Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Beginning....Day One.

Well, technically Day Two, I guess. I decided not to blog yesterday, my first official day in Saarbrueken, because I was a complete mess. I think it finally dawned on me, as I was sitting in my apartment (if you can call this an apartment...I think dorm room in Wallace--UI people you understand--may more accurately describe my present living situation) and I just broke down. I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that I was completely exhausted and just not able to function, and the other part of it was loneliness. It's very strange being in a country where you cannot communicate with other people, or if you do communicate, it's in very short, blunt words. Germans may know how to speak English, but by God you'd better not try to speak it around them. I think my German teacher lied when she said Germans get excited when they learn that you know how to speak English. I'm pretty sure I've gotten the death-glare from quite a few.

Plus, I want this to be a semi-objective blog of my year abroad, and I don't think yesterday I would have been objective. I think yesterday I would have probably re-packed my stuff and gotten on the next plane to Boise. The only thing stopping me was the fact that the thought of having to lug around that fucking suitcase and stupid travel backpack for another day made me decide that taking an Ambien and going to sleep was a better idea. Plus, I finally was connected to the Internet after not being able to talk to anyone, and I, of course, called my mother. And emailed Vickie. And chatted with Alison and Nicole and Lif. I think all I really needed was to talk to my friends. It made me feel far less lonely, even though I knew they were on the other side of the world. This morning I woke up (actually sleeping an entire night...sweet!) and I felt much better. I finally became an official registered student, ate real food (well a pretzel and a thing of yogurt with some fruit) and met up with Katrin, who took me to IKEA. There is nothing like speaking English and going to IKEA that really makes one appreciate life. And I think Katrin was excited, too, because she misses Boise. We all miss Boise. Boise, you don't suck as much as I thought (well, in Winter you suck).

I sort of kept a "journal" of my adventures for the past two weeks. Reading back over what I wrote I noticed that on the days when I didn't have a lot to do, I wrote long blogs. On the days when I met people and we went out and closed down entire towns (um, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, I'm talking to you...) I didn't write anything. But I will be posting those blogs soon. I'm waiting for all my pictures to upload because I want to include pictures. It's times like this I miss the big mofo of a Mac. This HP laptop is just not cutting it for me right now. 600 photos to upload? Right, this is only going to take 40 hours. F.

Tomorrow I take my "placement exam" where they test me and figure out which level of the German language course I should be in. I'd really like to save them the trouble (and me the effort of getting up to take this thing at 8:15 am) and just tell them to put me in the bottom level. German is one effing hard language, and I can't understand a freaking thing anyone says to me. Occasionally I'll catch words, and I'll get so excited that I completely miss the rest of what someone is saying to me. Nice. This right here *waves hands frantically* is awesome.

So anyway, without much further adieu, here is my list of things that are totally different in Germany.

1. Beer is cheaper than water in restaurants. On a related note, restaurants don't serve water with your meal. You have to pay for it. So it only makes sense to just drink a shit-load of beer since it's less expensive and tastes better. So of course, I was wasted for almost two weeks, which I do not recommend if you are an American girl traveling alone. Thank GOD I can hold my booze.

2. Everyone, and I mean everyone in Germany smokes. Everywhere. Christ, you can buy cigarettes at vending machines on the street.

3. So far my experience has been that everyone in Germany is either really, really nice or really, really rude. I haven't found anyone in between. Also, no one smiles at you. I smile a lot. I get looked at like I have some sort of mental disorder. Someone actually moved away from me on the sidewalk.

4. You can buy liederhosen and drindls in the department stores (and yes, I already bought mine for Oktoberfest).

5. The toilets look funny. That is all.

6. The cars are super, super small. Like doll-sized. And they all drive super fast.

7. Under no circumstances should one even consider j-walking. You will get yelled at by everyone within eyeline.

8. The commercials in Germany are either about sex or food. Sometimes both. I mean, there is a lot of sex. There is a mega-erotik discount store about a mile from my apartment. Now there are no windows, but there are giant posters of the products inside plastered on the wall outside. Yes, I walked by a dildo that looked to be about the size of my leg blown up in giant poster form.

