Sunday, December 17, 2006
In an effort to make the most of my last 24 hours in Braunschweig and to fulfill Patrick's dream of eating a one meter wurst we headed down to the Weihnachsmarkt. While he ate that rediculous beast, I had a ham sandwich followed by the German equivelant of dough boys but in bitesized form and w/o cinnamon. Weihnachsmarkts are one thing I will really miss. Above are some photos of the event. From the top; the founder of Braunschweig holding a mini version of the church u see in the background, flanked by lions, the city's mascot, me with my dough babies, Patrick with the remains of his meter making a sick face for the camera, Patrick about to begin his battle against the meat-bystanders were amazed at the size of that wurst!, the owner of the stand looking quite German, aparently he is a bit of a local legend and always partialy drunk, and the wurst in progress. haha the photos displayed opposite how I uploaded them so the story is a bit backwards. T minus 16 hours and counting...
Friday, December 15, 2006
So it seems that I've made it through the first semeser of my freshman year of life. I managed to have no exams this year and am planning to enjoy my last weekend here before returning home for Christmas. Somehow, this is not how I expected my freshman year to go. Moving was taken for granted but moving out of the country, I had intended to go to a city but aparently I was rejected from my first choice (NYC) so I gave up on my second choice (BOS) and decided to turn things around by going for my reach where I had an interview but acceptance was unknown. In the end, I was defered and used the first semester to improve my skills and adjust to the campus. I recieved my acceptance letter a few weeks ago and am almost officialy enrolled. Due to a miserable woman in the office who has all the power my official enrollment has been delayed but I at least have all of the proper documents to complete the process when the semester resumes. Today, I picked up my books (didn't have to buy them this time, they are on loan). Now I can enjoy Christmas break, aside from a assignment I must complete before orientation. Orientation is Monday, Januay 15th and classes start the next day. For my first week, I must attend class in Hannover at the main campus but after that my classes will all be on the local cmpus. I look foward to meeting the students and hope I get sent out on assignment. I'm planning to major in business if possible. Wow, real life really is a lot like college! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
The internet is pretty much my source of everything English, except for the occasional advertisement for an American Green Card, although that is not in German. So each day, I log into Yahoo to check my email and Yahoo automaticaly loads a second tab containing updated news. Recently, the top news headline each day involves killings. Today it was a roadside bomb, yesterday it was American soldiers, the day before Palestinian children and that is all I care to list as the backlog goes on. The thing is, it is hard for me to see any good coming out of the US when all of the news is based on fatalities in Iraq. The more I am outside of America looking in, the more I realize why others are critical of us. I watched the movie Borat in a German cinema and was embarrassed for my country. I feel like the parts of America that are comical are synomous with the reasons we are looked down upon. In that movie, there is a scene where he, as a foreign journalist, was about to sing the National Anthem at a rodeo. Before singing he started talking about Iraq and got the audience all rallied up about fighting and killing and the like. Well, he went on to screw up the national anthem and get boooooooed out but the point is these are the Americans on display for the world. We always are made to look power hungry and war loving and anyone with that image deserves to be hated by others. I guess what I am trying to point out is that it is understandable why we are not the popular country in the world and look what that has done to us. Daily death tolls of both americans and locals coming from the middle east. Are we really solving a problem, I'm just not sure.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Marburg is an interesting city. It is in the southern part of Germany, about 3 hours south of us so not completely at the bottom. It is however kind of out of the way of civilization. There is no Autobahn that reaches Marburg and Patrick tells me that it has a large student popluation which is aparent from the vast presence of the university. My two favorite things about the city are its location, on a hill and its history, aparent. Basicaly, you take an elevator to either the first or second landing and there are shops and other city center happenings on both levels completely independent of each other. There are also hidden stairways to transport between the levels. From the ground you cannot see the inner happenings of each level above. We arrived an hour early and did not know exactly how to find Patrick's friends so we figured we would check out the city and its Christmas market. We were ultimately disapointed but we didn't know about the elevator until later. Once I found out about the other levels, the city became much more loveable. Unfortunately, we just arrived on the top level when I began to not feel well so we were not really able to enjoy it. The top of the hill is home to a castle and only accessible by stairs and cobblestone road. Marburg is home to a very old University and aparently the guy that founded the University did so by stealing knowledge. He was also the builder/owner of the castle. It is also said that he has a cannon at his castle and he built a wall directly in front of the cannon which led to firing cannon balls and making holes in his own wall (the guy can found a University but can't think his defense system out). Aside from being on a hill, Marburg managed to survive the war. Basicaly the University is the only thing that was there during the war and since it is not an easily accessible town, no one wanted to capture it. The buildings were saved and the town looks as I pictured Germany. I also learned that there was a movement in the 1970's to knock down all of the buildings and replace them with "new construction" think concrete high rise buildings. This happened to some areas outside of the town center but someone came to their senses and put an end to that. The cement 70's buildings are so ugly, one was even green with pink balconies and not in a cute preppy way, more in an I would be embarrassed to live there sort of way. If you are looking for a random place to visit, I would reccomend Marburg! I also have more photos of this exucrsion on Facebook as I can only post 5 here.
