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.


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.


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.

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


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. :)