September 4, 2013: Still Stuck in the Early ’90s…

As the title may suggest, I am still without internet. Not that I absolutely could not have access to the internet in a public setting if I really needed to, it would just require my credit card number, something which I feel a bit uneasy giving away so freely abroad and for something I will soon enough have access to. Yes, I can only create a wifi account on Thursdays. Not any sooner, I tried. Until then I have been endlessly trying to busy myself with a very limited number of activities (because let’s face it, I could not pack all of my hobbies and take them with me, even though I had some spare room in my suitcase and endlessly wish I could have somehow brought my hoop with me). Most of these activities have included reading (both Neil Gaiman’s Ocean at the End of the Lane and Mary Roach’s Packing for Mars: the Curious Science of Life in the Void. Next on my list is The Great Gatsby,) playing games on my Kindle (solitaire, sudoku, and mahjong) and listening to all of the NPR podcasts I luckily downloaded before the trip. Without all of these things, I might have already gone crazy.

 

That’s not to say I haven’t gotten out and explored Erlangen. I have. Unfortunately there is only so much bike riding and walking my legs will stand for in a given day, so I have mostly ventured out for no longer than an entire morning or afternoon. Sometimes if I decide to punish my legs for whatever reason, I go out a second time. When I come back I’m going to be built like Lance Armstrong, only without all the steroids. Mind you my expeditions to the inner part of the city have been nice, just not very fruitful. I mostly browse around shops or maybe read in the Schlosspark (which is very nice and regrettably I forgot to bring my camera with me today to take a picture. It was absolutely stunning there, surrounded by trees, flowers, and in the middle a huge fountain. In the background are some historic looking buildings, which I have not further investigated as of yet.) Sometimes I just ride or walk around to see what is there. Today I found the Asian market, which I’m sure I will end up visiting sooner or later. Now I just wish I could find a Mexican market, or really just any place with tortillas and salsa.

 

As far as food goes, I haven’t really gone out to eat, unless you count the bread and pastries I got at the bakery, which I personally don’t (but are nonetheless quite tasty). There are two main reasons that I have been cooking at home. 1. I am trying to conserve on money since I still don’t have my scholarship money to use. It is in my UA student account, but it does not do me much good since I am technically not a student at UA this semester. Naturally I was going to email them when I got here to ask, but well, still no internet. The other reason is that I have not really met anyone here to go out to eat with. I know that no one is going to be knocking on my door or lined up down the hall waiting to be my friend. I know that I have to take an active role and actually talk to people, but that’s hard enough for me to do in English. The moment really has to strike me. Plus when I am nervous I tend to spout utter nonsense in German, and I am not too keen on looking like an idiot just yet.

 

Speaking of looking like an idiot, I took my placement test for the Intensive German Course (Sprachkurs in German) yesterday. It was rough and being a student of linguistics, I really felt that the test was not a good gauge of language proficiency. It was a 40 minute test on the computer. There were 8 parts and all of them were the same. I had paragraphs to read and several words were left incomplete. The number of remaining letters I had to fill in was given, but that was the test. It tested what is probably the worst aspect of my German: vocabulary. Mind you there was a little bit of grammar as well, but it really was not as much as I would have expected. No writing. No listening. No speaking. No reading comprehension. Just complete the word. It is either right or wrong. No in between. Terrible. After filling in all of the easy ones I took a stab at some of the harder ones, sometimes just putting a suffix that had the appropriate amount of letters. There should be extra points for being able fill in letters past 5. I really expect to be placed in too low of a level because I can’t conjure up parts of specific words. Not to mention that the test is completely artificial in nature. There is no way I would ever be asked to use German like that in a normal context. Give me a writing prompt and a couple sheets of paper. Give me a 20 minute presentation on Lutherdeutsch (Luther’s German). I can do that. Filling in words. Nope. Done.

 

As for tomorrow and Friday I will be doing a good deal of boring stuff, which always has to be done when abroad, such as registering with the authorities, opening my German bank account, registering with the university, and so on. So that about wraps things up for this week, and hopefully by tomorrow you can read this post and the one I wrote September 1st. If not, I may go crazy. No really, I’m running out of things to do without internet or even television. And I miss people. And hopefully you guys haven’t forgotten about me.

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