Tuesday, November 14
Saturday, September 30
at my mother's request I have finally taken a few pictures of my house and room. As you can see it's a bit difficult to take a picture of our house because there are lots of nice big old trees in front of it, but there you have it. Someday I'll take more pictures around DC. But next weekend I'll be in Minneapolis! woo! I'm excited :)
Oh, funny story, so my boss asked me to make a list of resturants and attraction downtown around our hotel. So I went to the hotel website and filled out the online "contact us" form to ask if they had a list. And the next day I get an e-mail back from none other than Amanda!!! We're staying at the hotel she works ah. HA! too funny.
I'm being dorky and staying in to read tonight because I have to finish this crazy book on Goddess Worship for our book club meeting next weekend. It's called "When God was a Woman"... it's a bit text book ish. I recently finished "The Time Traveler's Wife" which is GREAT. You should read it. And I started Zadie Smith's "On Beauty" and would really like to be reading that right now, but the ancient Goddess calls....
Tuesday, September 12
Backpedaling a bit (haha, it's a bike joke!), I had a great weekend in Richmond. I drove down there Friday night and met Jackie and Emily at Jason's apartment. Saturday afternoon we went down to Carry Town and then to UR campus to wander around. It was weird but nice. I somehow forgot how incredibly beautiful it is. I guess you don't notice so much when you're living there, but it really is a perfect little bubble of prettyness. And they remodeled the science center AND the dining hall which blew me away, I'm a tiny bit jelouse. Overall it was nice to see it and made me happy that I went there and have so many fond memories, but I'm done with that part of my life and wouldn't want to go back now. It's a good feeling. What I miss most is my classes, but that just means I need to get my butt back in school soon, and I can manage that. Moving on, Saturday night some of Jason's friends from high school living in DC came down and we all went out for a very nice dinner at one of my favorite Richmond resturants. (The Hard Shell, in case you're interested) There was wine and bread and wine and crab legs and wine and key lime pie and a little more wine.... It all felt very posh and grown up. Richmond night life is kinda like that. After dinner we went out to a couple bars and then all went back to Jason's to continue the party..... a good time was had by all. Sunday I stopped at Target, bought a bike and a de-humidifier (oh the joys of living in a basement) and then spent half and hour with two high school aged target employees trying to fit it in my car, I finally had to buy a wrench to get the front wheel off and get it home. whew.
Now it's back to work for me. Work is getting a bit more interesting as I get involved with more projects. I'm very excited for the meeting I'm going to in Minneapolis in a few weeks because a)I finally get to meet some members and see some faces to go with all the names I'm e-mailing and it should be interesting and b) It's in Minneapolis which means it's a free trip home and I get to see everybody!! :)
Thursday, September 7
This weekend promises to be a bit more on the wild side, at least that's what Jackie is hoping for. I was never really all that wild during the four years I lived in Richmond before, so I'm not sure if that will pan out... but we'll see. I could go for a let loose kinda weekend about now. This 9-5 cubical stuff is getting to me... it's a little scary that I'm actually starting to get used to it and I'm not sure if that's a good thing.
I saw Grant today! Here visiting his sister at George Mason, he invited everyone he knows in DC out to dinner, we had a two law students, two grad students and three young professionals. It's like I keep saying... DC is the place to be!
in fact it's so exciting here that I'm wiped out and may fall asleep right now before 10 pm. wooooo. it's a crazy life I lead. :)
Wednesday, August 30
In other news... life in DC is going well. The miserably unbearable humidy has finally given way to rain and cloudyness, which is a good thing in my book, it was gross before. I had a fun weekend. Friday I went to the National Gallery after work. I was still wearing my work shoes (I usually keep them at work and wear flip flops, but I forgot) so I was kind of distracted by the pain in my big toes and didn't thouroughly enjoy it. I did, however, enjoy the gift shop where I bought several prints for my room. I bought Matice's "Open Window" as it seemed apropriate because I have no windows in my basement room.
Saturday I met Shannon and Mike at the American History Museum where we wanted to see the Jim Hansen Muppet exihbit. It was not so much an exihbit as a couple small displays, but it was fun anyway. That night we went to a Leg-Warmers concert, they are an 80s cover band and it was GREAT. Everyone (including me) was decked out in full 80s gear and singing at the top of their lungs and pony stepping their hearts out. It was fun :) Who doesn't love the 80s (in a haha, glad we aren't actually in them anymore kind of way)? My camera was unfortunately out of batteries... sorry. I am going to take DC pictures soon, I promise.
Sunday I went to mass at the Georgetown University Chapel. It was move in weekend for freshmen, which I thought might make me feel nostalgic, but it mostly made me really really glad I don't ever have to go through that again!
Work is going well. I'm starting to feel kind of like I know what I'm doing, or at least sounding like I do when I'm on the phone. Which is good, because the girl training me who I work with most closely is actually being promoted and leaving our department in a couple weeks. Her position (which is the same as my position) is open by the way, if anyone is interested in a very cool (if not very well paid) job in DC working with me everyday. I'll have some say in picking the next person, so you have an in! This means that I'm going to be training the next person, which is pretty funny since I'll have been here for about a month and a half at that point.
It's an interesting place to be working. Yesturday I got to meet a couple of University administrators from Moldovia. It was kind of a depressing meeting, since we can't really help them make the connections with American Universities that they are hoping to make, and I'm not sure if they are going to find schools who want to set up a program in Moldovia. And they talked about how little money they have, and how strict the governement is. But they were really nice and I really wanted to help them. I also am very glad to be an American citizen.
This is long and babbleing. Obviously I'm missing having good friends around to talk to every day. BUT Shannon will HOPEFULLY be moving here very soon (pressing my thumbs!) and I'm going to York, PA this weekend to see Caroline!! YAY! And next weekend I'm going to Richmond to meet Jackie and Emily! yay! (and weird, to be going back to Richmond). More on those trips (and pictures) later. Ciao.
Sunday, August 20
and if you do happen to do all that, then let me know because I get brownie points at work for getting friends to sign up :)
My living situation is likewise amazing. It took no time at all for me to fall in love with Georgetown, it's just too cute and perfect and there are a million little independant shops and resturants around I can walk to, and then M street a little further down if I want the hottest shopping street in the city. I love that I can walk places. I do have some parking issues because I need to get DC plates and license before I can get a permit to park on the street and before I can get that I need proof of residency and this and that and the other thing, it's a long horribly process with lots of documents and paper work that rivals even German beaurocracy. But I'll get it done.
I finally got my bed that I purshased two weeks ago (there were some miscomunication issues with the delivery people) and funished my room with a great desk from goodwill and shelf and dresser from a garage sale. I deserve a pat on the back for my thriftyness. If I weren't so tired and lazy I would get out of bed and take pictures. I'll do that soon. I've gotten some housemate bonding time in this weekend and the girls I live with are very fun and nice. I went out with them Friday night. Night life in DC is nuts. There are sooooo many young people, it's like... I don't even know what it's like. Everyone is just a few years out of college, working in the city at some kind of amazing world changing job, happy, and single. Adams morgan is totally insane, when the last bar we were in closed we went out and the streets and sidewalks were completely full of people hailing cabs and stumbling home. I've already run into a couple UR people randomly around town, and I expect that will continue. DC is obviously the place to be.
