November 25, 2013: I Might Run off and Join the Circus…

Not really, but I am slowly becoming a circus freak, and I use the word freak jokingly. No one had the slightest resemblance to the Elephant Man or a bearded lady. For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, I went to a juggling convention in Nürnberg this weekend. So from Friday at 17:00 until Sunday at 15:00, my day was filled with juggling or juggling like activities. And coffee, there was a good bit of coffee as well. For those of you who may not know this as well, there was much more than juggling at this convention. I would say something more broad like acrobatics, juggling, and object manipulation (which covers a good bit). So below, for those of you not familiar with what that includes, I posted in the first link, a wikipedia entry and in the second a video of someone really awesome doing said activity.

Some things at the convention:
Hooping (video)
Poi (video)
Diabolo (video)
Acrobatics
Aerial Silk
Contortion
Unicycle
Juggling (video)
Hat manipulation
(video)
tight rope walking
Devil Stick
(video)
Contact Juggling
(video)
Cigar Box Juggling (video)
Fire Staff
(video)

So with that I’m just going to jump right into what I did this weekend. Friday I woke up around 11 and decided to meet some friends at the mensa to eat lunch together. It was a pretty awesome lunch considering one of the options was fried feta cheese with a cabbage salad. It was probably the best lunch I’ve ever had at the mensa, to be honest. Then we went back to one of said friend’s dorm and had coffee and Belgian chocolate. In case you don’t know, you should be jealous. Belgian chocolate is probably a pretty close approximation to what heaven should be. Then at half three I met my friends Lucia and Donald at the train station to head to the juggling convention in Nürnberg.

And even though it took us a while to get there (we picked the train that stopped at every little station in between and then proceeded to take a somewhat long way to the convention), it was made more fun by the company of good people. Once we got there and got our stuff in our room, we went downstairs to the gymnasium and started juggling (which I will note here now, that this was hosted in a elementary/middle school). Well, for about the first 30 minutes actually, I just watched everyone in the gym sort of do their thing. It was pretty amazing how much talent was in such a small space. And it was also pretty cool how laid back everyone was. People would borrow things from each other and show each other new moves or techniques. Everyone seemed really happy to meet new friends and share their knowledge with others.

The gym

After dinner and more practicing there was a somewhat impromptu show where people at the convention got up on a stage and showed their stuff to the audience. I say somewhat impromptu only because there was no set program for the acts, but there was a good deal of structure and there was this really weird show in between acts. It essentially consisted of these two guys having audience members tell the different fairy tales in about two lines. This sounds awesome, but one of the guys, the handsome prince, was kind of creepy about it most of the time. It really didn’t help the way he was dressed (see photo below). At one point to stall for time for one of the last acts to get there he decided to dance, and needless to say, he wasn’t very good at it… But it was all in good fun I suppose. The acts were pretty good and they always received a beer (or a soda for the under-aged) for being brave enough to perform in front of people who are all pretty awesome at what they were trying to do.

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There was also a fire show, which mostly consisted of fire staff, poi, juggling, devil stick, fire breathing, fire whip (?), and this magic stick which seemingly floated in the air. And as most people know, everything looks cooler with fire, so it was pretty awesome.

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That was about the time I called it quits for the night. I was rather tired and sadly did not bring my hoops with me because I didn’t want to carry them on the train. So at that point I was tired of practicing my poor juggling skills and not really seeing anything come out of it. So I was off to bed, or rather, floor. We slept on the floor the entire weekend, and while I was lucky enough to have a mat and to be able to borrow a sleeping bag from a friend, it was still pretty difficult to sleep. Just about every time I would be close to drifting off, someone would open the door, causing a blazing streak of light to fall right on my face. There were also several snorers on the first night, which didn’t help. Maybe at about 4 or 5 in the morning, I finally fell asleep because I put on some podcasts to drown out the snoring.

