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?