Thus far I don't find the people here to be overwhelmingly obsessed with politics or TOO self important. Although there is kind of this sense in the city that it is the center of the world and just being there somehow makes you more important. Luckily the people I work with are very down to earth, my closest coworker is even from MN! And my housemates are also pretty normal and laid back. So maybe I just haven't met all those typically DC people yet. We did have a couple young guys knock on our door working on a grassroots campaign for the Democratic National Party. One of them had the longest beard I've ever seen on a probably college aged guy. We invited them in and gave them probably the smallest donation the DNP will ever get, but it was about the support. What a horrible job though, that's dedication. I'm sure the ten minutes they spent chatting with us in our house were the best and most encouraging of their night.
So, in conclusion, I love my life. Setbacks thus far have been relatively minor, and I feel like a totally independant and with-it adult type person. It's a little frightening, but in a good way. Other things are bound to go wrong, but I think I'll be able to handle it.
I hope you are all eaqually excited about life right now, or at least enjoying reading about mine :) I'll try to keep this updated with less general rambling and more interesting DC anecdotes in the future. Until then, Ciao.
Friday, August 4
Ok, maybe I took that a little too far, but you get my point :-P I should totally write book jacket blurbs, by the way.
Thursday, August 3
I think I couldn't write during the decision making process because I was afraid of over thinking it and making things hard on myself. This is a great oportunity, I can just stay for a year, it will be a great experience, it's in DC, it's an organization I'm interested in, and they're actually paying me. I didn't want to stop and think about the whole leaving home less than a month after getting back part of it. That hit me somewhere in Wisconsin :( But luckily I had several more states to recover and I'm over it for now and excited to be on a new adventure in a new city.
Tomorrow: apartment hunting, or room in group house hunting as the case may be. Wish me luck (or find me someone in DC to live with!)
I'll probably write more about the last couple weeks soon.
Saturday, July 29
Tuesday, July 11
I'm going to Wicked on Friday!!! yay! AND.... next Thursday I'm going to Virginia and I'm finally FINALLY going to see my sweetheart again. YAY YAY YAY YAY! I may or may not actually explode before then. We'll see.
Meanwhile... unpacking? job applications? being lazy and doing nothing because it's July and it's flipping HOT out here? stay tuned to find out.
I'm going to Wicked on Friday!!! yay! AND.... next Thursday I'm going to Virginia and I'm finally FINALLY going to see my sweetheart again. YAY YAY YAY YAY! I may or may not actually explode before then. We'll see.
Meanwhile... unpacking? job applications? being lazy and doing nothing because it's July and it's flipping HOT out here? stay tuned to find out.
PS. Germany got third! woo! Which totally means I get to leave the flag on my car for at least a few more weeks in celebration :)
Friday, July 7
Sunday I went out and ran some errands. Shopping! on a Sunday!!!!! crazy. I even went grocery shopping which was pretty exciting. Last night was Music in Plymouth, which means more fireworks! which we had a not so spectacular view of directly behind a clump of trees. OH well, at least we saw the AMAZING (ly cheesy and horrible) laser show.
Now I'm hanin' out at home because Mom is on a buisness trip, Bob is at work and the rest of the family is at the lake and it is blissfully quiet and peaceful around here. Maybe I'll even unpack sometime. or not.
On the whole, it's nice to be back, I love Minnesota, but I can't live here, not now anyway. I just can't do it, I thought I might want to, but after the first day here I knew I was going to have to leave. So I'm plugging along with the job search, I have a few good looking prospects, I'll let you know how things turn out.
Sunday, July 2
Oh! the Germany game friday was amazingly intense and awesome, I can't wait to watch the next on the 4th, they're going to smash Italy!
Wednesday, June 28
1. Be a dedicated teacher. Stay on top of lesson plans, be creative, get to know the students and keep them interested. Impress the students and teachers with your maturity and confidence. And speak loudly enough for them to hear me!! Go above and beyond. Find a project you care about and follow through, start an after school club. Remember, teaching is the reason I'm in Germany!
Teaching has been at times rewarding, at times boring, at times really fun, and at times incredibly frustrating. I would say I've learned a lot about working in a school and being in a classroom. I would have liked to have done more, but I think it took me the first six months or so to realize what it is I could do and how to do it, before I started speaking up and feeling more comfortable asking teachers to do something with me or making my own suggestions. But in the end I hope I had some kind of impact. Getting to know students was hard at two huge schools, but I had a few classes I know well and of course my discussion groups who I had a lot of fun with. At least when I walk through the halls lots of kids say "Hallo Frau S!"
2. Utilize free time. You are in Germany for goodness sake. Get out of your little dorm room and do something cool! Visit every museum, church, park you can. Walk, hike (in the Alps!) , ride a bike, get moving! Take interesting classes, do the reading, learn something! Travel as much as possible and travel alone sometimes. Try new things, be open minded and adventureous.
Check and check. Ok, so there were a few dark cold months in there when I watched a lot of German TV, BUT overall I've done well I think. I did take classes, I did see museums, I did go to parks, walk, ride my bike and travel tons, although not so much alone, but I'm ok with that, I had great travel buddies. I've most certainly been open minded, tried new things, and had lots of adventures. yay :)
3. Meet people. Be outgoing, be confident. Make friends, but don't spend all your time with the same people, this is the perfect oportunity to meet new, different, and interesting people. Be open to anything and anyone (just don't be too naive).
Ok, so making friends in Munich was challenging, but I have a few. Some of the younger teachers last semester, Peter my language partner, of course my neighbor Katie. I've also met tons and tons of other divers and assorted people throughout the year, just not a lot that I clicked with and kept up with. But I have I think been open to meeting different types of people and people from all over the world, and I've had a number of interesting conversations and heard some new perspectives. The best friends I've made have been some of the other TA's who I've visited and traveled with, and we will definitely be friends for life. I think it's natural to gravitate toward people in a similar situation and place in life as you. I'm ok with that.
4. Speak German! Don't spend ALL of your time with English speakers! practice, read German, take classes in German, study German, write in German. German, German, German!
Umm, ok, I'm going to have to give myself a not so high mark on this one. Does German TV count? I did try to read a couple german books, and will continue to read them when I get home and actually miss german a few weeks from now. My German is a little better, especially listening comprehension. Speaking... I don't know, I'm more fluent, but my grammar is just as bad as always, I'm just better at slurring things and cutting off endings like the Bavarians do now :)
5. Budget. Plan a monthly budget and stick to it. Make some extra money to use for traveling. Cook your own meals, don't buy clothes or stuff you don't need and can't fit in your suitcases anyway! Be smart, plan ahead.
I'm pretty proud of myself on this one. I got some, but not THAT much money from my parents at the begining of the year. I did quite a bit of babysitting and funded my own travels, which is impressive I think considering the amount I've traveled and the fact that I live in the most expensive city in Germany. I've done lots of cooking and been good about avoiding too much shopping. I'm throwing out one big bag of clothes and everything is going to fit fairly easily into my suitcases (I think, I have two out of three packed so far!) I feel like I let go of a bit of my desire for more matierial possesions, and that's a good thing. AND I get my last pay check on Friday so I'm actually going to have money left over to start the summer and tide me over until I find a job!
6. Stay in touch. Send postcards, write e-mails, take pictures, write letters, make phone calls, blog blog blog. All that good stuff I can do to let you people know how much I love you even though I'm so far away.
Well, the blog is alive and well. I hope you all feel kept in touch with. I had so many visitors this year, I felt really loved, I have so many great friends all over. Everyone is so spread out now, keeping in touch will be challenge at home as well, but I don't think it will be a problem. There are some friendships that can withstand anything, and I'm lucky enough to have quite a few of those :)
I realize that these aren't the good kind of goals that you can actually measure, but at least it's something to look at if I'm ever feeling lonely, homesick, or just off track. Mostly I hope that I can have a great time, be happy, have fun, all that. And I hope that I can make it meaningful!
