!

It is crazy to think about the fact that some of our friends are back in America, re-settled into their lives ohne Deutschland. Before this group left we had a session that discussed re-entry culture shock: the shock of not expecting the normalcy of your life back at home. We had to think about the things that we were going to miss the most about Germany when it was our turn to go home and a lot of people talked about the relationships that they have formed here. Sure, we are going to miss German beer, broetchen, etc. but the main thing is the friends here. We miss the people who have gone home, but personally, I am selfishly thankful that I am still here another month (ah, only 35 days today!) because leaving is going to be hard no matter when I go, but I am simply not ready to say goodbye yet.

Alright, here’s a topic change to something more cheerful…

What do you do with 5 weeks in Germany when you only have class once a week?

Well, last week Saturday was Haendel Sommer Fest! This is my dorm’s annual festival. It was so much fun! I woke up and spent the morning cheering on my apt’s team for the Haendel Soccer Cup. They wore yellow and had a name that I don’t remember—some play on a Spanish team’s name, I think? They made it to the finals after a long morning of games and lost in an intense shoot-out by one goal: the only goal scored in the game. Below is my apt mate Clara, she found some plants lying on the ground and used them as pom-poms.

Stefan looking intently on the field...

After the soccer tournament was over the evening was filled with food, music and activities. You could buy food and drinks from little stands that were scattered in the area and there was live music outside from about 6-11pm. There was a pool (about 2 feet deep) and a climbing activity. You attached yourself into a harness like you would for rock-climbing. Then you start with a stack of 3 beer cases on the ground, you are handed more, one at a time, and climb up the column while adding more beer cases along the way. When the person handing you cases can't reach high enough they were attached to a pulley system to be lifted up to you. The goal was to reach the 3rd story balcony... Ridiculous
Around 11 or 12pm the indoor music started. There were 4 different venues for music with hip-hop, electro, funk and indie music. And so.many.people. The guesstimates I have heard are around 2000 people in Haendel for Sommer Fest! So much fun.

Alright, to continue this story we have to go back a week: I was studying for finals and just needed to know the answer to one little grammar question so I pop my head outside of my door to ask my German housemates. At that exact moment the people who are planning the event are convincing my housemates to sign up to help at Haendelfest. Clara was signing up to help "in the garden" and I said that I would just work whatever shift she was working so that I could get the answer to my question. What did that end up being? Selling beer and drinks at the midnight to 2 a.m. shift. Well, when I figured that out on the day of Haendel I was a little intimidated, especially given the sheer number of people who were at the event. But despite my limited knowledge of the Euro coin system and the fact that my mental math isn't the best, it turned out to be a lot of fun. And because we were constantly busy, and ran out of change, and ran out of pfand (deposit) markers, it went really quickly! [For those of you who don't understand the Pfand (deposit) system: when you buy a drink you pay an extra euro on the bottle and are given a marker of sorts -- in this case a puzzle piece -- then when you bring the bottle back you are given your euro back.] I learned very quickly the top 5 ways to order a beer in German and how to say that all of our bottle openers had been stolen. Also, I picked up very quickly how to say "you can't get your deposit back on this bottle because you don't have a marker and we don't sell this kind of beer here anyway" and "Cuba libres and gin&tonics are only in the basement or at the cafe." After that shift, I stayed up with my housemates -- we got a free drink for working -- and just talked. Yes, I was the lame one who went to bed at 4:30 because I was tired. Pretty sure the rest were in bed somewhere between 5:30 - 7am. Haha

Since Haendelfest, we have been having fun in the sun -- like the day we went to the Titisee and laid out in the sun and swam:
It is weird having a summer where I am not working. I keep thinking I should be checking for swimming suit liners or helping people find their way to their dorm, sports field, cafeteria, etc. I miss the busy life, but I am learning to appreciate time to just read in German, hang out with friends, and play Yahtzee practically every night with my housemates.

What to expect next? We are having a 4th of July party for the IES students and our German friends. Yes, I am making a watermelon basket! Pictures to come...

