Samstag, 29. Januar 2011

sich gewoehnen an (to get used to something) - verb

You never really think about all of the things you do at home. Going to the grocery store: you know the brands you like, the best prices, etc. Buying stamps, exercising is done in the same place, you know your house, maybe you have a car. The point is, everything becomes routine. Buying stamps is not hard in the U.S. Nothing is really because that is what we are used to. At least I am. I never thought about how easy all of that stuff was until I came to Germany. I had a funny experience buying stamps. I went into the store and asked the man if he sold stamps (in German) for postcards. He asked me if they were to Germany or America. I said America. I thought that because I asked for stamp's' and not a stamp I would get a book of them or something. However, he handed me one stamp. It was the lickable kind too! I laughed so hard. The next day I went to the same store and asked for 5 stamps. Score.
Another thing that we never think about is the grocery store. For instance, my favorite brand of yogurt is Stonyfield. Well, it turns out that don't have that here ;). I have to learn brands and price. Not to mention I can't read most of the ingredients on the package. I have learned what high fructose corn syrup is so I can steer away from that. The first time I went to the grocery I was in there for about 15 minutes and had a whole bunch of stuff in my arms, but then realized I was so overwhelmed and ended up putting it all back and leaving without anything. I am slowly getting it though. I know the healthier brands now and that the eggs here are incredible (ignore the egg recall they had recently here). The typical store bought eggs here have yolks as golden as the ones you get from your neighbors. It is so great! And they taste incredible.
I feel like I am still a tourist here. I haven't found my niche yet. I am going for my first jog tomorrow and I am so excited that I can barely wait. I found this beautiful little park right next to where I live and it is like an oasis in a desert. The Germans really know how to treat their people. Did you know that you can go to any hospital at anytime if you have TK insurance (which I think all Germans have and study-abroad students need) and get treated for a grand total of 10 euros per month. That means if you go to the hospital four times in a month, you only have to pay 10 euros, not for each visit. I think America could learn a thing or two from the Germans. The only thing is that the taxes are really high here. Oh well, that is the price you pay for being treated like a human.
After a long day in Munich I am ready to have a slow night. I think a light dinner, some homework, and then a movie sounds good. Oh and EVERYTHING is closed on Sunday, that means all the shopping is done on Saturday. I love it!

Montag, 24. Januar 2011

Regensburg: The City That Survived

I have now been in Germany for 4 days. The air of the U.S. has left my lungs and been replaced with sparkling European air. Jet lag refuses to leave me be. Wherever I go it seems I must get accustomed to the bed and sounds of the night. I will tell you a bit about what it is like here: I live in an apartment building in Koenigswiesen (I guess it is like a part of Regensburg, but not in the city center). I live in a fairly large flat with 3 other people. It is a nice flat, at least I think so. I have my own room and lots of storage. We are also cooking for ourselves. Last night me and 5 of my new and old friends cooked a semi-traditional German dinner together. We had Wuerstchen (little sausages) and mashed potatoes with a lovely salad, oh, and of course, beer.
I want to say a smidge about the beer in Deutschland. The day we arrived here we had dinner in the Altstadt (old city). I ordered a beer at the restaurant. When most American students think of beer they think of the alcohol. In Germany it is quite different. We were told my our tour guide that the beer here is considered a form of nourishment. It feeds the body, mind, and soul. The reason for this is because apparently when the Catholic monks were fasting back in Roman times, they didn't want to become famished so they made beer. The beer was meant to sustain their bodies until the end of the fast. Today, that idea has not been extinguished. The beer here is an experience. The moment my tired lips touched the glass, all anxiety and worry disappeared. The fruity, cool, bubbly, hoppy, light but robust flavors encircled my taste buds and blew my mind. I cherished every sip. It was like nothing I had ever tasted before. It wasn't bitter and didn't have a nasty aftertaste. It was pure bliss. Now I know why all of the Germans I have talked to tell me that I will not be able to drink American beer anymore.
Well, now that I have consumed half of my post with talk of beer I think I should say one thing about the city. Regensburg has somehow been able to maintain its spectacular buildings from as early as 1200 to a little before that due to complete oversight during WWII. Regensburg was very important before there were cars and trains and such because it is located on the Donau (Danube) River. Rich people built houses throughout the city center. Around the time of the war, Regensburg's reputation became hidden, how I am not sure. Not a single bomb was dropped on the city. Almost everything is still there. The buildings have been turned into shops, restaurants, salons, and other businesses and they still have their structure. It is truly beautiful and fascinating. It is nothing like I have ever seen before. Class starts tomorrow.
Bis bald! (Until soon!)

Lufthansa Flight 425, Destination: Munich Germany

I don’t even know what time it is anymore. My watch says 11:45 pm U.S. time; the screen overhead says it is 5:45 am in Munich. I am wide-awake. Sleep is not my friend tonight because a very unhappy baby is screaming mercilessly a few rows in front of me. I feel like doing the same. My throat is dry from the Cognac I had after dinner and I wish I had water. I feel bad calling the flight attendants because I know they must be resting. Luckily, outside the plane is a completely different world. The moon is full or at least it is very close. It is the brightest and biggest I have ever seen our Luna. She shines like a giant white beacon in the night directly to my right. The moon lights up the sky and all that surrounds this beast of a plane. Far below me, the clouds lay eerily still. They make our elevation of 36000 ft seem more realistic and that much more frightening. I know that beneath those clouds lays the Atlantic Ocean, cold and dark. The clear sky overhead gives a view of a few stars still visible even with the moon’s light. I am unafraid of the height or the magnitude of this journey. I feel overwhelmed by what is on the other side of the ocean, but not afraid. I am alive. I am here in this big plane on my way to who knows what. Adventure? Yes. Wisdom? Absolutely. Beer? Undoubtedly. Romance? Possibly. All things are possible. My mind is open and young. My heart is yearning and strong. My body is healthy. I can do anything. It is not corny. I am living my dream. I am doing exactly what I want to be doing. If possible, I highly recommend this. For the moment, I will let this optimism carry me the last 3 hours to Germany where jet lag will meet me at the gate. Until next time…