Tuesday, December 27
Just wanted to write a quick update and wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!
Peace and Love,
Wednesday, December 21
That means my year abroad can only get better from here :)
But maybe I should get a mask and dance around a fire to scare off evil spirits just to be sure. You can never be too safe when it comes to evil spirits.
I need a costume like this:
These are the "Krampus", around Austria and Bavaria they come during Christmas time, or sometimes along with St. Nickolous to punish or kidnap bad children. Lindsay and I saw them at the Christmas market last weekend walking around scaring women and children. They're pretty cool. I'm sure it's some kind of hold over from pegan times. I like those kind of traditions.
My family will be here in about 12 hours! yay! and... yikes... time to clean!
Monday, December 19
Saturday morning I made lots and lots of scrambled eggs and bacon for the little beasts.... then I left and just made quick stop at my room before heading to Nuemburg to meet a bunch of other Fulbrighters there for the Biggest (or possibly oldest) christmas market in Germany. It was PACKED. Seriously, could barely even move. We were only there for a couple hours and then I went back with them to Regensburg. I was planning on coming back to Munich saturday night, but I didn't end up making the last train so I just crashed with them in Matt's tiny little room on the floor.... good times. It's always fun getting together with them all and seeing other americans my age doing the same thing, comparing lesson plans and experiences and everything. A very nice bunch of people. Lindsay came back to Munich with me Sunday morning and we went with Katie to most of the big christmas markets in Munich. We hit up the Tollwood winter festival, the central Marienplatz market, the Medival market and the Artsy Schwabinger market. Whew. Then we went to the Irish Pub Katie works at and ate and sat around for a long long time and watched some really bad German kereoke.
I'm dangerously close to being all Christmased out... good thing it's only a week away!
Lindsay left this morning and now i have a couple hours to relax and possibly clean before I have a meeting for all Fulbrighters in Bavaria.
OOh! Gilmor Girls is on... forget cleaning! I'll do it sometime before my family gets here... on THURSDAY! ahh! so soon! so much to do! I really hope everything goes well... I don't really have everything worked out yet, like reservations and stuff. I'm a little nervouse. But I think it will all be ok. As long as we're together, that's the important part right?. I'm excited to go into the mountains and go skiing after christmas. I'll finally see the alps close up.
And then Eric will come and we'll have New Years together and it will be wonderful.
EEEEEEEE so much going on and so much to look forward to. I'm begining to think that things are never really going to settle down this year. There's always traveling and visitors and crazyness. Oh well. It's fun for a year :)
Saturday, December 10
-cleaning my room so I can stop falling over the air mattress to get from my bed to my computer
-grocery shopping so I don't have to eat nothing but spagetti and cereal tomorrow,
-crocheting the scarf I've been working on for two months,
-reading the book we're going to talk about in class on monday,
-planning some stellar lessons instead of coming up with something ten min before each class next week,
-writting christmas cards
-or at the very least updating my blog.
Ta da! guess what the first thing on that list that's getting done today is? right.
it's 2:10 and I have yet to put pants on. Yessssss.
Eh, I still have like four hours, I can do a couple of those things yet. And hey, it's saturday.
So... update time.
Where did the week go?
In school I did lessons on job interviews, some everyday situation role plays, some pictionary with English idioms, and gave a little talk on my personal experience of being German in America, which also turned into a little bit of being American in Germany. I told them about my family history and my teacher wanted me to talk about what it means to be german in the US... the problem is that something like 40% of Americans have German heritage, so it's not exactly something rare and exciting. My family is closer to our German roots than most, since I'm only second generation American. But still, my mom and her siblings didn't learn German at home and besides a few traditions like St. Nickolous day and familie recipies, we don't exactly stick out from the rest of the population. I told them there are some German towns in the US, like New Ulm. And that lots of cities have Oktoberfest celebrations. Which they think is funny, because Oktoberfest is only a Munich thing, even other German cities don't have Oktoberfest celebrations. We eat Bratwurst and say Gesundheit when someone sneezes... but that's about the extent of Germaness it would seem. I explained that after the War being German was not exactly popular, so Germans in the US weren't big on showing pride for their heritage or speaking the language. It makes sense. but things have changed. I still cared about my heritage enough to decide to learn the language, and I have liked the country enough to keep coming back and to live and work here for a year, but I certainly don't feel like I belong here because of my roots, or like this is my country or nationality. I'm proud of my German history now as well, but I'm still American, through and through, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Here's one good reason why... all that "PC" stuff that we make fun of at times and that Europeans think in completely rediculous, well, now I appreciate and understand it. Bavaria is a Catholic state. You won't find any German equivilant of "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings" around here. It's all about Christmas and nothing else. I find it overwhelming and I'm catholic! One of the families I'm babysitting for is Jewish and I talked to their Mom a bit last week about being Jewish here. Her son's school (an international english speaking school by the way) is doing a Christmas market fundraiser. She's trying to be understanding that she's in Bavaria, but is bothered when they call her to ask her to volunteer for something which is not her Holdiay, especially asking her to voluteer on a Saturday, which she can't do. There is not a very big Jewish population here anymore, there are Jews, just not a lot and I have been suprised by how little contact Germans have with Jewish culture (or any other culture for that matter).
At one of my schools I'm helping to plan an "English Christmas Sleepover" for seventh grade boys. The plan is to spend the evening speaking english and learning about American and British Christmas traditions. Great. But, the thing is, something like that would never happen in America to begin with at a public school. I told the teachers this and that in American schools around the holidays we always learn about Hanukkah and Kwanza and even Native American winter solstice tradiontions along with Christmas, even at my catholic elementary school. I think most americans have some idea of what Hanukkah is even if they don't know the whole story. Here, however, they have absolutely no idea. I suggested that we incorporate some kind of Hanukkah activity into the sleepover, learning about the holiday and then maybe playing the dreidel or something. The teachers were a little taken aback I think, and uncertain of what the kids would make of soemthing like that. They also know pretty much nothing at all about Hanukkah themselves. Had never heard of a dreidel, or manorah, nothing, they don't learn about other religions at all. But anyway, they agreed that I could be in charge of finding something Hanukkah related to do at the sleepover, so I'm looking for ideas and will ask the family I baby sit for also. Jewish items are pretty hard to come by in Munich, so I'll have to be a little creative I think, but it should be interesting. The sleepover is next Friday, I'll let you know how it goes.
So anyway, the moral of the story is, even if being "PC" can get out of hand or seem stupid in the US, I like that we are sensitive to other peoples religions and cultures and that we actually have people from other religions and cultures in the US and that schools care about teaching kids about other cultures and traditions. Germany is still lacking when it comes to multiculturalism. Despite the large Muslim population I think it will be a long time before they are teaching German school kids about Islamic holidays and traditions. but that's a whole other can of worms.
Hooray for the melting pot/salad bowl/mosaic that is American culture and multiculturalism. German Americans and Jewish Amercans and everything else. It's not perfect, obviously there is still a lot of discrimination and self segregation, but I feel like a lot of intelligent open minded people are making an effort and that it is generally recognized that valuing each individual culture and still treating everyone eaqually despite their cultural background is something to strive for. I don't get that feeling in Germany. Maybe all us Fulbrighters will eventually make a difference :) There are some parts of American culture and idealism that I don't mind trying to spread to the rest of the world, as long as we do it in the right way. I'll do my part by playing dreidel with 20 some German seventh graders :)
Monday, December 5
Well, Phil was headed to Berlin all by his lonesome after Munich so he begged and pleaded and twisted my arm and eventually I gave in and decided to go with him. Ha! Actually the mere suggestion of escaping the sometimes stiffling gemuehtlichkeit in Munich for a weekend to be a tourist and see Caroline in the coolest city ever was all I needed to pack up a back pack and meet Phil at the train station after class on Thursday. I love Berlin! Love it! It's just so....dynamic, raw, exciting, romantic, new, old, everything and anything
We ended up staying at a hostel because Caroline's roomate's boyfriend was also in town and for some crazy reason they wanted some privacy or something.... ;-P But it was a very nice hostel and kinda fun to stay in a hostel again, it's been a while. I took Phil to my favoritest tourist sites in Berlin, the Pergamon, the TV tower and the Reichstag... all in the first day! It was really really cold, but no matter, fun all the same. Caroline came with us to the Reichstag and then we went to a little dinner party at her place with some of her Fulbrighter friends. Lots of wine and good times.
