A Mindless Ramble

05/29/2011

I’m writing this while taking what I consider a very well earned break from working on my presentation. I have spent literally 8 solid hours sitting at my desk working on this thing, and even though I know it’s really bad, I need to take a break. Do you want to know the worst thing about doing presentations in German? Everything has to be planned out beforehand because I can’t BS in German to save my life.

This presentation is especially tricky, because unlike last semester where I presented a topic that we hadn’t discussed in class, this time I have to base it on a text we are all assigned to read. Basically, it’s like writing an essay, except in the form of a presentation. This means that I need to interpret the text and base and develop an argument off of that interpretation. I can do that no problem in English, but I am having problems doing all that in German and having it sound alright.

I feel like I forgot all my German over break.

I know I’m probably going to end up leaving class tomorrow feeling very embarrassed, but I’m reassuring myself with the fact that as long as I can grit my teeth and get it over with, I’ll only have two more days of class until it’s the weekend again.

That’s the nice thing about Germany, whenever Jesus did anything of any importance, we get class off.

My Professor from last semester sent me 30 pages to correct for later next week. Proofreading isn’t difficult, it’s just very time consuming. By the time I’m finished editing, I’ll have learned something about the Russian-Chinese border in spite of myself.

I’m not sick anymore. Well, not really. I still have a sore throat, but I went to the doctor earlier this week and he said it wasn’t Strep, so I’m just doing my best to ignore it. Honestly, it feels less like a sore throat and more like the back of my mouth is swollen. Weird

I honestly don’t feel like writing a blog today, so it’s going to be short and without pictures. I’ll do a better job next week, but after 8 hours of working on my computer, I feel much more like sitting and doing nothing. Although it is refreshing to be working in English. I’m very much in that I-really-dont-want-to-do-anything mode and blah. Sorry about the blog today, for the first time, I just wrote it because it, like all my other homework, just needed to get done.

Not that I see this blog as homework. In fact, more often than not I use writing my Sunday blog as procrastination, but after 8 hours of working at this keyboard, I’m having a hard time enjoying it. You know what I think the big problem is? It’s not the amount of time I spent working on it, but the fact that I know, in spite of working really hard, I’m still going to end up being embarrassed tomorrow. It’s like everything I did really made no difference and they won’t be able to tell I put any hard work into it. That sucks.

Next year is going to be so easy in comparison to this.

Yesterday was my friend Mari’s birthday so we all met up and grilled and hung out all afternoon.

Thursday evening I met up with a friend and we went and saw a movie at the university film club. They screen movies in a lecture hall and they’re only 1,50 which is really cheap. We got a gelato afterwards, it was a good evening.

I feel like this semester, whenever I’m not in class, I’m reading and whenever I’m not reading, I’m writing for class. Even though I do have plenty of free time, there isn’t ever a time where I don’t have homework to do which means it’s always on my mind. It’s kind of a bummer to have so much homework in the summer, but that’s what I’m here for, isn’t it.

I come home in a little over two months, how sad is that?

Neuzeitler

05/22/2011

I apologize in advance for the lack of exciting and/or interesting things in this week’s blog. I’ve been sick since Wednesday and have therefore been staying rather close to home.

Don’t worry about me though, if I had to get sick, this is a pretty good way to do it. Basically, I dont feel all that sick, I’m not exhausted or out of it; the only thing really affected is my sinuses and my throat. I dont have much of a voice today, but hey, at least that gives me an excuse tomorrow to stay quiet in class.

The fact that I prefer to stay quiet in class here says a lot if you know how much I talk in class at home. I’m that girl who always is raising her hand in class. Always. Here on the other hand, though there are some exceptions, I shy away from answering in class because I know that even though I can get my point across, I’m not able to do it as eloquently as I’d like.

My Monday class is especially stressful because of this, however. There are only two people in that class who actually raise their hands to talk, so the professor just randomly calls on people to answer the question.

Thursday afternoon I finally got my last grade slip from last semester (that’s February if you were keeping track). I got a 3,4 on my 18 page German term paper which is basically a C. I’m honestly  just thrilled (and somewhat surprised) that I passed. I hated that class so much, I worked so hard and never got anything out of it. Glad to be finally done with first semester.

