So here I am. I’m happy, I’m kind of healthy (I’m actually becoming a professional sick person), and I’ve got a job. The dust has settled. It’s been about two months since I’ve returned so it’s time to regale you … Continue reading
This is mostly for me to look back at later as a reminder of how I feel right in this moment.
I leave in exactly one week.
We all knew this would end at some point and here we are.
I feel so at home here. It took a while for that to be true. I’ve liked it here the whole time but it didn’t quite feel like home. But about two months ago it finally clicked. I have a family here (it feels wrong to call them only host family), I have a best friend here that is always up to whatever shenanigans I have in mind and can usually one-up me (to Addie: EW), I know the streets, I know the bike paths, I have my favorite bars and my not favorite bars, I have my favorite club for once every several months (Barrachoooo), I’ve cultivated my obsession with H&M, I can converse in broken but mostly understandable German, I can understand a lot more German than I can speak, I know every food Sophia doesn’t like, I can usually make her laugh, she can usually make me laugh…
This year has been far beyond what I expected it to be. Instead of it being a year of my life, it has been my life. That doesn’t quite make sense but I don’t know how to explain it better. It’s not a cutout from my regular life, a year I spent abroad. It has just become my life.
I’ve felt really daunted the past month when imagining coming home and I still do. I’m excited to see friends and family; that hasn’t changed. But I don’t have much interest in picking up my life again. I enjoy having an international group of friends. Not just Americans, not just Germans, but a United Nations of sorts. I like traveling to different countries. True, I didn’t get to that many. But I did go.
Germans are funny creatures. (I mean that in the nicest and least offensive way possible, just fyi.) Culturally, very similar to Americans in certain ways and so different in others. This has been great and a pinch in the butt at times. So it goes.
It feels like when I left New York, except worse. As I had hoped, I’ve been able to go back to Buffalo more or less every year since I left. This obviously isn’t possible with Germany. I have possibilities to come back and live for a bit later (get a Master’s perhaps), but that’s the future. Right now there are no guarantees. So while I don’t feel like saying, “Goodbye,” how can I not at least have the possibility in my mind that this is, truly, goodbye? And then I’m scared the memories will fade, the connections will loosen, and ten years down the road I’ll think fondly but distantly at “that one year I spent in Germany.” This is my deepest, darkest fear at the moment because this isn’t something I ever want to think of as distant.
My heart is breaking a little bit each day but I’m going to enjoy my week here. There will be cake, lots of glühwein, and a fair amount of Zwick’l in my near future. It’s not even noon here but a Zwick’l sounds pretty good…
To future me, if you’re reading this more than six months after you get back home, text/call/skype Karin and Addie. Right now. And don’t ever let yourself forget the feeling of home you had here. Because, even if briefly, Bayreuth was your home, was the place you felt most comfortable in the world and I’m just not willing to lose that feeling completely.
Update: Turns out this is the three year anniversary of my blog! This is the first time I’ve ever had a three year anniversary for something. I’ll be honest, I’d rather have it with…say…a person, but a blog is nice, too!
You heard that right, folks. In a few days I’ll hit the one year mark of being in Germany. I haven’t posted anything lately because I’ve been a little busy living my life. A lot has happened in the last couple months and most of it can be categorized as either really, really awesome or kind of terrible. That’s a weird combination of feelings to have going on. Alas, this shall be a happy post so all the crappy stuff can stay with me.
In the last few months I:
- Made an AWESOME group of lady friends! They have made all the good times really, really good times and all the not good ones…well much better than they otherwise would have been. We’re a super loud mixture of American, Peruvian, and Indian. If you’re within a three mile radius you’ll know. Our days usually include inappropriate conversations, wine, more wine, food, and obnoxiously loud laughter.
- Went to Oktoberfest! Hellllllll yeah that was awesome. There was lots of beer (shocker), lots of dirndls and leiderhosen (including my super pretty dirndl that I’d been anxiously waiting to wear for months), lots of drunk Americans, and so. much. noise. It was one gigantic party and even though the alcohol content of the group as a whole was very large, there weren’t many problems associated with that. People were just having fun.
