Being Home

I’ve been home for two months now and I can’t believe it. I mean, I was just in Freiburg! I still think about how long my strassenbahn commute will be in the morning before I realize I’m back at home and I automatically try to order a Radler whenever I go out (which obviously doesn’t work). Sometimes I feel so homesick for Freiburg I’ll be upset for the rest of the day. It was truly the most AMAZING experience of my life. Not a day goes by that I don’t wish I were back.

I think I’ve changed a lot on a personal level since my study abroad experience. I’ve become so much more self-sufficient. I’m now always the one to take charge with everything because I’m just used to having to do it myself it feels uncomfortable to let others do things for me. For example, a few weekends ago I went with friends to Montreal. I found a place to stay, got directions, drove there, and looked up places to visit and restaurants to go to. I guess I just assumed it wouldn’t get done if I didn’t do it. Before Freiburg, I would probably have delegated a few of those tasks and asked my mom for a second opinion on everything. It feels good to grow up.

During the last week of IES classes we had a discussion about reverse culture shock. A lot of the things we talked about seemed harsh at the time, such as, “No one will be as excited as you about your study abroad.” Unfortunately, it’s true. Your friends do get a little sick of you saying, “FREIBURG IS THE MOST MAGICAL PLACE IN THE WORLD I LOVE IT” three times a day.

I do that.

A lot.

Sorry guys.

Thinking back to the most memorable moments… Climbing the Alps in Switzerland and it being so HOT up there! Having a friend’s friend’s car stuck in a field during a snowstorm outside of Munich (I’m looking at you Simone). Everyday taking the strassenbahn because, having grown up without public transportation, it’s basically my version of a baby roller coaster. All the beautiful graffiti. Exploring Ireland. The night train to Amsterdam (why is there always an angry Italian man when you travel?!?!). Having the most French experience EVER in Aix-en-Provence and swimming in the Mediterranean in Cassis. And most of all, JUST LIVING. I really feel like I became a Freiburger.

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The past week

Lots has happened in the past week! I figured I should keep y’all abreast (I can’t believe that’s actually a word! The thirteen year old boy inside me is giggling.) So here goes…

I went to the Stuttgart Zoo last Tuesday and it was the cutest experience ever. Usually I don’t like zoos that much cause they smell and the animals look unhappy, but Stuttgart was not like that at all. The park used to be the gardens for someone royal and the landscaping shows. It is absolutely beautiful. The animals were all adorable and for the most part they seemed pretty happy. I watched the monkey creatures for forever because they were just having so much fun play fighting and swinging all around. I couldn’t get enough. I also saw a meerkat family cuddling which was kinda magical. The penguins were right there in front if you and I really wanted to pet them but I also didn’t know if that was really allowed and I didn’t want to make anyone upset. They had big heron-looking birds that were free within the park and had a huuuuuge nest atop a tower thing in the center. They liked to fly around and threaten to land on your head. Hehe. Overall, it was super duper.

Theeeeen on Thursday I took the train to visit my friend Lesley in Aix-en-Provence, France. She’s there for the summer so it was really cool that we got to meet up. For some reason I thought that the South of France was all lush and green. Nope. Suuuuper rocky. The trees are more like overgrown shrubs and I don’t remember seeing grass anywhere… Regardless it was really beautiful. I didn’t think I would get to see that part of the world while I was here and now I’m so glad I did! I got in pretty late on Thursday and after some kerfuffle (also a real word!?) I found Lesley and had to stay one night in a hostel because homestayers aren’t allowed to have guests (I stayed with Lesley and her host mom the next two nights after we got permission and I was invited). Friday we went to Marseille which was neat. We didn’t really go downtown because apparently the citizens like to make riots and such a bit too often for comfort but the beach was lovely! It was one of the only sandy beaches in the region. If you know me, you know that I hate sand so it wasn’t perfect, but I was swimming in the Mediterranean surrounded by beautiful rocky hills so I wasn’t going to nit pick 🙂 later that evening we had dindin in Aix which was pretty gosh darn delicious. The pizza was to die for (and I usually don’t like pizza, so it was kinda a big deal).

