Thursday, December 30, 2010

The New Decade Blog

So it has been a while since I have blogged. I have been out having adventures in the great city of Boise! So it is really not my fault. I am finding it so hard to believe that I have been here for two weeks already. And that I am headed back to Deutschland on Saturday. Wow. This is a little too much emotion for me to handle right now.

It has been very strange being back. It was strange when I first got here. I cried before the plane even landed. To see the City of Trees appear through the hills was more than I could handle. I think the guy next to me thought I was insane. Walking into my house for the first time in four months, nothing had changed. It was exactly as I had left it. My seasons of Star Trek were still neatly lined up next to my t.v. My tennis racket was still leaning up against the wall. My towel was still hanging on the door of my bathroom. I had apparently not emptied out the dryer before I left... And before I knew it, I had fallen back into the same routines I had before I left. I immediately drove to pick up my cat. And to see Vickie. And ordered a pizza from Guidos.

And the funny thing is, really, NOTHING has changed. It was almost as if I had never left. It is a very odd feeling knowing that I have changed, that I have started another life on the other side of the world, but this life is still here and it will always be here. And aside from a few haircuts, a couple of break ups and some engagements, everyone is exactly as I left them. My friends are still here, buildings are still here...it is like I pressed pause on the movie of my life in Boise and just picked right back up where I left off. And apparently I have made a little bit of a mark here, too. It is fun to go into places that I used to frequent and have people who I didn't even think knew me comment that they had not seen me in a while. Oh, and running into people I know EVERYWHERE.

I had been so homesick in Germany and so ready to come back, and at the end of the two weeks here, I am ready to go back to Germany because I really do miss it. I miss my friends there and I miss my life. But I feel now that I am able to reflect on a few things....lets call it personal growth.

First off, I am so glad I came back home for Christmas. I think it has made me appreciate so much more this amazing opportunity I have to be in Germany, at my age. It was getting a little disheartening being here and watching all my friends get married and have kids and start careers and knowing that I am nowhere near any of that. But looking at it now, if I were married and had kids and a real job, I would not be living in Germany right now. I would fall victim to the monotony of real life. I have at least another 40 years before I will ever be this free again. Fuck--I packed up my life and moved to Germany! How many people can say that at the age of 26?

But I was also getting a little burned out over in Germany. And I know that if I had not come home, I would have pissed and moaned about wanting to be back in America. I feel like being back in Boise and seeing all my friends and family has given me the extra kick I need to make it through the next nine months. Because I know that I can always come back to this life; I wont always be able to go back to my life in Germany. And truth be told, I actually MISS being over there. I found myself talking A LOT about Saarbrücken and my friends and all the fun adventures that I have been on. I think my German has turned to schieße (despite Estelle's repeated efforts to get me to speak German over skype. I quit a while ago and started writing in English. Sorry, Estelle). But I am now more motivated than ever to really get this German language acquisition thing rolling. Shit, kids! It is a new year! A new decade! Why the hell not?

Now here comes the honesty train...I am actually a little teary-eyed writing this blog. I have never been an emotional person, but having to say good-bye to people all over again sucks. It sucks big time. I am so fortunate to have the amazing friends that I do. I challenge anyone who thinks they have a more loyal or a more supportive group of friends than me. Being away has really made me appreciate just how fucking awesome each one of my friends is(and honestly, being here has made me appreciate my amazing friends in Germany). And I know someone is going to roll their eyes at this next part, but I am going to fucking miss my cat Lucky. I know I am going to see him when I get back, but I cannot explain to him that I am not giving him away. This cat has not left my side since I have been home, and it breaks my heart to know that he doesn't understand that I am not abandoning him. Where is that fucking cat whisperer when you need him??

So that is that. Tomorrow is New Years Eve, and I am looking forward to starting this new chapter of my life. I will write my obligatory New Years Day blog when I have my lovely 3 hour layover in LAX. But for now, I hope everyone, near and far, has a happy and safe New Years!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

First Concert in Germany...Die Happy!

So I was flipping back through my blog entries, and I could have sworn I had written, like, three or four blogs over the past two weeks. Turns out, I started those blogs, probably started drinking, and then never finished those blogs. What else is new? :) So at some point, probably when I am home...IN AMERICA...next week, I will wrap those up for your reading pleasure. Because they are quite good.

Anyway, last night I went to my first official concert in Germany. I had been feeling like shit all day, mainly because I caught whatever the fuck has been going around campus TWO WEEKS AGO. Yeah, I have been sick for almost three weeks. And it is balls. It has morphed from sore throat (Halsschmerzen) to body pain (Gliederschmerzen) to cough to sneeze to sore throat again and now I am at the lovely congestion mixed with sinus pressure and watery eye phase. I am hoping this is the last phase. For the love of God I do not want to be on a plane for 14 hours with sinus pain. I will want to kill someone.

I digress. Last night was the Die Happy concert, which I have been looking forward to for almost three months (basically since I found out they were coming to good ol Saarbrücken). I felt so shitty yesterday I briefly considered not going. My friend who was supposed to go bailed on me, so basically I would be going alone while sick. A winning combination. But I decided that I would totally regret not going, even if it exacerbated my present symptoms. I took a ton of Advil and put on my best game face. I didn't want to rock out, but I wanted to sit back, drink a sprite and enjoy myself as best I could.

Now I have to preface this next part by saying that I have been to a few concerts. I think the number might be right around 60 or 70. I love to go to concerts. I love listening to live music and watching performers do their thing. It is amazing. And I have been to everything from the Cowboy Junkies to The Sounds to Sarah McLachlan to some opera and some punk rock. I cannot say that I have ever had a negative concert going experience (with the exception of the one that took place last New Years Eve, which we don't need to get into). With this in mind, I can unequivocally state that this concert last night was one of the BEST performances I have ever seen by a live band. The amount of energy emanating from that stage was incredible. I started off in the back of the crowd, quietly sipping my Sprite and super pissed off that I was sick and shit was so loud, and by about the third song, I was up in the front, rocking my shit out. I couldn't help it! And this was ohne Alkohol! I embarrassed myself sober! I have never seen performers so into what they were doing. Not only that, this was one of the only concerts I have been to where the band actually spent a considerable amount of time interacting with the audience. It was incredible. I am definitely considering seeing them in concert again!

If you have a chance to listen to some of their music, I highly recommend it. Presently, folks in the States, I think you are only able to purchase their newest album on itunes, but it is very good.

Anyway, here are some pictures from last night (please excuse my shitty little camera. It just hasn't been the same since I dropped it in that beer...twice). Simply awesome:







In other news, I am bound for the great state of Idaho on Friday! I cannot wait to order a freaking pizza in English!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Fracking Winter.

There are so many things about winter that I just don't like: I hate being cold. I hate falling on the ice or eating shit in the snow as I sprint to the bus stop. I hate the fact that for whatever reason, every winter, I inexplicably gain 10 to 20 pounds (inexplicable? Ha. Okay. Maybe it is because I go into a feeding frenzy and stop exercising). But probably the thing I hate most is that I go into emo funk mode. I don't want to do anything; I want to sit in my room, snuggle under a blanket and shut out the world and everyone in it, feeling sorry for myself while I consume mass quantities of chocolate and booze. And listen to sad depressing music. It sort of reminds me of that scene from "Bridget Jones Diary" where she drowns her sorrows in a bottle of vodka and sings "All by Myself" in her living room.

While riding the train home from Nürmberg today, I put my ipod on random shuffle, and I swear the cosmos were sending me all the emo vibes they could. Holy shit. Every single song that "randomly" played conjured up memories of depression and disillusionment and fear and sadness and god only knows what else. So of course I had to come home and create an itunes playlist entitled "FML." And I thought I would share some of those songs RIGHT NOW.

Warning: the following songs will probably make you want to drink, cry or write a blog entry. I suggest having a bottle of Merlot close by.















Friday, December 3, 2010

Language schmanguage

First off, I would like someone to explain to me why there are dance clubs open in Saarbrücken on a Thursday night until the wee hours of the morning. Really? It is Thursday! I feel like my old age is finally catching up to me, and not being the young lass I once was, staying out and partying until the sun comes up on a school night is kicking my ass. Ah, remember when we were all once young and had livers like champion Deutsch beer drinkers? Yeah, those days are long gone.