To sum up the next day: breakfast, shower, juggling, coffee, juggling, lunch, juggling, coffee, juggling, dinner. So I guess to flesh a bit of this out, breakfast was very European, meaning it consisted of bread, cheese, meat, jam, Nutella, yogurt, and coffee. It was pretty good, I just usually wish there were eggs, bacon, and toast when I travel and eat breakfast somewhere. The shower was mortifying. We were in a school so there were shower rooms, but there were no curtains on the showers and people could just kind of walk through the changing room and see you in the shower. And being American, I don’t really handle nakedness very well (at least not that of strangers) so when the lady was just walking around naked and talking to people after I got out of the shower, I just looked down and got dressed about as fast as possible. A friend sent me a video of Michael McIntyre talking about this that sort of sums up how both of us felt in the shower rooms.

The juggling was fun. I learned how to do some object manipulation with clubs from a guy I met at the convention. It makes me feel somewhat legit. I also learned how to do some of what I call juggulus interruptus, in which someone is juggling with three clubs (at least in this case) and I pull out one of the clubs while they are juggling and then give it back while they continue to juggle. It sounds a lot tougher than it actually is. I also did some partner juggling with my friend Lucia with the balls of course (they are easier than clubs), which I actually have a video (below) of one of the patterns we tried out. Then for lunch we decided to go find a grocery store in Nürnberg. This meant that we walked around a good bit of the historic downtown and got to take some cool pictures. It was nice to just get outside and walk around for a bit.

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After dinner we made our way to the show. Yes, it just got more awesome. The show was pretty spectacular. I wish there was some sort of video that I could link to, but sadly I don’t have any. I will kind of try to explain what the show consisted of (mostly juggling). There were two people who juggled together, at first under a trench coat with their arms coming out of different parts of the coat changing the dynamic and pattern of the juggling. About halfway through the coat came off and they separated. Then most of this part consisted of her juggling in many different positions (e.g. laying down, leaning over, etc.) Then they did a sort of juggling dance later in the show, which was pretty awesome.

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Then there was the guy from Berlin, who started his first act by juggling balls which he bounced on the floor. His second act, which was much more impressive, was him using the diabolo. I thought I had seen some awesome diabolo the night before, but this was truly amazing. At one point he had four of them on the string at the same time! There was also a girl who “juggled” with one club. That doesn’t sound very impressive at first, which is why I put the quotes. It was impressive. Trust me. She tied her hands behind her back and then proceeded to move the club to different parts of her body, without much use from her hands. She also balanced it on several different parts of her body as well. After her there was a 14 year old guy who juggled an insane amount of rings (I don’t remember how many).

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Then there was a guy who juggled hats. It was pretty impressive. I think he ended up doing four or five at one time, popping them on and off his head and all around his body, sometimes throwing them up in the air and sometimes balancing them on a cane while the cane itself balanced on his shoulder. Then it was one of the clown’s turn to perform. Which I must say here, the clowns were probably my favorite part of the show. I was emotionally invested in them by the end of the evening (which will come up later). Anyway, for his actual performing act, he not only tap danced, but he juggle cigar boxes while tap dancing. And, it turns out underneath his big jacket, which only served to make him look scrawny, were two large buff arms. It was a bit surprising. And even though his act wasn’t until later, I will go ahead and describe the other clown’s act. This clown, in contrast to the first, was rather sulky in demeanor, but it was endearing. For his act he not only juggled clubs, but he juggled them with a balloon, which continuously tried to escape by floating up to the ceiling. Eventually he decided to pop the balloon, only to have it blow up again through the collar of his shirt and ultimately replace his head. He then did some object manipulation with his clubs, while not being able to see due to his newly acquired head. Towards the end of the act he picks up a gun (which was actually just a lighter he had used earlier) and puts it to his balloon head. At this point the entire audience is crying out for him to stop, someone even told him they loved him. At this point he walks off stage. We are all relieved and you can feel everyone in the audience relax. Until, that is, we heard the sound of a balloon popping off stage. It was pretty disheartening. But the clown showed up again in the show later, so I’m just going to assume it was a Fight Club kind of ending.

