Despicable me comes out here later this week. Its called Ich – Einfach Unverbeserlich or I – Simply Incorrigible. I kinda wanna see it even though it was awful in English. At least in the German version I wont have to listen to Steve Carell butcher a russian accent. I love Steve Carell, but he was awful for that film…

I got my UniCard in the mail today. It’s official, I’m a student here. Crazy

Note to self: dont use the front left burner on the stove in my kitchenette… While trying to make potatoes, the oven short circuited our entire flat. Like pitch black. Sarah (who was thankfully in her room) and I had to go find the fuse box for the entire wing and simply guess which switch to flip. It was kind of ridiculous.

There is a bookstore here that I want to live in. It is a used book store, and I say used as in probably half of the books are at least 90 years old. Mixed in with the piles of books are also small paintings, greeting cards from the turn of the last century and old photo albums (i mean like ’20s). I love it, I want to buy EVERYTHING in that store, actually, I just want to buy the store itself. The only frustrating thing is that despite having an entire section dedicated to books on the Third Reich, there is a pile of books(as you can see in the photo) literally waist high and probably five feet out that I cant wade through to get to those books. I tried balancing on some almanacs, but that only got me close enough to read the titles… I want to find Albert Speer’s Erinnerungen (Inside the Third Reich is its translated title), and I dont want to have to buy it off amazon.de! That’s my goal for this year. And when I find it, I dont care how much it costs, I’m buying it.

On my way back from that bookstore, I came across a statue that caught my attention.

It translates to “The victims of violence. The fighters of the resistance. 1933-1945” The whole statue is in the shape of a tree with no leaves and exposed roots. I think its really interesting how this city deals with its history. In front of houses where Jews who were murdered used to live are little gold plaques with their names and info on them. In the square in front of the Uni where the Jews were rounded up before deportation is a plaque and a yellow traffic sign. The plaque I translated on facebook, but here is the sign in case you missed it:

It’s so fascinating. Ich liebe Geschichte.

I’m eating Milka Alpenmilchcreme chocolate and I never want to eat another Hershey’s bar again. You can keep your kisses, I’ll take Milka and Ritter Sport.

Milo and Mysteries

09/28/2010

I feel like Milo Minderbinder. Let me explain something first; in Germany, most plastic and glass bottles have a little symbol on them that look like this:This symbol means that you can return the bottle to a machine in the front of your grocery store. For each bottle, if the machine accepts it (it scans the barcode), you get a credit for 25 cents. Now here’s the reason I feel like Milo Minderbinder, I like to buy 1,5 liter bottles of fizzy water for 19 cents because theyre really cheap. If I recycle them, I get 25 cents back. So, not only are the bottles technically free, but I make a profit of 6 cents every time I return one. If I bought one bottle every day for 30 days and returned them all, I would make about 2 Euros, while at the same time enjoying all that mineral water for free. Its the little things. What’s good for the syndicate is good for the shareholders, right Milo? (Actually, I just realized this is not true, but I was so excited and it sounds so amazing that instead of deleting this paragraph, I’ll just let it be. So, Fail)

There is literally nothing more for me to do in order to get things set up. I have everything done for my housing that can be done in advance, I am all set at the University so that all I have to do is wait to get my classes, all I need to do is find a warmer coat. That’s gonna be the hardest part of all.

I’m sick. Now, because I know my Baubie and Zadie read this, let me clarify: I’m fine and it’s just a cold. It kinda sucks though, because all I want to do is sit in my room and catch up on Glee (which I am finally realizing is AMAZING) when I should really be out improving my German. I bought some Vitamin C/Zinc tablet things yesterday, so hopefully that should help a little…

I went for a walk the other day in the Seepark and discovered a small little flower garden. There are paths and trees and sculptures and a little stream thing that reminds me of the Bächle in town. It was really pretty and had a really good view of the Flückiger Lake and the Schwarzwald. Its fun to kind of get a feel of just everyday life here. Even though I am living here for the next ten months, I feel like a tourist because all I’ve really seen is my apartment and the downtown area. I mean, I couldnt really expect anything else, I’m only in my third week here and up until now, every work day has been spent trying to get things in order.

Right across from the little park within a park were apartment blocks quite similar to my own. Behind them however were two things I found rather interesting, the first was the most depressing playground I have ever seen. No swings on the swingset and the teetertotter looked like it would snap in half if a kid was stupid enough to sit on it. If this wasnt former West Germany I would have blamed the Soviets. The other thing about this little area that caught my attention was this:

Now I dont know what that staircase led to, but it was only one flight and looked like it had not been used in a very long time/ There were two of them in a flat grassy area with grates placed over where the entrance would lead you if you went down there. Before you say anything, no it does not lead to a subway or anything like that. Maybe it goes to the basement of the apartments, but you can theyre both rather far away for that to make much sense. I dont know what this area was used for, and I tried looking through some forums and though I didnt find out what these were, it kind of confirmed my guess. A bunker? Probably not from NS-Zeit, but cold war? I dont know, but what else could it be? There is, at least to me, no other logical explanations.