I've certainly had my share of loenly, homesick, and off track moments, but that was part of the challenge of living abroad. Overall I feel good about my year here. I'm so glad I made the decision to come. I have had a great time, had TONS of fun, and it's been meaningful. yay me!
Thats all, it's time to get to my last day of school now. One more long bike ride. One more round of rice krispy bars for my other conversation group :) and I get a fancy official "certificate" with a stamp and everything- how german. Then I have to finish packing and clean and do something fun with Katie! ahh! I don't really need to sleep tonight, I'm so excited and wired! Almost HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Saturday, June 24
Ha ha, that's right, for those of you completely in the dark, Germany just won and will be playing in Berlin on Friday against either Mexico or Argentina, we'll see in a few hours. Everyone is invited to my house, 10 am June 30th, to watch on the big screen from the comfort of large leather couches.... ahhh, home sweet home. Just to warn you, I'll be waving a german flag and wearing a german lai and belt, and possibly switching intermitently between cheering and crying because I'm not in Germany to watch it anymore.
Nah, I'm not really that sad to leave it behind. I wen't into the city today just to experience a bit of the atmosphere, but Katie had to work at 5 and I have failed miserably at making any other good friends in Munich, so I wandered around by myself during the game. I'm glad I did though, it certainly is a once in a lifetime thing. It was actually a great day for shopping, all the stores were empty, in fact most of the streets in the city were empty because everyone was huddled around every availible television set. But no matter where I was I could hear the game and roaring crowds when they scored. I din't make it to the fan park, but most of the action downtown was on Leopoldstr. where they blocked off traffic for about five blocks and all the bars and cafe's lining the street overflowed with football fans standing on their tip toes to see the screen inside. The beer garden at the Chinese tower was a hot spot as well, I was at least able to sit down there, just not in view of a screen. At the end of the game I walked back to Leopoldstr. which had turned into a massive throng of german flag waving yelling screaming horn and wistle blowing fans. Literally so packed you could barely move. The Germans might have been a little excited. By that point I had had enough and managed to squash myself into an u-bahn to get home and crash. Whew.
My living room is sounding pretty nice right now.
I sold my TV today, which means I have one less distraction from cleaning and packing...blah.
Thursday, June 22
I had my last discussion group with my girls today :( they bought me flowers. They are so sweet, we had a lot of fun hanging out speaking English this year. I'm going to miss teaching. I made them and the teachers Rice Krispy bars today, they were a big hit. Everyone is impressed by rice krispy bars.
So, now it's officially my last weekend in Germany. ah!! My room is a disaster, still. I'll probably get on that at some point. After sleeping a lot. Katie has Sunday off of work, I want to go to the Fan Park again, but England is playing and they are somewhat notorious for their hooligans... I think we can brave it though. Sorry, I'm talking about football again, someone stop me.
One week until home!
come on Americans, get excited!
Wednesday, June 21
Since I last wrote....
I did indeed to go the beach near Rostock with Julia, it's called Warnemunde and it was pretty cool. Actually it was pretty hott, but the water was freezing, BUT there were jellyfish all over! And they don't sting, so you can pick them up and play with them and stuff, I was pretty excited about this, never having seen or touched a jelly fish before. Also of interest, while the part of the beach we were on was populated mostly by people in bathingsuits, at least bottoms -topless is standard in Europe- we took a walk further down the beach to the FKK (Freie Korper Kulture = Free Body Culture = naked people) section, which was an experience to say the least.
At some point I left Rostock and went to Greifswald once again to stay with Chris. We went to the beach there, no jellyfish. I also went to some of his classes with him which was pretty fun. It was nice to see another Fulbright TA at work and to see a school in a small east german town quite different from Munich. His school is smaller and he only has one, which I think is a whole lot better. He actually knows his classes and teaches the same ones on a regular basis. I think I would have prefered that. But, I got to live in Munich, so I really can't complain. We attempted to team teach a lesson on A Brave New World which I read about 2/3 of the night before, it turns out I read 2/3 more than most of the class, so it wasn't so much a discussion as it was me and Chris talking. I could definitely see the difference in students between the two schools. On the one hand, my kids are kind of rich and snotty and cheeky sometimes, but on the other hand, the advantage to working in a more affluent area is that many more of them also study abroad for a year and have more ambitions to go on to better Universities and so they really want and need to know English. East Germany is still a very different place from West Germany, especially Bavaria.
Speaking of Bavaria... Chris came back down to Munich with me on the very very long train ride on Thursday. We met his friend Greg, who's interning in Stuttgart, at the station. The fun started immeadiatly with a trip to the nearby beer garden for dinner followed by a little bar hopping in the Glockenbach and getting home around who knows when. Friday I was determined to make it to Andechs Monestary and Brewery (yes, most bavarian monestaries are also breweries) So we got up fairly early and made the hour or so long treck out into the country. I'd say it was worth it. The scenery was beautiful, the beer was cold and the schweinhaxen were the best. I wasn't really feeling the best after the beer, schweinhax'n, and direct sunlight all day... but it was still worth it. We crashed waaaay early Friday night and slept for a very long time. Saturday we had a little grill party on the Isar river, which I had also been wanting to do. Other than the ten minute downpour early in the afternoon it was pretty perfect and I got one more use out of my little grill.
Saturday night was the USA vs. Italy game. We went to the "Fan Park" which is at the Olympic center where they have a huge screen set up and naturally lots of beer and sausage vendors. I had been kind of down on all the world cup hype going on before, but being there was actually really cool. It's an amazing atmosphere. We met tons of people, lots of americans, as well as Austrailians who were in town for the Austrailia Brazil game in Munich on Sunday and people from just about every other country you can think of. Everyone was super friendly and just having fun and enjoying the moment. I'd have to say I'm becoming a bit of a World Cup fan. The US by the way is not doing so hot, they still have a very slim chance of making it to the next round. Germany, however, is doing pretty great and has won every game so far. So I think I'm about to become a Germany fan :) I'm going to be a little upset if they go on to win while i'm not here anymore.
I'm getting a little sad about leaving Munich in general. I was downtown today and ran into the crowd of Serbia-Montenegro fans on their way back from the stadium after their team won. They were singing on the escalator up the U-bahn, it was great. How could I want to leave? The weather has been so nice, and all the people here for football is so exciting, and tomorrow I have to say goodbye to my girls in my discussion group. sigh. Of course I'm also still super excited to go home and think of new things about America that I'm looking forward to every day. It's going to be so strange to be back after being gone for nearly a year. I'm definitely going to have some reverse culture shock. I've become so aclimated to everthing here. The US will be weird. But I think I'll get over it quickly. Hopefully I still remember how to drive a car. Hopefully I will also get a job and know what I'm doing soon!
For the next week I will be trying desperately to sell off and get rid of as much stuff as possible before I attempt to cram my most valued posessions into two suitcases. I hate moving, especially packing. Also as long as this heat and sunshine continues I plan on going to the outdoor pool near my school a lot in an attempt to begin the re-getting in shape plan and also to get very tan :)
I'll probably write something more reflective before I go. Until then, I encourage you to watch some football/soccer. ciao
P.S. Ignore the last few Flickr pics, it's just stuff I'm trying to sell, unless you are in Munich, in which case, buy my stuff!! Picture from the rest of my travels are up though!