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The last act I am going to talk about was, to me, somewhat disappointing. Yes, it was pretty amazing, but her showmanship was a bit off, I think. She was essentially a contortionist. Her act started by her coming on stage with a stuffed chicken (no, not a cute stuffed animal chicken, more like a Chuck Testa stuffed chicken) and then impersonating it for a bit. After that, she put on a mask (no, Donald, you were right. It sadly wasn’t a blind fold) and cracked two eggs each in separate bowls. Then she poured the eggs from bowl to bowl from several different places on her body. It was pretty impressive in its own right, but it was just lacking the sort of entertainment value most of the other acts had. And that was essentially the show. There were little skits between the clowns and the host of the show interwoven between the real meat of the performance, which were pretty awesome in and of themselves.

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After the show there was, of course, more juggling before I finally got too tired and went to bed at about 2 or 3 in the morning. Saturday night I actually slept a lot better though and we didn’t wake up and go downstairs for breakfast until half past 11. Then I got a shower and by the time I was ready, the games had already started. The games in which I speak of are little mini-competitions based on the different types of acrobatics, juggling, and object manipulation. The winners of the competitions each received a little Advent calender with chocolate for their efforts. Some of the events I saw included diabolo throwing (where the participants through the diabolo into a bucket from across the gym), human pyramid (in which teams of four people stacked themselves based on instructions like, “one hand and two feet on the floor”), piggy back juggling (where one person sat on the other person’s shoulders and juggled), and the crowd favorite, gladiator (where participants juggled three clubs and then tried to knock the clubs from other contestants to the ground. The last person standing was the winner of that particular round). There was one guy in particular, who was pretty good at it. At one point he simultaneously eliminated two people. There was a pretty epic showdown between him and another rather skilled guy in several rounds, but he ended up ultimately winning.

After that, we went home. Luckily there was a guy from E-werk (where we juggle) who drove us home, so we didn’t have to lug our stuff 20 minutes through Nürnberg again. Then, because I hadn’t hooped all weekend but was surrounded by some pretty awesome hoopers and felt inspired, I went to the park and hooped for a bit. Later I also ended up going for a run to the train station, picked up my bike, and then rode it back home. I felt a bit like I was training for a triathlon, sans swimming. Then it was awesome awesome sleep in a real bed time. Oh yeah…

Today was both relaxing and awesome. I ended up meeting a friend in the park. He juggled, I hooped. I ended up hooping for about two hours. It was pretty cold, but at least for the most part, it was sunny. That is until Germany decided it should start snowing. The weather here is quite moody and tends to change pretty quickly. That was about the time we decided to go warm up in a cafe with some coffee and cake. Then I went to belly dancing class, and hey, I didn’t actually suck! Winning.

So I figure by now this blog is long enough. I won’t bother to write my intended plans for this week/weekend. Okay, maybe a little. Next weekend I’m going with my program to Heidelberg, which is supposed to be a really awesome and historic place! I actually had it as my second choice of cities to study in, after Munich of course, but I must say, I am really glad I ended up in Erlangen!

Also a special thanks to Donald, for some of the pictures.  Most I just sort of got from random places/people though, heh.

More videos/pictures from the convention if you are using this blog to procrastinate:
Video (in German)
Pictures

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November 21, 2013: Culture Shock got me down

So this post isn’t going to be a retelling of events in my life for this week (it’s too early for that! The interesting parts never come until the weekend!)  But yesterday was a bit rough for me in terms of culture shock and I kind of want to talk/ vent about it for a bit.  Feel free to skip this post, you probably won’t miss anything at all to be honest.  There are some things I really like about Germany, don’t get me wrong, it has been a wonderful place to live and study so far, but there are also just these very slight differences from America that have kind of been hiding in the background slowly creeping up on me.  And they really are little things that I either didn’t notice at first or I chose to ignore.  Just a couple:

1. The personal space bubble here tends to be smaller.  For those of you who don’t know, I am not a big fan of strangers or crowds, so this one is the big one that gets me.  It mostly consists of people generally standing closer together, whether it be in a more intimate setting like a one-on-one conversation, or in a crowd.  I often find myself taking a few steps back from people when they are talking to me, only to have them compensate by taking a few steps forward.  This leads to two possibilities, either I start doing the lean back, where I angle my upper body to be at a more comfortable distance thus causing me to look like I’m in a hurricane, or we end up doing this awkward shuffle as I continue to try the step back method, and it continues to fail.  At least no one has tried to greet me with cheek kisses yet.  I’m pretty sure I could handle it with close friends, but anyone else… um, no.  And this directly ties into…

2. Crowd etiquette is much different.  Because of the whole smaller personal space area, crowds are sort of handled differently here.  In America there is something like a two to three foot space between people waiting in lines, and unless it is really crowded, people tend to give each other plenty of personal space.  However, if you are standing two to three feet from the next person in line in Germany, be prepared for someone to swoop on in there and take your spot.  It doesn’t matter how obvious it is that you are waiting, if you are not pretty close to the person in front of you, it is going to happen.  Also, people don’t say, “excuse me”, as much as they do in America.  Which this may sound really petty, but it is kind of nice when you are getting in someone’s way and you just say, “excuse me”.  Not to give anyone the idea that Germans don’t ever say it, they do.  They just tend to reserve it for something more, like actually bumping into someone.

3. Nothing is free here.  In America we are given so many things complimentary that it is kind of off putting having to pay for every single thing here.  Bread at a restaurant.  Gotta pay for that.  Tap water.  Gotta pay for that.  Bags at the grocery store.  Gotta pay for that.  Using a public toilet.  Most of the time, gotta pay for that.  I mostly get around the paying for tap water thing though because I usually carry around a bottle of water which I fill up regularly.  I refuse to pay for tap water.  REFUSE.

4. We have different ideas of what sandwich bread should be.  Don’t get me wrong, when it comes to rolls and pastries, Germany is much better than America, especially with all of the bakeries around.  However, sandwich bread here is way different from the light, fluffy bread we have in America.  Granted I usually eat a lot of whole grain bread in America and I am not much for crappy white bread most people eat, but Germany just sort of took whole grain to the extreme.  I feel like I am chewing a big dirt clod most of the time, not to mention it has an almost meaty taste.  And it is dry and grainy.  While I have found a decent sandwich bread here, I really miss my Pepperidge Farm bread, or better yet, my bread machine in general.

Those have been the four big challenges so far and hopefully I will get through this second stage of Culture Shock pretty soon and these things won’t be as big of a deal (although I’m not sure I will ever completely adjust to the crowd thing…)  And just so I can end this on a positive note, I want to talk about a couple of things I really appreciate over here.

  • Germans are great at designing easy to open things.  I can’t even explain how ingenious opening things actually is.  Let’s just say I’ve never gotten a bag of cheese that didn’t open because the easy tear guide was not in the right place.
  • Basic food stuff is pretty cheap, even though that’s about it.
  • Beer is really cheap.
  • They are very dog friendly over here as well.

Yup, that’s about it until I get around to posting either Sunday or Monday.

 

Augsburg again

Augsburg again

Church in Augsburg

Church in Augsburg

Augsburg

Augsburg

November 17, 2013: Mistakes were Made, just not in Würzburg or Augsburg

As far as my week last week goes, Monday through the better part of Thursday was pretty standard. I think the only really big occurrence during this time was the purchase of my Bahncard, which gives me a pretty good discount on train tickets. Other than that I went to class and hung out with friends. Nothing particularly interesting, but nice all the same.

