Wednesday, June 28

26 hours to take off....

Before I left I wrote down a few goals for myself for the year. Seeing as things are coming to an end now, it seems like a good time to look back and see how I've done. Keeping in mind that these are wishy-washy kind of goals I'm going to take the rose-colored-glasses aproach to evaluating myself :-P

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

Berlin! Berlin! Wir fahren nach Berlin!

So, plans for when I return: Get into airport at 7:30pm. Home by 9pm or so. In bed by 10 or so. Sleep 12 hours and then.... Watch FOOTBALL!!!!!!!

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


So goes the chant, goodbye US. And I didn't even get to watch the game because it wasn't broadcast on regular tv here and I was too tired and lazy to go downtown. Stupid Europeans. So, I don't have my birth country to cheer for anymore, Germany will have to do. You better believe I'm going to buy one of the those stupid little german flags for my car and drive around with it when I get home. Although it's tempting to cheer for Ghana as well, it would make a great underdog story if they went on to win. But they're up against Brazil next, so good luck to them with that.

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!

Daumen drücken!!!

In order for the US to advance to the next round tonight they have to beat Ghana AND Italy has to beat the Chech Republic. Both games are on at the same time, 4pm here, 10am EST. I have to figure out some way to watch both at once.

come on Americans, get excited!

Wednesday, June 21

Football Fever

and by football I mean soccer, obviously, but I'll get to that in a minute.

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

bummeling around Europe

currently reporting from... Rostock, Deutschland. It's a bit hard to keep track of me these days, I'm having trouble myself. I'm thoughouly enjoying my two weeks of bumming around europe. Life is good. I left Lindsay's last Wednesday morning and went to Hildesheim where Caroline is now living and working as a stage manager for a play writen and directed by another Fulbrighter there. The weather continued to be hot and sunny and we went to the nice outdoor pool there and played around like a couple of twelve year olds. Then I went to rehersal with her to see what's she's working on. Unfortunatly I won't get to see the finished production, it looks like it will be quite interesting. Thursday we saw the sights in Hildesheim, a few churches, one with a thousand year old miraculous rose bush, some cute german looking buildings, all reconstructed after the war, and the memorial to the destroyed Synagcog. Don't worry, I have pictures.

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

When Irish Eyes are Smilin'

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

hike-ity hike hike

hike-ity hike hike
Originally uploaded by annieswims05.

hard core hiking, as you can tell. LIke our jackets?