Amy Balto, you asked me to put up more pictures in here, this good enough? I’ll put the rest of my walk pictures up on Facebook soon too.

Happy Birthday to me.

I know its my birthday and that now I’m 20, but it doesnt feel like it at all… It feels like any other Sunday.

You wanna know something about German food? Everything that can be pepper flavored is pepper flavored. Also, you can not find anything spicier than ketchup, even if the package says spicy. I need some sriracha or tabasco or even just some crushed red pepper flakes. There’s a small international grocery store behind the Martinstor, maybe they’ll have something with a little more kick…

I went shopping yesterday… I want to buy everything, and stores like H&M make it really hard not to. I have to tell myself that I  have 10 more months so I dont need to buy everything now, and also that in the end, I have to find a way to bring it all home. I’m in love with the European look. Its so classy. I bought the most adorable sweater, two flowy tanks, a skirt, a scarf and some leggings all for about 50 euros… Why not? Its my birthday gift to myself.

I went to a wholesale bookstore on my way home because I want to buy Harry Potter in German to help my language skills. What I found instead was even better. Its a book called “Der koschere Knigge: Trittsicher durch die deutsch-jüdischen Fettnäpfchen” which means like the ‘Kosher Etiquette: A sure footed way through the German-Jewish blunder.’ I had to buy it. At least it’s by a Jewish author named Michael Wuliger, but seriously? I cannot wait to read it.

You know how a lot of stores play music over their speaker system? Well this bookstore was playing a song that I lip synced to in Spanish 5 senior year with Adreon and a couple other kids. I think those lyrics were about the only thing I learned in Spanish 5…

Yesterday, all the trees were green. Today, theyre turning yellow and it smells like fall. I love that smell.

I dont know what I would do without skype… It just makes such a big difference.

I cooked dinner for the first time yesterday. Hobos mean no cleaning up, no nasty, really dirty apartment dishes either. Plus, I have enough for lunch today, delish!

So I’m one chapter into that Jewish how-to book…. Uhhh. Let me translate some quotes for you: “You were given a heads up by your host at a party that Herr Blumberg is ‘A Jew, but really nice'” or “Dont let you surprise show when you first meet him, saying ‘you dont look like one at all’ is not a good way to open a conversation.” Lets get something straight, do Germans really need a heads up if there is a Jew at a party? And is the phrase, “but really nice” really nice? I stopped for a moment when I read that.

The author gives us a couple handy tips for what you should and should not do should a Jew “maybe even tomorrow cross your path”: “Dont ask him if he is a ‘full-Jew’ even if your Aunt Sarah twice removed makes you 1/8th Jewish. They will not toast to brotherhood with you for that” “If they are wearing a star around their neck, dont call it a Jewish Star because that brings back bad memories, plus, Jewish Stars were worn on the chest” And they were yellow… but he doesnt mention that. “Despite popular stereotypes, Jews arent any smarter than you are, and not all of them are rich.” I hope these tips clear some stuff up for you guys…. uhhh haha

So a couple days ago, myself, my former Russian roommate Irina, Sid from Ireland and Andrew from Zambia were sitting in our kitchen eating some food. For some reason, they were talking about Church and Andrew asked me if I go to Church often. When I said no, he asked me quite simply, “Why not?” Well, there was nothing for me to say except “I’m Jewish.”Both Sid and Andrew had never met a Jew before and were rather surprised to meet one. But as the esteemed Herr Wuliger said in his book “Even tomorrow, a Jew could cross your path”

This question goes to all of the Jews: have you ever met a non-Jew who simply cannot understand that we don’t worship Jesus, believe in the New Testament and/or celebrate Christmas? If you have, then you can probably guess what the conversation was like… I mean who has ever heard of Jews from Zambia? But still, the amount of “So let me get this straight…” questions that I answered was kind of ridiculous. There’s always a certain amount of pressure when I find out that I am the first Jew somebody has ever met, you know? Like if I screw up, or if they dont like me personally, they wont like Jews either.

Ten Days Later

09/24/2010

I finally got internet in my room. Now I can stop paying 90 cents for a half an hour in a tiny turkish internet cafe.

In case you were curious about what I have been up to over the last week or so, Mom left last Saturday, I met my former roommate on Monday (she left this morning, I should be getting a new one next week) and I got my visa yesterday, as well as registered at the Uni (though I dont get to pick my classes until a week or two from now).