As I ready myself for my return home next Monday, I realize I should look into the current flight restrictions. Lucky me, I'm flying into London Heathrow, the world's busiest airport. There was a time I loved Heathrow and occasionaly even lunched there without catching a flight. Now, I am dreading my transfer between terminals 1 and 4. My boss told me that he fley through Heathrow to the US last month and took a good hour getting across the airport. Part of that is due to that stupid train that serves as a shuttle but is in fact an actual train and forces you to watch a safety video before taking you anywhere. Luckily I will have 4 hours to make the journey and both of my flights are on BA so I am hoping to catch the second one without problem. I am also hoping to bring my lap top home with me but first I must find a ruler and determine the size of my computer bag in centimeters. It is a good thing I brought my small purse with me as in order to bring a lap top and a purse, both must fit within one bag and within strict dimensional standards. Basicaly, these are the rules of the UK; cabin baggage allowance restrictions The following cabin baggage allowance remains in place and is applicable to all passengers: starting their journey at a UK airport all passengers transferring from international flights at a UK airport We advise passengers travelling to the UK to also adhere to UK cabin baggage allowance restrictions when travelling within Europe or to check individual airport operators. each passenger is permitted to carry ONE item of cabin baggage through the airport security the dimension of the bag must not exceed a maximum length of 56cm, width of 45cm and depth of 25cm (including wheels, handles, side pockets, etc) all items carried by passengers must be x-ray screened a handbag or bag can be contained within the one cabin bag, but must not exceed the maximum dimensions items permitted in your cabin baggage In addition to the liquids permitted in one transparent re-sealable bag you can take the following in your one cabin bag, as previously in place: electrical equipment including laptops, mobile phones, MP3 players, portable music and DVD players, digital and film cameras, video cameras – all larger electrical equipment will need to be removed from your cabin baggage and x-ray screened separately essential medicines in liquid form sufficient and essential for the flight in quantities less than 50ml (e.g. diabetic kit), as long as verified as authentic – items must be removed from the bag and placed in a tray and screened separately solid cosmetics e.g compact powder and lipstick (not lipgloss) baby milk and liquid baby food (the contents of each bottle or jar must be tasted by the accompanying passenger) are permitted in the cabin bag other items all coats and jackets must be removed and screened as cabin baggage items normally carried in cabin baggage such as books, medicines in non-liquid form, keys and travel documents may be carried in the cabin bag as long as they fit into a bag no bigger than 56cm x 45cm x 25 cm pushchairs and walking aids, including wheelchairs are permitted but must be security screened outsize items All items of luggage which do not fit in the permitted cabin baggage size must be checked in. One musical instrument in its case (no items other than the instrument and its accessories may be carried in the case), will be allowed as a second item of cabin baggage. The item will need to be screened and passengers should check if special arrangements need to be made. If the people flying are anything like those I encountered in Stanstead no one has heard of the no liquid rule or some how everyone thinks they are the exception to the rule. Even out of Boston, the guy in front of my tried to bring an entire bottle of Crown Royal and two maple leave-shaped bottles full of syrup in his back pack. The security guy asked him if he had any liquid and he said nope...bad idea Mr. In London, I watched a woman fight to keep her cosmetics as they were confiscated one by one out of her carry one. The whole time an orphaned 2 liter bottle of Fanta sat on the counter reminding me of how stupid people can really be. Let's hope things work a bit better this time around.
