July 18, 2014: It’s my Birthday, Charlie Brown!

So I know, the last month and a half or so I did not do anything to my blog.  I kept procrastinating as I often do with this thing and thinking that I would catch up on it some other time.  At the time, I was too busy enjoying biking trips with friends, sunny days spent juggling or in cafes, grilling together, or just spending some one on one time with Donald because I knew it was close to coming to an end.  I didn’t really want to miss a minute of it by sitting down at my computer for an hour or so just to write about my experiences, rather than make more new memories.  And being removed about a month and some change from some of them, the details are likely to be fuzzy, but I’d still like to give a couple of brief updates on the final months of my journey.


I spent the 4th of July at some lady’s barbeque who is a part of our VDAC club.  She is a nice lady, but her Americaness was very overt, despite having lived in Germany for a decent portion of her life.  She completely embodied both the good and bad stereotypes which characterize a former actress as well.  I’m not complaining, that was part of her charm.  And in such a friendly American fashion, she had me come over to her 4th of July party and also watch the Germany/France game in her garage surrounded by a whole host of polite strangers.  Some were American, some were German, all were welcoming.  However I am still just as awkward of a person despite how friendly others are around me, so most of the time I stood kind of awkwardly off to the side waiting for someone to talk to me.  It was nice to get out, but it was also nice to get back home to Donald.


The next day was likewise spent at a VDAC function, only this one was a formal affair.  I ended up meeting the American consulate in Germany, sadly wearing only my best jeans and a nice blouse.  In my defense, I asked what I should wear but the response I was given was that it did not matter.  So I dressed for comfort.  Sigh.  Oh well.  The party was just as awkward for me as the one on the previous day and the awkwardness that is me was only alleviated by the fact that two of the girls from the festivities the day prior were also there, wearing just as casual if not more so, clothes.  The cake was nice though, and hey, free food!


Another big event in July was my birthday!  And it was one of the funnest birthdays I think I have ever managed to have.  The weather was absolutely perfect and I had so many caring friends wish me well, both in Erlangen and abroad.  The day started out with a bike ride to a nearby lake with a handful of friends.  Once we got there, grilling ensued as we prepared our lunch.  Everyone brought something nice and the food was excellent.  And we had enough to snack on the entire day.  We also did a whole host of other things like volleyball, Ninja, hooping, juggling, and my favorite, volley club.  I even had some friends drive all the way down from Frankfurt to join in the festivities.  That was especially touching.  One of the highlights of the day was also Donald’s amazing chocolate cake.  He really went all out making me a homemade cake (well, I did help a little…) and topped with Ela’s candle sparklers, it was really awesome!  We stayed there until the sun had started to dip close to the horizon and only made it back home just before dark.  We had briefly thought about going out together, but everyone was so completely tired, none of us made it back to the town center.


The next day, because we like celebrating things so much, we went out for dinner and some drinks at a hotel/restaurant.  Then we decided that instead of going out, we would head back to Ela’s to drink and watch a bad movie (Iron Sky in this case).  We were not disappointed in this case.  It was incredibly bad.  Unfortunately it was meant to be as bad as it was.  I still think the Room level of badness tops that of Iron Sky just because Tommy Wisseau was actually serious when making it.  And it really is just that bad.  But it was fun to laugh at all the nonsense in that movie regardless.


Other things that I did in July (at least before my departure and the weekend leading up to it.  That’s for another post).  Ela and I went to a department store and tried on dirndls (since we didn’t want to spend that much money on buying one).  It was really fun and I even managed to find a gothic dirndl, which I did indeed try on.  We also went to Nürnberg in order to hunt down a jacket which was on sale in a specific size and color.  We didn’t manage to find it, but we still had fun.  And we even managed to find a nice park to laze in before we biked back to Erlangen.  There was also the fact that Germany won the World Cup, which that was a fun celebration even though Donald and I stayed in because he unfortunately had a final the following morning.


Speaking of Donald, his mom and aunt also came to visit for about 5 days.  They were, of course, super awesome and nice.  And I could listen to them talk for hours, even about the most mundane things.  I know that sounds creepy, but the Scottish accent is just so melodic and I have unfortunately grown accustomed to Donald’s, heh.  We took it easy most of the time, taking them to all of the nice places and restaurants in Erlangen.  However we did venture over to Nürnberg for an afternoon and took them to see the sites there.  I think they liked it.  Nürnberg is a nice city and has a lot more to see tourist wise than Erlangen.


And speaking of visitors I also got to visit with one of my German professors from Auburn as well as one of my friends/instructors at UA and bonus: one of my friends I met on my first study abroad to Vienna.  Extra bonus: we went out to dinner for his birthday.  So it was really nice to see them again and visit with them for several days.  Unfortunately I caught a cold a couple of days before they left so I didn’t get to see them much after Rob’s birthday dinner, but it was still nice to catch up with them.  And it was nice to ride my bike and meet them in Nürnberg as opposed to taking the train.


We also went to an interesting French festival on the solstice and did some fire poi.  I tried it out for the first time there and managed to not set myself on fire.  A couple of weeks later I met with my poi class and did fire poi once again.  I was about the same as I was the first time, but I still didn’t catch myself on fire, which was a win.  Donald also tried his hand at some fire juggling, which turns out to be much harder than regular juggling because the fire is blinding.  On top of that you automatically want to grab the flaming end since it is the part you can see the best.  Luckily no harm came to him, even though he dropped the clubs several times within close proximity of his bare feet.


There was also a somewhat spontaneous trip to Munich thrown in there.  I still had yet to take the skis I borrowed from my friend there in April back to her.  So I decided I would go to Munich and invited Tom and Helena to join me.  Unfortunately the weather was the worst it could have possibly been for a day trip to Munich, but we made do.  By the end of the day we were soaked to the skin, despite our rain gear.  But we still managed to have some fun.  We met my friends and had lunch at a Chinese restaurant near the university, which was both cheap and delicious.  Then we followed up with some ice cream at a nearby shop which specialized in odd ice cream flavors.  Some examples were Hugo (quite nice), Augustiener (beer flavored and quite delicious!) and wurst flavored (yuck!) ice cream.  Then I showed them several sites worth seeing, including the university and the rathaus as well as some of the more famous squares and churches.  Then we decided to have a coffee after being drenched to warm us up before our train ride home.  And once we finally got back, we got to watch the rest of the Germany/Brazil game!


There was also a couple of end of the year/semester barbeques with the Erasmus students, several of which we did not know because they were 2nd semester students.  But it was still fun, even though there were a ton of mosquitoes.  I was lucky enough to walk away mostly unscathed, but two of our friends got it especially bad and had little red welts all over their arms, legs, and necks.  They looked incredibly itchy and I felt bad for one girl since she was traveling back to Barcelona the next day.  But it was still quite fun!


And I think that is about it as far as highlights of July go.  I will probably think of other things to add to the list later, but oh well.  Most of my time was spent in the usual relaxing manner.  I didn’t take many trips or do much exciting.  I just lived in Erlangen like it was my home and hung out with my friends.  And while part of me wishes I was a more exciting person, the other part of me is glad that I made the memories with the people I loved there.