Here is a picture of some old men playing chess in Switzerland. We were there a few weeks ago for our final drama production and I just thought that they were adorable:


the hills ARE alive with the sound of music

First it is my daughterly duty to say “Happy Father’s Day!” to my dad. I love you and miss you!

Well, my internet is inaccessible until next week sometime ( I am writing this on mine and hoping that someone will let me post it on theirs…). I guess we are switching contracts right now. I can’t decide if it is a blessing to have no internet the weekend before all of my papers and finals are due. On the one hand, I am not distracted by facebook and other online time-killers. On the other hand, I have to look up words for my papers in a “Pocket Dictionary” meaning that my word choice is subpar. Also, I have to write down the things I want to look up for supplementary material for my essays and look them up somewhere else. Also, IES is closed for Pentacoast break so I can’t go there to look anything up or write my papers there… Still, the no distraction thing is probably really good for my concentration level. For those of you keeping track, Wednesday, June 22nd is the final day of IES courses for me!! Meaning until then I will be working non-stop and on the 23rd I will have free-time galore.

Anyway, you probably just want pictures of my trip to Austria last week and I haven’t posted pictures in a while so I will do my best to put a lot in this one, haha. Having a break at Naomi’s grandma’s house was the best thing ever. I mean, free room and board, and the meals that oma (grandma) made were excellent. She doesn’t buy anything that is premade. Even the bread and juice were homemade. And a lot of the food came from her garden. Yes, please.

For some geographical placement… We were in the Rhein Valley between Switzerland and Austria, technically in Austria but very close to the border in the province of Vorarlberg and the city of Altach. The German here is almost complete unintelligible to those of use who speak “high German” and Kevin and I were constantly nodding and smiling without a clue as to what was going on until they switched back to “hoch Deutsch” There is no real comparison to make in the English language.. I guess you could try to compare it to speaking to a Scottish person with a really thick accent who uses completely different words than you to speak… technically still English but not really. Hmm..

Alright, a photo journey through the trip:

Along the train tracks to Austria...
From Oma's window
Oma Schuester's house!
Part of our hike was frolicking through this grassy hill.. Sound of Music dream fulfilled.
We played with this tailless cat as much as we could.
The view from Naomi's aunt's backyard.

Yes, this is a taxidermy-wolf. We went to a nature museum!
Ice Cream on the Boden See!! (Lake Constance)
Taking pictures while riding a bike can be difficult...
Oma Schuester!

Just your average train ride home.


Homesickness and Dancing

Weekend Update:


We’ll call Friday “The Day All of the Homesickness Hit”

Things were going great in the morning. I helped some friends out with their video project with my ridiculous acting and Kevin and I decided to make chocolate chip cookies since it was kind of a blah-day. Well, in Germany there is no brown sugar like we have in the US. Here it is raw and not compressed or whatever they do to it in America…so it doesn’t really mix into dough all that well. Also, baking soda is different here, and they don’t have chocolate chips. So with a few substitutes we began baking…. Needless to say, they didn’t turn out all that great. They were super sweet due to the sugar debacle. Also, Kevin’s apt doesn’t have any baking sheets, or even a flat tray for the oven, so we could only make 6 cookies at a time. such.a.fail. I just wanted chocolate chip cookies, you know? Alright, so this probably wouldn’t have been that big of a deal but something inside of me just snapped on Friday. I haven’t really been homesick at all since coming to Germany. Sure, I miss you all and wish that I could get something after 8pm on Saturday night from a grocery store, but I haven’t felt sad at all. I think that it just all was dormant, creeping under the surface and the epic fail of the cookies brought it out. Anyway, I put money on my skype account and talked to my mom and dad and Patrick [Justin and Mark didn’t answer their phones… I’m not being neglectful!] After talking to everyone I felt much better. And really it was just a sad day, I think. I still love it here and am having such a wonderful experience. It is just weird being away from my family and friends for so long without having the convenience of calling or texting that I took for granted in America.