The next day we went to Cassis (pronounced Cassieee) which is a teeny beach town a little north of Marseille. It was literally the best beach ever because…. NO SAND!!!! It was a pebble beach with rocks about the size of those little cheeses wrapped in red wax. Why can’t all beaches be like that!?!?! There was nothing not to love about this adorable little town. If y’all want to go to France, go to Cassis.

I would like to take a little but of your time to complain about public transportation. Up until last weekend, public transportation in Europe always seemed easier and faster than in America. Maybe it’s just because it’s Germany and they like to have everything impeccably planned and running according to schedule… France was another matter. Aix doesn’t have any form of public transportation within the city and it’s about the same size as Freiburg. What? Makes no sense. They have busses that go other places but the only way to find the schedule for the busses is to get on one and ask. WHAT? So once you know the schedule it’s easy, but if you don’t know, you’re screwed. We were originally going to go to see lavender fields so we went to the train station (a bus ride outside the city) only to find that the train schedule we had looked up online applied to the teeeeeeny train station within Aix (it only has one track y’all) AND to get where we wanted to go, we actually needed to take a bus from downtown Aix because the train schedule we found wasn’t the easiest way to get there anyways. It was a HOT MESS. That’s why we went to the beach instead 🙂

I kinda figured out that a have a working knowledge of French to get around quite easily as a tourist. You really don’t need to know that much to ask simple questions and read signs. I think I’ve also gotten good at deciphering things where I only know half of the words. Study abroad will do that to you.

I got home in the afternoon on a Sunday and do you think that I was prepared and had food ready for when I got back? Of course not. (In Germany, everything but most restaurants are closed on Sunday.) So this is how I ended up getting McDonalds. I was waiting in line and a homeless man was at the front trying to count up his change enough to buy a soda but he didn’t have quite enough. I was going to help out, but I wasn’t sure that was the kind of thing that was kosher in Germany and I also don’t know if I could totally communicate what I meant in German so I stood there awkwardly. Then, another girl in line comes up and pays for him and I felt really bad because I guess it is totally okay here and I just as easily could have helped out. Shout out to that super nice German girl.

Someone opened a door for me today and I had a brain fart for a minute trying to decide whether to say, “merci,” “thanks,” or “danke.” I settled on, “mmmfft.” The horrors of traveling strike again.

To finish, I would like to express gratitude to Essie nail polish for having super cute summer colors and being cheaper in Germany. Maybe now I’ll try doing all those designs that Pinterest says are “so in this season.”

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Firstly, Katrina, if you’re reading this, get off my blog you creepy stalker.

Secondly, I had a wonderful time at Europapark. It was very similar to Busch Gardens in Virginia. The premise is that it takes a bunch of European countries and sections off the park with rides, shops, and food that reflect that country. Michael and I rode almost every ride and some even more than once! Eurosat was my favorite. It was like Space Mountain in Disney World (enclosed in the dark). It nicely built up suspense because as you chugged up the incline you couldn’t see anything and then did a countdown (in English for some reason) like you were ready for take off. It was basically the best roller coaster ever. I have a rule for roller coasters. I like to be scared, but not for my life. Those super big ones that go upside down and need to strap you in and you can hear screams of terror from–not my style.

I got cotton candy about halfway through the day which was a friendly reminder of fairs at home. Interesting though, the cotton candy was white instead of pink.

There were a lot of French people there (ew) but they made up for it by giving me a chance to guffaw at all the teenage boys’ “I think I’m Macklemore” haircuts. To be fair, the Germans like to sport that hairstyle too, but for some reason it’s funnier on French people.

I think I talked about this on one of my first blogs: Europeans don’t know how to stand in line. They’re like, “there’s five millimeters between you and the person in front of you? Better swoop in there and push the patiently waiting American out of the way.” Americans are sometimes stereotyped as rude, but in this regard, no way. I gravely miss a time where I could wait in line without being shoved aside multiple times and having to wait twice as long because I’m not willing to sniff the armpit hairs of the large German man in front of me.