- Went to Usedom! This was a summer trip with the host fam. It’s an island in the northeast that borders Poland. Verrrrry pretty and the town kind of reminded me of Anna Maria.
- Went to London! Whoaaaaa I knowwww, crazzzyyyyyy. My life is so freaking awesome. (I’m being a little sarcastic because people tend to forget how easy it is to make your life look cool on the Internet which cuts out a lot of other “real life” stuff. But like I said, only a little sarcastic because my life really is great.) Annnnyway, London was freaking awesome. It was so beautiful and I really loved having everything in English for a few days. I didn’t realize how much I had missed that. Oh and the weather? Couldn’t have been better. Sunny with a high of 70 every day.
- Went to Prague! Wowwww I knowwwww. Cool, right? These are not in chronological order by the way. Prague has a really interesting, mostly sad history. It was awesome to be able to see the sights and even party it up one night.
I think that sums up the last few months pretty well. Lots of cool things have happened. Lots of life lived. I’ll be in Germany until December because gosh I just couldn’t leave yet. Oh, oh! I also have a birthday coming up. The big 2-3. I think I’ll start saving for retirement now that I’m getting so old.
Whoooooooooops. It’s been over a month since I shared my life on here. I’ve sat down and told myself to write several times, yet no words came that I wanted to share. Things have happened, life has progressed, but it seems my muse has left me for a little while.
Since I feel that my poor blog deserves better than my neglegence, I’ll give you a list of what I’ve been doing for the past week or so.
In the past nine days I have:
- Spent time in Bonn (I learned that Beethoven was born in Bonn AND it’s the city where Haribo was created…who knew?)
- Stayed at a dairy farm for a few days (Cows, cats, and more cats!)
- Went to Berlin for two days/one night (Saw a ton and left with the feeling that I must go back and see MORE.)
- Read a lot (Merry and Pippin just got reunited with their Company in The Two Towers and Saruman has lost control of Isenguard. Exciting time for the Company.)
- Thought A LOT abut writing a blog post
- Didn’t actually write a blog post until right now
- Thought how fun it is to be PMSing (It had to be said because…wow.)
This isn’t really the blog post I wanted to create but at this point I just want to write something new. I was trying to think of a funny story that’s happened in the past month but my mind is failing me and as I said before, I’ve misplaced my muse and can’t seem to find her anywhere. Hopefully she’ll come back soon and I can get a real blog post up.
Over Easter weekend, a friend and I strolled the cobbled lanes, perused the finer things, basked in the sun of a warm spring day, and nibbled on buttered croissants. Where did we do this? What kind of stupid question is that. Paris, obviously! My friend Lauren and I spent a few days in the City of Love, taking in the sites and experiencing as much as possible without wearing ourselves out too much.
I was trying to think of a way to recap all of the highlights and not write 2500 words so I decided to do one of my favorite things ever and make a list.
So behold, my list of things that happened in Paris:
- Took a bike tour around the city. The best gelato I’ve ever had was consumed and I saw where Kanye lives when he visits. (Right above the gelato place. Respect.)
- Took a boat ride along the Seine River. Wine was had.
- Took a walking tour through the city. Learned about kings who loved to party and how really kind of pathetic/sad Marie Antoinette’s life was. Give a girl a break.
- Saw two guys ask for money on the subway and then strip off their clothes and do a poll dance. Their briefs were subway maps.
- Went to Shakespeare and Co. bookstore which is where Ernest Hemingway (and many, many) others have lived and written some of their best work.
- Laid on the lawn at the Eiffell Tower and took a siesta.
- Ate Chipotle. It was delicious as always.
- Went to the Louvre. Only spent a couple hours in there which is terrible because there’s just so much to see. Loved every second of it even though it was about 700 degrees inside.
- Looked out the window from the Louvre at all the chumps who were waiting in line to get in because they didn’t know you could spend three extra euros and skip the line. heh heh heh
- Strolled the length of the Champs-Élysées. Looked at all the things we couldn’t afford to buy.
- Climbed to the top of the Arc de Triomphe.
- Visited the Père Lachaise Cemetery. There are hundreds of graves and most of them are intricate and beautiful. I found Oscar Wilde and Chopin’s graves.