9. I watched "The Closer" and "Law & Order: SVU" dubbed in German. It was horrible. Brenda is Brenda because she has that sexy southern accent! She does not sound like some big-breasted bier maid named Helga who wields around a cart of oxen.

10. Everything in Germany is bigger (with the exception of the cars and the strange showers). The food portions, the beers, the people, the mountains, the buildings, etc. It's like Texas, but without the cowboy hats or Bush.

So that is all for right now. Like I said, the blog with pictures of my adventures will be forthcoming. And boy-howdy did I have some adventures. But, should you get bored at work, there is an 8 hour time difference, so I will be able to chat!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

My Revenge at the Wombat Hostel.

Sooooo....I didn't actually pee on anyone's bed, but I did manage to stumble home completely inebriated at 4:30 a.m., waking up as many people in my room as possible. Let's rewind.

Beni met me at my hostel at 10 a.m., which was fairly early considering I had not slept. I took the world's fastest shower because somehow all three Asian girls had shed enough hair to make a wig for someone, and had managed to get water all over everything. When is is humid and hot and there is water all over everything, this very peculiar smell develops that I can only describe as the rotting death smell of a 400 pound woman. Take that in.

So I shower, get dressed, and race out the door, already formulating my plot to get those little bitches back. We went to brunch at the top of this department store with amazing views of Munich's city center. After, we walked around a bit and actually hit City Hall at the exact moment (11 a.m.) the Glockenspiel went off. It was fun watching all the tourists ooh and ahh at the spectacle. Not to mention, City Hall is one of the most beautiful buildings I have seen.

Next, we climbed up what seemed like a million steps through very narrow corridors to the top of St. Peter's church for a panoramic view of the city. I loved the way all the buildings had a sort of rusted red roof top.

We walked around a bit more, taking pictures of churches and the Residence Hall.

Beni cooked this amazing pasta in curry sauce with prawns and unfortunately, I couldn't eat it all. I feel like in the past few days, I have eaten so much effing food. Or maybe it is due to the fact that everything seems quite heavy, and the food portions are ridiculously large. We then watched the season opener for the Bayern Fussball Club. Apparently if I am going to live in Germany, I need to learn to bleed Fussball.

By now, you're all probably wondering, "Sarah, pray tell how you ended up a shit-show, stumbling home at 4:30 so drunk that you almost didn't brush your teeth"? Well here it goes. One word: Australians. Fucking Australians.

I got back to the hostel around 10:45 and decided, despite the fact that I was a sweaty, nasty mess from the humidity that hell, I was going to go check out the bar in the hostel (the WomBAR. Cute, huh?) I went downstairs, sat at the bar alone and ordered a pint of fantastic German beer. Not 2 minutes later, these three Australians sit down next to me. I introduce myself. Before I know it, we're all playing pool together and telling war stories about drunken nights. Fiona, Marcus and Ben were actually not traveling together, but were sharing a room in the hostel (who thought it was a good idea to put three Australians in the same room???)

We start drinking several beers and talking, and at some point we decided to go explore the other bars in the area. Not sure of the decent bars, Fiona makes friends with a woman who I am still convinced was a prostitute, and she explains that the "strip clubs" near our hostel second as petri dishes for gonorrhea (oh, oh, and the 'ladies' all stand in the doorway of their respective establishments, scantly clad, indicting people to enter with seductive looks and hip thrusts. I shit you not). So this prostitute, I mean, really nice woman who just happens to be dressed like a whore, takes us to this club 900 blocks away. I take one look and tell the group 'fuck no.' I'm fairly certain this is the sort of bar where Snookie would have done a cartwheel with no underwear on. If I'm going to do Munich, I'm not going to a bar that looks chalk full of douche bag wannabees from the Jersey Shore.

Apparently the others shared in my sentiment and we started hiking back to the hostel. By this point, I have to pee so badly I'm actually weighing the pros and cons of pissing on the sidewalk and getting arrested. So we pop into this sports bar so I can relieve myself. We end up staying at this bar because a) it is open and b) because there are tons of drunk people with Munich fussball jerseys celebrating the win. Awesome. So we drink more. Because it's not like we weren't drunk enough already. We stay there for a few hours, making friends with all the drunk fans and a group of women who had a ton of sex toys. I pray to God it was a bachelor party or birthday party. I take that back. No, no I don't.