Yesterday was one of those shitty German speaking days, and I felt like I only understood about 20% of what was going on around me. See, I have good days and I have bad days. On the good days, I feel like I am finally understanding German: when people talk to me, I know exactly (okay, sort of) what they are saying, and I can answer with some degree of certainty. On the bad days, though. Ugh. I just want to stay in my room and watch "Glee" in English and drink hot chocolate. People start talking and I follow for about 10 seconds before I stare past them up at the sky. "Oh look, a bird." And then comes the moment of truth when there is a slight rise in the other persons voice at the end of their sentence, indicating that I am supposed to say something. That is about the point where I get that dumbfounded look on my face (you know, the one ADD kids get when they have just been caught with their faces plastered against the windows staring at God only knows what) and ask "Was"? And I love the question "Verstehst du"? Yeah, nein. Not at all. This seemed to happen on a fairly consistent basis yesterday.

But I realized something talking (playing charades) with Estelle: I have been accused of being lazy for not speaking more German here, but it is not because I am lazy. It is because I am embarrassed (well, okay, I am slightly lazy, but come on. Sometimes a good ol English quip really drives the point home). Estelle told me she doesn't speak English much because she thinks she sounds bad. Christ, I KNOW I sound like shit when I speak German, so I opt to take the easy road and speak English. Because I get embarrassed. Because I hate it when I talk and people cannot understand me. It is very frustrating to be THIS old and have the communication skills of a three year old. It is even worse when people get annoyed or impatient or what have you because then YOU feel like sheiße. I only speak German around Estelle, I guess mainly because yeah, she does not speak English, but also because somehow, she understands me, and I don't feel like a giant asshole when I talk. Fuck, I am surprised she understands me at all. Even though sentences feel backwards to me, I am sure me translating a sentence from English to German and using the English construct of that sentence is fucking ridiculous to the Germans. Why cant German be like Spanish???

But it is easy for me to forget that I am not the only person in the world that is having this problem. I am not the first person to feel like an ass when I speak another language. THIS is not my native language! Lord, it feels more times than not that it is not even close to English! If I could be fluent in a language after three months, I would move to a new country four times a year.

Oh, also, I switched my keyboard from English to German so I could type the umlauts with more ease. But fuck if I can find the apostrophe key now. So I don't want any of you to think that I am making grammatical errors. I never make grammatical errors (haha). I just cant find the fucking key, and spellcheck does not always catch it.

Okay, I am off to pack. We are going to Nuremberg today. I am pretty damn stoked about this!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

oh, Weihnachten...

First off, it is cold. Lets just get that out of the way now. There is a ridiculous amount of snow on the ground, the sidewalks are frozen over, and I am eating like a bear preparing for hibernation. I am fairly certain that I have gained at least 10 pounds in the past week. At this rate, I am going to need to purchase another seat to fly back to the states in 2 weeks. And I wish that were me being factitious.

I have also switched my keyboard over to the German keyboard, so it is easier for me to write things like ä and ß and ö. The problem now is that I cannot find other keys I once used. Like the apostrophe. Where the HELL is it? And the z and the y are backwards. My brain does not seem to want to process this. So I keep writing mz instead of my. Awesome.

But I will say this: despite the fact that it is freezing and despite the fact that my ass is now up for its own zip code, I love this time of year. Especially here in Germany. It is so beautiful. And the Weihnachtsmarkts (Christmas Markets)? Dear America: take a clue from Germany and start setting these up. And get some glühwein. I feel like my life up to this point has been incomplete, and that missing piece was glühwein. I cannot even begin to describe the awesomeness that is this hot German Christmas drink. I wish I could bring some back home with me.

Last weekend we went to the Weihnachtsmarkts in Heidelberg, which is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. I really want to go back in the spring when it is not freezing and spend longer than a day there. I will be putting pictures up soon in another blog, as I am far too lazy right now to upload and photo edit all of them. Yeah, I said it. But this weekend, we are going to Nuremberg, which has one of the most famous Weihnachtsmarkts in the world. I am pretty damn stoked about this. I am doing the majority of my Christmas gift shopping there. Hopefully I can fit everything in my suitcase.

In other news, I actually found a German who doesn't speak much English, and she doesn't mind talking to me in German, even though I am sure I make absolutely no sense. It is very nice for me, though, because most of the time, Germans do not want to wait for me to figure out how to say something in German, or if I do not understand, they start speaking English. But because Estelle doesn't speak much English, I basically have to figure out how to say what I want to say in German, and this has been awesome. I feel like in the past week Ive spoken more German than I have in the four months I have been here. Not to mention she is one of the only Germans I have met that I understand the majority of the time. If she says something I do not understand, she will explain it to me differently. If that doesn't work then yes, we use google translate. But given how shitty my German is, I am so grateful that she is so patient with me. I don't feel like a giant asshole when I talk with her, which has been my biggest problem here. Oh, not to mention, she is actually my age and she drinks like me. I have found my German twin!

And we have now reached less than 20 days on the "Sarah returns to America" countdown. I am so excited to see my friends and family. I have missed everyone so much. Lets hope I don't forget all the Deutsch I have learned.

Friday, November 19, 2010

aaaand...first quarter down!

Wow. As of today, I have been in Deutschland for three months. That's 13 weeks. Holy shit, that is 91 days. 91 days of living in Germany. It's a little daunting to put an actual number on it like that.

Incidentally enough, this milestone marker also came on a week where I got a rather, how shall we say, blunt wake-up call. A much needed wake-up call, I think. I went out Wednesday night with Alex and Julia and met their friends, Q and Nathalie. Wednesday I was sort of on German overload, so I always take opportunities to just speak English with people. And truth be told, I think there are some people who do not mind this, as I've found a lot of Germans want to work on their English conversational skills. However, this probably does nothing to improve my German. Probably? Ha. It doesn't. Okay, I admit that.

We went to a bar called Home, which was actually quite lovely, and the majority of the conversation was in German, obviously. I was the only one there who did not speak German. Julia would occasionally translate things for me, at least what I could not follow, and I would answer in English, because either I didn't know the words or I just didn't want to take the time to form the sentence into German. And I'm afraid I still sound terrible when I actually try to speak German.

At some point during this evening, Nathalie interrupted me as I was speaking English and said to me, "No more English. You speak German." I kind of looked at her funny and explained that I didn't know how to answer in German, and she responded "it does not matter. You are in Germany, you speak German. I do not come to your country and expect people to speak German to me. You Americans, you are so lazy. You expect me to speak English in my own country. I met a boy last week, an American, and he only speaks English to me. Because he is lazy. No. Speak German." I just kind of stared at her for a moment because, wow, I'd just met this girl and already she had ripped me a new asshole. She then informed me that I had until Friday to learn German.

Normally when someone is this confrontational with me right off the bat, I immediately go into defensive mode and get bitchy right back. But I couldn't. Because she was right. Oh my God, she was right. I was such a lazy American. The entire time I have been here in Germany, I really have not made an effort to speak German. If I find out someone is able to understand and speak English, I speak English with them. Because it is easier. Because I am, dare I say it, lazy. I'm lazy and I'm afraid of sounding like an idiot. I guess that is the type-A personality in me: if I'm going to do something, I wanted to do it perfectly immediately. And I just can't do that with language. I actually have to get out and talk with people and make mistakes and learn from those mistakes, or I'm never going to learn anything.

So there it is. I do not think it is a mere coincidence that I met Nathalie on my three-month marker. I don't believe in coincidences. I believe this was something that needed to happen because good Christ, I'm in Germany! I have Germans at my disposal! It's not like at home where you're with your tight-knit group of German students and teachers (because really, who speaks fluent German in Boise? A handful of people, maybe) and you're forced to interact with them in order to improve you language skills. No. I'm in Germany, with real, honest-to-God German people, German television, German libraries, and German movies. I have to order food in restaurants in German. I have to buy train tickets and bus tickets and whatever else in German. I need to start speaking German to people. Even if I sound like the biggest moron. Even if I make mistakes and get my sentences backwards and basically make a clusterfuck of a once comprehendable idea. So that is what I'm going to do. Before I go home in exactly 28 days, I am going to speak German with people. Or at least try. I reserve the right to default back to English should someone not understand me at all.

So thank you, Nathalie. You may be one of my favorite people in Germany.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

my happy place.

Most days I have German class, I am there for a minimum of three hours. Usually around four, but sometimes I'm sitting there for almost five. Right around the fourth hour, I go to my happy place. For whatever reason, I'm just not able to deal with such an intense overload of German, and the fourth hour seems to be right about the time I start thinking about what I'm going to cook for dinner or what movie I'm going to watch or what is going to happen on "Hand Auf Herz" at 6:00. Will Bea continue to sleep with her underage student? Will the girls get into another fist fight? Who the hell was the chick who overdosed on (cheap) vodka and had to be taken to the hospital? So many questions that are still unanswered and thus must be pondered while I'm sitting in Frau Grigorieva's Grammatik class. Unfortunately, Frau Grigorieva's class is not one I should doze in and out of, as she could be quite possibly the scariest teacher I've ever had. Now don't get me wrong: I've had teachers that are just mean, and I don't learn anything because of their abrasive and downright shitty attitudes. Frau Grigorieva is scary in a way that I find appealing--dare I say she scares me into doing better. I don't want to get anything wrong in her class because she might beat the shit out of me. I kid you not.

