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:
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).