Monday, June 12
Thursday evening I left for Greifswald to stay with Chris, it's way up about three hours northwest of Berlin on the Baltic. We left very early Friday to catch the bus to Copenhagen from Rostock. The first half of the trip was a ferry ride (more ferries!!) and then the rest was by bus. We stayed in Copenhagen until Sunday afternoon. It was crazy fun, Copenhagen is a nice city, I liked it a lot. We just walked around Friday, had a few drink sitting out by the canal and eventually went out to a trendy bar and then a club playing horrible techno trance music--- we didn't stay long. Saturday we started off by going to Carlsburg brewery which was really fun. It's actualy a very pretty place with fancy buildings build around 1889 or so. And there were big horses, I like horses. There were also free beers at the end including choices from their microbrewery on site, it was good good beer. After that we went up to the top of one of the churches in the city which has a really neat gold stairway that wraps up around the outside of the spire. spectacular view. Then we went to Christiania, the comune that the government is currently trying to shut down. It was way cool and way hippyesque, every city needs a hippie comune, it will be very sad if they shut it down. Then we went back, showered, changed, and hit up one of the many 7-11s all over copenhagen before heading out to the canal to sample of few more Carlsburgs. We ran into a couple american guys we met at the hostel on the way and they joined us. Meeting new people is definitely one of the most fun parts of traveling. We sat by the canal for quite a while, the sun stays out until really really late way up there. Our new friends left us eventually and we went out to a different club with significantly better music and danced the night away, quite literally as the sun also comes up extreamly early so it was pretty much daylight by the time we got back to the hostel, got a few hours of sleep and then woke up to check out. We spent the afternoon Sunday at Tivoli, the turn of the century amusment park in the middle of the city, all cities should also have amusement parks in the middle of them. It was super hot and sunny and so summery and nice. I'm loving this weather. In conclusion, I like copenhagen. Though it definitely wore me out, after three days of ingesting almost nothing but beer and 7-11 hotdogs and operating on limited sleep I was pretty ready to get back to Rostock and crash, which I did last night with Julia.
Today we went and walked around downtown Rostock, I got some aproprately summery clothes at H&M and now here we are sitting outside in the sun. Tomorrow I'm defintely going to the beach here and then wednesday the beach in Greifwald. Thursday Chris is coming back to Munich with me and we're meeting his friend who's living in Stutgart. Should be another exciting weekend. I'm a bit nervouse about going back to all the football madness. I was pretty happy to get away for the opening game in Munich. It's going to be sooooo crowded everywhere. arg. I was sick of all the world cup hype before it even started. bah humbug to all the soccy nonsese I say.
Ok, I'm going to lie down in the grass now. ciao.
Tuesday, June 6
Hiya! I'm once again surrounded by the lovely German language here in Dusseldorf staying with Lindsay for the night. Ireland was so so nice. Lovely, really. I'm so glad I went. The weather was gorgeous, hot and sunny the whole time. Somewhat unusual for Ireland, or so I'm told. I flew into Dublin with Katie on Saturday, stayed at her boyfriend Dave's house and then he drove us down to her house in Dungarven, near Waterford on the southern coast on Sunday. We stoped in Kilkenny on the way and toured the castle there. We also stopped at some ruins of an old abby. And of course we drove past lots and lots of Irish countryside featuring rolling hills, sheep, stone fences, and cows. And it was all so GREEN . Katies family was so sweet and lovely. She's one of seven and there is a four, six, eight and thirteen year old at home. Her mom is so nice and oh so brittish. I love big families. They were incredibly welcoming and fed me a lot and we went for another drive around to see some of the coastline and stop at a pretty cove area. (pictures will be up eventually.) In the evening we went out to a bar that Katie works at when she's home, very cool, out by the harbor, and then later to a night club. I got some guiness, it was tasty. Monday we got to go to a beach beach and even go swimming and lay out and I got a bit of a sunburn... in Ireland! It was all over much too soon and we drove back and spent the night at Dave's again yesturday and I got a flight this morning into Colonge. I like Ireland. A lot. I want to go back someday for sure.
So now I'm hangin out with Lindsay in her cool new pad in Dusseldorf. Tomorrow I'm headed to Hildesheim to see Caroline in her new pad there and then... and then and then... I'll keep you updated when I get to it :)
Friday, June 2
Monday, May 29
Lindsay and Nic arrived in Munich on Thursday, which was Assension and a bank holiday here in good old catholic Bavaria. I gave them my oft-rehersed tour and then we came back here to hit up the Dorffest that has been going on accross the street from my building. "Dorffest" simply means town festival. When I first saw the signs I was expecting something like a county fair, animals, rides, giant vegatables... all that. But no, in true Bavarian style the Dorf fest is simply a large beer tent in a small field. I went last weekend with Katie one night and it was pretty crazy. Something like Oktoberfest only withouth the tourists and with lots and lots of high schoolers. Last Thursday was a bit more of an older crowd and the band was four middle aged men in leather pants. hot. After a couple liters of beer it seemed way less lame and really really exciting. There was even a fight near our table. And the band played alpenhorns which makes me kind of giddy, they are huge long horns from the alpine region of Germany. We started dancing with a few random Germans and stayed and until the ungodly hour of 10:30pm when the tent closed and they kicked us out. The next morning was a bit rough for all three of us, plus the weather was crappy so we weren't in any hurry to get to the mountains. We finally left around lunch time and hopped on a train.
We arrived in Berchtesgaden in the afternoon and decided to walk the 20min to the hostel. A tip for any travelers out there: Do NOT stay at the Berchtesgaden International Youth Hostel. Although it is fairly cheap, relatively clean, and has a nice view, the service sucks and it's weird and impersonal. They lock the doors at midnight, quiet time is at 10, girls and boys have to stay in separate sections, no smoking drinking dancing laughing or fun of any kind is allowed on the premesis, or so it seemed. There were a lot of random old people and families there as well as school groups. Weird. Not the kind of hostel I'm accustomed to.
But we didn't let the hostel get us down because, after all, we came to spend time outside, not inside. So we went to bed early and woke up bright and early- because we had to, although a rather nice breakfast comes with the rooms you have to be downstairs by 8am to get it. We woke up to lots of rain and fog so we decided to postpone hiking for a little while in the hopes that it would clear up despite dour weather forcasts. We popped over to a sporting goods store next door that happened to be having a basement clearence sale. I was in the market for a rain coat as my windbreaker was sadly less water proof than I had hoped. It turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip. Lindsay and I found super snazzy bright pink rain jackets ON SALE and each bought one. The cheery color and the fact that we were walking around in matching neon pink coats helped us keep a positive spin on things for the whole trip.
After making our purchases we had ample opportunity to test them out as it was still raining. We decided to go to the salt mines which is one of the big tourist attractions in the little town. Apparently we were not the only people to think of heading underground in the rain because we ended up waiting a few hours. But, it was worth it. The salt mine was pretty darn nifty. We got to wear real minors clothes, ride a little train through dark scary tunnels and slide down wooden slides in the caves. I aslo got to see where the salt I've been buying in Germany comes from and how they get it out, which was pretty cool. After the mines we walked into the city centre, saw the church and castle and had some coffee and cake. It kind of almost started clearing up by early evening and we did a short hike in the area around our hostel. It's quite pretty down there and I perpetuately felt like I was in a kitchy bavarian postcard and/or beer comercial.