Saturday we went to the new Jewish Museum which is really really good I think. The building itself is awesome. Designed by Daniel Liebeskind, very powerful. The exhibit is really good, covering the entire history of Jews in Germany and in Berlin. I liked that it didn't focus on the Holocaust. I read quite a bit about Jews in Germany for my thesis last year. It was nice to see a musuem with information about the long history Jewish diasphora (sp?) and a contemporary section on what has happened to German Jews since and what it means to be a German Jew today. Lots of films and museums focus on the Holocaust experience, but don't show what happened after...there are still Jewish people in Germany. Of course remembering the Holocaust is important, I was just at a concentration camp last week after all, but it's also important to not let that be the whole of the connection between Germaness and Jewishness, it's important to be able to move forward as well.
We also went to the New National Gallery where they had two special exhibits going. We went to one by contemporary German artist Jorg Immendorff, it was pretty cool. Very political, really interestingly laid out, very German and very appropriatly located in Berlin.
After that Phil and I pretty much crashed. Went back to the hostel and didn't get farther away than accross the street for dinner. I warned Phil that mexican in Germany would probably not be good...
Phil left early Sunday morning for Amsterdam and will be heading home this week. It was fun to travel at bit with him, I'm glad we reconected. It's nice to see high school friends who've turned out to be such nice considerate mature interesting people... not that all my friends weren't all those things in high school... but you know what I mean. It was a bit strange being with someone all done with their european experience and looking forward to going home when I'm only like 1/3 of the way through mine... which is actually really far, I can't believe it's going so fast, and yet can't believe I won't be home again until July... that's a long long time....
Anyway, so I kinda bummed around Sunday, went over to Caroline's, chit chatted about life and ate lunch with her and then went out and wandered around Alexanderplatz, the Christmas markets, and some of the surrounding streets for a little bit before it was time to go see Caroline's German Synchro depute... that's right, I went to a synchro show in Berlin, and it was super :) Synchro shows are always guarenteed to be velveata level cheesy and really really fun. Caroline was excellent as a swan in their production of Cinderella and I'm glad I got to go see it. After we went to yet another dinner party at another Fulbrighters house. Apparently this is all they do in Berlin. It was very nice and I ate lots and lots and then some peanut butter cookies- yay americans and imported american baking products! They all have really cool big apartments in east berlin that actually have some charactor, as opposed to my steril little white box in the suburbs, and they're probably all paying lower rent than I am.... I'm a tiny bit jelouse in case you couldn't tell.
So yeah, that was my lovely weekend in Berlin, I'm quite glad I went. And it actually wasn't so bad coming back to munich this time because I had presents waiting for me! There was a package from Alexis on my doorstep when I got back, it was like the next best thing to actually havinga person to welcome me home. Thanks Alexis, I love it and I'm listening to the Chistmas CD right now and I'm really excited about the new Nickel Creek CD because the old one is one of my favorites to listen to on trains :-D
Also when I got back I had FOUR windows to open in my advent calendar which meant four pieces of chocolate all at once. mmm.
This week I actually have a fair bit of lesson planning to do, yikes. Next weekend I don't have plans, probably some baby sitting or something- definitely need to make and not spend money for a while, the weekend after that I'm going to Nuemburg and the weekend after that my parents are coming and it's Christmas!!! Wee. I love living in Europe and going on spontaneous weekend trips.
You should all go out and rent "Wings of Desire" right now because it's one of my favorite German movies and it's kind of about Berlin, and does a good job at capturing the city back when the wall was up. go watch it. You should also rend Goodbye Lenin, also good and also about and in Berlin. I would recoment some books by the Jewish German authors I studied but the ones I read don't all have translations....
Wednesday, November 30
In other news... Phil is here! He got here Sunday and has been soaking in some Bavarian culture for the last few days. Monday I had pretty much all day to take him around. We saw three different Christmas markets, drank some Gluewein and some beer, went skating with lots of small children on the little outdoor rink downtown, saw some pretty churches, and ate some bavarian food. Pretty much the whole bavarian christmastime experience packed into one day. I'm totally mastering the gracious host and tour guide thing. Seriously, you're all in for a treat if you come visit! You can read his version of his trip here. Tonight I think we'll take a peek at the big crazy winter festival going on on the Oktoberfest grounds... it's supposed to be alternative and international... I'm a little afraid of what the German interpretation of those things is going to be...
Sunday, November 27
One of my schools has a group of students from LA visiting for a week, so they had a party for them that I went to Thursday. they had bavarian food. on Thanksgiving. not the same. Thursday night I went out with the French TA here to the Erasmus party. She quickly found some french students and I didn't see her much after that. I actually found some americans also, so it was all good. I went out to a couple bars with them and got back in the not so wee hours of the morning Friday. Then Friday afternoon I went with the Californians to the concentration camp in Dachau. It was really really cold and we were ougtside for at least 2 hours. Poor kids, they looked like they were being tortured. It was a good excursion though, we had a specially arranged tour, so that was nice and very informative and of course as depressing and nausiating as you would expect it to be.
Saturday I went to a Thanksiving party orgainized by a bunch of Americans on the ToyTown website. It was nice, I finally got some good Turkey and pumpkin pie, mmmm. And they were all super nice.
Then I went and baby sat. My favorite thing about baby sitting American families is that they all have cable or satalite and get english television. I saw Jay Leno and Connan O'Brian! It was excellent.
In a few minutes I'm going to go pick up Phil from the train station! Hopefully we'll have some fun in the next few days, I'll be sure to take some pics.
Hope everyone else had a nice Thanksgiving!
Monday, November 21
This weekend was all about the Irish girls. Katie had two friends come visit her for her birthday so i hung out with them friday and saturday night. Friday we went out to a couple bars, including the Irish Pub Katie is working at. They had a U2 cover band, it was fun. We stayed out really late, until the U-bahns start running agian in the morning. They are super sweet, really lovely as they would say. Saturday we went out to dinner and saw Harry Potter (in English) it was brilliant! Much darker and thriller like than the others, but also really funny. I liked it. I'm reeeeaaaaaally excited for Narnia to come out in a couple weeks! I'm definitely going to see it opening weekend.
Last night I went out with Peter to a German improv show. It was really fun, but after hanging out with the irish girls and picking up an Irish accent all weekend my German was extra terrible it seemed like. But I did understand the improve for the most part, which is good. It was really funny, I want to go back again sometime.
So last week one teacher asked me to prepare a text to teach her class on something about American art. Any american art, painting, music, litereature, museums.... a somewhat broad topic. I found a good text on Jackson Pollock n "The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry" (which was a good thing to bring along) it was a bit to difficult for them possibly, with some vocabulary that I think the teacher didn't even know, like succinct and interlocutor, but they got the gist of it I think. And at the very least they know now who Jackson Pollock is.