Anyway, this is all nice background to what happened yesterday in Grammatik class. I dozed out. I didn't mean to, but I didn't get to eat lunch, all I had were raisins, which I devoured in the first hour, and I was getting a little antsy. I guess at some point, Frau Grigorieva had said we wouldn't be having class on Friday. Either I didn't understand her, or I was daydreaming about Guidos pizza. I don't know. It was probably a combination of both. Anyway, I wasn't going to be in class anyway on Friday since I have my appt. with the city to become an official "German" citizen, so I went up to her after class to inform her of this. Since I still don't know future tense, I showed her the letter I received and explained to her that I wouldn't be there, in English.

As a side-note, I'm not sure which of my teachers actually speak English. Fluently. I mean, I think all of them have at least basic knowledge of English, but I'm not sure if any of them could hold a conversation with me in English (except for Frau Schmitt, who helped me to translate that stupid letter I received from the Munich police dept. Thank you, Frau Schmitt).

Anyway, she read the letter and asked me, in German, if I had been paying attention. She got that look in her eyes--you know, the one a lion gets right before it jumps on the back of a zebra and disembowels it with its razor-sharp back claws? The only thing going through my mind was "shit, shit, shit." And what is the first thing I say? "Oh, wait, that's what you were saying"? She looked at me like "oh my God, are you effing serious" and I just started laughing. I couldn't help it. I think she then asked me, in German, how much of the class I actually understood. I told her I was in my happy place. I don't think that translated well, especially because I could not stop laughing. She handed me back the letter shaking her head. But I saw her smile. I SAW IT. So at the very least, I may be an idiot, but at least she thinks I'm a funny idiot, yeah?

So now I feel it necessary to actually study some German tonight. I mean, I'm not going to see her again until next week, but I feel her leering gaze over my shoulder when I sit and peruse youtube videos. Dare I say I even feel her flick my ear repeatedly. So now I'm sitting here writing this blog and going over modal verbs. Which is NOT what I want to be doing with my Wednesday evening, ha ha.

Oh yes, and in other news, Sick of Sarah released their new cd yesterday. It is called 2205 and you MUST buy it. It is fantastic. I heart it.

And I bought Wir sind Helden's cd (kind of new--it came out in August), and we got our tickets to their show in Saarbruecken. I'm pretty damn excited about this. The one concert I wanted to go to (other than Die Happy) whilst living in Germany was Wir sind Helden. Their songs are introducing me to all sorts of new verbs and adjectives. I love it.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sie haben Wal-Mart in Deutschland...

And it is called Globus. I had heard, since I came to Saarbrücken, about the gloriousness of Globus, but I had yet to have first-hand experience with what can only be described as a giant, German/French version of Wal-Mart.

OMG.

If ever there was an homage to be paid to American consumerism in Germany (and this is, of course, ignoring what McDonalds is doing to Europe), it is Globus. I had become so accustomed to not seeing so many different things under one roof--like appliances, groceries, meat, restaurants, optical shops, florists, etc., that I almost had a heart attack when we walked inside. It was HUGE. HUGE! And they had, like, real food. Not the stuff I have been getting at the Netto! In fact, at this very moment I am enjoying my Blaue Weinbeeren (blue raisins), Italian saltine crackers with Kerrygold butter and some cheddar cheese. REAL FREAKING CHEDDAR CHEESE.

Oh, and of course, let's not forget the REAL tonic water I found, 7-Up and the bottle of vodka I purchased (this will be, seriously, my second time having vodka in Germany).

I kind of want to cry.

It is very strange--despite the fact that I still think the people here are quite rude (um, let's talk about what happens when you take a place like Globus and couple it with a bunch of German/French people all pushing each other out of the way and not saying excuse me. I was about ready to turn around and backhand the next person that shoved past me and glared at me as if my presence was an inconvenience to their existence. Douches) I am really starting to warm up to this place. Dare I say I think I am going to be very sad when I leave.

It's weird to start an entire new life someplace. The people you meet and the friends you make really don't know that much about you or your former life. It's almost like a chance to start over. I don't feel like I've changed all that much, but I'm wondering how different things will be in the next month. Three months? Eight months? Am I going to get used to being here right when I have to leave? Will I still talk with all the people I've met? I sure hope so. I like the friends I have over here. I like the stupid and strange adventures we go on. I'm going to really enjoy it when I'm able to actually speak some German. I'm trying not to get too frustrated (even though there are certain times when the ability to communicate would be extremely beneficial *cough* bakery girl *cough*) because I know that at some point I'll get it. This whole week, though, I've felt like there is a reason I am supposed to be here. I don't know what that reason is, but I feel like I am in the right place at this particular moment in my life, and that is an AWESOME feeling.

In the meantime, I get to go home in 36 days, drive my car, sleep in my own bed, see my wonderful friends and family and eat all the food I've been missing. And it will be a good break to get me through the 8 month long-haul.

In other news, I think I'm teaching other cultures certain idiosyncrasies that are not reflective of American culture. Case in point: today the lovely Korean girls in my class, whom I am particularly fond of because they are always so happy when I see them, asked me if it is customary in American for people to wave with both hands when they say hello or good-bye. I kind of looked at them funny and thought about it and said "no, I don't think so." The one girl then asked me why I always wave with both hands when I say hello to them. Ha ha, apparently I wave like a little kid with ADHD whenever I see someone on the street. So if any of you see any Koreans in America and they wave at you with two hands when saying hello, you can blame that one on me.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

damn you, language barrier!

Okay, this whole language barrier and my inability to communicate with people is really getting in the way of my social life--more specifically, my ability to flirt with any sort of success. Here is the problem: Ich weiß die Worter in Deutsch, aber Ich kann nicht mit diesem Worter satzbildung . (Ha ha, because that sentence will be an indication of just how much I suck at German). So I'm amassing a ridiculous vocabulary of German words, but I can't construct them into a sentence that makes any sort of sense. German is backwards from English--the conjugated verb stays with the subject, but all subsequent verbs come at the end of the sentence. And there are all these rules for when you use conjunctions and the placement of the verbs, or whether or not words are in the nomativ, dativ, oder akkusativ. Basically, I want to tear my hair out. And throw my hands up and quit. Or drink a beer.

I mean, really...I've been here almost three months and I'm still having a shit time talking with anyone in German. I can write it just fine because I can actually sit here and go over what I've written to find my mistakes, but having an actual conversation with someone gets incredibly overwhelming. And that's of course assuming I can even follow what they are saying in the first place.

So yeah, let's be honest (I don't think my mom reads my blog anyway). I have a bit of a crush on the girl who works at the bakery I go to all the time (may be an understatement). And I'd like to clarify that I don't just go there all the time because she works there--their breads and pastries are heavenly. Her working there is just an added little bonus. Anyway, all the women that work in this bakery are extremely nice, and they deal with my inability to talk to them, which is awesome. I mean, how much vocabulary do you need to know to ask someone for a pastry? (Well, try to pronounce the word "Apfelkrapfe." I failed. And the woman thought it was hilarious. I sound like such an asshole sometimes, ha ha).

Anyway, yes, so I have a crush on this girl. And I know absolutely nothing about her. Why? Because I can't freaking ask questions in German because it takes me hours to say anything in German. I don't even know her name! I know she at least recognizes me because she always smiles when I come in, and recognizes the fact that I don't speak German because she helps me with my vocabulary (like today's awesome bout of charades when I couldn't remember the effing word for to cut, which, btw, is schneiden and a word I am entirely familiar with), but come on. I feel like this whole crush is entirely irrational and a bit pointless. I have no idea if she is single or in a relationship, or if the door even swings that way. And I don't know how to find out any of this information! I was determined today to at least find out her name, but I got so flustered trying to piece the rest of my German together when ordering my bread, that it was just a lost cause. I fail. I fail so hard. Jesus, at home if I am this hung up on someone, I can flirt like there is no tomorrow. I can be cute and smart and funny and all that shit, but not here. Not at all. I just come across as some dumb-ass American with an inability to talk beyond the level of a three-year-old. So I'm either going to have to buck up and learn some German stat, or watch my midsection expand for the next few months.

Blah.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Topics after a bottle of wine...