I heard this song (Bad Habit by Foal) on Pandora the other day and I’m hooked. Check it out if you know what’s good for you. (Before you ask, I have a VPN so I can do American things like Pandora and Netflix. Yeah. Be jealous.)

I’m stoked to go to the Stuttgart Zoo this Tuesday. Michael is always listening to me swoon over baby animals so now he gets a whole day of it! Too bad I won’t be able to see my favorite German polar bear. RIP Knut 🙁

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Loneliness and heat

So this week was kinda sad. My best friend in the program (who hates being mentioned on the Internet so she’ll stay anonymous) left to go back home with her German boyfriend. I made the decision to stay another month when I was good friends with people who were staying but now we’re not friends anymore and I’m feeling pretty lonely. I have my German friend but I can’t hang out with him everyday and kinda another IES friend but I don’t know. I’m just feeling super mopey.

It was about 38474759300283 degrees last week and I thought I was going to die. I went to a public pool one day which was quite nice. I went to the all woman’s one which was awesome besides the occasional grossly overweight topless woman. But still, no old German men in speedos!

I’m going to Europapark on Wednesday (it’s the biggest amusement park in Germany!) and in two weeks I’m visiting my friend Lesley in Aix-en-Provence.

I gotta put in a good word for my graffiti blog cause its pretty awesome and the plus side is you don’t have to listen to me rant about silly German things


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I know I’ve already addressed how I only write blogs when I’m angry… Well…

I’m in a German theater class which is really lovely. What is not lovely is at the end of all the plays we see, the Germans insist on clapping for–I KID YOU NOT–ten to fifteen minutes afterwards. Do you know how tired your hands get after just a few minutes? Your palms turn red and your muscles start shaking. It’s really tough stuff. It’s painful, loud, and you can clearly see that the actors just want to get off stage and drink a cup of tea and get a foot massage but NO. They’re stuck listing to everyone clap and having to bow a good twenty to thirty times. What the heck? It makes it so that an amazing performance is indistinguishable from a lousy one because everyone claps the same amount.

This probably wouldn’t have bothered me if it only happened a few times but now it’s been every single time we go see a play, which is at least once every two weeks. By now, I have literally–LITERALLY–listened to hours of clapping which could have been spent doing something much more enjoyable. Pretending to read the book I have to read for my literature class for example.

Freiburg weather is still stuck on that day in March when it rains almost all day and you think the sun might come out just for a minute but then the day is over and you’re just left feeling used and damp. PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT – Freiburg is NOT the sunny city that its Wikipedia page makes it out to be.

I also can’t find a particular kind of shoes that I’m coveting. It’s been a rough week.

On a positive note, I went to a thermal bath yesterday and it was one of the most relaxing experiences of my life. I really suggest it.

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Everywhere and Everything

Alright, a few different trips have happened so I’m going to break it down…

I think every college kid wants to visit Amsterdam for the… lax laws… but I really wanted to visit because of a story about flooding in Holland that I had read freshman year in my Humanities class. The story painted a really eerie and cool picture and I was super curious to see what Holland actually looked like. I went on a bike ride through reclaimed land which was SUPER COOL. Really windy though. Like… I was pedaling but not moving sometimes… Totally worth it. I didn’t go to any of the museums (I know, you all think I should have) but in all honesty, they don’t interest me. I’m sorry that I don’t care about the Anne Frank Museum. I just wanted to ride bikes.

I spent a good amount of time walking too. The B&B was super nice but a little far away from the city center (if you could really call it that, the city is really spread out and there’s not a super “central” feeling anywhere). When I arrived as we were walking up the very small and steep stairs to the room, the host said, “They’re Danish stairs… so not quite a ladder.” which made me crack up.

I did go and see the Red Light District on evening to walk down the street. To be honest it just made me feel uncomfortable. It was packed with (mostly American) tourists being loud and pointing and making crude gestures at the girls in the windows. The girls themselves didn’t really pay attention to the people on the street and were chatting with the other girls or texting. Oh well. I saw it.