I havn't read the book we're starting to talk about in class tonight... oops, I'm such a slacker :-P better go work on that now...
Friday, November 18
This morning I woke up, opened my crazy scary mechanical metal blinds, and wonder of wonders... snow! all over! an inch at least all over everything. Sticking to all the tree brances and rooftops, still falling softly. There's nothing like waking up to see the first snow of winter. Wonderful, magical, I love it!
Everything is already set up for Christmas downtown. There's a great big Christmas tree on Marienplatz and every store has decorartions out, it's pretty :) The stalls are already set up for the christmas market which opens next friday. Nothing can compare to Christmas in the Kitsch capitol of the world :) Fa la la la la...fa la la la
Feeling so romantical...
Lots to look forward to: Phil is coming next week, I'm going to Neuremburg for a weekend with Other Fubrighters in December, my parents are coming for Christmas AND..... drum roll please... Eric is coming for New Years!
I feel it in my fingers
I feel it in my toes
[Christmas] is all around us
and so the feeling grows...
I need to rent a copy of Love Actually this weekend...
Thursday, November 17
This week has been quite good. Wednesday was Buss und Bet Tag, The day of prayer and atonment, apparently a catholic holiday that I was unaware of. Anyway, we didn't have school, so yay for a catholic state! I don't know what we were thinking with all that separation of church and state stuff, they get way more vacation days here.
I met a few of the other non-American TA's working in Munich! One girl sent out an e-mail to bunch of us so we had a little meet up and went to cafe downtown, one Spanish Girl, one French, one from Austailia, and one other American who lives an hour or so away. It was fun, and now I have more friends! We talked about what a great job we have... working 12 hrs a week, not having to plan much, not having to grade anything... this is the life really.
Later Wednesday I met with a girl who e-mailed me through the Sprachduo website. She needed someone to read over a resume and cover leter to send american companies. She happens to work as a tour guid here, and in exchange for my english expertise she gave me a private tour of the Altstadt. It was fun, I learned lots of interesting facts about the city, so much history. You're just going to have to come here yourself and ask me for a tour if you want to find out about them.
Today in school I tought one lesson about the Declaration of Independence. We got through the first paragraph and a half in 45 min, so many big words. Half the class looked like they were zoned out, one girl was actually sleeping, but at least some of them were interested. In another class I tought a lesson about Tall Tales from the midwest, specifically Paul Bunyan and Johnny Appleseed and it was really fun! They loved the Paul Bunyan stories, and the illustrations I tried to draw on the board to explain them. So, pat on the back for that idea, Anne :)
And now... I'm exahsted. I'm going to crawl in bed with my remote control and probably fall asleep in a matter of minutes.
Have a lovely day.
Monday, November 14
So.. the last few days... nothing terribly thrilling. I finally cleaned my room slightly, at least unpacked my suitcase. I went swimming and then baby-sat on Saturday. Sunday I met Peter at the Neue Pinotek, one of the three big art musuems, this one with art from the 18th and 19th Centuries. It's a good museum. It's not Paris of course, but they have a very decent collection of Impressionism along with lots and lots of really boring Romantic landscapes. It was fun walking around and talking about them all with Peter. This week we spoke in english, so it was easy. Next week will be German.
Today I went to Walmart yet again and I bought a bike! Weeeee! I'm excited. I've been looking for one for a while, but haven't been able to find a good used one. They're all either expensive or look like their going to fall apart. The bike from Wallmart is not the highest quality, BUT it has a one year warrenty. So if it falls apart they have to fix it for me! I learned my lesson from all my bike troubles in muenster. I don't trust people, I trust Wallmart. :-P Now I can ride my bike to school! Well, to one of the schools, the other is a bit far, but I can at least ride to the S-bahn stop. I suppose it's slightly crazy to buy a bike at the begining of winter, but I'm tough, i think i can do it for a while longer yet. I may go back to taking the bus when it snows, but that still involves a good but of walking, so we'll see.
I've also found someone who's going to sell me a used TV with DVD player!! Hopefully I can pick it up tomorrow or wednesday. Then my life here will finally be complete....
This evening I had my Food in Literature english class, which I really like. I'm going to be doing a group project with two other girls on Food in Film. yay school!
I wore a sweatshirt and jeans to class because I'm feeling lazy and I get sick of having to look presentable at school everyday, but I felt like such a slob. Stupid Europeans looking nice and sylish all the time. It's worse than Richmond even. And now everyone is doing the whole jeans tucked into boots thing. It drives me a little nuts, but I'll probably be doing it before long. I have my Cowgirl boots with me.... must.... assimilate....
Friday, November 11
Thursday, November 10
I am so exahsted I feel like a zombie, and yet for some reason I continue to sit at my computer screen... hmm. I am so so excited to sleep late tomorrow. Getting up at 6 and walking 10 min to the bus stop at 7 in the freezing cold is not fun. not fun at all. Teaching, however, is pretty fun, so I guess it's worth it in the end. But if I decide to persue it has a carreer, which is likely, I'm going to have to dramatically improve my spelling.... I made several more errors that the kids called me out on today while I was trying to direct a discussion on themes in American history. like Independance... arg. It's hard when you have to write things on the board, you suddenly doubt every letter.
I love my first discussion group on thursdays. They had a serious case of the giggles today, I could hardly speak for all the laughing going on, girls girls girls. I decided to teach them "I'm a little Tea Pot" and now everytime anyone says anything in German they have to get up and sing it and do the little dance for the rest of us. It's brilliant.
I corrected some short essays today for one of the english teachers. It's really fun :) It reminded me of when I worked as a tutor for student athletes at Richmond, only far less depressing since these kids are German and actually have an excuse for not being able to write coherent sentances all the time. It's funny because I can tell that they are trying to translate German sentances directly, and it just doesn't work. German sentances are necessarily overly complicated so when you translate them it just turns into far too many words all shoved into one sentance. And they use passive voice ALL the time. I wish I had them with me so I could remember some of the more amusing sentances.... maybe next time.
Ok, I'm going to sleep now so I can do my translation homework in the morning... speaking of rediculous German grammar
Tuesday, November 8
Anyway, I was sitting around my messy room not wanting to do anything this afternoon and I finally decided to go to the grocery store just to get out for a bit and there I found these adorable little lights:
I came home and hung them on my window and I'm now feeling considerably better about being back. It's amazing what a few little plastic snowmen can do for my moral... I'm pretty excited about being here for the Christmas season. For all their whining about American commercialism they sure go all out for Christmas here, there's been Christmas stuff in the stores for a few weeks now already, before Halloween was over even. In a few weeks the Christmas markets will be opening up which I'm really excited for. Gluehwein is so delicious... Also in about a month and a half the Schwalbe family will be diving into Munich, much like our namesake, the swallow. I'm a little sad to not be going home for the holidays where I could see everyone... but I'm super excited to show my family around Munich and it's nice that they will get to see where I'm spending the year.
Hmm, maybe I should clean up around here... nah, feels homier with a few piles of clothes on the floor. I think I'll turn on some Christmas music and look at my happy little snowmen for a while :)
Monday, November 7
was so tired and the task seems so daunting, I've done so much in the last week or so! It's all been really great though, a very good break all together.
So from the begining... I left very very early Sunday morning and after a very long train ride arrived at Rostock, a smallish city a couple hours north of Berlin, sometime in the afternoon where I met up with Chris and Julia, two other TAs, at the station. The other TAs from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (German state north of Berlin) also came. It was really interesting to hear about all their experiences thus far. Definitely completely different from mine. They are mostly in these tiny towns where the differences between East and West are still very apparent. Unemployment is really high, it sounded like many of their students have unemployed parents. We talked about German's perspectives on reunification. Many east Germans feel that they lost something when they unified, lost their identity in a way. I could go into a long schpiel here about recent German history, but I'll spare you until a later date. It's just such a different atmosphere in the East from my ritzy suburbs of Munich.