 

Thursday evening was when things started to get crazy. The bar in the basement of my dorm (HaWo) decided to have what they called a Gaßmaß (not sure on the spelling but it is something like that. Also the drink is essentially cherry liquor, beer, and coca-cola, which is much tastier than it sounds) and Absinthe party. The night started out with about a liter of the first drink, and ended with maybe three of the second. Mistakes were made. I hardly remember anything and let’s just say after I blacked out things went downhill quickly. I’m obviously fine now. I think I just need to be more assertive here when I’ve hit my limit and am done drinking. Because even though I knew I had hit my limit and told people that I didn’t want anymore, they kept bringing me more. I remember trying a couple of my I’m going to pretend I’m drinking but not really tricks, but to no avail. Drunk Alicia tends to drink what is in front of her. So on that note I think it will be awhile before I drink again. Just the thought of booze kind of makes my stomach turn.

 

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Because of my stupidity on Thursday, I spent most of Friday in bed. I don’t think I even managed to eat anything until 3 o’clock. The plus side was that I got the package from my parents! They sent some staples that I just can’t get here, like corn meal, ranch dressing, grits, shortening, and fried onions. Mmmmm cheese grits. Later that evening I managed to feel okay enough to go eat some awesome Belgian food my friend made. It was delicious. My only regret was trying the chocolate, because now the German chocolate I usually buy doesn’t taste nearly as good anymore. I’m going to have to stock up on some Belgian chocolate when I go there, needless to say. While I don’t know the names of the dishes she made, I can somewhat describe what she made. We of course had Gouda cheese with some celery salt and spicy mustard. Then, one of my favorite dishes and something that sounds totally wrong together, but really isn’t: tuna salad topped peaches. After that we had asparagus with eggs, parsley, and butter. Then for the main course we ate chicory wrapped in ham and baked in some sort of sauce with cheese on top. It was also good. Then for dessert we had some sort of cheese pie, which was absolutely amazing. Overall it was a pretty fun and relaxing night with friends and the food sure did go a long way in helping me feel better.

As for Saturday I somewhat on a whim decided to go back to Würzburg because I felt like there was much more to see than what I saw last time I was there. I was right, too. And even though the weather was gray and cold, I still think it is one of the prettiest towns I’ve been to in Germany so far. We ended up visiting several churches, which were all built in a different architectural style (Roman, Gothic, and Baroque), the walking bridge, a nice little park/garden below the castle, of course the castle itself, and the residence (which is kind of like a palace). I think the most interesting part for me was probably the residence, not only because it was grandiose, but also because of the landscaping. The trees looked to me like they were taken from a 5 year old’s drawing. In other words, they were perfectly sculpted in the shape of cones. It was kind of surreal looking at it actually. We also had lunch at the restaurant in the castle somewhere in there, which despite having terrible service and only having half of what was on their menu, was pretty good. I had a pork chop covered in mozzarella and tomatoes with hash browns and a salad.

 

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I don’t think there is too much to really say about this trip considering we did the normal touristy things one might do in a new city, but there is a particularly strange occurrence that I would like to note. For most of you who know me, you know I am pretty critical of America and the South in general. I typically don’t mind talking about our shortcomings and usually laugh at many of the jokes thrown my way. It takes a bit for me to get defensive of America and especially the region where I come from. Saturday, however, was a bit of an exception. I’m not entirely sure what set it off, maybe because it was a jab here and a jab there all day, or maybe it just sort of built up over time, but I really felt the need to stick up for my country. And it was odd for me to feel so defensive about my country even though most of the time I am just as critical of it. Now I know there was no ill will intended in the discussion and my feelings were never hurt by it, but it just sort of felt like the scenario where I can bash my family, but you can’t. I don’t know, I can’t really describe it better than that. It was just a weird feeling for me.