The train there was pretty much no hassle, it was overnight. I slept pretty well surprisingly. The way back I had to change trains like four times and I didn’t have a reservation so most of them I had to sit on the ground or stand awkwardly. Oh well. It was an experience.

So I went to Munich with IES for the weekend. It was pretty chill even though it was a ‘school trip.’ We stopped at Meersburg on the way there which is an old castle on Lake Constance. It was a lil boring but…I mean…it was an old castle. At this point in time I was getting through the second Game of Thrones book so it was kinda cool to be like, “People in GoT lived in a castle like this!!!” I’m a very, okay-I’ve-seen-it-let’s-move-on type of person. The one cool thing was a well that was super deep. People in the program wanted to know how deep it is so we dropped a penny, counted the seconds until it hit bottom, and then I worked physics magic and determined that it is 30 meters deep. We learned on our tour a few minutes later that it really was 30 meters deep! Yay physics!

The tour of Munich was a lil long and boring but mostly because I’ve been there a few times already. Hofbrauhaus in the evening was a lot of fun though. You have to pick out a table you want to sit at and then wait for the people eating there to leave and snatch up their spot. It’s basically a free-for-all. Food was nothing special but everything else was awesome!

The next day a bunch of us went to Dachau to see the concentration camp. Being my third concentration came that I’ve seen, I was pretty bored. Besides the general creepy feeling, its just grass, dirt, and an old building which looks strangely similar to the cabins at Girl Scout camp… (KIDDING). I don’t know. If you’re going to visit a concentration camp, don’t really bother with this one.

Later I walked through the English Gardens after it had freshly rained and it was the most beautiful thing ever. The beer garden was deserted but there were about 100 steins just sitting there as if the people just got up and left and forgot about their beer. There is a slight chance that one of those steins made its way home with me… but I wont make a comment either way.

There was a week of midtermy things where I had like 542908572290768 papers and presentations and tests to do but don’t worry, I survived to go to…

I went with a travel buddy to Hersonissos, Crete for five days in May. Despite having a layover in Hamburg (to those who are map-challenged, that’s kinda out of the way) it was super easy to get there and it all worked out perfectly. I guess that’s what happens when you book with a travel company. When we got to the hotel/villa the guy at the reception desk looked at our passports and was like, “Omg you live in Freiburg?!? I lived in Freiburg for two years! Those were the best years of my life! …[reminiscing]… Which room do you want?” Needless to say, he gave us arguably the best room with a view of the pool and the ocean. The villa was basically a HUGE apartment. It was beautiful. There were three balconies and all the windows basically just had shutters so we got fresh air. The air (and everything really) had a faint smell/taste of flowers. I was put off by it at first but gradually got used to it. You really don’t smell the sea like you do when you’re on the Atlantic (the fishy, salty, low-tide smell) which was also just different. I guess the smell of flowers and sunshine is better for a beach vacation.

We went to the beach every day but Saturday when we went on a boat ride. There were five or six families and a few couples but there were a lot of kids which I liked because I had a ton of fun making faces at small Lithuanian children. The boat drivers were very funny and good-humored. They showed us how to take cool pictures pretending to do the Titanic pose at the front of the boat and even getting to steer the boat yourself! We jumped in and swam for a bit with the help of a bunch of floaties and goggles and we stopped at a little village farther down the coast from Hersonissos for an hour so it was fun exploring there. By the end I was sandy, salty, sunburnt, and very happy.

A week of school happened in between Greece and Ireland, but that doesn’t matter. (Side note, I now have real live German friends!)

Just a word of warning, never fly out of Frankfurt Hahn Airport if you don’t have to. It’s a lil bit of a nightmare trying to get there. Ryanair was ever pragmatic though, so once we got to the airport it was easy. There was a bit of a snafu making all our luggage be the right size and weight for their strict luggage rules, but it was worked out.