After another early night we woke up with renewed energy, intent on making it to the Konigsee and hiking even if we had to do it in the rain. The morning was actually almost nice outside and we walked the whole way to the lake, which took about two hours on a picturesque path along a river. Pretty much as soon as we got to the lake it started pouring. Hapily, the boat tours are in covered boats and despite the rain, the clouds were high enough that we still had a pretty good view of the mountains. Konigsee is very beatiful, nestled between some of Germany's largest mountains which are part of a national park. There is a little church on it which can be reached only by boat. It's not a terribly exciting little church, but we saw it and there is a fisherman there and a fish smokery, or whatever you would call that, and I bought a smoked fish which I just now ate for dinner and it was tasty. It was still raining pretty hard when we got to the other end of the lake, so we didn't get to do the longer hike we had been hoping to, but we saw the smaller Obersee lake and some cows and forests and a waterfall. Not too shabby. By this point our snazzy pink jackets were no longer keeping out all the rain or the gloomyness and it was getting chilly. The boat, bus, and train ride back was long and soggy.
Sunday evening was spent showering, eating and not leaving my room. It was perfect. Lindsay and Nic left this morning and I slept late before I had to go tutor. I would be posting pictures of my weekend right now except that I am an idiot and I lost my camera, BUT at least I'm an incredibly lucky idiot because when I realized my camera was gone today I caled Deutsche Bahn and it turns out they actually found my camera at the little train station where we had to switch trains! AND , I happen to be going back in that direction on Saturday because katie and I are flying out of Salzburg. So I can pick up my camera then and all will be right with the world. Whew.
Overall despite the rain I had a fun weekend, it was nice to see Lindsay again and I'm exited to have another minnesota friend to hang out with this summer. And although you might think that a wet and cold weekend may have put me off to more hiking, I am am now even more determined to do more outdoorsy things in the future. Maybe even a real bacpacking camping trip sometime. There is certainly no shortage of outdoors in Minnesota, so I think I will make it my goal for the summer.
Five days at home before I'm off again, jetsetting around north-central Europe. Better get something done!
Tuesday, May 23
Although I do have a few fun things left to do here. This weekend Lindsay is coming and we're going to Koenigsee in the Alps, I'm crossing my fingers and pressing my thumbs (German idiom) hoping that it won't be as rainy as it is now. Then after next week I have my two week June break. The plan thus far is to fly to Ireland for the first weekend with Katie. Weee! To Dublin and then to see Waterford (of crystal fame) where she lives, Then I'll fly back to Colonge, see Lindsay breifly and then go meet Chris in either Copenhagen or Stockholm for the next weekend, we havn't quite figured it out yet. After that I'm just going to hang out in Germany staying with people, visiting Caroline again, whatever I feel like. I think it's a good plan. After that break I just have a week and a half to pack up my life and fly home. And then I'm going to stay in one place for as long as I can manage. Maybe some day I'll even get an apartment and own my own furniture. I feel like owning a bed and a couch would be a real mark of permanacy.
I have recently had several outlines in my head for some intelligent and stimulating posts about relavant current issues. Like all the new immigration legislature in the US, especially the national language issue. And one on working mothers in the US and Germany. And one on nutrition in schools. I have talked about these things recently with my classes. But I haven't quite gotten around to it yet and it will probably no longer be relevant or current by the time I do. I've been busy pretending to write the motivational essay I need to write for an application. I hate motivational essays and personal statements and all things of that variety. I think I've said that before. I've already spent a few afternoons stairing at the ambiguous question at the top of a blank word document, but have yet to write the stupid thing. Today I will finally crank out some impressivly sincere and personal prose. After I take a nap. Just you wait.
So how are all of you? I haven't heard from anyone in a while...
Friday, May 19
I just taught an awesome lesson on Chicago- we played Mafia. Brilliant.
Yesturday I got caught in the rain on my bike on the way home, it was like my entire study abroad semester in Muenster all over again. There was a big thunderstorm later. No tornados in Germany though, and not one single weather man interrupting my regularily scheduled programing. sigh. I miss Minnesota!
I've been excessivly lazy this week, more so than usual even. I blame the rain. But Mommy dearest is coming back this weekend! With even more Minnesotans! I get to go to the super Kitchy Bavarian Evening at the HB haus again! And give another tour of the city! Good times with tourists.
I'm ready for another vaction. Can I go back to Greece? Actually I'm just ready to go home. I think I've mentioned that already... hmm.
Wednesday, May 17
Bob, or Bobby as I believe he still goes by (For a while I tried to call him Bert, but somehow it didn't stick), turns 20 today. No longer a teenager! Ha! Welcome to almost adulthood, it's all downhill from here ;) I wanted to post a picture of him in a lovely floral gown and strand of pearls from when he was still a cute, impressionable little kid and let me do things like that to him, but alas I don't have it saved on my computer anymore. So instead here is a picture of him driving our tractor to high school, I think on the last day of his senior year.
Bob came along in 1986 and put and end to my all too short two and a half year reign as only-child, and as punishment he endured all sorts of torture from me during our early years together, most of which involved me sitting on him for extended periods of time. However, he usually came out as the victor when he turned on the crocodile tears and the big bad big sister got sent to her room to bemoan her pitiful unloved existence to her stuffed friends. And on the rare occasions that we both got a spanking, life was still unfair- he still wore diapers! Despite our incessant bickering I have many fond childhood memories with little Bobby. Like throwing every single one of my stuffed animals down the laundry shoot (and then threatening to throw him after), the twelve hour drives to Cincinnati when we would build elaborate pillow barriers to mark of "my side" and "your side" of the back seat, and devising our own version of the Morse code so we could communicate to each other after bedtime (or when we were both being punished) by knocking on the wall between our rooms.
In high school Bob and I certainly followed different crowds. And by that I mean that he was infinitely cooler than I could ever hope to be. On my last day of high school me and four of my best girl friends wrote novelles in each others year books in my basement and cried about leaving each other forever. On Bob's last day of high school he and 200 or so of his "closest" friends had a concert in our back yard featuring his friend's Weezer coverband, cleverly named "Meezer". Bob's huge bon fire parties were somewhat infamous, and for years after I graduated whenever I went home and ran into someone from my high school they would inevitably ask, "Are you Bobby Schwaby's sister?"
Academically Bob had a hard act to follow in high school, nary a classroom in that building was left untracked by my goody-two-shoes, but he more than held his own. One would never guess by his too cool extreme sport loving appearance and lack of adult vocabulary, but Bob is something of a math wiz. He took university level math through high school and now constantly tells me that his graduate level courses in college are boring him. pfft.
Like me, Bob felt the pull of the ocean when choosing a college, only he opted for the Pacific over the Atlantic because it has better surfing (or because he couldn't get far enough away from me, who knows). He's now a sophomore at USC where he seems to spend little time studying and lots of time surfing. Why a Minnesota boy became so suddenly smitten with surfing is beyond me (perhaps something to do with the blond hair?), but he seems to have picked up the sport along with the culture fairly quickly. He has a knack for being sickeningly good at any sport he tries, much to my uncoordinated and unathletic dismay.
When not surfing he is working on his website (see side bar) where he is always coming up with new ways to scam the system and make money. He's been obsessed with money for as long as I can remember and will undoubtedly be rich and retired on his own private island by the time I put down my first mortgage payment.
Bob has never had a problem marching to the beat of his own drummer, in fact he insists that the human body is meant to be on a 25 rather than 24 hour cycle and so even when we're both home I rarely see him because of his unconventional sleep schedule. Hopefully I'll see a bit more of him this summer and if I'm lucky he'll even let me attend an exclusive fire party :)
Happy Birthday Bobby! I love you!