Okay, I'm not going to pretend like we didn't consume a bottle of wine...each. That would be lying. And you all would see right through it. I'm extraordinarily good at lying, except when I drunk. I start to giggle, my face turns bright red and all is lost. Like right now. Except you can't see me laughing uncontrollably. The Internet is awesome that way.

Anyway, it's amazing the sorts of topics that come up when one has been drinking copious amounts of alcohol. Things that you would not normally discuss in every day conversation. Case in point:

In Germany, you do not buy your medicines at the grocery store or at your local Walgreens. You can get things like cough drops and vitamins there, but for most aspirins, sleep aides, etc., you have to go to die Apotheke. When you walk in, you're greeted by someone who I can only assume has some medical background, who proceeds to ask you why you are there. This was fine when I walked in needing a sleeping aide. I told her my problem, she pointed me in the right direction and low and behold, I found sleep that night with the aide of a non-prescription sleeping pill.

While this may sound like a wonderful thing, I can only imagine the conversation that would take place if one had, er, a...how shall we say? Blockage? Of the intestinal variety. THIS was the topic of conversation tonight. I was familiar with the protocol of the Apothekes in Germany, and contemplated for a good many nights before I left whether or not I should bring Miralax from home. Because I could not imagine walking into one of these establishments and proclaiming to the nearest person working there that I had a, er, blockage. I wouldn't even know how to say that in German. We decided tonight that the best phrase would be "Ich kann nicht Scheiße."

Right.

Let's all pause and think about the repercussions of such a statement. Because given my tenacity for truthful declarations of health-related ailments, this is EXACTLY what I would say to someone if I were looking for a laxative. Now imagine you are the person on the other end of such a statement. *sigh* Added to the list of things I'm bringing back to Germany from the states (including, but not limited to: Blue Cheese dressing, peanut butter and normal deodorant): Miralax.

I've also started to learn helpful conversational basics in Czech because we are going to be running the half-marathon in Prague in April. It's very difficult to track down an inexpensive Czech-German dictionary; it is nearly impossible to find one that is Czech to English. The weird thing is is that I can speak Czech really well, though I can't write it for shit due to their alphabet with 38...39(?) letters. Which is the exact opposite problem I have in German: I can write it just fine, but to speak it I sound like a moron. UGH. Languages, why do you have to be so difficult!

But I'm pretty damn excited about this half marathon, mainly because the only way my ass gets in shape is if there is a race looming in the distance. Though we didn't run tonight. Instead we went to the bookstore so John could pick up a "Deutsch als Fremdsprache" book and a Russian translation dictionary, and so that I could wander through the Penguin Classics in English. I picked up a copy of "The Great Gatsby" and "Northhanger Abby." Because I figured if anyone could help me regain my once stellar grasp on the English language, it is Ms. Jane Austen and her unwavering ability to use giant English words that no one uses anymore, except for pretentious English majors and assholes who think they are smarter than everyone else.

Okay, I think that is enough blogging for tonight. I must get to bed. Or tomorrow is going to be a ROUGH day.

But here is a video from one of the greatest bands ever. And if you don't laugh uncontrollably at this video, your sense of humor needs some fine-tuning!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Es ist Herbst in Saarbrücken

Today John, Brice and I went for a hike that was only supposed to be an hour but fell just short of three. We ended up in a town about 8 kms away from Saarbrücken called Scheidt. But I took a few photos along the way. The Stadtwald around Saarbrücken is absolutely stunning. Of course, I just kept picturing scenes from the Blaire Witch Project. This is Germany, after all; these forests were the inspiration for the Grimm Brothers fairy tales. You know those tales are based on actual events, at least somewhat. I'm sure there are a bunch of crazy witches that dance naked in the forest, conjuring spirits and eating little children or something.

Anyway, enjoy the photos!












I have a date with my oven when I get home...

One of the not-so-great things about living in the dorms (aside from sharing my living space with a bunch of kids that are at least 8 years younger than me) is that I do not have an oven. An oven is one of those things that you really take for granted; you don't realize how much you may utilize your oven until it is gone. I cannot make salmon. I cannot oven-fry potatoes. I cannot *gasp* make cookies. Or pizzas. It is a very, very sad thing.

Yesterday I was reminded of just how much I miss my oven when I posted my favorite recipe for my most favorite cookies ever: Hershey Kiss thumbprint cookies.



I make these cookies every year for cookie exchanges, gifts for the mailman, or just for me to eat with Tessa when she comes to visit, usually accompanied by a Baileys and hot chocolate and a "Bones" marathon. There's nothing quite like snuggling under a giant fleece blanket, watching television and getting drunk while consuming 48 of these magnificent little cookies.

I've tried dozens of different thumbprint cookie recipes, but I want to share the best one I have found with everyone. You can use any sort of Hershey Kiss in the middle, or even Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Because your ass will not get big enough with just the Hershey Kisses. :)

1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. peanut butter (creamy)
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix together first 5 ingredients; then add remaining flour and mix until you form a sticky dough. Roll into small balls (about the size of a golf ball) and place onto a greased cookie sheet (I also like to roll the balls in some extra granulated sugar before I put them on the cookie sheet).

Bake 8-10 minutes or until just golden brown. (DO NOT bake any longer--they will get all burned and weird. Remove them IMMEDIATELY from cookie sheet and place them on a plate. If you don't, the bottom will continue to bake, aka, burn).

Place Hershey kiss (with wrapping removed) in center of each cookie, while they are still hot. You can move to cookie rack if you so choose.

Makes approximately 48 cookies.

I plan on making about 20 dozen of these cookies the Friday I get home. Vickie and I have already planned on stuffing our faces Saturday morning after the Christmas Run.

Anyways, everyone have a wonderful November--my friends in the states: eat lots of turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving and think of me...here...in the land of bratwursts.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Tanzen, Tanzen, Tanzen

Have you ever thought you've sent an email and you actually haven't? So someone writes you and days and days pass and they email you again and are like "really, you didn't fucking respond"? And you're like "yes I did!" only to go back through your messages to realize that you haven't? This happens to me a lot. Not just with emails, but with homework and telephone calls and blogging. See, I thought I had written a blog about going to Trier this weekend, but apparently I only got so far as to post pictures on facebook. Oh, and drink all the wine I bought there. Score!

Anyway, a lot actually happened this week, and I didn't blog about any of it. So yeah, we went to Trier this weekend, which is the oldest city in Germany (and also where Vickie's mom is from). It was a crazy-good time. I went with John, Brice and Nathan, all of whom are American, of course. Not sure how I feel about traveling with Germans that don't speak much English. Shit can get complicated. Plus I don't know any Germans that would actually want to travel with us. We're a crazy bunch. Well, some of us.

I don't know much about the history of Trier, though it is something I need to look up. There are Roman ruins all over the place--like next to bars and restaurants. Not to mention, the area is famous for their wines (it is in the state of Rhineland Palatinate near/on the Mosel River). We ate at this amazing restaurant called Zum Domstein, which also happens to be on top of the oldest wine cellar in Trier. And the food was nothing short of heavenly. I may have over-indulged. May. And we did a wine sampling, which was quite lovely as well. Here are some pictures from around Trier:













We only stayed in Trier for the day (hey, it's only an hour and a half away!) so we came back and I was adamant about going to one of the local clubs for gay and lesbian night. I had yet to see any actual gay men in Germany (well, that's not true. The fact of the matter is I can't tell the difference between the straight men and gay men here. The men all dress like douchey Abercrombie models with fucking scarves. Most of them. The ones that actually dress like they just woke up and ran out the door are a pleasant reminder of dirty boys from home). Anyway, we must have gotten to the club early (at 11:45 p.m.) as there were not a lot of people there. There were a few gay men and some scary, scary lesbians. OMG. I think German lesbians might put lesbians from Boise to shame. I didn't know it was possible to pierce yourself THAT many times. Or to take that much acid and prance around the floor like a fairy for 45 minutes (granted, THAT was entertaining).

I ended up staying until almost 3:30 that morning. Brice and John both left me with two English boys that lived in my building. That we had just met that night. Don't worry--I'm pretty sure I could have taken them. There's just something about an English accent on a guy that is a real confidence booster for my ass-kicking abilities. Just sayin'. Anyway, by 3:00, I was so over the 10000 different variations of techno they had played that if I didn't immediately leave the club, I'm fairly certain my heart rate would have changed to "uns-chica-uns-chica-uns-chica." Germany, you do know that there are other types of dance music, yeah? Not just techno? Rhianna actually does her own music that you don't need to add a horrific beat to. UGH. And if this particular sampling of gays in Saarbruecken is even close to accurate, there are 35 gay men to 1 lesbian.