Saturday "The Day I Got Down and Boogied"

After an exhaustingly emotional day on Friday, Saturday was beautifully relaxing and fun. I got some work done for school and just had a chill afternoon. Then, my housemate Stefan made chocolate mousse from scratch and offered it to our apartment, it was delicious, especially combined with raspberries. Mm… We grilled out in the lawn, played volleyball, etc. Such a good time. Then at night Kevin, Stefan, Fransi and I went into the city. We went to a club called “Jazzhaus” and it was a lot of fun. We left around midnight and got home around 4, as per the typical German night-life schedule. The night was a journey through five decades, meaning there was music from all over the world from the past 5 decades. Yes, the second song we danced to was Ke$ha, but it was followed by Shout, I love Rock n’ Roll, the Killers, German Pop, something that sounded like “Tunak Tunak”, etc. Plus, as if it weren’t enough fun, there was a gummy buffet – think bowls of gummy bears, gummy dinos, gummy cherries, all the different types of “gummy” snacks there are!

Best part? there was no grinding.

Worst part? An awful techno remix of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself”

Sunday "Fun in the Sun"

Sunday was another relaxing day. I spent the morning working and then in the afternoon Naomi and I went to the Seepark. This is a beautiful park in Freiburg with a man-made lake. The weather was sunny with a light breeze = perfect. Naomi was able to get some reading for class done, but I was content to simply lay in the sun and soak up some Vitamin D (which is probably why I am a little burnt today – can you hear my mom’s irritation from where you are sitting? I can… I promise I am usually very good about taking care of my skin, mom!) The swans there were ridiculous. One kept coming at a dog in the park. The dog was just hanging out, trying to fetch a ball in the water, but as soon as the swan would see it, it would immediately start swimming toward the dog angrily. The owner was keeping the dog in check, making sure it wasn’t barking or snapping at the swan, but the swan was still being RUDE and not just letting the dog enjoy its day! Sigh, I always thought swans were nice, it turns out they are just as bad as geese.

------ Weekend Update Over -------

So that was my weekend update. I have been scolded and told to update my blog more frequently, so I am trying to do so! This week will be consumed with finishing papers and preparing for finals so that next week I can completely relax in Austria and just have a good time

love you and miss you!


Wait, it is June already?

First let me tell you about the awesome meal that I ate last night. Our drama professor Peter invited us to his home for a meal and it was spectacular. We had the following 6 courses, translate if you wish..
1. Antipastateller
(Kruestenbroetchen und rohem Schinken, gekochtem Schinken, Salami, eingelegten Tomaten & Pilzen, Minz-Zucchini, Oliven)
2. Baerlauchsuppe
3. Crespelle
4. Speckflammkuchen
5. Schaeufele
an Knoedel
6. Brownies

To drink, with each respectively, we had Blueberry Liquor (homemade), Riesling, Merlot, Beerenauslese, Eiswein, and Kirschwasser Schnapps. Everything was excellent and it was wonderful to have a meal with good conversation and friends, though I may not eat for a few days while it all digests... Peter gave us recipes for the soup and the Crespelle so if anyone is interested let me know! I'll translate them for you, ha.

Life in Germany has become pretty routine. Not that I am not loving it here, but there just aren't many huge moments to write about. I go to class, sometimes it happens to be in Switzerland or France, and hang out with my friends on the weekends. Tomorrow we don't have class and stores are closed because it is a national holiday for Christ's Ascension Day. Did I mention that we are in a traditionally catholic region?

I only have one more week of IES classes, then a week off for Pentacost break, then finals week. Translation: I have one week until vacation and that week will be spent writing all of my term papers for those classes! For Pfingst Kevin, Naomi and I are going to Austria, where Naomi's family is from. They are very close to the border of Switzerland. Translation: I will not understand hardly any of the German that her grandma and aunt speak to us. It should be a highly relaxing trip, though and I am excited for the end of IES classes because in July I will only have my uni class one time a week so I can spend my other days writing my term paper, but more importantly laying in the sun, hiking, traveling, having Marissa Mae visit me, etc.