At some point we ended up at a dance club Fiona had frequented the night before. Unfortunately, the bouncer remembered exactly who she was and wouldn't let us in. She couldn't remember what had happened, but it must have been a doozy because he puffed up all big like a grizzly bear and told us to leave. I laughed so hard I couldn't stand up.

I think we went to Burger King here...

When we finally make it back to the hostel around 4:30 in the morning, I'm fairly certain I've had right around 8 German beers, which is the equivalent of me doing a keg stand for 30 minutes straight. I stumble up the stairs, unlock my door and throw it open. I see an Asian girl jump. Yess! I flip on the light. Another one shields her eyes and moans disapprovingly. YES!!! The other one hasn't moved yet, so I throw open my locker, which is right next to her bed, and as it clatters against the wall, she flies up out of the bed. I SO RULE.

Night two in Wombat Hostel: success.

Friday, August 20, 2010

August 20, 2010 (Morning in the EFFING HOSTEL)

Well, I may or may not have survived my first night in a hostel. Let's assess, shall we:

*It is 9:40 a.m. local time. I went to bed (let me rephrase, I physically got into bed) at around 10:30 p.m. I slept maybe a total of 4 hours. Do people in Munich fucking sleep??? Jesus Christ, I swear there were people, very drunk people, loitering outside the hostel until at least 5 a.m. Loud people. For fuck's sake! Every time I would almost fall asleep someone would yell, or start a fist fight, or break a bottle, or start fucking the person(s) next to them. Not to mention one of the girls from Florida must have had a deviated septum. That, or she was choking on a fan. Why is it always the well-manicured, high-maintenance girls that sound like a fucking train when they sleep??

When I finally did manage to fall asleep around 4:00, I was abruptly awoken by what can only be described as three Godzillas thrashing about the room at 6:00 a.m. Dear Asian Girls: I am going to punch you in your sleep. Better yet, I'm going to get totally wasted tonight and come stumbling in at 3:00 a.m., screaming and throwing shit. Maybe I will even pee on your beds. Because I cannot fathom how those two high-maintenance girls from Florida managed to leave without so much as a floor squeak, yet you three tiny girls made enough noise to wake baby Jesus 2000 years ago. Fuck you. Oh, and you smell funny. There, I said it. It's called deodorant.

The facilities are actually quite nice, but I feel like I'm bordering on the cusp of being too old to stay in one of these "youth" hostels. Oh well, at 20 Euro a night, I can't complain. Maybe I just need to drink more.

I'm not quite sure what today has in store for me, but I'm hoping it involves beer. And lots of pictures. And water. F. I really need water.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

August 19, 2010 (Munich)

I finally, finally, finally have settled down after one of the craziest days (two days? Fuck if I understand this fucking time change) ever. My flight out of Boise, which now seems ages ago, was delayed, freaking me right the shit out because I had 40 minutes BEFORE said delay to make my connection in Chicago to Munich. Luckily, even though were were 30 minutes delayed, I arrived in Chicago as my flight to Munich was boarding. Even more awesome was the fact that my friend Nate was on my flight from Boise to Chicago. It was nice to have one more person from Boise to talk to since my departure was less than graceful. Yes, I was a sobbing mess. I don't think it had actually sunk in that I was going to be gone for an entire year. Honestly, when I was packing and cleaning and organizing, it just felt like I was going on an extended vacation. It finally dawned on me as we were driving to the airport that "holy shit, I'm going to be gone for an entire year." But the world will go on. Boise will be different, I will be different and my friends will be different, but I see this as an opportunity that needed to happen.