Oh, and gay Germans also dance really far away from each other. At least until 2 a.m. when they are all drunk and just go straight to boning. I mean, good God. There's no greaser. It's like, "hi, nice to meet you, let's dance 3 feet apart, oh good, we've been dancing for 2 hours together not touching, let's go have sex." ?????

In other news, I started boxing this week. The entire class is, of course, in German, but it was very helpful to me that he demonstrated everything that we were doing. I was having a REALLY difficult time understanding anything that he said, and then I realized it was because he had a slight lisp. OMG. I can't understand German; I sure as shit cannot understand a lisped German. Wow. But this class is going to get my ass in shape like whoa. If nothing else, me laughing uncontrollably at the kid with super tight shorts who clearly plays a lot of W.O.W. at home will provide me with a sufficient ab workout. This kid was hilarious. When we were doing alternating jabs, I'm pretty sure he took his seriousness to a whole new level. I'm just visualizing his shorts again. Now I can't stop laughing.

Last but not least, today marks the end of the first week where I understood at least 80% of what my teachers were saying, and I'm feeling much more confident about speaking in class. I'm so, so excited! The more I expand my vocabulary (I'm making verb conjugation notecards like mad) the more I'm able to follow things on t.v. or in conversations. I'm super, super excited about this. In class on Wednesday, one of my teachers, who ALWAYS calls on me despite the fact that I try to hide myself in the corner, made me go up to the board and write answers to questions that we had been given on a worksheet. Okay, so I wasn't entirely sure how to conjugate the verb "fernsehen" which is "to watch t.v." She told me how to write it, and as I was writing it, someone from the room yelled "auf," so I wrote "Ich sehe auf fern." Looking at it, it made absolutely no sense, and then my teacher said it, and it still sounded like auf. I made the mistake of giving her a perplexed look and she got about 3 inches from my face and yelled "oft, oft, oft!" I was like "ahhhh, ich verstehe Sie, ich verstehe Sie!" There's one verb I will never, ever conjugate incorrectly again. Oh, and I love this teacher. She is so freaking funny. I know she's just sitting there mentally making fun of all of us. I can see it in her face. I do the same thing. :)

Tomorrow we are going to Mainz, so I will try to be better about posting a blog!

Friday, October 22, 2010

some strange, strange different things in Germany.

Oooo boy howdy. What a week. It's honestly weeks like this one that remind me of why I should not be let out in public unsupervised. Hell, I should not be let out in public supervised. Especially in a place like Germany. Sheesh.

One of the great things about learning German in Germany is the fact that there are certain social constructs that you just can't duplicate in the classroom. While a professor in the states can say "in Germany, they do things this way, don't do this" I think advice like that is best stored in the long-term memory bank when you're actually here, screwing up royally. Let's discuss.

I'm still baffled by what I'm about to type. It just doesn't make sense to me. Wednesday, Brice and John came over because the Heimbar in my building was having a BBQ/drink fest for the new students who had just moved in. As a side note, most of the dorm complexes through the university have a bar. I'm lucky enough to live in the same building as mine, so three nights a week, I don't get to go to bed until 2:00 a.m. Germans like to party. LATE. Like super late. When I get invited out, they don't actually go out until midnight. Like they get started at midnight (not they are at home prefunking and then go out at midnight). I can't get used to it. I'm an old lady for crying out loud! I'm in bed by 2 at the latest. Some of the clubs here stay open until 7. 7 a.m.! WTF???

I digress. So anyway, Brice and John came over and we ventured downstairs. First off, they had whiskey. Granted it was Jim Bean, I was not going to be particular about the type of whiskey I imbibed because I was so freaking excited to actually see whiskey. The kicker: a double shot with coke was 1,50 euro. 1,50! I think we can all see where this is going....

So yes, I got a little inebriated. Not freak out, throw up pass out inebriated, but just drunk enough that I was super, super friendly with everyone we met. It's always a good way for me to make friends. Never mind the language barrier; we all speak the international language of sloshed. We eventually left my heimbar and walked over to John's heimbar, which is actually on campus. There were tons more people there (but still cheap booze). We went downstairs where there was a dance floor and I started to get my groove on. They were playing some AWESOME music: old school J-Lo, Daddy Yankee, etc. Maaaybe they played the Macarena. And maybe I remembered how to dance it. And maybe all the Germans watched me for the dance moves. Maybe. I'm not going to confirm nor deny that this actually happened.

So here comes the interesting part. Despite the fact that Germans talk about sex non-stop; despite the fact that I have seen Germans having sex in public; despite the fact that Germans don't mind being naked all the time, they DO NOT grind on the dance floor. When Brice and I went out on the floor and started dancing, like Americans typically do at a club playing hip hop and rap, we got some of the dirtiest stares. Like we were sacrificing children or bunny rabbits right in the middle of the dance floor. I looked around and it appeared as though all the other Germans dancing had at least a foot between them.

You've got to be kidding me, Germany.

You have no problem with public sex or talking about sex all the time, but heaven FORBID you grind on the dance floor. God might smite you right there!

A girl I had met earlier in the night came up to the two of us later and said that we must be very good friends, implying that we were a couple. I laughed and told her we just dance like that in America. She looked shocked. She then told me that I was a very powerful woman. Which made me laugh even harder. I think this is why German women wear obscenely large heels when they go out dancing--they are not actually dancing. They are just moving back and forth a foot away from their respective dance partner.

In other news, yesterday we went to the grand opening of the new mall in Saarbruecken. The funny thing is that this mall is just a big collection of the stores that already exist along the Bahnhofstrasse. So this makes 3 H&Ms in Saarbruecken, all within a two mile radius of each other. But they did have a Fossil stores, which made me super excited because I needed a new pair of sunglasses. I didn't actually find a *cheap* pair of sunglasses, but I did find a new wallet, which is awesome because I've been carrying my money and credit cards around in a pencil bag. As I was going to check out, one of the gentlemen working there came up to me and started talking to me. I'm a somewhat friendly person, so I started talking with him. I introduced myself, because it seemed like the nice thing to do, and he brought me a free canvas bag and a tin. Score! He also told me his last name and where he lived. All right... As we were leaving the store, Brice was just shaking his head. When I asked him what the problem was, he told me that in Germany, people are not so friendly with the salespeople.

"He's totally expecting you to look him up in his city."

"What? No. I was just being nice!"

"No, you were flirting. People in Germany don't make friends with their salespeople. They go in, buy their stuff and leave. They especially don't ask for their names."

"Well I do! We had like a five minute conversation--it seemed like the polite thing to do! And I got a free bag out of it, so whatever."

Kind of makes me wonder how many salespeople in this city think I am hitting on them. This would explain why the people who work at the bakeries and stores I frequent are always super nice to me. Either they are happy to see someone smiling or wearing colors, or they are expecting me to take them to a nice dinner and have sex with them later.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dorm Life Can SUCK IT

It is now exactly 12:05 a.m. here in good ol' Germany. While the rest of my friends back in the states are ending their work day, I have patiently been awaiting the moment when I could crawl into my somewhat comfortable bed, turn the heat up just a tad and snuggle in for what I was hoping would be a sleep-filled night with dreams of money and wealth and fame and beautiful people.

Right.

I should clarify I've BEEN in bed since 11:00.

Why, Sarah, have you not fallen asleep yet?

Oh, please, let me tell you. Because I live in an effing dorm. A dorm filled with youngsters officially on their own and not under the watchful eye of their respective parental figures. A dorm filled with immature, drunk fuck-wads. Who think that it is totally fine to be outside of the building, drinking and swearing and screaming and doing God only knows what else, with little mind nor consideration for other people. Oh, by the way, I live on the 8th floor of my building. These douches are that fucking loud.

*sigh*

It's like I'm back at Humboldt State. I would say U of I, but due to the strict rules and regulations I lived under in the sorority, I just don't think it is an accurate comparison. No, I'm talking full on dorm living. You know, filled with people of varying ages from varying backgrounds all trying to coexist in the same living space. And not doing so successfully. Did you ever see the movie "Election" with Reese Witherspoon? That scene where she is at Georgetown and super, super excited to finally be amongst her intellectual counterparts in an environment conducive to success and high achievement? Only to find out that dorm life is not what she was expecting because young people freak the fuck out when they are on their own for the first time? Oh, and we all remember when she storms out in the hallway, her hair in curlers, screeching for the immature adolescents to pipe down. I feel like her. Right now. I want to stick my head out the window like some 70-year-old grandma and yell at these bastards below me to get into bed, they have school tomorrow. But no, no. I cannot.