This is kind of a silly update, nothing much to say, sorry everyone! Thanks for reading :)


Soccer Games, Greece and an Opera

Alright, time for an update. Buckle in because we have a lot of ground to cover…

Remember April? Yeah, seems like forever ago, right? Well that is where our story begins. The night before Spring Break we had a cookout to celebrate Justin’s birthday then went to a soccer game! It was so much fun. Germans love soccer, in case you’ve been hiding under a rock, and it was great to see the fans! There is a cage for the opposing team, literally a cage, to protect themselves from the Freiburg fans, I’m sure. Unfortunately Freiburg lost the game and when the opposing team would score a goal their fans would climb up the fence and scream and shout. So. Much. Fun.

Friends! Naomi and Kevin (Greg in the background)
This is the cage! It is that guy's job to guard the door.
Spring Break:

Alright, time for a confession: I sent a few people emails about my Spring Break and I sort of wrote the same thing to each of them.. just the description of Spring Break! The other parts I personalized, I promise. Anyway, here is what I wrote them, because it is hard to summarize 9 days of awesome into a paragraph. When I get back to America I can read my 10 page (front and back) travel log to you, if you want… Also check out my pictures on facebook!

Well, I went to Greece for Spring Break and it was delightful. Seriously, such a relaxing and amazing journey. We went to Athens for a few days and it was Easter weekend so everything closed early (but it was also free as a result) so all of the archaeological sites were visited fo’ free. We traipsed around and stumbled upon ancient ruins, not a big deal. On Easter Sunday we found a random international church that had a service in English and there we were invited by some guy (Joseph) to go with to a traditional Greek Easter Sunday meal… we just decided to go with it, so we end up at the house of this British couple who has lived in Greece for 30-40 years. We roasted a lamb over a spit and talked with some Greeks and some Brits for about 5 hours. Seriously amazing. After Athens we went to Santorini, the island with the white buildings and blue roofs that you always see pictures of. The tempo of the island was exceptionally Greek, the bus came when it felt like it, the people would give you free water, etc. We pretty much just relaxed on beaches, the weather was a bit chilly sometimes but if you sat in the sun it was beautiful… so there weren’t that many people there but we enjoyed ourselves immensely. One day we took an island tour boat. It looked like a pirate ship!! We went to see an active volcano, we jumped off the side of the ship to swim in the “hot” springs (more lukewarm than anything), we ate lunch on a beautiful part of the island, and then we went back and instead of walking 600+ steps back to town, we paid 5 Euro and got donkey rides!! So cool and exactly what I wanted to do while there. The island was beautiful and relaxing and just what I needed.

A section beneath the Acropolis
The ceiling of a store that Devin and I bought bracelets at... because it is awesome.
"Lunch Break" at some ruins...
Joseph, our new friend who invited us to Easter dinner, posing at the beach.
Acropolis proof.
Red Sand Beach on Santorini
The pirate ships and the green water (due to the sulfur from the volcano!)
This dog was posing for me our last night in Santorini

Now May… We arrived back in Freiburg (after realizing how much we missed it and calling it “home”) the day before Midterms and the first week of Uni Classes! AH! (For those of you studying in America on the semester system, this was probably the week before finals for you.) Now to explain the German registration system… the whole “registering before classes actually start” thing doesn’t really happen – if you want to, about a month before classes start you can register for classes online to let profs. have an idea of how many people might be showing up to their classes. But pretty much you just run around to a bunch of different classes in the first week or two and then decide what you want to take. While I like this system because you can get an idea of a class and a prof before having to go through the tedious struggle of an add/drop slip, it is extremely time consuming and trying to study/prepare midterm tests/presentations during such a week was a bit stressful. Obviously, I survived.

During this week of chaos we had an excellent presentation day for our drama course. We all had to present on a certain drama theory (you’re reading from the “master” of theater of the absurd here) and since it was a long session we had a break (eine Pause) in the middle where we drank some wine that our prof brought, ate some excellent chocolate, brie, bread, etc. and then went back for more presentations. Have I mentioned how much I love my classes here?