Julia and her flat mates threw a Halloween party in their place Sunday night. It was great fun, a good mix of Americans, Germans, and Brits. I think I stayed up later than I have since getting to Germany. Monday afternoon I walked around Rostock a little with Julia, it was nice to catch up a bit. Rostock is quite a nice little city, I was suprised, it's bigger than I expected.
Monday evening I made my way to Berlin where I stayed with Caroline. No sight seeing or anything, but we did go out to dinner at a Japanese place where I had some very tasty noodles and laughed at Caroline attempting to eat noodle soup with chop-sticks.
Tuesday I flew to Oslo! Phil picked me up at the train station. I hardly recognized him, he had a mustache! apparently it was part of a halloween costume from the night before. He was also limping. He somehow hurt his knee and it had been getting progressively worse and worse until he could hardly walk by wednesday. So he didn't get to go out sight seeing with me. But we did get plenty of time to chat and catch up on the last few years which was nice. I also met some of the others in his study abroad program. So many Minnesotans! I guess it makes sense... who else would go to Norway? It seems like a really cool program though, very well organized. I wish I had done something like that for study abroad, as opposed to my year of being lost and confused in Muenster. It was interesting talking about and comparing Norway, Germany, and the US with them. I got a better perspective on Oslo talking to other americans who've been living there than I would have just being there alone I think.
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I did lots of wandering and sight seeing. I saw the Nobel Peace Center which is a brand new super cool interactive museum dedicated to the spirit of the Nobel Peace Prize and those who have won it. It was an inspiring place.
I went to a few art museums including the Edvard Munch museum and the national galery where I saw his painting, "The Scream".
For the most part the city of Oslo is not particularily beautiful, not as pretty as Munich anyway, but there is one little section of town with cute little scandiavian houses.
I also saw some real Viking ships which was pretty cool. They were found buried in clay so they were remarkably well preserved.
Friday I took the ferry boat out to one of the islands just off shore near the harbor. I hiked around a little, saw the ruins of an old abby, took some pictures, it was fun. I pretty much had the whole island to myself. Not a whole lot of tourists out on a rainy fall day.
One of my favorite things in Oslo was the sculpture park designed by Gustave Vigeland. It's full of sculptures of people in a wide range of poses and showing a range of emotions and phases of life. It's really big and really cool. I took a ton of pictures and could have easily walked around all day looking at each sculpture. I'm not entirely sure what kind of emotion this man juggling babies is supposed to represent... but I think I've felt it before after a long day of baby sitting.
so in conclusion: Oslo is cool.
Satuday I flew back to Berlin where Caroline picked me up. We met up with some other Berlin Fulbrighters and went out to her favorite pizza place. Afterwords we went to another Fulbrighters apartment for a very christmasy type party with Gluwein (warm spiced wine) and lebkuchen (German ginger bread), yum. After the party we went out to a swingin' little bar where I very hapily paid 2.60 for half a liter of delicious German beer. Norway is rediculously expensive and the beer is definitely not up to par now that my tastbuds are aclimated Bavarian brew. We did a little dancing and hung out quite late. I ran into a Fulbright TA who I vaugely remembered from Orientation which was really crazy. I'm slightly jelouse of the Fulbrighters in Berlin... it's such a big cool raw gritty kind of city, totally the opposite of kitschy gemuehlich little Munich, but I love them both. Caroline has a view of the television tower in Alexanderplatz from outside her apartment, which I think is pretty cool, every time you step out the door it's like, hello communism!
It was fun meeting some other research Fulbrighters, it's such a strange program. It's a bunch of intelligent people partying and studying in Germany for a year, in that order. And they are all studying random stuff, it's the only group of people I could tell about my research proposal about the German facination with Native Americans and they wouldn't even batt and eye. Hooray for obscure academic research topics...
Yesturday I spent mostly sitting on a train on my way back. Today I got up at 6am to go to school which was quite a shock to my system. It's going to take me a few days to get back into the swing of things here. I came home to a rather messy room and I don't have the energy or motivation to clean it at the moment. Right now I've go to go try to do some of the reading I didn't do for class tonight.
That's all for my super long post. I hope the pictures made it slightly more readable :) There are lots more in my Flickr account.
Friday, November 4
I'm not going to write about everything now because I'm in the university library and have to stand to use this computer and I've been walking around all day and my feet hurt! So I'll just say that I've seen lots of cool stuff, enjoyed catching up with Phil and meeting his friends here, and I've not so much enjoyed the rainy weather... but what are you going to do?
I'll fill in the details when I get back home, just thought I'd let you know that I'm alive and well.
Saturday, October 29
So I'm in the midst of doing laundry and cleaning and packing... which you all know how much I love doing :-P I'm so excited to get on a train in the morning! I love traveling by train, I wish we had a better train network in the US. Someone out there needs to get on that.
This week flew by. There were lots of classroom discussions about Halloween in the US, and a few little class Halloween parties including the little party I made for my discussion group. I made carmel apples for them, they went over quite well and we had fun playing games and eating sweets. School is fun :) Halloween has only come to Europe in the past ten years or so. American comercialism is taking over the world.... A few kids go trick-or-treating (They say Suesses oder Saueres) but those that do are usually greeted with several people who are very confused and certainly don't have candy prepared for them. One girl said she went trick-or-treating last year and a woman at one of the houses they went to went off on a rant on how Halloween was all American nonsense. She was probably right, it is nonsense, but it sure it fun! I miss Jack-O-Lanterns and candy corn...
I met a couple more potential language partners. Martin, 22, sociology major. Very alternative type guy, we talked about the mass media and how sensationalized the news is and how he thinks the major German news programs have a conservative bias. He prefers the public stations or Austrian stations. Then I met Karl, 29, Austrian, working and studying here to get his Ph.D. in Computer Science. We talked about the Sound of Music, German and Austrian dialects, the pros and cons of living in a big city (he's also from a smaller town in the country).
I also met Peter again Thursday night at a get together for other language tandem partners, it was fun. I went to a party with Katha and her friends Friday. It was an 80s party, I like people who have theme parties. I miss Chelsea and Alexis..... The party was ok, a little awkward since it was smallish and they mostly all knew each other.
Today I slept super late. It was wonderful, I've been exahsted all week it seems like. I went to the train station to buy my tickets and then I decided to take a little stroll to Marienplatz just for fun. It was really crowded, it always feels festive on the weekends. I got some hot roasted chesnuts from a stand and then stood and listened to a classical quartet performing on the street. I love Munich :)
I'm really going to pack now...
Tuesday, October 25
So I've been living in Munich for over a month now and I had yet to see the Alps. I had seen postcards of the city with the Alps in the backdrop, and people kept telling me you could see them from this or that place in the city, but I was begining to disbelieve them because everytime I tried to see them it was too hazy. But I had heard that we were having Föhn conditions the last few days which is supposed to be the best time to see them. I was done at school by noon, so I took a short trip to Lake Starnberg to see if I could catch a glimps of the elusive peaks. And sure enough, there they were, plain as day! They looked so close, it's hard to tell in the picuture, but I could even make out the snow caps on the biggest peak. It was quite breathtaking. I'm really not used to mountains, so it's a bit strange to see this wall of rocks out there in the distance.... In Colorado and Navada I didn't like them much, I feel too trapped having mountains all around. But they are far enough away here, and only on one side, so it's just exciting to see them. Plus, they're the Alps!