- Walked around in Notre Dame. It’s beautiful…shocker. I lit a candle inside.
- Learned how to navigate via Paris’ subway system. Shout out to Lauren for being better at it than me. Shout out to me for not totally sucking.
- Saw Divergent. Now this one may fall under “You were in PARIS and you chose to go to a movie???” BUT we were both really tired from the day. Lauren was a little sick so trying to keep going after a long day of walking isn’t really the best idea anyway. We both wanted to see the movie really badly and we found it in English in a theatre five minutes from our hostel. I call that nothing but a win. P.S. We got student discounts so it was even a little better.
- Walked the Latin Quarter after I visited Shakespeare and Co. (Yeah…these are in no particular order. I’m just writing them as I think of them.) The Latin Quarter used to be known as where all the artists and intellectuals lived. Now it’s more of a tourist hub, but it’s still cool. Very lively, people everywhere. Music, shops, restaurants, more shops, MORE RESTAURANTS.
- Tried to speak French here and there. Failed miserably, but the locals seemed to appreciate the effort.
I know we did more but these are the biggies (read: everything I can think of at this particular moment). Paris was truly an amazing and beautiful city and I’d love to visit again someday.
Since coming home, my days have been a rather precarious mixture of radiant sun and homogeneous grey. I’ve now been in Germany just over six months and this feels like a major turning point in more ways than one. I’m trying to figure out just what my place is here and for the time being I’m not entirely sure. Plenty to look forward to of course. My sister, brother in law, and nephew will be here in 59 days and I just found out I’ll hopefully be seeing an Orlando friend even sooner than that!
So there you have it. My life at the moment. I’ll leave you with some Paris pictures:
Spring is here and better than ever. Last week the flowers started to pop up in unexpected places. They seemingly came overnight and it was enough to put a very broad smile on my face. Now the trees are starting their shy comeback to the world of the living. The birds are singing sweet hymns and everything is just awake.
This weather is so conducive to my feelings about footwear which is nice. I like to be barefoot as much as possible and wearing TOMS the rest of the time. That doesn’t really jive with cold temps. My naked feet are quite happy that winter has said its last goodbyes. Socks=get out of my life.
I got to spend last week with my mom and uncle which really put the cherry on top of my springtime sundae. (Dear sweet Jesus, I just said springtime sundae.) Of course, they didn’t get to enjoy much of the high-of-65 weather that we’re having this week (that started on their last day) but it was sunny for the duration of their visit and just having them here with me was really surreal and exciting and AHH MY LIFE IS GREAT.
Though of course the real world is ever present and I still have dumb things to do like taxes and homework and other such nonsense, I’m feeling very light these days. I’m in love with a lot of things right now that I would happily list for you but won’t because this post would quickly become novel length.
Next week my cousin will be here to finish up her latest whirlwind European adventure, then I’ll have a week of normalcy, and then I’m off to Paris for four days with a good au pair friend of mine. My semester at UCF is also ending in the next few weeks and my semester at Uni Bayreuth is starting on the 14th soooooo this month is going to be a crazy mixture of amazing and stressful and MORE AMAZING and lots of other stuff too, probably.
Sorry for the lack in posting. Life has been beautifully hectic and I don’t see that changing until maybe sometime next month. But hopefully I’ll take better care to update my blog/online journal of random thoughts more often. Note the naked feet in the picture below.
From Saturday-Monday I was Carnival-ing in Bonn and Cologne. In case you’re like me and Carnival is all new to you, it’s a few days of parties, parades, and general merriment before Ash Wednesday kicking off Lent. Cologne hosts the biggest Carnival celebration in Germany. And I was all up in it.
On Saturday, we hit up a small, local parade. It lasted about 20 minutes and was great fun. Sunday we went to a bigger Bonn parade. For any of my Bradentonians, it was quite similar in size to the Desoto Parade, around 1.5 hours. Monday we went to the mother of all Carnivals in Cologne. It was a five hour parade and wow…
Below are some facts and observations I made throughout my Carnival celebrations:
- EVERYONE dresses up. Not just kids and college students.
- No beads. Candy, little toys, and flowers (if you’re lucky) are where it’s at.