Blah blah blah, more midterms and the first week of Uni classes… I decided on a Uni class that discusses the Religion and Culture of Islam. It seems like a really interesting class, the professor is very articulate (this is a problem in some classes, the prof. might be extremely easy to understand but when the other students in the class have to give presentations it can be really difficult to understand… what do you do when you are nervous and giving a presentation in front of a large class? yeah, you mumble and talk really fast = a problem for those of us who are trying to figure out what you are saying!!), and it isn’t just your typical “Islam” class. It not only discusses things like the Prophet’s life, but also talks about the economic and political context of the religion today and during its development. Sweet. I might also pick up a class about freedom of religion in the context of the current Christian dominance in Germany... at least I think that is what it is about...

Phew, you’ve gotten this far, just a little bit more, I promise. A few days ago we visited Strasbourg – one of the seats of the EU Parliament (the other is in Brussels – I know you knew that, I was just reminding you). It was pretty interesting to learn a little bit more about the Parliament but what really fascinated me was the translators. There are 27 countries in the EU and 23 official languages. That means that at any time someone can speak in their mother tongue and someone will be there to translate to everyone else. Not just for big meetings, literally 3 people in the room and someone wants to speak a language that the other two don’t know? They will be accommodated. We sat in the Parliament hall and had our headphones on while translators were translating everything that the speakers were saying. Each translator works for about 20 minutes and then switches out and has a break since it is such an intense, stressful job. Can you imagine simultaneously translating something as important as a EU Parliament speech?

Yesterday I went to an opera with my drama class: Othello. It was beautiful. Seriously, I cried the entire 4th Act. Also, today Kevin and I went to the last SC Freiburg soccer game. I have a new love for the "German whistle." When Germans are mad about a call or mad that the opposing team knocked down one of our players they don't "boo" they make this really angry whistling noise. I wish I could describe it, but imagine an entire stadium of people making the whistling noise that happens when you put two fingers in your mouth to call something and then add a really angry tone to it... yeah, maybe I'll find a youtube clip of it...

Alright, good job. You are pretty awesome for getting this far since I had to take breaks while writing it. Now I am just sitting in my room, which smells like laundry and flowers (thanks Kevin), waiting to go to class… which starts in 45 min. and I haven’t eaten dinner!!!! Bah. Bye. Love you and miss you all =)

By the way, this week was my halfway point, crazy, right?


Guilty Pre-Spring Break Update

I felt bad leaving for 10 days without sending an update since I haven't written one in a while... so here goes!

Mark came to visit a week ago and it was awesome. It was so great to see him and it was really fun taking him around Freiburg. We went hiking and to a few of my favorite spots in Freiburg. It was seriously wonderful to have him here but it made me really sad to watch him leave after only a few days, it made me miss my other family members a lot. So family, here's a big hug from Germany. I miss you!

Also, I have been going on a lot of excursions for classes. I went on a trip for my art history class to some monasteries and abbeys (nunneries?) in the area last Friday. We are currently studying the life of monks and nuns in the medieval ages so it was highly appropriate and pretty awesome to see.
Yesterday we went to Zurich to meet the Chief Investment Officer of a foreign money bank in Switzerland. This was for my business course in which we are comparing companies in France, Switzerland and Germany to see the cultural and structural differences between the companies based on location and management. It was really interesting to learn about the Swiss stereotypes and the way that the government affects the competitive nature of the country. Plus, again, it was just beautiful.

Oops, I really need to go back and catch my train! Spring Break photos and pictures of the soccer game I went to last night to come!!!

Love you all and miss you!


Ordering Mexican Food auf Deutsch

I am hoping that the delightful image of Schwarzwaelder Kirschtorte will distract you from how long it has been since I last posted a blog update. Sorry, everyone! I could tell you that the reason I have been neglectful is because my classes have started here so I am busy studying away, and while that is a little bit true, closer to the truth is the fact that the weather here has been BEAUTIFUL so I have been spending my time outside in the sun. I trust that you'll forgive me :)

This picture also brings to mind a certain phrase that my mom coined when she came to visit and pretty much explains my eating habits here: "Dough Diet." Now, I have had plenty of nutrition classes in my life, but having the multitude of pastries, breads, and let's not forget pretzels is quite tempting. Add the fact that German's seem to only eat pork and vegetables are not as common as you'd think, and a dough diet occurs. Don't worry, mom, I am eating my fruits and veggies! And Marissa? Today is the beginning of my running regiment (though, again to be honest, that has more to do with how beautiful the scenery is here than the dough diet...)