Here's a close up of the tallest peak, you can make out a bit of snow even in the photo:
Monday, October 24
So... rewinding a bit...
Saturday I baby sat. The boys I'm watching are so sweet. They're always excited to see me and never want me to leave! In the afternoon I had synchro. The girls on the rutine I'm learning had to leave early and the coach, Claudia was a little upset with them for leaving I think, so she worked with just me for a while, and boy did she make me work! It was really fun for me actually, to have such a good experienced coach working with just me on verticals and spins. We never had enough time to do a lot of drills or one on one work at UR. It's nice to have a more familiar physical challenge to work on and escape from the other daily challenges here.
Saturday night I went out with Uta and Marcus, two of the teachers from one of my schools. Both I think are Referendaren, or student teachers. It was really fun, Uta's friend had rented out a bar for her birthday party. Lots of her friends are also teachers. I did some dancing and spoke lots of German. It was funny to be hanging out with real teachers... young professionals mostly in their mid-late twenties. Uta is a hoot, she's really sweet and it was nice to see her and Marcus outside school, I think it will be easier to talk to them at school now. I usually sit alone in the teachers lounge when I don't have a class to go to and feel awkward because no one knows quite what I'm supposed to be doing there, and niether do I. So at least now I have a few teachers to talk to!
Sunday I met Peter and then I baby sat for a new family. Just one little boy. Yay for money!
Today at school in one of the classes I went to we talked about their stereotyps of Americans, here's the list they came up with:
focused only on America
fond of weapons
willing to attack other nations
positive way of dealing with tragedy
They they made a list of what they thought our stereotyps of Germans are:
cowards (for not joining the war in Iraq)
You can make of that what you will, I just thought it might be interesting.
This afternoon I went to the english class about food in literature. It's quite good. We're reading The Devil's Larder by Jim Crace. I like it. It's not a novel really, more of an experimental kind of collection of pieces all of which involve food. The writing is very good, he really captures a wide range of emotions and passions all connected to foods.
So, clearly I've been a bit busy! I'm looking forward to our break next week. I'm going to Oslo! I guess I haven't even mentioned that here yet... First I'm possibly going to Rostock, near Berlin, to visit another Fulbrighter and then to Berlin to stay with Caroline, my flight to Olso is on Tuesday. There I will be staying with Phil for a few days. I'm excited but I've had so much other stuff to think about it hasn't really sunk in yet. It will be nice to travel again, it's been like what? 6 weeks now? I've got a bit of Wanderlust again :)
This post is totally all over the place... but so am I, so you'll just have to deal with it.
Friday, October 21
In my conversation class, which, incidentally is all girls around 15 years old, I had asked them to bring along an item for show and tell. It was a good excersize. We ended up talking about vacations, because several of their items had to do with places they had traveled. I knew before that the schools I'm working at are in pretty posh areas, but I hadn't realized quite how posh... most of their families had a second house in Italy or somewhere and they had traveled all over, Greece, Croatia, Sylt (an island in northern Germany near Hamburg), London, Irland, far more traveled than I was at that age. My family usually just drove to Ohio to visit my Grandparents, or a couple times to California also to visit relatives. I guess the distances are conperable, but still. I was a little suprised by just how affluent their families are. One girl's father is friends with the president of Egypt and they're going to visit him for the upcoming fall break! At the end of class I busted out electronic Catch Phrase which was a huge hit (Thanks Mom for sending it!).
Today I went to school as a student! Being a student is so much easier than being a teacher. You just have to show up and play along, teaching involves soooo much preparation. Anyway, first I went to an incredibly boring lecture on romantic poetry, I don't think I'll be going back to that one. I don't quite see the point in Vorlesungs, Lecture courses, it's just one hour once a week of listening to the professor read off their note cards. Blah, if I want to know about romantic poets I'll read a book, thank you very much. Next I went to a seminar on Animan figures in romantic literature. I think I might stick with that one. It would be hard for me, being that it's in German, but I don't have to get credit or anything, so I should be ok. And the reading is interesting, I've always wanted to read Puss and Boots in German :) Next I went to an English-German translation course for non-native speakers. Holy Brittish and Irish people... heaps and heaps of them. Also a couple american girls here doing Junior year abroad. I'm looking forward to the class, the teacher is cool and it will be great for improving my really terrible German grammar!
Tonight I went for a great run in the woods and now I'm quite contentedly staying in my room for the night. It's been an exahsting week and tomorrow I'm booked solid, babysitting in the morning, then synchro practice then one of the student teachers from my school invited me to go out with her and her friends. Yay german friends!
Geez.. .so much to do... it's like I actually live here or something....
Wednesday, October 19
As far as natural environment goes, Munich is, for the most part, pretty similar to Minnesota. The weather is about the same (this morning was freezing), the plant life is about the same, it's flat for the most part (I know the Alps are out there somewhere, but I haven't seen them yet), there are even a couple lakes, though they aren't nearly as nice as at home. So most of the time when I'm walking around it doesn't really feel like i'm living on another continent. But every so often one of these little alien creatures shows up running up a tree or scampering accross the sidewalk with it's funny looking big ears and scrawny little black tail and I suddenly feel very out of place. It is, of course, the European red squirrel. Granted, it's not exactly and alien creature, but to me they are rather exotic looking and it's enough to make me remember that there's a whole ocean between here and my native soil. Incidentally, the grey squirrel has actually begun to take over the habitat in much of Europe, and the Red Squirrel population has been declining. Hmm... A North American breed slowly taking over and pushing out the traditional European breed... What a great extended metaphor or motif that would make in a novel about modern Europe...
Today in school: I gave a little speal on American resume's. I think the differences between the American resume and the German Lebenslauf say something about our different cultures. The Lebenslauf, litterally translated "Life run" is traditionally written in letter form with paragraph. It always begins with date and place of birth and includes your elementary school and high school before you University education. It also nearly always includes a picture. It's pretty strait forward, there aren't any tricks to it, it's quite simply your life story to this point. The American resume, on the other hand is all about marketing. We use every trick in the book to make ourselves sound as impressive as possible. No paragraphs to read through, everything important in bolded or underlined. We would never dream of including a birth date or place or our elementary school. We don't include a birthdate because then employers could discriminate based on age. Employers aren't even allowed to ask your age in the US. It's a similar story with the picture, a picture would indicate, age, race, sex, all things that could be discriminated against, so it's not included. So Germans simply say, "This is me, where I was born and where I grew up are part of who I am, my age, my appearance, my race and my sex are also part of who I am and the group I belong to. These are the things that I have done in my life." On the other hand an American resume says "Look at me! I am not my age, my race, my birthplace or my sex, I am unique and special, my identity trancends such practical labels. I am better and more qualified than anyone else and here's why." Hello American individualism. Like our grey squirrels, the American style of resume has begun to take hold here and the Lebenslauf in now sometimes written in bullet points. Poor little Red Squirrels (They're even RED squirrels... it is a living metaphor!)
An interesting side note on gender: There is a law in Germany that the name of your child must indicate his or her sex. So Alexis could not have been Alexis in Germany.
Monday, October 17
This evening I went to class! Yay school! I'm really excited about it, Katie is taking it too so I went with her. It's about food! One of my favoritest topics. It's called something like Food in politics and poetics, and it's in english! yay english! The professor is really nice and there's only 15 or so of us in the class. I'm still waiting to hear back from a family who may want me to babysit monday evenings though, so I'm not positive I'll be able to take it. I thought I was burnt out on school, but it felt really good to be back in a classroom as a student again, and I think it will be good to take a class on something I havn't studied before and to take a class totally voluntarily with no huge daunting research paper to write. I'm looking for other classes I can take on Fridays. There's one German philosophy course I think I'll try to get into, that one's auf Deutsch. There are a ton of really interesting courses, unfortunately not many of them are on Friday, so my choices are limited.