For some reason, this semester seems much harder than the last one.

Friday evening we had a movie night at my friends place. We watched a German film that was supposed to be a ‘quintessential German comedy.’ It wasnt all that funny.

I’ve missed out on a lot of parties this week because of being sick. Bummer.

Saturday morning I went to the Flea Market and even though I’m pretty sure it was smaller than the others I’ve been to, it was still pretty good. I remember last year sitting at my computer looking at different things on ebay wishing that I could buy them in person instead of through the internet. That is exactly what I do when I go to the flea market. I find old books, old photos, old memorabilia and I get the pleasure of choosing it by hand, and not on a screen. It makes a world of difference.

Later in the afternoon we hiked up to Danija’s new place in the Black Forest. I say ‘hiked’ because it is a pretty steep trek up to her place, but once you get there, it’s gorgeous.

We picnicked and hung out and basically just chilled all afternoon. It couldn’t have felt more like summer.

I’m sorry for the shortness of this blog, but I really just don’t feel much like doing anything except sitting and staring at my computer screen. Too bad I have a good couple hours of homework to do this afternoon. Ugh.

As to the title of my blog, Neuzeitler is a word one of my professors used this week to describe those of us who study modern history (Neuzeit is comparable to our term ‘modern era’). It has nothing to do with the blog today, but because I like the term so much and feel like it describes me pretty well, I made it the title.

Has anyone noticed how quickly the weeks have been flying by lately? I feel like I just got to Freiburg, and certainly not that I’m eight months into this with only three to go. Look at the months listed to the right of this text, how can there be so many?

Monday after class my friend Yi Qing and I went on a mission to find a fan. It was harder than it sounds, there arent many places that sell cheap things here and it’s not like I wanted a lifetime guarantee. All I wanted was something that’d barely make it through 3 months and then I can just chuck it.

I met up with some friends for lunch on Tuesday and had one of the best salads ever. The salad itself wasn’t all too remarkable, but the fact that it came with 10 mini eggrolls kind of sealed the deal. “Asian” salads at home should learn a thing or two from this one; you dont need sesame or peanut dressing when you have mini eggrolls.

I had currywurst for the first time Wednesday. Currywurst is a very German thing where they cut up sausages, cover them with curry flavored Ketchup, and then serve it with french fries. I’ve been kind of avoiding it because of the curry ketchup, but to be honest, it wasn’t half bad.

I finally had my Münster class on Wednesday. Aside from the fact that the room was far too small f0r the amount of people in it, it was really good. It’ll be interesting not only to learn about the building itself, but also the role it played in Freiburg in the Middle Ages. It’s about time I learned more about this city.

Friday evening we grilled. A couple of us met up in the city to buy food and charcoal and such and then we met up at my friend’s place to grill. We had a hard time getting the charcoal hot, but once we did it didnt take long to cook our wursts. We tried to grill some onions and such too, but not only did half of them fall through the grate, but the ones that survived were charred on the outside and almost raw on the inside. Fail.

Before I came to Germany, the idea of grilling without having hot dogs and hamburgers would not have sounded all that great. All you really need though is wurst or any other kind of meat (they sell some really good pre-marinated chicken or pork at the store) and beer. Can’t forget the beer.

Germans have a perfect summer beer called a Radler. Basically, it’s a pilsner with some lemonade mixed in. I asked my dad about it and he’d never heard of it. They serve it in bottles or on tap, it’s not some homemade thing. Does it exist in the States?

After quickly going home to change after grilling, a couple of us met up in town and went dancing. It was a 90’s themed party (at the same place as the 80’s themed one) and the place was packed. I mean, there was hardly any room to dance at all. There is no way that was not a fire hazard. It was so humid inside that it was like being in a steam room, and if you went outside to get some air, it was solid cigarette smoke. It was rather ridiculous.

It got to the point that at around 2am my friend Valentin and I left our other friends there and went home. That sentence makes it sound like we went home together, not so much. We walked into the city center where I took the night bus and he walked back (he doesnt live in StuSie).

Saturday morning I met up with Danija and we went to a used clothes flea market. Unless you were under the age of 10 or over the age of 60, there was literally nothing there worth buying. It was rather depressing. Good news though, the normal flea market is back next week which means military memorabilia and other historical things. I’m excited to see what I can find.

