Onwards and Upwards

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

ein kleines Update

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!

I’ve been here a YEAR! (well, almost)

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:

  1. 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.
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  2. 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.

    This was the Oktoberfest Family. We started out as five random groups of two that sat together at a table. We soon bonded. A lot.

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  3. 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.
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  4. 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.
    Harry Potter Studio Tour is wassup

    Harry Potter Studio Tour is wassup

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  5.  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.

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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.

So France Was A Thing That Happened

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:

  1. 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.)
  2. Took a boat ride along the Seine River. Wine was had.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Went to Shakespeare and Co. bookstore which is where Ernest Hemingway (and many, many) others have lived and written some of their best work.
  6. Laid on the lawn at the Eiffell Tower and took a siesta.
  7. Ate Chipotle. It was delicious as always.
  8. 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.
  9. 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
  10. Strolled the length of the Champs-Élysées. Looked at all the things we couldn’t afford to buy.
  11. Climbed to the top of the Arc de Triomphe.
  12. 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.
  13. Walked around in Notre Dame. It’s beautiful…shocker. I lit a candle inside.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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:

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Please, try not to be TOO impressed with my picture taking capabilities.

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I’ve Been In Bayreuth A MONTH!

In honor of tomorrow making it a month since I arrived, I broke my time here down into some numbers.

One Month in Bayreuth

Things I’m Loving In Deutschland (So Far)

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:

  1. 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.
  2. I feel like I’m in the Secret Garden anytime I leave the house. Cobblestone and spongy green moss abounds.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. The leaves. Newsflash! Fall is beautiful. That is all.
  7. The beer. Or bier, I should say. But for reals. The beer. THE BEER. *Prost!*
  8. 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.)
  9. 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?)
  10. 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.

My First (Half) Week

So, I’ve now been here for about four days. How it’s only been four days, I don’t know. It is beyond my comprehension that I was in my bed at home in hot and sunny Florida only five days ago.

I’ve thought over the past couple days about what to write concerning my first few days here and the words aren’t quite coming. I mean, I can tell you what I’ve done (I’ll do that in a second), but I wanted to write this beautiful, artistic description of my journey adapting to life in a foreign land. First, I’ll give you the facts. Maybe then I can give you the frilly version.

The family I’m with has been nothing short of amazing. They’ve all been so nice and so patient with me thus far. Sophia (the child I’m taking care of) is sweet and funny and has been showing me the ropes. The house I’m in is beautiful and my room is bigger than any room I’ve had in the past so you’ll find no complaints from me. My own balcony? Why yes, yes that is a thing I have.

I saw a lot of Bayreuth on bike with Karin the other day. I dressed as if it were -234875423 degrees but in reality it was mid-high 40’s which means I was way too warmly dressed and kicked myself later as a result. Even still, the town is so bike friendly and it’s so beautiful my breath was continuously taken away. This bike ride was not solely for sight-seeing though. Karin and I were on a mission to get me signed up for a German language course at the university and since it starts on Monday, there’s been no time to laze about. After a few hours and three or four stops, we got as far as we could get for the day. We went to the school again the next day and got everything finished. I am now a real, bonified Universität Bayreuth student. The International Office has given the impression that they take an active part in their guest students’ time here so I have no doubt I can get involved at school when/how I want to, to make friends.

I haven’t taken nearly as many pictures as I want/need to because Fall is in full swing and I must document it ASAP since I know it’s fleeting. But for real. This is the second Fall I’ve seen and it is still just as amazing as it was the first time.

My birthday is this Monday and I have very divided feelings about the matter. Of course, on one hand I’m going to miss everyone at home doubly so because of all the days I’d want to spend with them, my birthday is pretty high up on the list. However, as has been pointed out to me, I will NEVER forget where I was on my 22nd birthday. I’ll be able to say I was in EUROPE!! How many people can make that claim? Other than residents of Europe, probably not many. As I’ve said a million times, this is such a unique and wonderful opportunity and for that reason I am glad I get to spend my birthday here.

