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!!