I say former roommate because she moved out this morning, I should be getting a new one before the start of the semester… We shall see. My old roommate, Irina, came from Russia and the first words out of her mouth when we met was “Sit! We’ll have tea and talk!” So, we had tea, and talked. I have a feeling I’m going to come back a tea drinker, that’s for sure.

We went to an Irish Pub last night. I had no idea that there was a holiday called Andrew Guinness day, but apparently it was yesterday. I’m pretty impressed with the Irish and their beer. I’m not questioning that stereotype anymore…

I love being legal here, they dont even ID you.

After the pub, we went to a discothek. Love it. The music they play here is so much better than home, its more upbeat, less rap, and when there is rap, its got techno in the background. There are a lot of songs that my European friends knew, but I had never heard of… like this one, which was apparently the theme song to everyone else’s summer.

I finally got my train/tram/bus pass… but its not good until the first of October… I’m starting to get really sick of paying 2,10 to use the tram.

I turn twenty on Sunday… I can hardly believe it. Maybe its because everything is so new here, but days like my birthday that at home would be so important, seem kind of secondary or unimportant. Yom Kippur was the same thing. Even though we went to Kol Nidre and I fasted the next day, it didnt feel the way it normally does at home. I love it here though.

Classes dont start for another three weeks, I have a week of pretty much no plans next week, then international orientation starts the 4th of October (I’m kind of excited) and then classes start the 18th. It’s nice to have so much time here though, my German needs all the help it can get, even though its pretty alright for someone who has never been to Germany before these last two weeks.

All the people here (like in stores or whatever) automatically think I’m German. Maybe its the short hair and sweaters, but I am almost never immediately pegged as an American. Or, they talk to me in German anyways. But either way, people here assume I know German. Its really cool until I go to the Bank or the Bürgeramt and have no idea how to say anything. I was never taught official German. Everyday is a crash course. I learn it because I have to, which is why I am here in the first place.

Zimmer 01 06

09/15/2010

I’m all moved in! I’m still staying at mom’s hotel simply because StuSie (my housing complex) is wayyy out of the way. StuSie is right on the Tram though, so once classes start, its a ten minute tram ride and I’m there. So nice. I need to get a Railpass.

Mom’s trying to watch cycling in German. Every once in a while she gets really excited when she hears a name she recognizes from the Tour.

Yesterday, I registered my housing with the government, and had to wait for a little more than an hour… it was kind of ridiculous…

We took the bus to Ikea and got some stuff that I needed for my room like a duvet cover, a nightstand and such. Ikea looks exactly the same as it does in the US, I even got Swedish meatballs. The only difference is that the Ikea here serves beer.

Just a couple observations: Everyone wears scarfs, and when I say everyone I mean everyone. It’s not just girls here, guys wear them too and its not because theyre gay. I have absolutely NO gaydar here. Everyone also always looks put together. Their outfits are always good looking, and the H&M here has clothes that are ten times cuter than the one at home. I could live in that store now.

Another thing; girls have short hair here. For the very first time, I am not the only girl with short hair and its really kind of cool. Once I get some more scarfs and a couple different coats and sweaters, it wont be too hard to look European. 🙂

I can’t wait to get a bike. During the day the streets, shops and cafés are full of people walking and shopping and going about their day. Its no wonder that everyone here is thin, the amount of walking everyone does is amazing.

Wilkommen

09/13/2010

Today was/ is my first full day in Freiburg. I’m not jetlagged really at all simply because we got into Freiburg last evening, so even though we were exhausted, it was about time to go to bed anyways. Just so you know, Iceland Air has the most uncomfortable and convex seats I have ever sat in, but the bed here was amazing.

We got into Freiburg last night after a 5 1/2 hour plane ride to Reykjavik, a 3 1/2 hour ride to Frankfurt and a two hour train ride from Frankfurt to Freiburg. The Hauptbahnhof isn’t really set up for tourists, there were no elevators, only a band that reminded me of the magic carpets at Afton Alps, only this one went down the side of the stairs.

It’s amazing to hear German everywhere I go. Every time I hear someone simply chatting in German I get jealous that they speak so fluently and that I don’t. I definitely have a ways to go before I speak German the way I speak English, but I definitely think I can do it. I’m very far from fluent, but even now I would be fine simply living here. It’ll be different once classes start though. I have a month to improve my German dramatically.

I got a bank account and a cell phone this morning and then we went out to see my room at StuSie. My roommate wasnt there, though I would be willing to bet that she’s eastern european based on the russian newspaper. We shall see.

Wilkommen nach Freiburg!

D-7 Days

09/05/2010

Exactly seven days from right this very moment, I will be on a plane from MSP to Reykjavik, Iceland. I have been planning this study abroad since last October, I cannot believe that I only have seven days before almost an entire year abroad. I havent even started packing.