Things I miss: The Food Network, gargantuan grocery stores open 24/7
Sunday, October 16
Originally uploaded by annieswims05.
I went for a long ramble today in the big (really really big) cemetary nearby. It's quite beautiful. Several people I've talked to think walking in cemetaries is creepy or something, but you wouldn't think so if you saw this cemetary. It's a nice place for wandering and conemplating.
Originally uploaded by annieswims05.
Saturday night was the Long Night of Munich Museums, a city wide event where something like 80 different museums, tours, and exhibitions open their doors from 7pm to 2am. I went with my neighbor, Katie. I decided to avoid the big museums that I could see on any weekend and we went to several small strange modern art exhibitions. Some were not terribly interesting, but a few were really cool. My favorite was this exhibition inside an old hotel. A bunch of different rooms had various installments in them, some were strange, but in an interesting to look at kind of way which I enjoy in modern art. There was another exhibit in a church which I thought was quite neat, you can see the pics in flickr.
Friday, October 14
I just came accross this website with some very nice pictures of Munich. Much nicer than any I will ever take, so I suggest you look at them if you want to see what the city is like!
I like this one very much. While Caroline and Grant were here, we stopped in this little covered shopping area one evening and there was a lovely quartet of older men playing classical music. A beatiful moment in a beautiful place. The street performers in Munich are incredibly talented, I've been blown away by quite a few of them. Exept for the statue people, they're just weird.
I've actually not been into the city center for the last few days. Thursday I had school. I got to watch part of The Merchant of Venice (a well done film, I think) with one of the advanced classes. They're reading it now in class. The teacher actually asked me if Shakespear was read in all American high schools and she was suprised when I said, "Of course!" We aren't barbarians after all... anyone who speaks the english language should at least have to read one Shakespear play. I went to yet another class where they are learning about the American South, it's almost enough to make me start missing Virginia! In my conversation class we played some improv games which they liked so I think I'll do more with them in the future, and we continued our discussion of American and German high schools. Of course they all said that American high school looked like it was more fun. I tried to tell them that we did actually go to class, not just football games and dances and pep fests, but they seemed unconvinced.
Last night I went with Katie, the Irish girl who lives next door, to a party for international students. I feel in many ways like I'm still in college and just studying abroad again, only this time is far more fun so far. I feel strange telling people that I have a Bachelor's already. The party was PACKED, probably because it's the first one before classes start next week. I met some people, did some dancing, it was a good time. I haven't met any American exchange students here yet, I know they are around somewhere, but it's probably best if I don't know them anyway.
Today I had no school! I have Friday's off for good now, my schedule is finally somewhat solidified. I cleaned ay little room. It's quite nice now. I've been trying to figure out how the heat works because it's getting pretty cilly at night. Most buildings here have radiators heated with hot water. Have I mentioned German's and their obsesion with frische Luft (fresh air) yet? They open the windows all the time, even when it's freezing outside. At school they always open them between classes and then close them again after five minutes or so. I don't know if there is an actual reason for this, like buildings aren't well ventilated, or if it's just a crazy german old wives tale that it's good for your health. There is actually a sheet that came along with my rental agreement about room temperature and it says to open the windows for at least three minutes a day even in winter to circulate the air, but to make sure to turn off the heat for those three minutes. More proof that Germans are crazy...
Tonight I baby sat. Yay for money! The kids were sweet, three boys. We played chutes and ladders which I used to love, but for the life of me can't remember why, it's not a terribly exciting game. When they went to bed I got to watch TV! I don't have a TV in my room, so it it something of a rare treat. As was lounging on big comfy couches in a real house. I'm going to stop now before I make myself homesick and get into my lonely little bitty dorm room bed.
Wednesday, October 12
I'm going to be so good at counting to eight in German by the end of the year....
I went to another synchro practice tonight and actually met the girls on the team I'll be swimming with. They're younger than me I think, I didn't ask, but they must be 19 or so. They already have the rutine written and know it all, I guess it's the same as last year's just with a few new members and a few members missing. I should be able to catch up, it's quite a while before any competitions.
I forgot how hard synchro is! I can definitely tell I haven't done it for the last six months... I think I'll be sore tomorrow just from trying to learn the first hybrid.
In school today... I sat in and watched two classes who were giving oral book reports. Herr N, one of my advisor teachers, had me fill out evaluations with him, it's kinda fun giving students grades, in an evil power trip kind of way :) They grade much harsher over here though, definitely not as much grade inflation as in the US. In the discussion group I had this afternoon we talked about rules of politeness in England, America, and Germany. Lots of little cultural differences. I think Americans are more polite and definitely more apologetic than Germans. Although Bavarians are big on greetings. Every one is always saying "Gruss Gott!", when you walk into a store or pass someone on an empty street, it's cute, I like it.
..... The photo is Esther Williams, the origional synchronized swimmer.....
Tuesday, October 11
I love fall! The weather has been grand the last couple days. Sunny with a slight chill in the air. Perfect weather for my cute corderoy blazer and cool new scarf :) I went for a long walk today in the woods, very pretty and peaceful. I'm really glad I'm a little ways out of the city and can go walking on paths where I can just see nothing but trees for a while, I need a little nature sometimes.
I met someone who lives on my hall! And she's Irish! Yay for English speakers :) haha. She is very nice, and shared her ice cream with me, which makes her pretty darn cool in my book. She's an Erasmus student, there seems to be a lot of those around here...
You should get used to more frequent blogging now that I'm set up in my room with little to do in the evenings.
Ok, I need to prepare lessons...
Monday, October 10
I finally got all my pics up from Oktoberfest and Caroline's Visit!
Today I didn't do much at all and it's been wonderful. This may be the first day I didn't have to go to school or go into the city center for anything... it's nice. Living in the tourist capital of Germany can be exahsting. Everytime I get of the U-bahn at Marienplatz it's the same thing. Hundreds of tourist snapping photos, carrying around shopping bags, drinking coffe and beer. Bustle bustle, rush rush, crowded streets and crowded subways. I'm begining to miss the suburbs...
I did have to go register my new address today, which involved some waiting in line for a long time in a big government office, but it wasn't too strenuous. As an American I feel very strange having to register my address with the state. Every time anyone moves here they have to go and register again. It makes sense, to know where people live, but still, it's a pain and why do they need to know anyway? There are so many little things here that make me realize just how deep set my American mentality. Privacy, competition and capitalism, convenience, consumerism.... oh America! There are other things that I've noticed while talking to my students. In one of the discussion groups we were trying to come up with a debate topic and someone suggested drinking age. I thought that sounded good so I asked them to list a few pros and cons, but when I asked for the pros of having a higher drinking age, say 21, they just gave me blank stares. Granted, they are all 14 or 15 and looking forward to drinking legally at 16, but still, clearly there are enough pros to a higher drinking age that the whole of the united states has it set at 21. I think it's stupid too, but it occured to me that such law would never even occur to germans. I think a discussion of Abortion rights would lead to a similar dead end. In the US Abortion is always sure to be a hot debate topic, but it would never even occur to German students that the government could or would ban abortions. It's out of the question entirely. So the government has a right to know your address, but when it comes to drinking and abortions you're on your own. Sounds like a fair trade to me. Meanwhile I'm running out of controversial political issues to discuss!