Afterward we went into town, got a wurst on the Münsterplatz, took a quiz about the EU at a little fair thing and then went to a used clothes store. I need to get my halloween costume from there before I leave. They sell dirndls and lederhosen and I tried on an old sailors shirt just for the hell of it. I am so getting a dirndl (or maybe lederhosen) for Halloween next year. It’d be perfect.

I stayed in last night because I felt like I was coming down with something, but I’m feeling much better today. I cant get sick, I just dont have the time.

I have 100 pages (in German) to read for one class this coming week, plus about 50 for another, and between two other classes about 30-40 more. On top of that, I have a weekly essay of 500 words and I need to start preparing for my presentation that is in two weeks. I’m going to have no time next week to do anything but go to class and study, lovely.

I’m sorry that my paragraphs hardly flow together at all, I just really cant be bothered with editing this any further than bare minimum. Just be glad I dont mix up your and you’re. That drives me effing crazy.

While all the american college students were wrapping up their spring semester this week, my semester here in Freiburg began. That’s right, folks! I’m back in school after a 2.5 month break and it’s going to be one tough semester.

I’m taking 5 classes and 34ECTS points (or 16 credits). The first class I’m taking is a Proseminar about the history and development of  Intellectuals over the last 200 years. Other than the large amount of reading I’m going to have to do, it sounds pretty interesting.

The next class I’m taking is a lecture about the relationship between Germany and the Czechs between 1848-1947. I went to the lecture on Tuesday half expecting to drop it, but it sounds like it’s actually going to be really interesting. I’m taking one other lecture which is an intro to the 19th century. I dont really like the 19th century, but I needed credits and it doesnt sound like it’ll be too boring. We shall see.

I’m taking a practical about the Freiburg Münster and the urban and religious roles it played throughout its history. We get to go to the Münster and to the city museum and such. I’d say it will be an interesting class but I haven’t actually had it yet because the professor was sick last week and cancelled. Ah well.

The last class I’m taking is another Proseminar and this one is about the UK under Margaret Thatcher. I’m not so sure how interesting it’s gonna be, and I have to do a page of writing a week, but I figure that if I’m going to do my masters in England, I should really have a background knowledge of their modern political history.

It’s so nice to be back to hearing and speaking German almost constantly. All my classes are, once again, completely in German and I’m the only international student in both of my Proseminars (there are 15-20 people in them). I love the language, I love speaking it and hearing it and I love living here. I had a nightmare the other night about having to come home in August. Yea.

Wednesday I met some friends for lunch at the cafeteria, and then just hung out on the grass on campus. The University doesnt have a campus like the U of M does, but it does have this quad area between the 3 main buildings where people can sit and chill and have a coffee. I’ve spent the majority of my free time this week there.

Because my afternoon class on Wednesday got cancelled, I hung out with some friends, came back to StuSie quickly and then went back there to meet up with some friends for dinner. There was a restaurant having a burger special, they were delicious. We saw the film Almanya after that, which is a German film about a family of Turks living in Germany. It was pretty good.

Thursday my wire transfer FINALY came through so I got a bockwurst on the münsterplatz to celebrate. I dont really remember what I did after that, except I’m pretty sure it involved sitting in the sun with some of my friends.

Friday evening Jamele had us all over for a belated Cinco de Mayo. It’s hard for me to imagine never having had refried beans, but none of my European friends had ever had Mexican food before. We made enchiladas and quesadillas and seven layer dip. It was delicious. We also had some pre-made pina coladas. It tasted like summer.

Just a side note, I didnt drink that whole bottle, though I did finish it off.

After dinner we went into town and had a drink at a cafe. It’s the season for girly fun drinks now and they’re tasty.

After doing homework Saturday morning, I met up with a couple people and we went and got a gelato and then went to a flea market. The Germans love their gelato and the flavors are amazing. I love the fruity flavors like mango, lemon, passion fruit and such. I almost bought a bike at the flea market, it was only 40 euros and the minute I decided against it, I started to regret not buying it. I kind of want a bike…

On the way back to StuSie I got to take one of the old trams. For some reason, Freiburg took out their old trams from the 50’s and had them running their old routes yesterday. According to the guy on the tram, the one I was on was introduced in ’53.