The hostel (Generator Hostel Dublin) was gorgeous and clean and all that one could ever want in a hostel. Nuff said.

We did different coach bus tours everyday. The first day was the Cliffs of Moher which were beautiful and big and had a lot of “Please don’t kill yourself here” signs. I mean, if you wanted to jump off a cliff to your death, you might as well jump off of the coolest cliffs in the world. On the way there and back we stopped at castles to look at old rocks and saw more sheep than I thought existed in the world. For lunch we ate at a little restaurant in Connemara that was just…magical. I ate stuffed fried chicken, mashed potatoes, fried potatoes, boiled carrots, parsnips, and cabbages, all absolutely smothered in the most delicious gravy you’ve ever eaten. It was hands down one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten.

The second day we went to Belfast and learned about the history there. I’m a super nerd when it comes to Irish history so I found it fascinating but I don’t think the other people who went with me even read the wikipedia page on Ireland and Northern Ireland before we went so they didn’t think it was as interesting. Personally, I feel like if you go someplace to learn about their history and culture than you should probably do a little reading on it beforehand… but that’s just me.

Downtown Belfast and the Troubles area of Belfast were very different. The Troubles area had a lot of graffiti (the Peace Wall eg.) and had a lot of shops with enough Northern Irish pride to made any American approve. (The Northern Irish version of ‘MURICA or something…) Downtown looked like any modern European city with the occasional bullet holes in important buildings. I obviously was interested in when the bullets were fired and who fired them and why, but I think I was the only one. My companions went to Topshop.

On the way home we stopped at a castle which was perfect for climbing (may have bruised a few foot bones jumping out of windows, but it’s all good) and Downpatrick where St. Patrick was buried. I’m not Catholic, nor do I find people who had imaginary-friend-angel visions interesting at all. Sorry, but I think anyone who thinks that they saw someone with wings and a halo fly down from the sky is probably crazy. The history is mildly interesting, the religious mumbo jumbo not so much.

Next was probably my favorite day. We went up to Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Giant’s Causeway, and a brief stop in Belfast on the way back. I almost had a panic attack on the rope bridge but I made it without crying so that was pretty good. Giant’s Causeway was awesome to climb around on. I took a bunch of pictures for people and made friends with some Australians who were sweet but knew less to nothing about the country they were visiting. Belfast the second day was cool, I saw some more bullet-holed buildings and strolled through some silly gift shops. That night in Dublin we went to the oldest pub in Dublin (The Brazen Head, est. 1198).

The last day we went to Cork and the Blarney Stone. I was a little overtired and grumpy when we stopped at the Rock of Cashel so I spent about ten minutes there before declaring it, “a boring old church place” and leaving to wander around the surrounding areas for a few minutes and then reading more Game of Thrones (I’ve been reading it this whole blog post).

I would just like to say that there should be a sign saying, “Don’t try to climb up to the Blarney Stone if you’re at all afraid of heights,” because to get there not only do you have to basically scale a building, but once you get there you have to lean backwards over empty space to reach around and kiss it. The stairs up looked like lighthouse stairs and had a rope in the center so you could cling onto it while you tried not to slip on the teeny, slick, stone stairs. I got about halfway up when my feet stopped being able to fit on the stairs and I was holding onto the rope for dear life. I got a panic attack (sobbing, unable to breathe) which triggered an asthma attack (even less able to breathe) so I went down without kissing it. I spent the next half an hour sitting on a bench trying to catch my breath and stop crying. It didn’t help that on the way down a loud American family decided to make fun of me (“oooo looks like we got a panicking one!”, “*sigh* gotta let one down”, “alrighty let’s go, let’s go”) which made me cry even more because my companions had abandoned me so I was all alone.

It didn’t turn out to be such a bad thing that I didn’t go up because it left me time to explore the gardens and lazily eat an egg salad sandwich while people and plant watching.