Just when my parents thought they were done with teenagers... Scott turned 13 on Monday!!! ah!! This birthday is a bit harder for me to deal with because Scotty is my baby brother and he's supposed to stay that way gosh darn it! I'm pretty sure I get more emotional about these things than my mom even, she's been through this before. I well recall fighting back tears at Scott's Kindergarten graduation not long ago. What happened to my snuggly sweet little baby doll? Well, here's was happened, he's turned into an adolescent, rock-and-roll included:
I remember my mom telling me she and dad had decided to have another baby. At the time I figured nothing could be worse than Bob and I crossed my fingers and hoped for a little sister who I would name Elizabeth. Mom said that if it was a girl I got to name her and if it was a boy Bob got to name him. A few months later at the ultrasound my hopes were dashed but I was so excited about bringing the ultrasound pictures in for show and tell that I didn't dwell on my wished-for sister for long. As the due date neared my classmates asked in unison every morning, "Did your mom have the baby yet?" No, no, and no. Scott was late. My memories from the night he finally came are pretty hazy. Bob and I were whisked away to my grandparents farm and found out the next day that we had a little brother. As promised, Bob got to pick the name and decided on Scott, after our elementary school bus driver.
I was ten years old when Scott was born and so I became something of a built-in babysitter/ second mommy right away. Scott was always easy to watch. He started sitting through entire movies when he was just one year old. His favorite being the Lion King, I will never forget his adorable belly laugh every time we watched the beginning of the film and the sun burst out over the horizon, "NAH! CHIBUNYA!" oh man, that got him every time :) He was pretty much the cutest baby ever. His thick dark hair stood strait up on end and his big blue eyes never dulled. Scott was the ridiculously spoiled younger child from day one. I have never seen my dad's face get more red then when Bob and I would make any loud noises while Scott was napping. But I loved my little brother all the same, and babied him just as much as anyone else. He was pretty attached to me as well. One summer while my parents were on a trip my poor unsuspecting Aunt Julie came to stay with us. Well, Scott would have nothing to do with her and made it his job to scream as loud as possible whenever she was around and cling to me like a life preserver. My role as protector only continued as Scott grew up and Bob saw his opportunity to make up for seven years as the youngest child. One might think that seven years would be enough distance to keep two brothers from fighting all the time, but one would be wrong. Bob to this day enjoys torturing Scott to no end and when I came home from college for the first time Scott begged me to not leave him again!
Since I've been away Scott has shot up like a tree and will be taller than me in a few years I'm sure. Despite my efforts to turn him into an avid reader by giving him books as presents every birthday and Christmas, which he dutifully smiled and thanked me politely for before throwing them in his closet, Scott has turned out to be the musical genius of the family (could have been me if anyone had gotten me piano lessons cough cough!) and is quite talented with a guitar. He's already taken on the typical teenager qualities of sulking and being generally disinterested in absolutely everything except for talking on IM with his friends in gangster like IMspeak, but luckily for me he's still ok with with hugging his big sister (at least he better be!). He's a quiet guy and not big on large social situations (Sound like anyone? For those of you who didn't know me in Jr. High: awkward, quiet, alone... would all be good words to describe me) and I think, like me, it may take him a while to come out of his over protected shell, but when he does, watch out world! He's a hottie ;)
One of the biggest reasons I'm looking forward to going home and hopefully sticking around Minneapolis for a while is to have the time to hang out with Scott while I still have some influence as the cool older sister with a car.
Happy Birthday Scott!! I love you!
(I promise I'll bring you real presents when I come home!)
Saturday, May 13
There was some kind of parade/street party going on down town for the Munich soccer team which just won the national tournament. German Football fans are obnoxious, a guy puked right in front of me on the U-bahn, it was delightful....I'm not especially looking forward to Wold Cup time. But I'll be gone for the first week of it at least for my June break, the opening game is in Munich June 9th (FYI).
Walking back to my building from the U-bahn I stopped and looked up at the sky as I have a habbit of doing and was reminded of driving home on almost empty streets late on summer nights in Minnesota, usually coming back from Alexis or Chelsea's house, getting out of my car, the sound of the car door slamming in the otherwise quiet night... stairing up at the stars for a few minutes, finding the big dipper and Orion and just breathing and feeling peacful and alone but not lonely for a moment before going inside. You can't really see many stars here, just a general orange city glow. I've had enough of this big city stuff for a while. Sometimes I think about our house at home and it seems so unbelievable that we have six acres of land, most of which is just unused fields. Everything in Germany is so compact and densly populated, every tiny little bit of land is used. Even forests are filled with paths and busy with walkers and runners and bikers, there is no getting away from people. I want wide open spaces!!! my own space, that I own (Ok, that my parents own) that no one else can come on. I realize this is a bit territorial and that city life is in many ways more environment friendly than the sprawl of suburbia, and there are lots of things that I like about city life which I'm sure I will soon miss. It is also true that our six acres will some day in the not too distant future be divided into quarter acre (if not smaller) plots and developed with ugly beige houses, but for the time being it's still ours and I still love it and miss it.
On a related note, the Hamel Rodeo is the weekend after I get back so mark your calendars! I need my fix of over the top patriotism, hot cowboys, and steer wrastlin'!
Friday, May 12
I'm glad Mom decided to come and travel with me. It was nice spending so much time with her. I admit I had my concerns, especially at the begining when she was saying how she missed her car and her hot tub at home ten times a day. She may look younger than she is, but she complains like an old woman ;) She also took millions of pictures of me looking like a dork in front of every site in Paris, and then made me take one of her, all availible here for your viewing pleasure. But other than the obvious american touristyness... she's pretty cool for a mom and I'm very glad to have a good relationship with my mother and to be able to have fun together and talk about everything. This week she's in Karlsruhe teaching a week long class, she'll be back here in Munich next weekend for a trip with her Augsburg students.
I was dreading going back to school yesturday, but it was a pretty good day. My cowboy poetry lesson is always a hit and I did it twice. I'm in school today as well, I'm coming today and next friday to make up for the two days I missed. I taught the worlds worst lesson on New York in the last class... I was pretty much completely unprepared and it turned out they have already been learning about NYC and I didn't really have any new information or interesting activities for them. Oh well. I'll do a better job with Chicago next week.
This weekend I plan on doing a whole lot of nothing. Lots of sleeping, babysitting saturday, planning my June travels, maybe some more applying for jobs, figuring out what I'm going to do with my life two months from now... Seven weeks until I go home!!!! I'm so excited. I can't believe I've been in Europe for so long, it's time to get out of here. Who's throwing me a welcome home party?
Monday, May 1
Sadly, Elena had to leave for home on Thursday. Chris and I got some much needed rest before a friend of his studying in Switzerland showed up with a couple more friends in tow (don't worry, they got a hotel and didn't have to squish into my room!) I let Chris take over the tour giving and met up with them later to hit up the beer garden and the hofbrauhaus for the second time in two days. We went to a few bars and then I took them to my favorite little dive of a place in the wee hours of the morning where the bartender in a russian army hat gave me a sucker and a kiss and gave us all a free glass of house champain. We ended up talking with some germans who invited us back to their apartment for an after party. We didn't leave until the sun was coming up and then we wandered the city until 8am when the resturants opened and we got ourselves a traditional Weisswurst Fruhstuck (white sausage breakfast) with Weissbier and all. It was possibly the most fun night i have had in Munich yet (with the obvious exception of Eric's last night here). I'm not sure how we managed it, but we somehow got a grill party together in the park near me on Friday afternoon, and I'm very glad we did. The weather was beautiful and the sausages were mighty tasty.