Last week a few friends and I were seriously craving some Mexican food so we found a restaurant called "El Gallo" or something. It was delicious, but very German-tasting Mexican, ha. We ordered the nachos Tijuana (and confused the waitress with our pronunciation of what she called "tih-jew-ahn-ah") and had delightful refried beans, jalepenos and guac.

I really do things other than just eat.. I am realizing that this entire blog is about food.

This weekend I went with some friends to Triberg, Germany. It is about 1.5 hours away from Freiburg and home to Germany's largest waterfall.. Don't get too excited, the waterfall isn't actually that large.. ha. The guidebooks say "Well, it isn't Niagra Falls" = understatement of the decade, ha. But it is in the Black Forest so it is just a beautiful walk through nature. It reminded me of walking through the red woods in N. California and made me miss Anna and Aunt Mary so if you are reading this, I'm thinking of you!

Some pictures of the beautiful park we hiked through:

In other news, my classes are going really well. Senior year English paid off as we discussed "Othello" in my theater class! I won't bore you with the list of classes, I'll just mention that I am learning about things like medieval Germany and Germany's participation in the EU. Last week I had a moment in one of my classes when I realized that all of my classes are in German and if they were in another language like Spanish or French I would literally have no idea what was going on. Crazy, right? Languages are pretty awesome is what I concluded from that little moment.

Oh! And I got controlled (they checked to see if I had a ticket) for the first time in Germany! Woo, buying that semester ticket for the strassenbahn finally paid off!

What's coming up for Heather, you ask? Mark is visiting for a few days on his Europa Reise and my spring break to Greece is getting closer and closer!

Love you and miss you!


Spring is here!

Trying to remember an entire week to write about in this blog is difficult. Last week I completely forgot about Fastnacht – a huge festival (aka Karnival or Fasching) that took over down town for the whole weekend culminating in a huge parade day on Monday. Sorry, Everyone. Check my facebook album for some pictures of that if you are still interested…

My intensive language class is finally over! Now I have the week off while most of the IES students frolic off to Prague and Dresden. My parents are coming to visit me! I am so excited to show them around my current home. One great thing about having visitors (other than the quite obvious benefits of seeing your loved ones) is the fact that they can bring stuff from home. I was talking to one of my housemates, telling him that my mom was bringing some things that I forgot from home, and he practically begged me to make brownies for him. Another food item that I was not expecting to be isolated to specific countries! I have seen brownies here at random shops but apparently they aren’t a common household treat – I can’t even find a brownie pan in my kitchen. I mean, coming from the mid-West, not having a pan to make different types of bars is practically a sin. (Anyone else have the scene in “Drop Dead Gorgeous” where she offers everyone baaAaars in their mind?)

Don't worry, I am actually making real food while here in Germany. Last week I made a homemade lasagna with the help of my friend Naomi and it was pretty tasty... Mm.. see that homemade sauce? yum.

Since everyone else has left for Prague I have been spending my days reading in the sun, walking in the sun, pretty much anything to soak up the 64 degree sunny weather. It’s beautiful!! I bought a book in German and am working my way through it with a dictionary and a pencil. I need to do something with my mind as I wait for classes to start! So I'm going to leave you now to go sit in the sun.. have a delightful day!


Another Sunday, Another Update

Yep, that is me standing in front of a mountain in the Alps. Yesterday IES took us to Switzerland for a day trip -- I thought maybe if I wrote that sentence down it would sound less ridiculous, but nope, it is crazy how close everything is here! We drove for 3 hours and ended up here! Then we took a gondola up the mountain a bit (see below) and took a trail through the snow and mountains!

Gondola rides are, in fact, somewhat terrifying.