Then we went to Cork for a few hours which was a really quaint city. It was busy and there were a lot of people in the downtown area but all the buildings were old and the main street was a smooth curved wide avenue aaand the sun decided to shine brighter than it had before so it was an enjoyable two hours. I nibbled on a caramelized onion and goat cheese tart while window shopping.

To wrap it all up, the weather in Ireland was beautiful every day (a little windy doesn’t count). Even though it wasn’t hot out, it wasn’t cold either and the sun shone at least for a while every day and the only time it rained was a mini two minute sprinkle at Giant’s Causeway.

I think I caught the travel bug the past two months but now I’m here to stay. No more trips planned in the future at the moment. My German is definitely improving and I can actually have a conversation now without using a dictionary for every third word.

On a sad note, my perfect Swedish roommate Alex is leaving tomorrow morning and never coming back. I told him that he’s not allowed to go, but I don’t think it made any difference. I’ll super miss him and any other roommate in the future is going to have to live up to him which wont be easy! 🙂

Time to settle in and hope that warm weather comes to Freiburg soon! (and maybe do some homework)

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Biking in Freiburg

I feel like I’m always writing blogs when I’m angry. I guess I need to complain to someone and the internet was pretty much invented for that purpose. The topic today: biking in Freiburg.

I got a bike about a month ago and I tried riding it when it was still death-winter but I haven’t done any real riding until this week. Since it suddenly became spring I’ve been going everywhere by bike. About half of Freiburg has lovely bike lanes and the signs are clear but the other half is just a HOT MESS. Perfect example: I was riding on a wide sidewalk because there weren’t any bike lane in the road and I saw other bikers doing the same thing. Some official looking guy (bike police? I don’t know.) stopped me and started going off about how I couldn’t ride my bike on this particular sidewalk. That would have been only minorly annoying if it hadn’t been for the THREE bikers that biked past me while I was being yelled at. Of course Mr. Official Bike Police didn’t say anything to them obviously. Fuming at the unfairness, I continued on foot until there was a bike lane at a traffic light. Stopped at the top line where you’re supposed to stop, I get passed by TWO bikes that go through a red light (this is a major intersection) and one squeezes around me to stop just above the line. What the heck? I’m just trying to follow the rules! It would be one thing if everyone were lax or everyone were strict, but this wishy-washy law enforcement rubs me the wrong way. And to top it all off, I found out last night as I was biking home in the dark that my bike light stopped working. If I had gotten caught (really surprised I didn’t) I would have had to pay a fine. Or maybe not. I seriously don’t know what’s going on.

If anyone knows how to fix pedal generator lights… Hit me up please…

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Prague, Dresden, and Munich

I’ve done a lot of traveling in the past two weeks! To keep it simple I’ve separated it all out…

I didn’t really know anything about Prague before I started out on the first part of my IES journey. I’d heard that it was a beautiful old Eastern European city and had a lot of charm. I wasn’t wrong really, but here are things I did learn:
1. Never, ever cross the street without a crossing signal. You WILL get run over. The drivers are worse than New York drivers because not only will they kill you, but they will scream at you in Czech while they do it.
2. The Czech language is something else. Most of the words are all consonants or they have a ‘y’ at the end. How do they province that? I found a good example on Wikipedia: a tongue twister that means “stick your finger through your throat” is “Strč prst skrz krk.” See? No vowels.
3. Winter is still coming. (I’ve been reading too much Game of Thrones lately.) But really. It was so cold. Soooo cold. I wrapped my scarf around the top half of my body every day and didn’t even care that I must’ve looked ridiculous. Everyone’s been saying in the news that this is the worst winter Europe has had in forty years or something and I believe that. If Prague really is a magical old Eastern European city, than I guess I was just too cold to see it.
4. So many tourists. I vaguely knew that Prague was one of the most visited cities in Europe, but that fact didn’t stick because I wasn’t prepared for the ridiculous amount of tourists we had to deal with. To be fair, I was a tourist too, but I like to think of myself as a little above the others. I’m not big into taking pictures of everything and I generally shy away from the big touristy sites. I’m also not a loud politically opinionated man so I don’t stand out very much.
5. In spite of all the tourists, as soon as you went onto a street without a centuries old monument, things got real sketchy real fast. Me and a few others were trying to find this restaurant and we naturally consulted Google how to get there. Too bad Google doesn’t have a sketchiness factor on streets because even though we were just a few hundred yards away from the main square, I saw three dubious looking strip clubs and a drug deal (well, I don’t know what I saw really, I tried to keep my head down and stay out of everyone’s way). If any of y’all plan to go to Prague, stay to the main streets as much as possible if you don’t want to wake up with one less kidney and “I <3 Praha" tattooed on your chest.
6. This all being said, it was a lovely three days. I got to hike up to one of the big hills above the city and get some great panoramic views as well as eating tons of delicious Czech food (potatoes and beer, nothing else) in small restaurants found by chance. Overall, it was a positive experience.