Friday night I went to bed very early and slept for a good long time before waking up, cleaning my room and meeting Chris for lunch (at another beer garden) before riding with him to see him off at the airport because his flight left right before Shannon's got in. That's right, it's STILL not over!! Shannon visited me!! I heart Shannon :) We did a lot of chit chatting about boyfriends and jobs and weddings and 401K's, Yikes we're old. Her German friend, Connie, who she studied with in Spain, also came to visit for a day. We went to the Hofbrauhaus yet again, but this time I went to the dinner show upstairs and it was all the Kitsch I could have hoped for. We also did some shopping and wandering and jogging and beer garden going, it was nice. Shannon left Thursday so I've been all alone in my room since then. But my niehbor Katie is back, so I've got someone to pop in every so often and share her boyfriend drama (which occurs entirely over SMS to Ireland) with me :-P
I had to go back to school this week. blah. I'm so ready to be done with this whole assisatnt teacher thing. although I'm not sure I'm ready to be done with my year of playing around in Erope, but I am ready to go home and see my friends, but I'm not, but I am! ah! I applied for some more jobs in DC and Minneapolis this weekend. I don't want to grow up :-( And yet I do... I'm torn. Two months left to be young and crazy and responsibility free in Europe. Not too crazy though, my mom is coming next weekend! And we're going to Paris! Yay for trips with Mom and real hotels and fancy resturants! I'm excited to go to some great museums and I have to see Versailles and Chartres, and generally soak in as much culture as possible.
It has finally stopped raining and the sun is out so I think it's time for a run! Ciao!
Greece was AMAZING. I wish I could go back and do it all over again right now. It was the crazy beachy spring break I never had. I went with four other Fulbright TAs; Lindsay, Matt, Chris and Marissa, who are spread out all over Germany. We all flew into Bari, Italy where we met up and hopped on the overnight ferry to Greece. The ferry ride was pretty crazy, I think we were all a little too exited to be on vacation and ready to let loose and have fun, and an overnight ferry with a bunch of your friends is a pretty darn good place to have some fun. It was something of a miracle that we made it off the boat at our stop at 6am, and we even managed to pick up an extra friend on the way.
After one more short ferry ride we made it to the Pink Palace on Corfu at 9am or so and crashed out on the beach for the afternoon where I got a nice sun burn. The Pink Palace Hostel is like an oasis of American and Canadian college students in the middle of a Greek island. Everything is in english, the staff takes care of you, everything is pink -- including the Uzo, happy hour is from 6-11 and they throw weekly toga parties. It's probably not the kind of hostel I would have picked out on my own, but it was definitely a good time. We attended a pink toga party and got to meet lots of people. I'm glad I did it now because we were already just about the oldest guests there. Corfu itself is absolutely gorgeous and once I had recovered from the ferry ride I did lots of hiking around soaking things in. I met a very friendly donkey, found a privatle little chapel on a mountain, and picked some fresh lemons and orages off the trees. Lindsay Marissa and I even found our own little private lagoon one day and it was definitely the most beautiful place I've ever been swimming (and the only place I've ever been skinny dipping ;) )! The water was crystal clear and bright bright blue, if a tad bit on the chilly side.
We all rented four wheelers our third day there and whith the help of Matt's guide map did a big long tour of the island. We went up the Kaiser's Throne where King Wilhelm used to hang out, drove through countless quaint Greek towns, and hiked around the ruins of an old castle set up on a cliff. It was a great trip until we had a minor incident on the way back. I was right behind Marissa and I watched as she swerved out of control and off the road flipping her bike into a ditch. Chris and I both jumped off our bikes after her, but she was luckily not injured. I however, must not have thouroughly pushed down the parking break beacause as soon as we saw that Marissa was ok Chris turned around and started shouting, Anne! Stop the bike! But I was seconds too late and my four weeler had already bumped into the bumper of a Greek man who had just pulled over to help us. I grabbed the bike and apologized, but he would have none of it, "Sorry?? No Sorry! Problem! Problem!" He shouted at me pointing to the minute indent in his bumper. Oh lord. He didn't speak much english, just a little bit of German and he kept saying, "Polizei, Polizei, Zuzammen ins Buro, Zuzammen ins Buro" indicating that he wanted us to come to the police station with him. Luckily, another nicer Greek man had also pulled over to help us and the two yelled at each other for quite a while in Greek while he tried to convince him to give the poor American kids a break. Finally we gave him 50 euros cash and he left. Whew. So the five of us were left freezing cold on the side of the road, Marissa's bike suspended by vines five yards above a dirt side road. We called the hostel to come get Marissa and her bike and the four of us left so that we could make the 40 min ride home before dark.
By the end of our stay we were all a bit worse for the wear, especially Marissa, but it was well worth it. Thursday night we all got on an overnight ferry and then bus to Athens, but Marissa and I got off at Patras, which is on Mainland Greece in the Poloponese around 3am. After staying in the Pink Palace for so long it was kind of a shock to realize that we were actually in Greece and didn't know a single word of the language (Other than Cheers) and can't even read the leters. But the two of us managed to make it to a nice hostel and get lots and lots of sleep. We didn't actually have any plans for the rest of our trip except some vauge idea of maybe going to Olympia or another beach somewhere. The next day we found a very tasty greece resturant where I ate lots of hummos and cheese and then we headed out into Patras to find a tourist office. We decided we didn't really have any desire to do educational and cultural things like looking at old ruins and would rather go to another island. Unfortunatley, the only information they had on the nearby islands at the tourist information office was in French. So, between Marissa's two week course in Frence and just looking at the pretty pictures we decided on Zante island, which also happend to be the southernmost island we could get to. The woman at the office gave us a map and circled the intersection where the bus station where buses to Zante was. It wasn't far, so Marissa and I got our bags and set off. We found the intersection but there was no station or busses to be seen. We asked a series of random Greek people who told us in broken english, right here, left there, each sending us to a diferent spot around and around in circles. Over an hour later we finally found the place which turned out to be more of an office than a station with no busses in site at all and the only indication that there were busses headed to Zante was written in Greek. But, we found it, so all was well and we drank Frappe's which are delicious sugary foamy cold Greek coffe drinks.
After ferry ride #4 we arrived on Zante island Friday night. We wanted to stay in one of the small beach towns, but alas, we were two weeks to early and it was completely deserted and closed, so we ended up at a very fancy schmancy hotel in the main city of Zakynthos. The nice thing about the off season was that the hotel was quite cheap as were the resturants. Saturday we found out that no busses were running on the weekends and after an attempt to walk along the coast until we ran into a beach, we finally just got in a taxi and took it to the largest beach on the island and asked the driver to pretty please come pick us up in four hours. The beaches we went to on Zante island were amazing and almost completely deserted. I definitely want to go back there, only next time I'm bringing my boyfriend and renting a car :) Saturday night we were awoken by a small earthquake. Yes, that's right, I looked it up later and it registered at about 5.4 on the ricter scale and was actually centered right on our island which is aparently on an active fault line! So, I've now lived through two earthquakes! Sunday was Easter Sunday in the Catholic church, but Palm Sunday in the Greek Orthodox calendar and I convinced Marissa to come with me to a Greek Orthodox mass at the very pretty church at 8am. It was very cool, there were palms hung all over the church and at some point in the sermon (I don't know what point, it was in Greek obviously) everyone started jumping up and taking the palms, which I thought was a fun game because I was on average a good six inches taller than everyone in there :) The service seemed to go on forever and we finally snuck out after 2 and a half hours, but I'm glad we went. I like the Greek Orthodox chuch, it's kind of like Catholocism, but more ornate and with more kissing of things.