 

So Saturday was day trip round one, and Sunday I went with a different group of friends on a day trip to Augsburg, which is in southern Bavaria kind of close to Munich. After someone told me it was not really a great place, I was admittedly a bit worried about dragging four other people there with me. However, I think it was a nice little city. Of course the entire city is not gorgeous, but I thought the inner city part was gorgeous, especially with the Christmas market being set up. City hall was a pretty impressive building and beside it was a tower, which normally people could climb up in and see the whole city, but unfortunately for us, it was closed for some reason (the hours on the sign indicated that it should have been open by the way). So then we decided to go to the puppet museum, since Augsburg is supposed to be known for puppets. We were originally going to watch a marionette show, but the prices were a bit more expensive than we had expected, so we just walked around the museum instead. It was really interesting, especially once you realize how much work goes not only into making the puppets themselves, but also into the actual production of a show. The museum went through many of the steps and inner workings of a puppet theater. There was even an actor who ran around the museum pretending to be the director, the writer, and the actor. Our first encounter with him was when he was the director and he made some of the bystanders “rehearse” a scene from on of the plays. I felt a bit bad for my friend Marko, who was randomly picked to read for the main character. Another guy ended up reading for him as he pantomimed the scene. It was a good laugh though.

 

After that we walked around the city and visited the two giant churches (not cathedrals). Like any other church people visit in Europe, it was beautiful, but there isn’t much to say other than that. We also briefly looked at the Fuggerei, which is one of the first settlements in Augsburg (I think anyway). We decided not to go inside since it cost money and it was getting dark at that point. After that we walked around for a bit more and then headed to the train station where we had coffee while waiting on our train. The train ride back was mostly uneventful, except when poor Helena, who could only find a seat on another part of the train and so was separated from the group, got off at the wrong stop. She had apparently fallen asleep and in a confused stupor, got out at the wrong station. Luckily she realized her mistake in time and was able to push the open door button as the train was starting to leave. It was a close call and I am glad she got back on.

 

So that was my extremely eventful weekend. It was nice getting out and such, but I am pretty tired. The next couple of weekends should also prove to be eventful, seeing as next weekend I am going to a juggling convention in Nürnberg and then the weekend after that I am going with VDAC to Heidelberg.

Also a special thanks to Donald and Yousung for the Würzburg pictures. I will post some pictures from Augsburg as well, but I need to wait until my friends post them on facebook first.

November 10, 2013: My Solo Trip to Bamberg and Taco Kisses

So as I’ve already said, things here have started slowing down for me in terms of traveling. And I also talked about the whole stages of culture shock and where I should currently be in those stages, and how I’m not really fitting into the second stage at all. In fact, I think I am sort of going the opposite direction in a way. No, I’m not still overly elated, I have actually been feeling a bit depressed, but not because I miss home. No, I have been feeling depressed thinking about going home. Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends and family there, but just the thought of having to go back to Alabama, and especially back to Tuscaloosa, for a year and most of my friends having left there by the time I get back, it just brings me down. I know, I have a lot of time before I cross that bridge, but I find myself really not wanting to leave already, and I feel like the time is passing by so quickly. It has already been over two months since I got here!

 

Anyway, that aside my week was pretty good. I did the usual go to class, which the exception of Thursday when I somehow made it to my 8:15 class and managed to miss my 1:15 class because I did not wake up from my nap. I am special. I even managed to make my 10:15 class on Wednesday despite having gone to acrobatics the night before and then having a couple of beers before heading home and going to bed around 3. Then Thursday I met someone at the bar downstairs and after having a drink we watched Nightmare before Christmas. I know, it was after Halloween, which isn’t when most people watch it in America, but I like that movie a lot, so I don’t care.

 

As for special weekend fun times I ended up kind of spontaneously picking a nearby city and just taking a train there. The city in question was Bamberg, and I decided to just go by myself without making any real plans. I probably could have found people to go with me (in fact one of my friends said she really had not done anything that day and would have liked to go). At the same time, it was nice to kind of wander around the city randomly until I found something worth checking out. I actually did a good bit of walking even though Bamberg had signs everywhere telling people where to go to see all the cool stuff. I enjoy walking though, so I kind of purposely went off the beaten path sometimes.