- Showing some cleavage makes getting flowers easier. Red lip stick doesn’t hurt either. Don’t ask me how I know that.
- Beer is always appropriate. 3:00 PM, 10:00 PM, 9:30 AM, every time is a good time for a brewski.
- If you’re a real pro, you’ll have a cup hanging from your neck so you can go hands free with your beer.
- You should be learning the songs that go along with Carnival from a young age. I missed the memo. They’re still fun, though.
- Be prepared at any moment to lock arms with the people on either side of you (stranger or no) and dance.
- Also be prepared at any moment to yell “Alaaf!” three times in a row. *Note: This changes depending on the region you’re in. DON’T screw it up.
- Clowns are always in style. Pirates too. (I was a pirate. I like to conform.)
- Riding the train into Cologne on the day of the big parade is really a fun sight to see.
- Getting back to the train at the end of the day is almost an equally fun sight to see. Much less excitement. Many more looks of exhaustion and drunkenness with a smidgen of regret thrown in here and there.
- Even when not actually at a parade, Carnival time is party time. Be prepared to socialize. A lot. Social anxiety be damned.
- Different parts of Germany celebrate Carnival differently and some don’t celebrate it at all. It’s actually really crazy how strikingly different the cultures are in different regions here.
- You can get really pretty painted hard boiled eggs and they are delicious.
- Standing for five hours is not nearly as tiring as you would think when you’re having fun, eating candy (gotta keep that blood sugar up!), and drinking a moderate amount of beer. Have I mentioned beer enough in this post? I sure hope so.
So that is what I experienced condensed into a very small nutshell. There are of course about 3,000 other things that happened but I think for those 3,000 things you kind of just had to be there.
Here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure:
Because I’m in Germany this year, Thanksgiving was a little different. Karin and I hosted dinner for twelve people which is way beyond what I’ve contributed to the Thanksgivings of years past. Her and I spent some of Wednesday and all of Thursday creating this amazing meal. Because I’m me, I kept a running log throughout the process.
4:07 PM – I’m crafty as fuck so I just produced this gem:
Would’ve been nice to remember that America and Canada are the ONLY two countries in the world that use 8.5×11 as their standard paper size, but oh well.
7:05 PM – Just made the fourth Thanksgiving-related trip to the store. Two of those have happened within the last hour.
9:02 PM – Made stuffing and watched Karin handle a cold, dead bird with a steady ass hand. Impressed.
9:30 PM – Decided that one of the many reasons I find giblets horribly disgusting is that they’re called giblets which is a horribly disgusting word. Also, I find it gross because that shit is just gross.
7:30 AM – Woke up at 7:30 and briefly contemplated ways to cancel Thanksgiving because 7:30 should only exist in PM form.
8:10 AM – Stuffed the CRAP out of that bird. Yeah. That turkey knows what’s up.
10:35 AM – Discovered I’m growing a massive zit in my ear and proceeded to feel blinding pain after discovering it. TMI? This is Thanksgiving, people. No such thing as TMI in a time like this. I put it ALL on the table. (That was a Thanksgiving pun, my friends.)
10:42 AM – Realized my day is nowhere near as busy as I thought it would be. Like, I have things to do, but they don’t really have to do with Thanksgiving. So…I guess I’ll go take a shower.
11:04 AM – Finished the cupcakes. Other than my sudden inability to make a frosting with the right consistency that has plagued me since coming here, they seem pretty legit.
11:30 AM – Perfected (almost) my homemade eggnog. I have a great recipe, but I really like the store bought taste. Classy, I know. I found out this flavor can be achieved by adding in lots of rum flavoring and sugar. Thanks, internet! Side note: Thanks to having to taste said eggnog 57 times while fiddling with it, I got a stomach ache because sometimes enough is enough. Even when it comes to eggnog.
12:30 PM – Finally took a shower because for the love of God…ew.
1:15 PM – Ate lunch because lunch is great. As is Karin, the woman that keeps me fed on the reg.
2:05 PM – Peeled a lot of potatoes and cut up a lot of pumpkin.
3:07 PM – Realize that people who host Thanksgiving dinner without having everyone bring a dish (like my family does at home) are unsung holiday heroes. It’s 3:00 in the afternoon and I’m tired as hell and Karin is either tired too and amazing at hiding it, or she’s Superwoman. Either is a viable possibility.