When did I become THAT person?

Maybe when I turned old enough to legally drink in the states? No, no that wasn't it. 25? Maybe it was 25? When the stinging reality of adult life hit me like a sack of bricks? When paying bills and going to work and *gasp* taking responsibility for my own actions took precedence over my unwavering abilities to do keg stands and beer bongs and stay awake till all hours of morning and drink fifths of Jack Daniels with no hangover.

Getting old blows.

But getting old means that if these little jackasses down below me don't go to bed soon, I'm gonna start dumping the contents of my trash can out the window and onto their heads. That includes my two-week old salad. And it smells. Bad. Mix that with some water and I think I'll have the perfect "get your asses in bed" concoction.

Or maybe I'll just take an Ambien. After all, I'm fairly convinced the pharmaceutical companies had situations like this in mind when they developed that glorious little pill that knocks you out for 8 hours.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Dresden, Leipzig and fortresses, oh my!

So maybe I could write about all the awesome things one can do in East Germany. But it's kind of one of those things where you would get bored reading about its complete awesomeness. So I'm gonna do what I do best--rant about some shit, throw in an occasional recommendation, and say "shit" a lot.

I have to be honest--Dresden and Leipzig were not cities that were on my radar to visit. In fact, I'd only in passing heard of these two places. I'm not entirely familiar with the history of Germany, which is probably something I need to look into. I mean, I know about the fall of the Berlin wall and reunification and all that jazz, but as far as the nitty, gritty nuances, nada. Zip. Zilch. If there's a course at BSU, I will take it. I don't think I want to learn about German history in German. That might be a bit advanced for me. But it would be interesting to hear their take on things and then take the course in Idaho. Hmm...maybe. Maybe.

So anyway, back to Dresden and Leipzig. Dresden was pretty freaking cool. There was SO MUCH TO DO. It's one of the shitty things about only having a few days in large cities: you sort of have to pick and choose what you are going to do. If I could recommend one awesome thing, I would have to say the Deutsch Hygiene Museum.

http://www.dhmd.de/neu/index.php?id=204

It was BY FAR the coolest thing. Their current exhibit, in English, was entitled "what is beautiful." It was all about how people perceive beauty and attractiveness. It was pretty freaking sweet. And it totally made me never want to eat ever again. Apparently Germany's definition of beauty is skinny, blonde and symmetrical. Not to mention, the permanent exhibit was fun as well. I was particularly fond of their entire exhibit dedicated to human sexuality. It was basically porn. And who doesn't love porn?

We also went to an art museum in the Zwinger where I saw the original, ORIGINAL Raphael's cherubs. Sweet.

Email me for more recommendations on Dresden (or check out my photos on facebook...coming soon).

In between Dresden and Leipzig, we went to a fortress that I can't remember the name of and a bridge, which I also cannot remember the name of. I took pictures, so I'm sure some sort of indication as to what these places were are in there, but I just know that traveling around and hiking up hills with my 40 lb. travel backpack made me extremely grumpy and irritable. And I was not that impressed. I figured all that energy exerted to see these things would have at least produced something freaking awesome. No. No it did not. Well, I guess the fortress was pretty cool, but the bridge? Nein. I did get some good photos, though.

Leipzig may very well be my favorite city in Germany so far. Come to find out, the group I traveled with didn't really enjoy Leipzig. I believe I enjoyed it so much because I got to do what I wanted to do without being herded around by a 20-year-old.

Oh wait, let me digress. I waited a few days to write this blog in the event that I was just exhausted and my feelings about the travel situation were the result of lack of sleep. Having slept on it a few days, I feel as though I'm adequately prepared and well-rested enough to write this section.

My mother used to tell me that you don't really know someone until you travel with them. This is something I have found to be very true. People can be totally awesome until you get them out of their element, and then they turn into crazy assholes. So let's talk about the people I traveled with. I don't really have a whole lot of qualms presently, except for the fact that my entire trip was dictated by the desires of a narcissistic 20-year-old. Maybe it's because I'm older (and yes, there is a BIG difference between 26 and 20. At least I can legally drink in the states). Maybe it's because I like to travel alone (or at the very least, go where I want to go when I want to go). Maybe it's because I didn't really know this particular person very well before traveling with them. But DEAR FREAKING GOD. I've never come so close to punching someone in the nads. I know, I know, I know. Those of you that know me know that I have very little patience. And I probably should have recognized this particular personality trait of mine a little earlier in the trip and just gone off on my own. But alas, it wasn't until we were in Leipzig, when I got out of the shower in the hostel (mind you, there was only one shower for the four of us), walked into the room, and this boy proclaimed that HE was ready to go (never mind that I hadn't even had a chance to get dressed) that I finally decided that I had had enough traveling with him and would be exploring Leipzig on my own. And it was glorious. While the other three spent their day going to the movies and eating, I walked around the entire southern part of the city, saw amazing monuments and explored the state cemetery (I totally found someone that was 107--NUTS!). *sigh* So wonderful.

So anyhoo, let's just pull a 180 and go back to Leipzig. If you have a chance to visit this city, I wholeheartedly recommend it. There are TONS of restaurants, lots of museums, the city itself is BEAUTIFUL and there were lots of demonstrations. Of particular note should be the Thomaskirche or the Bach Museum. It's so weird to wander through these old, old towns and know that people, like Bach, or Martin Luther, or Mozart totally did the same thing long, long ago. I LOVE it.

After traveling around for a week, it was good to be back and sleeping in my own bed. Especially because the hostel in Leipzig was, how shall we say, fucking sketchy. Like we didn't have locks on our doors. And we were suspiciously close to this bar where I'm pretty sure should I have wanted to score some ecstasy, it would have been readily available. And no one was ever around. Like if you wanted to find the owners, they were probably at the bar across the way doing lines of blow. I'm just saying. They do get points for being in a good location and for being super close to the Texas BBQ place, where yes, we did eat. This place was awesome. It looked like Texas had thrown up all over the restaurant. What more could an American ask for??

This next weekend, I'm going to Trier, which is the oldest city in Germany. I'm pretty excited. And then traveling will be suspended for a while since I just BOUGHT MY PLANE TICKET HOME for Christmas. YAY!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Traveling Bug (again)

One of the great things about living in Europe is the close proximity to amazing travel destinations. I have two weeks off from school, for whatever reason (I'm assuming it's because my instructors are now at the point where they just can't handle our terrible German) so the possibilities of where to go were endless. I was considering going to Spain, but unfortunately, due to the heightened security risk and travel warning issued by the U.S. government for American citizens in Europe, I decided to stay in Germany. Luckily for me, the Oregonians (the collective group of students studying here from OSU) asked me if I would be interested in joining them on a trip to Dresden and Leipzig. Of course I would! I could not imagine spending my two week break here in Saarbruecken when so much of Germany is left undiscovered.

Dresden and Leipzig were two cities I hadn't even considered visiting, nor did I really know much about them. Thank you, Fromer's Guide Book for Germany for providing me with ample fun and exciting things to do in both cities. I think it is going to be a great trip.

This week went a lot better, aside from my little brush with food poisoning (Thursday I spent sprawled across the rug in my room, the trash can at arm's length away, afraid to move because such movement induced massive amounts of retching from your's truly). I've been exercising more, since it is not raining (OMG, it's like a gift from God), and I've come to really enjoy the numerous trails behind my apartment. There is a wonderful loop that takes me about an hour, has several steep hill climbs and amazing views of the forest/mountains/neighboring towns. I'm thinking tomorrow I will take my camera. It is so, so beautiful. Sometimes I pull a Walden and just stop and stare. I can't help it. With everything so crazy and life so stressful, I feel completely at ease when I'm on this run/hike/walk. I don't want it to end (although there is something in the forest that I am apparently allergic to, because when I get home after my run, I'm covered in hives). I'm really not looking forward to winter hitting here, but I don't think that will stop me from exploring more of the Stadtwald (City Forest).

I also emailed/chatted with several friends this week, which always helps me. It's weird to think that the next time I see most of these people, a year will have passed. I wonder what I will be like in a year. Will I be the same? Will I be different? Will my desire to be in Boise for the rest of my life leave when winter descends on the Valley and I'm working and going to school and wanting to be back in Germany? I don't know. I know this is an amazing experience, and I'm trying to take in as much as I can.

For now, I'm off to clean my "apartment." I hate coming back after traveling and having it dirty or smelling funky. Sick. But I'll be sure to write all about my travels in East Germany!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

BLOG MIA

For whatever reason, I've been semi-absent from blogging. And it's not that I don't have the time--I just haven't really been in the mood to write, which is so, so weird for me. Nothing gives me more pleasure than sharing the trials and triumphs of international living with all of you. I've just been sort of 'meh' lately.