I’ll leave you with the few pictures I’ve taken with promises of many more.

Sophia's sign for the airport. ♥

Sophia’s sign for the airport. ♥

Karin, Stephan, and I got to share a toast the night of my arrival. I'm pretty sure that was the first time I'd ever been toasted to. I liked it.

Karin, Stephan, and I got to share a toast the night of my arrival. I’m pretty sure that was the first time I’d ever been toasted to. I liked it.

Heck yeah I did.

Heck yeah I did.

This is the view from the back door. I LOVE FALL.

This is the view from the back door. I LOVE FALL.

Surprise Plate. What is it? Candy/chocolate arranged surprisingly on a plate after lunch. What is it also? The best thing ever.

Surprise Plate. What is it? Candy/chocolate arranged surprisingly on a plate after lunch. What is it, also? The best thing ever.

Here's the view from the upstairs window in my room. Incredible? I think so.

Here’s the view from the upstairs window in my room. Incredible? I think so.

Travelling To Deutschland

This post is pretty much only about the flight. I wrote almost all of it while travelling and only fixed minor errors and added a couple things towards the bottom. The first part is just a stream of consciousness so it’s disjointed and random. I was just writing down whatever came into my mind. I miss everybody and will be adding more pictures soon!

I flew over England. I could see its sleepy morning lights below me. And the water. Whatever body it was. It was shining the brightest pink I’ve ever seen even before the sun had even risen. Watching the sun rise at 2:00 in the morning is a very surreal feeling. The excitement came back strongly. Ever since leaving Tampa, fear, sadness, and bland indifference had been my overwhelming emotions. But, even if just for that moment, the excitement had returned and chased the fear away. I had not slept a wink but I was glad. I don’t do well on a few hours of sleep which is all I could have gotten. My legs were so crampt and my neck continued to warn me not to kink it that trying to sleep was a frustrating affair. I don’t know quite how I get myself into the adventures that I do, but goddammit am I glad. Thank you to whatever invisible force pushes me into these situations because what’s life worth if you don’t get a good story out if it? This was the first time I’d been able to write a creatively inclined blog post that I was proud of in a long time. Maybe my muse is a fan of international adventures. I hope she is, because if so she’s in for one hell of a ride. If there’s one thing I could wish for, it’s one more hug from everyone I love. But of course, I think I’ll always want one more hug. There were so many windmills. Go you, Germany. The landing was the coolest part of the flight. I don’t recall ever landing when it’s cloudy out. Of course, you always go through a layer of clouds. But this was different. We were in a world made only of clouds. Hills and valleys and great mountains looming in the distance. And then it was as if we completely ceased to exist. We were simply lost in the clouds, maybe never to be found again. And then we’d emerge once again. Every so often I’d get a glimpse of that beautiful blue sky shimmering in the background and I’d realize it never left in the first place, it was only hiding.

Reasons I’m not very fond of the Frankfurt airport:

Keep in mind that by this time it was about 3-4 AM my time and I was running on no sleep.

1. It’s HUGE. From when I got off one flight and got to the gate of another, it was about half an hour of walking and a tram ride. Plus once I went through the gate, it took another five minute shuttle ride to the actual plane.

2. They made me go through security again. Seems like a design flaw in the design of the airport.

3. They’re missing a lot of their ceiling. It’s strange.

4. It’s dark. Turn on an extra light or two, man.

5. No free wifi. It’s 2013. Although I will admit my suspicions that this is more of a European thing than a Frankfurt airport thing.

Silver lining: the guy outside the plane clad in a full body reflective yellow suit dancing (to the beat of his own drum I’m assuming).

