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.