Sunday night we went back to Patras and Monday we had some time to walk around and see the city, which, it turned out, I really liked. The first time we were there there were massive amounts of garbage on the streets, but it had been picked up by the time we came back, so walking around was more pleastant. Patras is a very cool city, apparetntly it's a big college town and there were tons of cafes, bars, resturants, and lots of shopping. And I don't think I saw a single McDonals or Starbucks or American chain resurant of any kind -- Except for one random TGIFridays. There is also a big beautiful Cathedral with the remains of St. Andrew, and an ancient Greek theather and castle on the hill with spectacular views of the mountains. I would definitely go back to Patras. I've decided it would be a great place to start a study abroad program. It's a big, but not overwhelming city, four hours from Athens, a hop skip and a jump from loads of Greek islands, and it's a cool city in it's own right.
Monday night we had our very last ferry ride (#6 if you are keeping track), and it was the longest yet at about 10 hours. We met a few other americans and I uncharictoristically played the role of the outgoing one and got us all together for some card games. We crashed pretty early on some very uncomfortable theater style seating and woke up back in Bari, back where it all began and in plenty of time to catch our flight back to Munich!
Monday, April 10
Thursday, April 6
Just a few more hours of school... two of my classes are taking tests today so I ended up being here three hours too early for my conversation groups. oh well. I'm currently searching Monster.com and sending my resume in to a bunch of places. They make it so easy, just *click* and you've applied for the job! This means that I've definitely appied for a few jobs that I'm certainly not qualified for, but might as well give it a shot, eh? They probably get so many applications they'll barely look at mine anyway. I've decided I would very much like to find something in printing or publishing or editing or writing. I've had enough of small children for a little while. I would like something creative and challenging.
Even the snow can't bring me down right now. I am so freaking excited for this trip and the rest of the spring :-D
Saturday, April 1
I'm so so happy that winter is over. And the time changed last week so now it's light until like 8pm! It looks nice out today too, if I manage to find the motivation to leave my room this afternoon. I'm baby sitting tonight and every evening this week before I leave. Ah! Not sure when I'm going to clean and pack and such...hmm. The bity baby I've been watching is adorable. He mostly just eats and sleeps and crys and occasionally smiles. But it so fun to watch a little baby, especially when it's not yours and you get to go home and sleep all night!
I finished The Red Tent yesturday. So so SO good! I finished it in less than a week I was so into it. It's really beautiful. It's part of the old testament told from the point of view of Dinah, Jacob's only daughtor and Joseph's only sister. I've been reading a lot this year. I finished Middle Sex a few weeks ago which I also really liked, a very remarkable work of literature. And I read the first of the #1 Ladies Detective Agency books which is just fun and well written.
Perhaps I should get started on that cleaning stuff now... ciao ciao
Tuesday, March 28
Have I mentioned how excited I am to go to Greece??? It better be warm and sunny! I'm also excited because I have lots of babysitting work in the next two weeks. I just met a new mom this weekend with a teeny tiny little 8 week old baby. So cute :) They're going out of town around the same time I am for three months, so she only needs me the next two weeks, which works out well. I had to miss going yesturday of course, but will go this afternoon. I'm excited to hang out with a bity baby, it's been a while since I've had one of those around, and I'm excited to make some extra money to spend on my trip.
That's all my news for the week... Things should remail pretty dull for the next 11 days
Pics from Vienna are up!
Thursday, March 23
Spring seems to finally be arriving here, it's supposed to rain all week, which is better than snow. In Vienna they were putting in flowers already and Jackie saw them setting up tables in the Beer garden in downtown Munich-- a sure sign of spring around here! This weekend I have three days with absolutely nothing to do and I'm definitely going to savor, enjoy and relish it. I've been gone the past four weekends, I'm looking forward to some down time.
Tuesday, March 21
We left for Vienna (Wien in German) on Saturday where we met Chris, Jackies friend who studied in Richmond whil I was abroad in Muenster, we stayed in his place. We did a walking tour of the city Friday and ate some Wienerschnitzle because I insisted that i had to eat it once while i was there! It is a really beautiful city. Considerably more impressive and big city like than Munich, despite actually being smaller. Sunday we went to three different museums which were all really good and I finally found out where all of Klimt's work has been hiding from me :) I got to see his "The Kiss" Along with his Bethoven freeze. It was very impressive, deffinitely something to see in person, with all the shiny gold and its really pretty big.
Monday we went to the Palace Schonbrunn and had coffe and the famouse Sacher Torte at the Sacher hotel. After some speedy shopping we were back on a train headed back to Munich. It was a quick trip, but I'm really glad I got to see Vienna and of course it was much better to see it with someone who has studied there and a real live Wiener (hee hee).
I'm at school now. blah. I'm meeting Jackie tonight at the Hofbrauhaus which I've been to, but have yet to actually eat or drink in, so it should be fun. I'll take pictures. I have pictures from the trip too of course. My camera cord hasn't shown up yet, I'll clean more thougholy this weekend.
Thursday, March 16
Monday, March 13
So! It has been quite a week. One of the greatest I've had here I'd have to say. The conference was great. The actual conference parts as well as the massive amount of partying and socializing that went along with it. I love my Fulbrighter friends. I got to Berlin a couple days before the actual conference started to hang out with Caroline. Chris came down as well to escape bird flue up north :-P We did some exploring around berlin together. We also went to a socialist breakfast. Hee hee, I get a kick out of that every time I say it. They had a buffet of cold breakfast foods, all vegetarian and vegan, and when you were done you paid between 3 and 7 euros depending on how much money you have and feel you should pay. I love it.
Sunday we got to check into our fancy schmancy hotel on Alexanderplatz. Gotta love Fulbright. The next four days were kind of a blur. I went to some workshops, one on the push for elite universities in Germany (never going to happen in my opinion), one on Muslims in Germany, one on the city in german literature, and some research presentations. We heard the Mayor of Berlin speak as well as some other important people. It was a great atmosphere of academics and intellectuals. It really made me want to go back to grad school after next year. There were also of course free dinners and, more importantly, free wine! There was some exploring of Berlin, although mostly of the nightlife. There was a really really impressive Music Galla at the end with all the Fulbrighters studying music performance here. I met lots of people, got to hang out with my favorite people, and had a generally great time. When the conference ended Thursday afternoon I went back to caroline's and promptly crawled into bed for the rest of the afternoon. It was an intense exahsting experience.
Last weekend I got to hang out and play with Caroline and once again wish that I were living in Berlin with her. We saw a great art exhibit at the New National Gallery on the theme of Melencholy, we ate wonderful food, I got to go to Desperate Houswives night with some of Caroline's friends. Saturday we went to an amazingly cool poetry/rap/music open mic performance at a tiny callery/bar/soup place. There were some really really talented poet/rappers there and it was just so very... Berlin, big city. I liked it. Sunday I took a bus back to Munich because it's like a quarter of the price of a train. It was not as bad as I expected. I managed to sleep almost the entire 8 hours.
All in all, despite losing my wallet, my hat, my scarf, and my phone charger....it was a great trip! I wasn't terribly excited to come back to munich again, but I have so much to do and plan now that it doesn't really bother me. Jackie gets in this friday and we're going to Vienna together for the weekend, Caroline and her mom and Grandma will be here the week after next, then I leave for the big trip to greece! As soon as I get back Elena will be here and as soon as she leaves Shannon will be here and a week after that I'm going to Paris with Mom! So I'm not too worried about being lonely and bored anymore.
By the by, I just discoved "SkypeIn" and "SkypeOut" yesturday, so now I can call land lines in the US and I also have my own number with a VA Beach area code that anyone can call and reach my computer. It's pretty nifty. Technology is cool.