I'm sorry to the people who rebuilt Dresden after the bombs and everything, but really, you could have had a plan! This city is just old and new lumped together with no street that runs where it should and the buildings are oddly spaced with sometimes football fields in between each them in the middle of the Altstadt. It was confusing to try to get around which I really didn't do that much of because it was (still) so darn cold! I swear I consulted the weather channel before packing and I packed my warmest clothes but Jesus H. Christ was it cold! I don't know… Maybe if it hadn't been freezing rain/snowing constantly I would have liked it better.
One of the redeeming parts was the Dresden Castle Museum. It was really a few museums in one so it was pretty big. My favorite part was the Turkish section. Again, too much Game of Thrones, but it reminded my of Daenerys Targaryen and the Dothraki (the Dothraki were probably based a little on Turks). You could sit under these huge tents that they used and look at all their swords and armor for men and horses. It was a good change from pretty little necklaces and porcelain spoons. The rooms were dark and intense and you could really imagine yourself among a Turkish battle with European soldiers. Props to the curator or designer of that part of the museum.

After we got back from the IES Prague/Dresden trip, I headed out on my own to Munich. I had a friend there thanks to a brief homestay on a People to People trip a few years ago and I stayed with her for a night and then at a hostel for three more. My time with my friend Simone was really lovely and a really good break from my previous touristy adventures. We shopped, went to the movies, and partied with her friends. I have some great stories from a German house party but that would take all day to talk about. It suffices to say that everyone was really nice and we spoke both English and German and I learned that for the most part, teenage parties are the same around the world. The movie that we saw, Rubinrot, was very good even if I couldn't pronounce the name. The German 'R' is a difficult sound to make, especially twice in one word! I understood most of what happened and I was hooked so I got the English version of the book and read it in about a day. I had almost forgotten how much I like reading with everything that I've been doing lately.
After I said goodbye to Simone, I did lots of touristy stuff (and some more shopping). I went to three different museums, my favorite being the Neue Pinkaothek. It had art from the 1700's to the 1800's and I liked it mostly because I could recognize a good number of the paintings. I will leave you with one of my favorite things I saw while in Munich, a slightly photoshopped picture of a painting from the Alte Pinkaothek…

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More travel and some Harry Potter