Sunday, October 9
Anyway... my week of visitors... Grant and I picked up Caroline on Wednesday and then we all went out for some bavarian food. Grant didn't seem too impressed, though I don't blame him. Grant left sometime Thursday morning while I was at school and Caroline did some sight seeing on her own. School was fun, I showed my discussion group my high school yearbook. They all said "it's just like the movies!" Which Wayzata high school kind of is I suppose. I feel almost guilty showing them my high school. It so rediculously huge and wealthy, its not exactly representative of all american schools, but then I dont know what school would be. It's hard to explain to German students that our schools are funded based on property taxes so there are huge gaps between the suburbs and the inner city. The schools I work in here are both in wealthy suburbs, but they still only have a couple computer labs that are working half the time and just a few televisions to share among all the classes. Every school in Bavaria gets the same amount of government money. Its also hard for them to understand school pride. They don't have school sports here. Many of them are in sports, but its always city groups or private clubs. There's no competition between schools here, they are all the same. Thats socialism for ya. Anyway. I have a few teaching assignments for next week! One class is studying the american south and I said I could prepare something about debutant balls and southern society for them... including some Ring Dance pics :) I warned them that my perspective on the south is probably not accurate, being a midwesterner, but the teacher was interested in hearing what other americans think about the south. And in another class I'm going to teach them how to write American resumés, which is really different from the German or Brittish Cirriculum Vitae which is written as a narrative in paragraphs.
So... Thursday night, Caroline and I walked around a while and went up to Schwabing, the 'trendy' area near the university. The Bavarians would say it is 'Shicki Micki' meaning something like yuppie or preppie. We found somewhere for dinner and some drinks and went to another bar later closer to the city center. Fridays I don't have school so we had the whole day to be tourists. We slept quite late and then decided to go to Victuellenmarkt for lunch. Victuellenmarkt is a big permanent market place in the city center with butchers and bakers and fruit and wine and cheese and anything you could ever want. It took us quite a while to wonder around and find what we wanted and utensils to eat it with, but it was yummy! Then we went to the Deutsches Museum which is supposed to be a very famouse museum of science and technology. We were rather dissapointed. It is really big and there is tons of stuff in it, some of which is very cool and interesting. But it is badly in need of an update. Everything looks like it was set up in the 70s and there was just too many different topics and no flow to anything. There wasn't very much interactive stuff, and the few things that were interactive were not working. Boo. If you are really really into mechanics or ships or planes or textiles or printing or flying then you might like it more than I did. So, after that we consulted Lonely planet for some suggestions of what to do in the area we were in which is called Heidhausen. We found a great cafe and a really cool little movie theater that shows english movies. We walked around alittle too, I really like the Heidhousen area, more more than Schwabing I think. the buildings are all pretty and there are lots of cafes and resturants. the theater we went to had a world record for the longest running movie ever!! It's been showing the Rocky Horror Picture show for 29 years! How cool is that? I think I'm going to have to go back and see it sometime :) Caroline and I saw Broken Flowers, I enjoyed it in an artsy realism open ending kind of way.
Caroline left Saturday morning. I went to meet another family who wants me to baby sit probably at least once a week for them. I stayed and whatched the two boys for an hour while their parents did some arrands. They were very sweet, 5 and 7 years old. Their mom is American and their dad is Swiss and works for Microsoft and was transfered here a couple months ago, which seems to be a theme among families who have contacted me. Their house, it turns out, is quite close to the Walmart here in Munich so I decided it would be a good time to make a trip there. Yay Walmart! If you think Walmarts in the states are a little crazy and disorganized then you should have seen this one. It was still nice to see a somewhat familiar store though. I ended up spending a few hours there and buying a ton of stuff. I'm still trying to figure out how I spent so much money with out buying anything over 15 euros. When I got back my coputer was dead... but I had lots of time to set up my room! It's very pretty and gemütlich now. I haven't met many people in my building, just one spanish girl who is nice but doesn't speak very good english or german...
Today I decided I should find a church. I heard some bells ringing earlier, so I figured I'd just leave before ten and walk around until I found a church service. This may sound crazy, but this is Bavaria we're talking about, extreamly catholic and a church on every courner. Sure enough, I found one just in time for mass. Its just couple blocks away and is a pretty Rococo kind of style builing (I think) The average age of the congregation was probably 60 or so, but thats allright, I'll probably go back next week. While walking I saw a bit more of Großhaden, the area I live it. There's more there than I thought, a couple resturants and bars, a few big beer halls with beer gardens, naturally, no street corner would be complete without a beer garden in Munich. This afternoon I went for a run and ended up running into part of the huge cemetary near me before realizing what it was, is it disrespectful to run in a cemetary? I'm not really sure, I guess I should stick to the paths through the adjecent forest . It is a really pretty and really really big cemetary though, perhaps a better place for rambling, if I can manage to not get lost.
I really really hope I can get my computer fixed soon :-/
Wednesday, October 5
Soooo... so much stuff to write about right now. This past weekend was way more fun than anyone should be allowed to have. I finally have a bit of time now and shockigly the computer at one of my schools is actually working!
So, I'll start back on my birthday. Gudrun made a very tasty dinner and it was very fun and festive and there was a cake with candles and all in all it made me feel quite warm and fuzzy inside and not so homesick and lonely. Tuesday I went to Schoss Nymphemberg with 60 5th graders. Whoa. We actually all took the S-bahn there... can you imagin? 60 10 year olds on public transportation? insanity. The Schoss is kinda cool, if you are into Baroque or Rococo architecture. Wednesday I tought my first discussion class. It's a group of about 10 15 year olds, all girls! they seem sweet, hopefully I can come up with some good topics and materials to get them talking. Then I went to a synchro practice, most of the masters team wasnt there so I just kinda did some laps myself and then met the few that were there. But, they said I can compete with them! I have to find out more about it and the time comitment and everything, but I really want to do it, the national competition is early July I think.
Jumping ahead to Saturday... I have my own room!!!!!!!!!! Its quite nice, a hundred times better than the building i lived in in Muenster. I have my own little bathroom and I share the kitchen with just six people. I also have my own teeny tiny refrigerator. I haven't had much time to set everything up yet though because I've rather busy. Saturday evening I met up with a group of six other Fulbrighters who came from all over Germany to come to the fest. Saturday we just went to a couple bars, and then we met up Sunday morning at Oktoberfest. It was GREAT!!!!!!!!!! We got there at like 10 am and actually got into a tent, though we couldn#t get a table. It didn't really matter though because it is such an amazing crazy cool fun atmousphere. I understand now why people come from all over to go to Oktoberfest. Really, its just this huge beer drinking party in every tent and everyone is instantly best friends adn they play bavarian music and old cheesy american music and everone dances and sings and its so so so fun. And its the same huge party happening in all twelve tents! I will get pictures on my Flickr account soon, I promise. The one of me in my dirdle is in the tent, that guy behind me is one of the other Fulbrighters, Matt. We stayed in the tent for several hours and drank our fair share of beer then we headed out to go on some rides. Weeeeeeeee. So Much Fun. Eventually we made our way back to the city and went to a resturant there to get out of the freezing rain. We got some food and sobered up a bit and then hung out and chatted. It was really great to hang out with a bunch of Americans again and to share our experiences so far. I'm definitely glad I'm not in a tiny town in east Germany, one of the guys was having a kinda rough time there. A few of the girls stayed on my floor sunday night because they have their fall break now and were headed to Rome in the morning.
Then, Monday was a national holiday, the day of German reunification. When I asked Gudrun about wheather or not they do anything to celebrate it she said something along the lines of, it's not really something to celebrate. there is definitely a feeling among Western Germans that they would be better off if the East had remained its own country.