 

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As far as things I saw, there was the city square with all of the vendors and shops (it was Saturday when most German cities have their markets in the square.) I saw some pretty cool statues. I also saw a really cool bridge that went over the river into the more historical part of the city. The wall on the side of the connecting building had a pretty awesome mural on it. Then I saw a really old church and even went inside to have a look around. I’m always amazed at how beautiful old churches are. There is just so much detail in the architecture. And I am not sure exactly why, but part of me really had the urge to sing “God Help the Outcasts”. Then I walked around some more and finally made my way to St. Micheal’s (I think) monastery up on the hill. The grounds and buildings were gorgeous. I just wish that I could have gone inside or that there was some sort of literature I could have read at least. I think there was one sign, but it was not very informative. Then, after taking several pictures of the monastery and the view of the city I made my way down and around to what is called Little Venice. It really isn’t much, but it was pretty cool. It’s just several houses build right on the edge of the river. They used to be fishing houses, of course, but not so much now. Then I kind of wandered around into some shops and eventually I found a cafe and had a sandwich for lunch. It was nice and peaceful. In fact, I would have stayed longer if I hadn’t been so cold.

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So at this point it was about 1:40 when I decided to get on the train and head back home. It isn’t a very long ride, maybe about 35 minutes, but there was a slight hiccup in my plan. I still do not know why, but for some reason all of the trains had to stop in a little town called Forccheim, which is about 15 minutes or so from Erlangen. There was a lot of confusion on my part because I had my earphones in. I was just sitting around waiting for the train to start back up again when suddenly everyone started to get off the train. I was pretty confused so I decided to jump on another train headed to Erlangen. After sitting on that train for about 5 minutes, we had to get off that one as well. That was about the time I found a group of Americans waiting for a bus which Deutsche Bahn promised would take us to Erlangen. They were a pretty interesting group of people. One was from Indiana was a tattoo artist. Apparently the tattoo business in America has turned to rubbish, but in Germany it hasn’t. I didn’t get a chance to ask why, something I regret. The other was a nurse who worked in Ingolstadt, which is just north of Munich. Interestingly enough she came from Mississippi (which for those who may not know is Alabama’s next door neighbor). We had a long talk about how we missed southern food and we swapped ideas/ recipes.

 

Once I finally made it back to Erlangen, I went back to my dorm for a while and got to watch the first quarter and some change of the Auburn vs. Tennessee game. My neighbors must have loved me. Let’s just say I really got into the game, and was not pleased during the first quarter. I’m glad we came back and destroyed them though. That was nice. Then I went over to my friend’s place and we ate chocolate and ice cream and watched Fried Green Tomatoes, which oddly enough I had never seen before. It was a pretty good movie, but I couldn’t help but feel like it was one of those stories designed to make white people feel better about the Civil Rights Movement and such. I also tried this “medicine” my friend had, which was really just 96% alcohol you mix with warm water. It was…interesting.

As for today, I really didn’t do that much. I slept a good bit and then I also worked on proofing a thesis (yay money!). I did a bit of work trying to make my walls less barren. So far I have a poster and a calendar (which were both already in my room), four post cards, and I cartoon I copied from the internet. I also want to print out some pictures and put them on my wall. Hopefully that will liven the place up a bit. I also had some friends over for tacos (hence the taco kisses in the title, also Southpark). I made salsa, guacamole, rice, black beans, chicken with onions and peppers and had some cheese and sour cream to go with it. It was delicious. And because two people couldn’t make it tonight, I have lots of leftovers. Noms. We also watched Up because I think everyone should see that movie at least once in their lives. I just think the first 10 or so minutes is one of the best love stories out there. Then I talked to the ‘rents on skype and took a walk. It was good to just get out and clear my head.

 

But on that note, I think I need to get some sleep. Especially considering I made an appointment to wash some clothes in the morning. That’s right, I have to sign up for an appointment to use the washing machine here. I know it’s a bit late to be bringing this up, but yeah, Germany.