4:00 PM – Set the table like a badass. That shit had tablecloths, fall colored napkins, the cornily adorable card shown above, and some festive ass candles.
4:17 PM – Nothing. I’m doing nothing. I’m drinking a cup of coffee I’m ready for bed and dinner is still five hours away. I AM AN ADULT. THIS SHOULDN’T BE SO HARD.
7:30 PM – The time is nearly here. Still a decent amount of food to cook since a lot of stuff only takes a little while to cook. But everything is pretty damn ready for when the time comes. The turkey is doing great, that little trooper.
9:00 PM – People come. General merriment ensues.
10:30 PM – I keep thinking of things to write in my Thanksgiving timeline. Shit is getting REAL SENTIMENTAL in my head right now.
11:17 PM – I am now certain I’m thankful for every single thing everywhere.
11:48 PM – Wine is good.
12:57 AM – People have left. I’m kind of drunk. So happy about my life. I love everything.
1:30 AM – Time to skype my sister because that’s the thing to do when you’re a little drunk, tired, and full of the holiday spirit.
10:32 AM – I feel like I’ve died and this is the sad leftovers of what I once was. (Note: I was not THAT drunk. I just have a tendency to get really, really bad hangovers.)
10:49 AM – Someone has cleaned the entire kitchen. Something tells me it wasn’t the cleaning fairies.
1:30 PM – Karin made an awesome lunch. I slept on the couch while she and Sophia enjoyed it.
7:22 PM – Karin made me the food they had for lunch because she’s the best person on the entire planet. I’m still thankful for life.
Final notes: I tried really hard to make this post only funny and not mushy. That got really hard because honestly this is the most special Thanksgiving I think I’ve ever had. Mine at home are always nice, but this one just meant so much more because Karin and I created it together and even though it’s only an American holiday I had a houseful of wonderful Germans here to celebrate the crap out of it. Karin, if you happen to read this, what I am crazy thankful for this Thanksgiving is you. And I mean that in the most mushy, gushy, sentimental way possible.
And now for a heartwarming collage to top it off:
Well week two here has come and gone and I started to think about how it’s gone so far. Instead of trying to recap it all, I decided to make a list because lists are great.
Things I’m Loving In Deutschland:
- THE FOODS. Holy mother of God. I’ve tried so many new things since I arrived and I can honestly say I’ve liked everything. I think my new favorite thing in the world is pretzel dumplings. And cheese. I love cheese. Thank God I’m not lactose intolerant.
- I feel like I’m in the Secret Garden anytime I leave the house. Cobblestone and spongy green moss abounds.
- You don’t really need a car here. This is the first time I’ve ever lived in a place where public transportation, walking, and riding a bike will pretty much get you anywhere you need to go.
- It’s cold! Alright, it’s actually been unseasonably warm here but it’s had cold moments and I think we’re about to ease into more coldness soon.
- People are nice. Yep, 99% of the people I have met so far have been extremely nice. Every time I have to speak to someone and I’m not sure if they speak English I get really scared (at the grocery store, book store, etc.). Silly me, though. Either they do speak English or are nice enough to help me anyways.
- The leaves. Newsflash! Fall is beautiful. That is all.
- The beer. Or bier, I should say. But for reals. The beer. THE BEER. *Prost!*
- The German language. I, along with most people in the States that I’ve talked to, have never thought of German as the prettiest language. However, I’m kind of changing my tune now that I’m here. There’s a subtle rhythm that, with a lilting cadence, can lead to a really beautiful sound. (Side Note: I don’t possess said lilting cadence when speaking German. Or rhythm. I sound pretty terrible, actually.)
- The town center. It’s gorgeous. Cars aren’t allowed for the most part so you can walk at your leisure through the myriad of shops and restaurants. (Side Note: A lot of the restaurants with outdoor seating have big, soft blankets on the chairs. How cool is that?)
- The opportunity. I am in a country with so many wonderfully stunning things in it. I am in a country that is surrounded by other countries waiting to be discovered. How have I been so lucky as to get here? I can’t wait to make this the best year of my life.