Fun Facts Learned During My Travels

1. I sat in a window seat overlooking a wing in all three flights.

2. PDA on a plane is just as gross as PDA anywhere else.

3. Watching a sad in-flight movie while already emotionally unstable is a terrible idea. Even if you forgot how sad it was, it’s still a terrible idea. (The movie was Dead Poet Society.)

4. The coke bottles in Germany are made of much thicker plastic than the ones in the US. They’re probably much worse for the environment, but I like them.

5. Luggage carts cost 0.50€ at the Nuremberg airport, even if you don’t have 0.50€ on you. That can potentially be problematic.

Ice crystals formed on my window while flying over the Atlantic.

Ice crystals formed on my window while flying over the Atlantic.

My view from the plane over France.

My view from the plane over France.

Wanderlust

Wanderlust: A strong longing for or impulse toward wandering. A strong desire to travel.

Honestly, I think if you ask most people if they like to travel they’ll say yes. People may not like planes, they may hate to pack, they may love sleeping in their own bed, but when it comes down to it most of them still love to travel to a new or foreign place. Well, I’m starting yet another adventure three weeks from today. Blogging has always been my friend when it comes time to make crazy life-altering decisions so I figured I should probably come back and get comfortable because this one’s going to be a doozy. I’m moving to Germany for a year to be an au pair. (If you don’t know what an au pair is, click the link.)

For all the poor souls that have heard the word “Germany” more than any one person should, I do sincerely apologize. I feel constantly annoying these days. But I can’t help it. Just as when I was 18 and packing to move to New York, just as when I was 19 and packing to move to Orlando, this is both an exciting and a terrifying time for me. I’m leaving Orlando in a week to spend a couple weeks at home before I go, and I find myself asking the same questions I do every time. “How can I leave my home? My friends? My family? My LIFE?” I will be back in a year, but in college years that’s about ten. Most everybody I know now will be graduated, possibly have already moved on from Orlando. I’m still taking online classes while I’m gone, but even still, this trip is pushing my graduation back a little so I’ll have a couple semesters to complete upon my return.

And then when I realize that the reason I’m doing this is because it’s the most amazing opportunity I’ve ever been given, I feel a little more bolstered. This is right. This is amazing. But that doesn’t make it less sad. I’m going to miss my nephew. He’s over a year and half old now. He’ll be the better part of THREE YEARS OLD when I get back. I’m going to miss Cheryl. Who am I going to celebrate Galentine’s Day with? I’m going to miss my family, friends, Esme (the dog), my cute little house, my bedroom, Lazy Moon (pizzzzaaaa), you name it, I’ve probably thought about missing it in the past week.

And what happens if my host family hates me? Especially Sophia. It’s no use telling me they’ll love me because A) I’ve already been told that and B) Deep down I’m sure they won’t reallllly hate me. But that doesn’t change the fact that I’m absolutely terrified that either they won’t like me or at least it’ll take a while for them to warm up to me. I want them to love me and I want to love them back but I’m scared and when I get scared I picture them really finding me annoying.

Will I make friends? Throughout my life I have been fortunate enough to be blessed with the ability to make friends. How does this hold up in a foreign country? Where am I to meet said friends? Will I end up spending every night alone in my bedroom watching Netflix? I want so much to travel and I swear I’ll do it alone if I have to but I’d really rather have a friend to do it with. I tend to think travelling with a friend is funner and I don’t really like getting mugged so that’s a thing too…

What happens when I come back? Sometimes I think back to my time in New York and almost wish it had never happened simply because I loved it so much. If I had never gone, I would never have had to feel the heartbreak of leaving. Will it be the same way for Europe? Will I bring home a heavy sadness in addition to my wonderful experiences?

Are you beginning to understand where my head is at right now? This being my last week in Orlando is really helping me to realize how soon I’m leaving. It feels so final sometimes. I couldn’t be more excited but I’m feeling a lot of other things right now too. This is meant to be my “I’m Back!/Update About My Life” blog post. So…I’m back!

See ya in Deutschland kiddos.