I guess I'm in some sort of emo funk. Not full out emo, mind you. Just sort of emo. The weather this past week hasn't been fantastic (with the exception of that very strange day when there were no clouds and it was almost 80 degrees, preceding a day that was pouring rain and only 50) so I've been hanging out in my room a lot, which is exactly the sort of thing I wanted to avoid while being here. But being in class for so long is so draining, and most of the time all I want to do is come back here and wind down. Sometimes I have a glass of wine or a beer. It's good to just let everything from the day seep away.

I think I just need to kick my own ass. I think we all are that way. Funks happen. I don't care who you are or what you do--everyone hits that slump where they're just like "FML." I know, I know. You're probably thinking "Sarah, shut the fuck up. You're living in Germany." Right? But I'll tell something to those of you that have never LIVED in another country where people don't speak the same language--it is rough. Traveling is one thing--actually living here? Entirely different. Things you are very used to, like cars and Costco and signs in English are all absent, and it makes adjusting to a new life considerably more difficult. And Germany is pretty tough. I don't want to say all the people are like this, but for the most part, it is not a friendly place. Maybe I'm biased because I live in Boise and everyone is pretty cordial, but people here are very self-sufficient and independent, and so they don't really rely on other people for happiness. So things like smiling at random people on the street just doesn't happen. It's probably why I almost cry when someone is pleasant to me in a store or walking past me. But dammit all, I still smile at everyone. I also miss my friends. A lot. It is very strange going from being able to see people whenever I wanted to only being able to email them or skype with them. I have to call Vickie sometimes just to hear her voice. It certainly makes me want to come back to Boise and never leave. I never thought I'd say that. Hmph. Maybe absence does make the heart grow fonder....

Classes are going all right. I need to be more proactive about reviewing the materials when I get home. I've been reading lots of children's books, which has helped considerably (yay for library cards) and trying to learn new verbs and phrases, but German is an incredibly difficult language. Some things are similar to English but for the most part, it is not like learning Spanish or French. I'm basically starting from square one and working my way up. Sentence structure is at least making a little more sense. I'm going to be really happy when I can actually start talking to people. Because presently, I talk a lot with my hands. I'm sure waiters love when I ask for a check by making a square with my hands. Yeah, THAT makes sense.

The good news: classes are starting soon. Like REAL, actual university classes. Which means I get to start boxing and yoga. I miss having exercise classes, and I think boxing is just what I need to get out some of this pent up aggression I've been storing.

And there is a two week break coming up. Due to the hightened security risk in Europe right now

(for those of you who don't know, France recently outlawed the burqa, or more specifically, anything that fully covers one's face. Which, of course, led to a hostile reaction from the Muslim community. So last night I received an email from the international programs adviser at Boise State warning against traveling to heavy tourists areas)

I am trying to figure out what I want to do. I was hoping to go to the Basque country, but I would have to fly out of Paris for cheap flights, and currently Paris has a giant freaking bulls-eye planted right on the center of it. So I may be staying in Germany. Or I may go check out Vienna. We'll see how I am feeling. I mean, it's two weeks. I cannot stay here. I would be so freaking bored, I wouldn't even know what to do with myself.

So that's about all the update I have. I'm going to try actually blogging more than once a week, but I'd prefer not to be all "meh" wen I do it. :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Oktoberfest...oy.

I need to write this blog now while things are still sort of fresh in my mind. Well, you know, as fresh as they can be after 4-5 one Liter beers at the Hofbrau Festhalle. Good lord.

So this last weekend I decided to go down to Oktoberfest. It seemed like an appropriate event for me because, well, I like beer and I like to dress up and I like to have fun. I took the train from Saarbruecken down to Munich, and I think it was roughly a five hour ride. I left at 6:45 in the morning, which is just a TAD bit early for this gal on a Saturday. I decided not to wear my dirndl on the train a) because I was not in Bavaria and the last thing I wanted was for people in Saarland to be like "what the hell" and b) because, knowing me, I'd spill something on there that would DEFINITELY leave a stain. And if I'm going to spill anything on my dirndl, it's going to be beer, dammit.

I got into Munich and followed the instructions I had written down to my hotel via the S-Bahn (Munich's above-ground train). Well, apparently I am a shitty writer of instructions as I went 45-minutes IN ENTIRELY THE WRONG DIRECTION. When the train stopped and shut down in this tiny little town in God-only-knows-where, the only thing going through my mind was "Expedia so lied about the distance of this hotel to Oktoberfest." I went into the train station and found a younger man who spoke very broken English who informed me that I had fucked up big time and I had about an hour and a half train ride in the OTHER direction ahead of me. Cranky beyond belief at this point, I got back on the train, headed back in the right direction, and an hour and 45 minutes later ended up at a train station that is actually IN Munich.

In the meantime, Beth, my friend from Milan, had called to inform me that she had missed her flight to Munich and was driving up with a friend of hers. It was going to take her longer to get there, so she told me just to head down to Oktoberfest since Brice and Nathan (the boys from Saarbruecken) were already there. I quickly changed, left the key at the front desk for Beth to pick up and took the train BACK to Oktoberfest.

Now I'm going to try to actually describe what I saw when I waltzed into Oktoberfest. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. Try to imagine a fraternity party, times a billion. And with liederhosen. And more boobs. And LOTS more beer. It was outrageous. I just stood in the opening for a good five minutes assessing the situation and debating whether or not it was entirely wise for me to enter the pearly white gates. Well, fuck, of course I was going to enter them, I just wanted to make sure I knew what I was getting into. Who was I kidding. I was already contemplating the mathematical probability that I would flash someone boob. And you don't have to be good at math to figure out that brain teaser.



Brice had texted me and informed me they were at the Hofbrau Tent. Just as a point of clarification, the Hofbrau tent is sort of like the Cancun of Oktoberfest. Everyone who is a tourist or a foreigner or young and stupid and looking to get wasted and into a fist fight goes to the Hofbrau tent. Now I had wanted to go to a more traditional Bavarian tent, but by the time I actually got on the right train, found the hotel, got changed, got on another train and found the Hofbrau Tent, I was so anxious to drink a beer I probably would have burst into tears had I had to wait any longer. I stood outside waiting and could not find Brice anywhere. There were so many freaking people. Here is a photo of the line OUTSIDE the tent (taken when I was already inside, but I think this is necessary to convey the craziness):



I shit you not, within two minutes of getting into this massive line of people, the Polezei (who I later would become VERY acquainted with) started shoving through the crowd of people with three guys in headlocks, covered in blood. The Polezei literally THREW them out of the beer garten area and into the crowd of people. Blood was everywhere. I could not believe what I had just seen. I definitely needed to get the hell out of this spot.

I finally found Brice and he showed me the ACTUAL entrance into the beer garten. I was quickly met by our friend Nathan, who was wasted beyond wasted and spitting German phrases at me. Nathan, you're lucky I didn't punch you. :) When you want a beer and have not had a beer and drunk people are all over you, one's instinctive reaction is forcible castration.



As if by magic, a beer wench appeared with a giant one liter glass of fine, fine German brew. I started drinking and instantly felt at ease with the world.



Because I figure describing the inside of the beer garten would best be accomplished with photo, here is what I was dealing with:



And here is a photo of me in my dirndl with Brice's friend Brad, who was also from Idaho and studying in a different part of Germany:



Dare I say this is roughly the last thing I remember with any sort of cohesion or clarity. It's amazing what one liter of beer will do to you. Unfortunately, I think I consumed several more than just that one liter, but University of Idaho, I would have done you proud!

We met so many people whose faces randomly appear on my camera. I can't remember too many of them, where they were from, what they were doing, if I stole anything from them or if I or anyone at my table made out with them. But Oktoberfest is not about remembering things! It is about doing things that you will probably regret in the morning and just praying that you don't wake up the next morning in a puddle of your own urine with a communicable disease. No worries, this did not happen to me.

Beth and her friend arrived after I was lit up, and apparently at some point, I had been given a bracelet, which granted me access INSIDE the tent. If you were not at the tent earlier in the day, it was next to impossible to get inside. I believe some older woman gave me hers and she and her husband were leaving the tent. At least that is the story I have conjured up in my mind, and that is the story I am sticking with. Once it started to rain, being inside sounded like a fantastic idea. I got Beth and her friend in by declaring adamantly in German repeatedly "Sie ist meinem Schwester, sie ist meinem Schwester" which may or may not be grammatically correct and was definitely not true.