I met back up with some friends for dinner at a chinese restaurant and had some amazing lo mein. Saturday was mega-Samstag so all the stores were open till midnight so my friends and I met up at 8, went shopping and then we all went to Augustinerplatz which is a square in town where students hang out and drink. There’s no laws against open containers here, so we just sat on the cobblestones and drank a bottle of wine.

We went to the StuSie Bar party last night and it was packed. The bottom floor was like walking into a sauna and trying to get a drink at the bar was at least a 20 minute deal. The top floor was playing good music and we spent the majority of the night up there dancing.

I got to bed at like 3:30.

This week was a good, sunny start to summer semester. I got interesting classes, some fun nights out and a bit of a sun tan. As my time here in Freiburg begins to wind down, I’m going to make the very most of the next 13 weeks that I’m here.

77 Days Later

05/01/2011

Is it Sunday again already? I feel like this week flew by insanely quickly. The last week of vacations tend to do that though, dont they.

That’s right, folks! After 2.5 months (or 77 days) of spring break, summer semester starts tomorrow! I dont even know all my classes yet.

Let’s not talk about school this week though, I’ll tell you all about it next week when break is over. Right now, I just want to enjoy not having anything to do.

Alrighty then, lets start off on Monday. It was a brilliantly sunny day so we spent the afternoon in the Seepark and then Mari, Yi Qing and I went to a chinese restaurant to break passover. Now I know I was raised a Conservative Jew and all that jazz, but at the Johnson’s we keep passover reform. You should just be happy we didnt decide to keep it sephardic so that we could eat rice and such.

Tuesday I met up with some friends in town and then we went back to Mari’s place and made brownies. For some reason though, the recipe called for way too little flour, so we ended up with something much more like those volcano cakes where it’s cake on the outside and gooey on the inside. It was delicious.

Next day we went to Karaoke. I’d sung karaoke once before when we went on a cruise and when I told my dad I went the other night he said that karaoke on the boat was when he knew for sure  that singing would never be a part of my career. Yea, maybe he had a point. It was quite fun at the bar though and they give you a coupon for a free shot when you sing a song. I can handle that.

I FINALLY got most of my schedule late Friday afternoon. Each department at Uni Freiburg has different deadlines and different ways of registering for different levels of classes and the history department does Proseminars (a 3000 level class) in a way that I find quite unorganized. They have you fill out a form with your name and your top 3 choices for a Proseminar and then you put it in a ballot box outside one of the advisor’s office. Then, at 4pm on the Friday before the semester begins, they put up class lists and you have to go and find your name and hope you got the class(es) you wanted. I signed up for two, that means two term papers. Ugh.

So far I have three classes I’m taking for sure and then three others that I’ll go to this week and then pick two to continue for the semester. I need to get 30 points (or 15 credits) and right now I have 26 pts for sure. The other three are 4, 4, and 6pts respectively. We shall see.

Did I mention that I still don’t have my grades for two of my classes from last semester?

It was pouring all day Friday so I stayed in and watched Dr. Who. Did you see the new episode from last night? Intense.

Saturday was a pretty great day. I slept in, met up with Danija (who I hadnt seen since February) for a coffee, came back to StuSie where Yi Qing and I made chicken pot pie, met up with some friends in town for a beer and then went to a 90’s themed party. Sorry for that run-on sentence, but sometimes I just cant help it when talking about things I like, and I definitely liked yesterday.

Look at that chicken pot pie, isn’t it b-e-a-utiful? It turned out absolutely amazing, although it did make quite a mess. It’s times like these I definitely wish I had a dishwasher. Ah well, I’ll get around to it eventually.

One problem, I have an extra chicken breast in the fridge that I dont know what to do with. Ideas?

Alright, well that’s pretty much it for my last week of break! I keep wanting to say summer vacation but then I catch myself. In fact, it doesnt feel like break should be ending tomorrow, but rather that it should be starting. We’ll see how this whole going to school in the summer thing goes, I’m already dreading the term papers.

I forgot to take more than two pictures this week, sorry about that. I feel like since I’ve been here for so long the need to take pictures of everything has pretty much gone away. Sorry about that, I’ll try to get better.

Wish me luck tomorrow!