I was dumb enough to wear shoes that were water-proof but had no traction on the souls. Naomi and Kevin had to hold onto my as we climbed some of the hills because it was so slippery I never would have made it up alone. Mistake? Maybe, but on the other side of this mishap is the fact that whenever we went downhill I was practically skiing -- awesome!

If you remember I am currently in a Language Intensive Course because my actual classes haven't started. It sounds a bit dreary right? Sitting in a classroom from 9 - 1:15 just focusing on German Grammar? I thought so too. In actuality, though, we get to do some really sweet stuff. Sure, we do have some days that are entirely in the classroom, but someone brilliant figured out that it actually makes sense for us to A. learn about the city and B. talk to actual Germans to practice our language skills. So, last week we did random scavenger hunts in the city -- find this place and ask people on the street these 5 questions, etc. This week we went to the City History Museum and went to the top of Schlossberg (an hill that had fortresses built on it throughout history). Next week we get to go to a movie in German, visit the Muenster, etc.

This is a model of the original city layout (at least what it looked like in the 1500s)

Some statues from the city history museum that represent seasons. Here we have Spring and Fall (you can't see the armful of grains in Fall's arms)

Things that I didn't realize would be rare in Germany: maple syrup (they use honey or this weird Canadian stuff..) and turkey (800 kinds of salami and wurst but one single package of turkey in the grocery store).

German words that English should adopt:
vorgestern -- the day before yesterday (It is so much easier!)
doch -- It is something you say to contradict whatever the person before you said. Example:
English " I do not look attractive today" "No" (But does that mean that you think that she is right, no you don't look attractive, or no, you do look attractive? so confusing)
German (in English) "I don't look attractive today" "Doch" (meaning that's not true, you do look nice).

Work on incorporating those into the English language for me, please. I'll keep looking for improvements here!


It tastes... American

Sundays are great. Today I woke up and made pancakes with two of my housemates: Klara and Stefan. They said that they tasted different than typical German pancakes.. more American. Probably because German pancakes are much flatter than the fluffy pancakes that I made (without a box mix I would like to add...) Next week's mission? Americanishe Pizza!

It is crazy that I have been here for a little over a week. It feels like I have been here for a month. I started my intensive German language class on Monday and for those of you who don't know much about the German language, just be aware that there are about 16 different ways to say "the." If you have some time and are interested, please read "The Awful German Language" by Mark Twain. It is an essay of his efforts to learn the language and is quite funny. My housemates are great about dragging the German out of me -- I was a bit intimidated my first week because they are all so good at English and I didn't want to make a fool of myself as I butchered their language. But the only way to learn is try, right? Anna Leach and I have been emailing a bit and upon arrival in Germany she sent me this quotation: "Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."-Andre Gide. So, I am trying to lose sight of the English shore and steer straight ahead into the German one. (Don't worry I'll continue our meetings here in English -- though I might throw some German at you occasionally, muahahaha).

Yesterday IES took us on a trip to Colmar, France in Alsace. It is an interesting part of the world because it is neither French nor German really because it has changed hands so many times. You can see the influence of both styles of architecture and hear phrases that mix a bit of both languages -- watch out for the dialect, though. We had a tour auf Englisch because we could barely understand that, one auf Deutsch would have gone over all of our heads. Then, afterward, we went back to Germany where there is a huge wine "factory" I guess is the best word? It is the place where grapes from all over Baden (the part of Germany that I am in) are brought and made into 120 or so types of wine. They produce 30 million liters of wine per year. There we had a tour and a wine tasting. Pictures? Of course:

They have actual metal containers to hold thousands of liters of wine, but these looked prettier...
Each has a different engraving on it. Some are for 25, 50 years, etc. and some are just engravings of the land or Baden.
Part of the tour happened on that train thing! Also, I just thought those chairs were cool.
Colmar, France. Churches are just prettier in Europe.
Can you see the difference between this French street and the German one from the last posting?
This house is a symbol of wealth. Note that it is made entirely of stone, has a gable and has many windows that are open. (People would put the venetian blinds on the facade of a house and nail them shut to make themselves look wealthier than they were because you had to pay a tax on windows).

Also, tschues!!