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: