Saturday, October 29

Ich will mit dem Zirkus weg laufen

Have I mentioned that there is a circus accross the street? It's the smallest circus I've ever seen and it's such a random spot to have it. It's just a little square of grass right outside the U-bahn stop. All week whenever I get off the U-bahn I've been greeted with the sent of elephants. It makes me smile whenever I see it though, the little yellow and red striped tent with kitchy circus music coming from it. It's the kind of circus that I'd like to run away with if I ran away with a circus.

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

I finally saw them!

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 last week I found this website called Sprachduo set up to find tandem language partners in Munich. Great idea! I need to meet more people my age, and I need to speak more German. I looked on the site and there's just a big list of names, what language they speak, and what they'd like to practice. Other than that it just had ages and what school they're at. So, I figured I'd just send out an e-mail to the first 12 or so people my age looking to practice English. I thought probably a lot of people still have their name on the site who already have a partner or aren't interested anymore or something, but aparently I was wrong. Now I have like 6 people who want to practice English/German with me! Yesturday afternoon I met with Peter, 25, studying medicine here. He's sweet, very typically Munich I think. He actually went to one of the schools I teach at! Today I met with Katharina. Also really nice, she's studying to be an English and French teacher. She's from northern Bavaria (there's a large distinction between northern and southern Bavaria). She spent a year in France as a TA doing the same thing I am now, so we had plenty to talk about. She invited me to go out with her friends tomorrow night, I'm going out with real German students!! There are still like four more people who've e-mailed me, but I don't have any time left in the week! I can't say no though... I feel like I'm interviewing people to be my friend or something, it's a little strange.

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)
law abiding
no fun

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

back to school

Thursday at school: Yet another discussion on American high schools. I've got the whole rutine down pat now for any teacher who asks me to come to their class and talk about American high schools. I start by asking them what they know about American high schools and we make a mind map on the board (teachers here are crazy about mind maps, and they call them "mind maps" in english, it's funny), the first things they usually say are that we have school uniforms, I don't know where they got that from, I have to explain that only some private schools have uniforms. Then they usually say that we have cafeterias, which I explain is because we are in school all day until 2 or 3 in the afternoon. Here most of them are done at 1pm, so they go home for lunch. Then dances come up, prom, homecoming, prom king and queen, social stuff like that. Then of course sports, football and cheerleaders. So, in case you were wondering, those are the defining aspects of "American High school" according to German high school students.

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

Sciurus Vulgaris

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

Culinary Adventures

Today I went grocery shopping at PennyMarkt, where shopping is always an adventure. It's one of the discount grocery stores where you never know what they will have from day to day. Sometimes oranges, sometimes peaches, sometimes turkey, sometimes ham. It's not the kind of place you can bring a shopping list to, you just have to go and see. There is also a section in the center of the store with random stuff like sheets, pots and pans, rugs, a dvd player, small apliances, socks, shoes, ya never know. Today I found a hand held blender for 9 euros. I was pretty excited about this because I've really wanted one ever since Gudrun made me all kinds of yummy vegatable soups with hers. So after finding the blender I went to see what kind of vegatables i could find. I decided on a bag of brussel sprouts. I'm not sure why, I never eat them at home, in fact I think I've only had them in the Richmond dining hall. This afternoon I made my very own brussel sprout soup. It is suprisingly good. Something about good hot soup on a crisp fall day like today... mmmm. I have lots of it left over since I figured I might as well use up the whole bag of sprouts. The recipe is from the BBC, as you can see, thank goodness I have an Irish next door neighbor to explain to me what a knob of butter is!

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.

contemporary? modern? post modern? or just junk?

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

Ein frische Lüftchen

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.

Gute Nacht!

Wednesday, October 12

eins, zwei, drei, vier...

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

Frauen Power

So apparently Angela Merkel is going to be the new Chancelor of Germany. I'm confused... last I heard Schroeder was getting a coalition of the left wing parties together so he could be chancelor. But now Merkel and the CDU have made a coalition with the SPD... the conservatives and the socialists.... how's that going to work? Probably not well, seems to be the concesus among newspaper editors. Basically they will be sharing power so they'll fight over everything and not end up changing much, which could be very bad because Germany is desperately in need of an economic kick start right now. Time will tell I suppose.


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

My computer works!

Just thought I'd let you know in case you were losing sleep over it... I took it to a very friendly Brittish man with his own computer repair buisness and he plugged it in with a German power cord and it worked just fine. So I bought the cord and all seems to be going well so far.

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!

Gute Nacht!

Sunday, October 9

Minor crisis...

Ummm... my computer won't work :( I don`t know whats wrong, when i turn it on it sounds like its starting up and the Compaq screen comes up, and then it blinks and shuts off. Everyone told me that I didn`t need to use a transformer because its built into the laptop... so it shouldn't be that. I wasn't using a surge protector though, because I didn't have one yet, in fact i was out shopping and I bought one and then I got back and it didn't work. Boo. I found the number of a repair shop here, so I guess i'll have to call and bring it in.... I hope its not too expensive. So I'm back in an internet cafe. sigh.

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

Feeling Gemütlich

Gemütlich is my new favorite word. Bavarians use it all the time. We don't really have a direct translation, but it means something like cozy or homey or comfortable. As in, München ist eine Gemütliche Stadt.

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, October 3

Don't I make a cute bavarian?