Anyway... So monday I made some attempt to unpack my room, clean, etc. I also met a woman who may want me to baby sit for her. yay! Then.... Grant came! Monday was also the last day of Oktoberfest, so I had to take Grant there. We went on more rides and got into one of the tents to eat dinner. I'm pretty sure Grant had fun even though he doesn't drink. Oh, and we saw a real Flea Circus! I'm a little sad and a little glad that the fest is all over. Sad because I don't know when I'll every be able to go back to it and because I like seeing people walking aroud in dirndle and lederhosen all over, but glad that the city will hopefully be slightly less crowded and there will be slightly less throwing up on the u-bahns....
So, yesturday, back to school... blah. I need to figure out the fastest way to get to school from my new place because it's been taking me like an hour by bus and then S-bahn and its only ten miles away. School is actually pretty fun. I really like being in high school all day. Teachers are definitely the best people and there are some really good ones here. I've learned a lot just going and watching their classes. And the students are of course all very nice, even when they do misbehave. Anyway, afterschool I took Grant on a long walking tour and then we ate really yummy Indian food. Today he is hopefully out exploring the Olimpic park on his own. And... tonight.... Caroline is coming! Thats right, no breaks for me! I'm never going to actually set up my room, but oh well. Grant is leaving tomorrow and then Caroline is staying until Saturday morning. Hoorah for friends!
Whew. So in conclution.... Munich is great :) Now I have to go to class!
Monday, September 26
Anyway... about me... I can't think of everything that I've done since last time i wrote. I did meet some other exchange students here from all over Europe. I met one Italian boy last weekend, and he's in a language class and living in dorm so he knows lots of the other internationals. So friday? night I went out with some of them to eat Bavarian food and then one of the guys with us who actually lives here had a friend in an acapella group that was performing, so we went. Turned out the performance was called 'acapelle meets improve'. It was a very entertaining evening watching Germans singing acapelle songs and then a group of them did some improve games. Random, but fun. Saturday I went to the Oktoberfest for a little bit in the afternoon, this weekend was Italian weekend. Yikes... I was there at like 2 in the afternoon and there were so many very drunk Italian men. I decided I'd had enough of that pretty quickly, but I did enjoyed walking around soaking up the festive carnival atmousphere. There's even a flea circus there! Today I was out in the Englisher garden and holy nakedness... I guess the other times I went it was a either a weekend when its full of tourists or the weather was bad. But today was nice and sunny and it was the place to be if you enjoy full nudity. Lots of buisness people actually go on their lunchbreak and you see them there, lying on the grass, their suits folden very neatly in a pile next to them. Oh Germans...
Tonight Gudrun is making dinner for me and Frau S. and her family are coming over for my birthday, I think there will be cake involved. Its very sweet of them to do something for me on my B-day. I've been feeling a bit homesick lately, I guess after a few weeks the vacation menatality has worn off and its hitting me that I'm not going home for a long long time. I miss having people around who already know me well and I can just relax with. And people who speak the same language as me... BUT, Grant is coming on Monday! He gets a big prize for being the first to visit me :-) Other things to look forward to... tommorrow is a 'Wandertag' (fieldtrip) for the 5th graders and I get to go along to Schoß Nymphenburg here in Munich which I havn't seen yet. Wednesday I teach my first discussion class all on my own. Wednesday night I'm going to a synchro practice with the masters team here! Thursday evening I might to to a teahers Vollyball league :) Nevermind that I havn't played Vollyball since 8th grade! There are a few other pretty young teaching who are still working on their Praktikum to get their license an they are really nice, so I'm looking forward to it. Saturday... I get my own room... woo hoo! Today I went and got the rental contracts and found out that my room includes an internet connection, YES!!!
Good things. Happy Birthday to me :-)
Saturday, September 24
Thursday, September 22
So, what else is new in München? not a whole lot I guess. I've been going to some more classes at my schools. I haven't actually done any teaching yet, just introducing and observing. I'm getting a little frustrated with the head teachers because they still havn't worked out a concrete schedule for me. As a result I usually get dragged along to school at 7am and then sit around until someone decides to take me along to a class that they don't really need me in.... arg. Hopefully they'll figure it out soon. The classes I have gone to have been kinda fun. Its basically about the same as american high school. I'm excited about the higher level conversation classes that I'll get to teach on my own. Today in one of the upper level classes we talked about oil prices and huricanes and racism... oiy. It's hard being the one American put on the spot, I feel like I should know way more about things than I really do. I also I guess should have more definite opinions on everything, but I can't very well speak for all Americans. I'm going to be getting a whole lot better at keeping up on current events this year.
I'm also getting a tad sick of living with Gudrun, the teacher I'm staying with. Like I said, she's nice and she cooks for me and its allright, its just annoying to have to tell her where I am and when I'll be back all the time, and she likes me to come home at 6 for dinner. Which means if I go into the city I have to leave by like 5 to get there. If I know ahead of time I can tell her I wont be home, but I never really know what I'm going to do. And she hasn't given me a house key. Yesturday I was going to the school she doesn't teach at and didn't need to be there until 11, so she had to give me a key to lock up. She gave me like a 10 min. lecture on how to properly lock the doors and how even though Munich is pretty safe there may still be thieves and how her key is registered so if it were lost it would be expensive to replace.... oh my goodness! She lives an hour outside the city in this little residencial town with mostly elderly people and young families. sheesh. Oh, and when she left in the morning she actually locked me out of the whole bottom floor of the house. She's a little crazy... But of course I am gratefull that she's letting me stay with her and am incredibly lucky to have a free room. I'm just anxious to get my own room and have a set schedule so I can get into some kind of rutine.
Ok, so enough complaining about me. other things going on in Germany.... Elections!!! I don't really understand how things work. No one really won the election, neither the SPD nor the CDU had a majority, but aparently Schöder (SPD) has formed a coalition with the Green party and the Leftist (comunist) party so that all together they will have the majority. I don't get how thing works out exactly, sounds like a lot of choas to me. I can't believe the comunist party is so big, the got something like 9% of the vote, and its mostly the eastern states that support it. One would think that they saw how poorly comunism worked the last time and wouln't want to go back to that, but Germans are very idealistic people I think. For the most part Germany is very liberal, except for Bayern which is an island of conservativism. I talked to Gudrun about the election a bit, she has a fairly pesimistic outlook on Germany's future. She said things will get worse before people realize things need to change, i think the same could be said of the US. She seems surpised in general that I would come here to Germany, she said young people are leaving here to go to the US, not the other way around. I guess thats true, but Germany is not exactly impovered at the moment, especially not Munich. But true, the economy is on a downward slide. I don't think I'd ever move here permanently, but there are plenty of things I don't like about the US too, there are always positives and negatives.
In other news, I haven't been back to the Wiese'n (site of Oktoberfest) yet, but I may go tomorrow or saturday. I did go to that Bavarian theater thing last Saturday with Gudrun and Frau. S, it was fun I guess. They were speaking in real Bavarian dialect, so I didn't really understand much and I definitely didn't get the jokes. Its amazing to me that a languange can vary so much from one little region to the next here. I also went to the big parade on suday which was HUGE. Its a parade of people wearing the traditional Trachten, costumes, it was at least 2 hours long of marching bands and groups from all over germany, austria and switzerland dressed up and walking through the city in the freezing rain, its pretty crazy. I couldn't believe how many people were in it.
Someday I'll be able to post my pictures, but at the moment niether of the schools I'm working at has a working internet conection. !!!!!!!!!! The're a little behind on these things at German high schools... hopefully they'll get it up and working soon so that I don't go broke paying to use internet cafes!