We went to Elsaß, France last weekend for the day which was pretty cool. The city was similar to Freiburg in that all the buildings were super old and the city surrounded a big church. Since I felt like I had a tapeworm last week and ate anything that wasn’t moving, of course my first order of business was to find food. We finally settled on the Markthalle – basically an indoor, slightly fancier, farmers market. At one of the places that was selling food, they had a glass case with all the different food we could eat. There was the obvious pasta, salad, and quiche, but then I saw a magnificent food that I didn’t think would have been socially acceptable to eat anywhere but America. A LATKE SANDWICH. Yes. Cheese and meat in between two latkes. For those of you that are not familiar with the gloriousness that is the latke, its basically a hashbrown. Do you think I even looked at any of the other food stalls? Nope. I ate that latke sandwich like there was no tomorrow and enjoyed every single bite.
There was a bit of a problem with getting food though. I don’t speak French. See, I kinda thought that my German wasn’t very good and when we were in restaurants I was just embarrassing myself because I didn’t know what to say. Now I know that I have pretty good German after literally no being able to say anything to the waitress at this stall. I had to point to what I wanted and when we had to pay, she gave us a questioning look and said what we owed in English. It’s so debilitating not being able to speak at all to the general populace. I don’t think I’ll complain about how bad my German is anymore.
So I realized that I somehow forgot to write about when we went to Switzerland! It was the weekend before Elsaß and we drove somewhere between two and three hours to Engelberg to take a cable car up to the Alps. It was about negative a million degrees at the bottom, but oh my god, it was like seventy once we got above the clouds! The mountains were stunning (obviously) and we walked sliding up and down a cross country skiing path wearing tank tops and throwing snowballs at each other. We got to meet the full-year students which was cool and because my shoes didn’t really have traction, I ended up holding my friend Fiona’s hand doing snow-ballet down the hills. All in all, it was a pretty amazing field trip.
I bought “Harry Potter und der Stein der Weisen” last week. I figured that I should improve my reading comprehension because it’s probably my weakest area of German and HP would be a good place to start. I wasn’t really expecting much. I have a copy of it in Latin too but that was really tiring to read; it felt like work not fun. In German, on the other hand, it’s so easy! I really didn’t think I would get past the first chapter but within the first three days, I’m 200 pages in! I’m ridiculously proud of myself and I think my might get a library card so I can read the rest…
I’m off to Prague tomorrow, then Dresden, then Munich for a few days. I’m sure I’ll have plenty to report after that!

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Food. Travel. Food. Travel.

So I wasn’t planning to go on the IES Prague/Dresden trip. I’m not really a fan of being in a group and going places. I had a bad experience in high school where every single minute of a trip was planned and it was just horrible. Therefore, I assumed that IES would probably like that too. Surprisingly, our little day trips have been very lax and really fun and I’m warming up to group trips. So ERGO – I’m going on the Prague/Dresden trip! Also, I know this is a little shallow, but all of my friends are going and I was feeling left out and it’s actually super cheap and the Koruna has a good exchange rate! I’m really excited now because I didn’t know what I was going to do during the huge break. It was overwhelming.

I feel like I’ve been eating constantly because I’ve been either walking or biking everywhere and exercising sooo much more than I would have at home. I’ve had breakfast and two lunches already today and every other meal is a hunk of meat or pasta. I’ve been eating these pasta boxes that cost basically nothing and come with surprisingly delicious sauce. I’m even cooking pasta for my tandem partner for dinner. A tandem partner is someone who you can speak two different languages with so both people can improve. We basically go back and forth speaking German and English. She’s a Psychology grad student here in Freiburg and ridiculously smart. We get along well.

I know I’m getting comfortable in my room here. It’s getting a little messy. Even though I only brought like 4 shirts, they’re all on the floor or the chairs or the desk. Oh well. My dresser has two posters that I found and stole to put up. I say “stole” but once the event they’re advertising ends people just take them. My cacti that I got in IKEA are still alive somehow. I watered them for the first time yesterday and they’re no worse for wear. My friend Fiona (who lives down the hall) got a plant at IKEA also but hers already died so I’m proud that mine are chugging along. I’m going ice skating with her and my other friend Katrina later tonight! Ganz toll! (ganz toll = pretty cool).

I went to a student bar/club last night. The mix drinks were a little expensive but the tequila shots were only €,50! Needless to say they did some people in (obviously, we all know the stereotypes that tequila has). I decided I wanted to go to class today so I didn’t go crazy, but it was still suuuuper fun.

We’re heading off to Elsaß, France on Saturday which should be awesome. There’s a wine tasting involved soooooo yeah. I’m looking forward to having an excuse for not knowing the native language. That’ll make me feel a little less like a failure.

As I wrote this I took out some leftover pasta and started eating all of it. I know I’m having dinner in like a half an hour but I’M JUST SO HUNGRY ALL THE TIME. I will leave you with a picture of bockwurst.

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