Okay, enough of that bullshit. Let's talk about how FREAKING awesome Germany is. Never mind that everywhere I go I have no idea what people are saying to me. Munich is amazing. It is this strange combination of old meets new--the buildings are all so enriched with the past, but much of it has this modern feel (like the H&M being in this super, super old building. I believe we call that a juxtaposition, folks, even though they're not technically side-by-side. Whatever). And I am so fortunate that Vickie's cousin lives here. Ellen is absolutely amazing, and I have to thank Beni (her boyfriend) for showing me around today. I had my first authentic German beer, which was like an explosion of awesome happiness in my mouth (OMG, did I ACTUALLY WRITE THIS???)--that's what she said. And some sort of Bavarian dish that was basically a clusterfuck of stuff all fried and topped with a fried egg. Yup, any illusions I had about losing weight CLEARLY went out the window. But it was good, oh so good. After lunch, we went and bought a drindl for me to wear during Oktoberfest. My boobs look HUGE. It is fantastic! (PS, I think I look pretty hot in this pic considering I had just endured 13 hours on an airplane).

I am going to buy one with a short skirt to wear for the next 14 Halloweens.

I checked into the hostel (the Wombat Hostel), and there are three Asian girls in my room that don't speak English, and I'm pretty sure one of them is wearing some Hello Kitty pajamas. The other two girls are from Florida, but I've already forgotten their names. Oh well.

Doing more touristy stuff tomorrow, but in the meantime, I think I want another beer. Mmmm.... beer.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

It's Almost Time!

I can't believe I am a mere six days away from my big move. It's been a rough few days: saying good-bye to one of my best friends, giving my cats away, trying to clean my house, pack, not get sick, see friends, finish work. I went from having 0 stress this summer to "holy fuck balls!" But I'm keeping my head above water. And I have amazing friends who are supporting me through this whole thing. I couldn't ask for anything else!

I won't have Internet or phone for 11 days while I make my way through the Bavarian Alps. I decided that since I'm going to be in school pretty much the entire time I'm in Germany, I should take advantage of the two weeks I have before school actually starts and travel around. I'm spending time in Munich, Augsburg, Mittenwald, Garmisch, Fussen and then off to Saarbrucken. I'm looking at this as a little detox. I've been so stressed lately that I'm letting my emotions get the better of me, which means little things are setting me off (I guess the good thing is my metabolism goes into hyper-freak out mode when I'm stressed, so I've lost, like, 8 pounds with no exercise. It probably also helps that I'm only consuming 300 calories in food...and about 1200 in wine). I think traveling around for 12 days is exactly what I need.

Because I won't have Internet, I obviously won't be blogging. But I do plan on keeping a journal and then using that to write my blog (I know, right? A JOURNAL? With, like, paper and pens? What the fuck?) I'm going to try to be better about blogging while I'm in Germany because a) I'd like to compile my blog entries into a book and get a sweet deal with a publishing company and b) knowing that I need to blog will encourage me to not spend my weekends watching shitty German television. I may actually get out and *gasp* do things! Especially because I'm 2 hours from Paris. And 7 hours from Amsterdam. Yessss.

So please, become a fan of my blog, follow my blog, etc. I promise sweet pictures, sharp wit and clever anecdotes. Maybe even photos of naked people I see on beaches.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sink or Swim

I've been listening to this amazing Grace Potter song recently that has really helped me through some things that have been weighing down on me. I thought I would share.

Oh, and I'm officially 18 days away from moving to Germany!

I lost everything
I fell out of a daydream
At the door of a long lost friend
And I cried aloud
Without an inch of pride
I knew that I had reached the end

An old and lonely man
Saw me sittin on the curb
He reached out and he took my hand
He said I know your song
And I know your name
And there was a time that I felt the same

But it's a low low road
You've gotta roll down
Before you find your way, my friend
And it's a high, high hill
You've gotta climb up
Before you get to the top again

I held on so dearly
To the wrong things in my life
But now I see so clearly
I was walking into my own knife
You've got to get up off that street
Stop looking at your feet
And take a hold of something real
And this old man, took my hand
He looked at me and said, little girl, I understand

That it's a low low road
You've gotta roll down
Before you find your way, my friend
And it's a high, high hill
You've gotta climb up
Before you get to the top again

And there was a time that I thought that I knew it all
And there was a place that I thought I could call my own
But it all came crashing down and I looked around
And I knew that things would never be the same

It's a low low road
You've gotta roll down
Before you find your way, my friend
And it's a high, high hill
You've gotta climb up
Before you get to the top again
Cause it's a low, low road
You've gotta roll down
It's a low, low road