Once inside, it was crowded, it was smelly, it was loud and I did not have a beer (which is not a problem at Oktoberfest as you can get a beer from practically anyone). I'm not entirely sure from whence the beer I received came, but it obviously was not roofied as I am still here. I'm fairly certain I bought it. Maybe.

Because everything that happened after that is a bit blurry (including me almost getting in some fight with a guy because he put a sticker on my boob, which I promptly removed and threw in his drink. Or all the random people that I was photographed with. Or finding the bathroom) I'm just going to do a little fast forwarding to AFTER we left Oktoberfest. Because this is where my evening gets freaking EXCITING.

Because Beth doesn't drink beer, she was our DD on the way to the hotel. She was driving her friend's car which, thank GOD was a Passat and not some shitty mini-European car that looks like a lego toy. We were a mere 4 minutes away from our hotel, and I was happily drunk texting in the back seat when I heard sirens coming very fast behind us and then felt my body snap forward and snap back (yes, folks, seat belts are massively important). I had no idea what had just happened until I looked up and noticed that there was a police car on our right completely smashed in the front. Beth kept asking if everyone was okay and I kept asking what the fuck was going on. My head instantly started to hurt, and I couldn't move my neck too well. I sat in the car and all these police officers came up to me and started asking me questions in German. I couldn't answer them because I had no idea what had happened and oh, I don't freaking speak German, assholes!

This is what went down:

Apparently a police car traveling roughly 40-50 mph rear-ended our car while we were waiting at a stop light. The entire back portion of Beth's friend's car was destroyed, and the back window had been completely shattered. The hat I had been wearing had someone ended up out in the middle of the street, probably flying through the shattered back window. I was extraordinarily dizzy and nauseated and could not stand up, so Beth insisted that they call an ambulance and take me to the hospital.

I would like to take this opportunity to discuss what happened in both the ambulance and in the hospital. At no point in this entire experience did anyone take my vitals. In fact, in the ambulance, they sat me in a chair in the back and left me alone, where I kept falling asleep and waking up when I would smack my head against the side of the seat. I'm fairly certain that if I had had a concussion, it was only exacerbated by the shitty care I received in the ambulance. Once I got to the hospital, before treating me, they made me fill out all these forms, which were all in German. I kept telling the woman I didn't speak German and I didn't know what I was signing and I felt like I was going to throw up, but she insisted on making sure I had health insurance and that I signed these forms. I'm sorry--isn't your health care socialized in Germany? Might I have a concussion?? I finally just gave in and signed the fucking forms so they would do something about my headache. A doctor came in and examined me in the chair I was sitting in and determined that I needed an x-ray. He told me where to find the x-ray room. That's right. He told me where to go and then went to go look at another patient. I was barely able to stand on my own. Awesome.

After they took the x-ray, he said the he and the radiologist agreed that I may have potentially fractured something in my neck and needed to go get a CT. He then sent me ON MY OWN down the hallway to find the CT scan room ON MY OWN. Can I reiterate, this entire time I may potentially have fractured something in my neck, am dizzy and and nauseous and blacking out, the doctors left me ON MY OWN to go find the CT room. Apparently the only thing I was able to communicate to him with any clarity was my distrust of the German socialized health care system and my dislike of Germany at that point. I think I even asked him if he was even a real doctor or if he got his degree at a school online in Aruba.

If this is what happens when a country socializes their health care, i.e. a complete decline in the standard of care, I am going back to American and rallying HARD against its implementation in the states. If we don't pay doctors a wage which accurately reflects the work they do and the education they receive, we're going to have super-shitty health care. And now let me step off my soap box.

It turns out I didn't have a fracture, but do have a serious case of whiplash. God only knows what forms I signed in my impaired state, but I'm sure one of them entitles German to sell my future children into slavery. And I got some Advil for the pain. Thanks, buddy. I have the Costco sized container at home, I could have saved you the trouble.

So yes, anyways, that was my Oktoberfest. Beth and her friend had to rent a car to get back to Italy, and now they have to deal with all that insurance hoopla because the POLICE rear-ended us. It's two days later and my back is killing me, so yours truly gets to begin the epic adventure of finding a physical therapist in Saarbruecken that speaks English and doesn't suck ass. Hoorah.

I swear, shit like this ONLY happens to me.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Yup he drew a penis on the board.

I'm really hoping this blog title got your attention. Because it happened. It really happened. At first, I thought he was drawing utters on a cow. I was wrong. So, so wrong.

Today started off a bit wonky. I got up super early to get to class, showered, got dressed and was almost headed out the door when I double-checked to make sure I had an assignment and noticed that, oh, I didn't have to be to class until 10:00. Awesome. So I was awake with nothing to do for about two hours (oh, facebook, how you keep me entertained). The first class I had was the listening comprehension course, and I'm going to be honest: I'm not entirely sure of the point of this class. Yes, I'm being exposed to new vocabulary, but he seems to be the sort of person who, oh, I don't know...MAY have adult ADD. He's not the sort of person you can just ask a question to because he will go off on 20 minute tangents. I shit you not, he could talk forever. And he loves to draw pictures. If we don't know a word, instead of just saying it English (because over half the class speaks English) he'll take the time to draw a picture for us. It makes me laugh.

So today we were reviewing vocabulary words on a worksheet we had been given, and he decided this was the perfect opportunity to teach us new words that pertained to the male and female version of different animals. So he takes the time to draw a cow on the board. Then he gives it horns and explains that it is "der Bulle." He then removes the horns and gives it utters and proclaims "die Kuh." Then, it happened. It appeared he was drawing more utters, which was strange, but when he stepped away from the board to admire his fine artwork, it was most definitely a penis. With testicles. My mouth dropped open. I just stared. I looked around the classroom and noticed some other students were deciding if he really had just drawn this. He then went into great detail about the penis and proceeded to "erase" the testicles from said cow. "This," he pointed to the cow's nether region "is der Ochse. Der Testicles *snip snip." I couldn't help it. I started laughing. Hard. I tried to cover it up, but just ended up snorting even harder. I mean, really? I think it is more pressing for me to learn something like how to order bread or dial 110 (911) or actually hold a conversation with someone where I'm NOT talking about cow testicles. But I guess I'm just expanding my vocabulary? It was amazing. I don't think there was any way anything could top this.

My next class was reading comprehension, and that is taught by Frau Schmitt. I really like Frau Schmitt. I realized today, as she was explaining directions and how to ask for them in Deutsch, that she reminds me so much of Marianne. I think if Marianne were German, she would sound like Frau Schmitt. And this woman always smiles at me. All the time. It makes me so happy, because so few people in Germany smile on a regular basis. Dare I say my smile quota from other people has been cut in half. Germany is not really the sort of place where you say "hi" to people you walk by on the street, or smile at as you walk by them on the sidewalk. I'm determined to change this. I smile at everyone I come across. Some people smile back, while others give me the "who the fuck are you?" look. Unwind your panties, angry Germans, and smile. It will make you feel better.

I have also become friends with several of the Bulgarians in my class. Bulgarians are super, super nice! And very, very friendly. One of them invited me to join them for their picnic tomorrow. She said that I am a very nice American (in comparison to the other two Americans in our class who are not so nice. One of the girls asked me why they were so cold. I told her they were from Seattle). Anyway, it's time I learn where Bulgaria is on a map! I'm just excited to be meeting new people. And I guess since we're all in the same class for the next 6 months, it's better to be friendly than to make enemies. (Speaking of people in my class--the two Asian girls who were afraid of the sweet black kitty are TOTALLY in my class. YES!)

I was in class until about 4:00 p.m., walked back home and had a notice that I had a package waiting for me at the DHL packing center, which, by the way, is fucking 400 miles away at the Bahnhof. I'm assuming this is one of the two boxes my mother sent me, which inevitably leads me to ask, where the hell is the other box??? Oh well. I'm going to be happy to get whatever is in this box. Hopefully it is the one with the new pairs of jeans in it because, despite the fact that I am eating like the world may end tomorrow (and drinking beer to boot), I have somehow lost almost 10 pounds since I arrived her. I attribute it to the massive amount of walking I do. But I still feel like maybe I should start running, or at least power walking, again. I think just doing 30 minutes, three times a day will be sufficient until I start half marathon training in January. I have three I would like to run (Geneva, Prague and Vienna...I take that back, four including Paris) but I am still worried about how unstable my knee is, so I don't want to push it too hard. I did sign up for swim classes, taught in German of course. Good thing I know how to swim, or I could be in trouble.

That's all for today. Oh, I'm officially on the Oktoberfest countdown. This Saturday, my friends. This Saturday.