November 3, 2013: Oh the Pumpkins

So much of my week consisted of preparing for my Pumpkin Party. This means that most of the week was spent buying ingredients for pumpkin soup and pie, and then trying to figure out how to get around some of the harder to find ingredients (mostly ones you could buy pre-made in America, like pie crusts). This wasn’t terribly hard, just time consuming and somewhat expensive. I essentially invited too many people to eat. Mind you it worked out fine, it just was a bit stressful considering I don’t have my own full kitchen and they don’t have canned pumpkin here. So I had to cook about 10 small pumpkins in order to have enough for everything. (I still don’t know how I got the measurements on that so accurate. I really only had to go to the store once for each set of pumpkins.)

Originally I was going to make Jello shots for everybody, and then it could be a real college-esque Halloween party. Fortunately I realized this was a bad idea before buying everything due to the fact that we had trouble storing all of the other food stuffs in the refrigerator as it was. There was no way I could store all of the shots I would have needed to make. Oh well. Everyone just sort of brought their own booze and some snacks and the party kind of just did its thing. The only draw back was the lack of sound system. I had to run my music from my laptop, which doesn’t go very loud, so unless you were standing right next to it, you couldn’t really hear the music. There was one person who carved a pumpkin (so I guess he wins?), which turned out pretty well. We had a hard time keeping the candle from burning out. A good portion of the party-goers decided to dress up, let me see what costumes I remember. Of course there was our pumpkin (Sandra), a black cat (Arielle), Frankenstein’s bride (Ela), several beer maidens (Ryoko, Shiho, and another Japanese girl whose name escapes me at the moment), some witches (Natalia and Katerina), a dead girl (Aga), a Goth with a sombrero and a guitar? (Donald) and I was the fox. I really enjoyed all of the costumes and all of the effort everyone put into them!

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Then things kind of start to get fuzzy for me due to the fact that my friend and my BYOB of choice was tequila. I think everyone had fun, or at least that’s what they told me after the fact. At some point I ended up in a corner with my head in a bucket for the rest of the night (I’m a good host…) but I had fun up until I lost the game (the game being that if you puke after drinking it cancels out the good time and thus you lose).  It also made me realize that I know some pretty awesome people over here.  Thanks again for taking care of me guys!  This meant that I spent Friday and part of Saturday in an almost comatose state, either sleeping or watching movies, one of which being Never Let me Go, which was an upper, except not really.

Then on Sunday I got up somewhat early and went with some friend to the Nürnberg zoo. It was kind of gloomy and wet, and pretty flippin’ cold by the end of the day, but it was a lot of fun. I really like the zoo in Nürnberg, mostly because it is stuck in a pretty wooded area and there was a good deal of nature, not only in general, but also in between exhibits. It was also nice that there were not that many people around, so it was pretty relaxing. On a bit of a sadder note, we noticed that there weren’t any elephants. Turns out they died in 2008 because they got sick. It was a bit weird though, that they haven’t really done anything it seems, to get any more elephants. We also watched a dolphin show, which unlike America, did not have any sort of shitty story line accompanied by failing actors just trying to break it big. No, it was just dolphins, doing flips and shit. Oh, and seals, they were there too. It also actually tried to be informative, so that was nice. We also found the petting zoo (which is technically for kids, but whatever) and we fed some pudgy little goats. And probably my favorite part was getting to see the red panda. Squee!!!! So much cute trapped in such a little body!

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After that I went to acrobatics and hooped/attempted to juggle. Although I’m learning new tricks with my hoop, it has been pretty slow going. Hopefully I can also start working on some artistry, and hopefully my belly dancing class will help with that. Which reminds me, I’m taking a belly dance class, and it’s a bit hard. Sometimes I think the teacher thinks I don’t understand what she is saying (it is in German), but no, I’m picking up what she’s puttin’ down, my brain just has no idea how to make my body move that way sometimes. My sister knows this from when she tried to teach me chest slides. Anyway, the point is that I’m enjoying despite being a potato.

And that has essentially been my week. I have no idea what this weekend holds for me, but I will see what sort of fun thing I can come up with to do.

Also, a special thanks to Katerina Vieweghova for the Halloween pictures!