We went to visit some friends of Patrick's in Marburg this past weekend. They were very nice, the city was interesting, and had a lot of old buildings. I went to my first German hospital so that was a bit of a downer and somehow part of the culture I had hoped to not experience. Though the doctor was really nice and spoke great English and she even worked at RI hospital for 4 months...what are the odds. Well I'm doing better now, taking it easy and watching movies and playing with photoshop. I'm about to go grocery shopping for food I can eat that will not hurt my stomach, when I return I will put up some photos and a bit about Marburg!
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Well, I've been away from the blog for a couple of days and now I'm going away for the weekend again. I thought I would leave you with a few photos of Braunschweig; mail box, some buildings and a road with a sprinkle of Christmas. Last night I had invited all of my class over for an international Pot Luck dinner via an evite. at first I had 6 guests and then 2 canceled 2 hours before the start and then one was added to total 5 plus Patrick and I. In the end only two came, I'm not sure what happened to the others but I learned it is frustrating when you try to get a group of people together and they don't show up. Oh well we had fun and the neighbors stopped in and I made gluwein for the first time! Enjoy the weekend!
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
This morning I learned about ST. Nikolaus. I first heard the name last ngiht when Patrick wrote it on a paper and asked me to give him the paper in the morning. This morning he instructed me to look up Nikolaus on Wikipedia. I learned that in Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, etc. St. Nikolaus is celebrated the night of Dec. 5th and the morning of Dec. 6th. Children put their boots outside and in the morning they find treats left by St. Nikolous. If the child has been naughty they should find coal in their boots. It is much similar to the American tradition of hanging stockings for Santa to fill (Germans don't do that). Well, my next instruction was to open the door and see if St. Nikolaus came to our apartment. I found my Nikes on our doormat filled with chocolates...a nice way to start the day. The funny thing is I saw three pairs of boots outside of our neighbor's door and thought it was cute that the whole family lined their boots up on the mat, I just assumed they were dirty and that's why they were in the hallway as people do that.
Patrick is the most un-German German I know. I say that because while he loves being German, he often does not act lick a German. For example Germans are energy consious. Patrick turns on every light in the apartment and does not think twice about going out the door without shutting them. However, Patrick finds it important to close the doors to each room so that we can conserve energy when the heat is on (the heat is almost never on). Students have bus passes in BS and most will take the bus or the Strassebahn throughout the day, not Patrick. Patrick has a car and he drives everywhere. In fact, Patrick will even drive "just down the street" to get a coke from the gas station. Germans are usualy clean cut, Patrick is most proud of his sideburns. Germans dress neatly and wear things smaller than Americans. Patrick loves his XL hoodie. The most un-German charastic about Patrick is his sense of time. Germans are very time conscious, Patrick is ALWAYS at least 5 minutes late. In fact, just today he told me that when he says we want to drive somewhere at 6am, he really means we should be on the road by 10am. I wasen't sure I hear that right so I repeated it back to him and he was not joking. That's 4 whole hours later and if I know Patrick the earliest we will be enroute to our destination is 10:15. This is Patrick but I love him. I would also like to point out that he was sleeping when I took this picture, genuine Patrick style sleeping!
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
For the first time, I accompanied Patrick to the sports bar for soccer. Tonight's game featured Breman (Germany) against Barcelona. The background of the game is that Breman was seeded into a bracket in which they were not expected to succeed. Last week they played Chelsea and won against the odds and this week they were playing Barcelona, the defending champion. All Breman needed to do was tie the game in order to knock out Barcelona. If there was a game to see, I decided this was it. Besides, since I decided not to take my German exam I didn't have to wake up tomorrow so I felt I could enjoy the night w/o worrying about getting to bed. To make a long story short, Breman lost 2:0 both goals scored in the first 18 minutes of the game (sorry Ihab). The first goal was scored on a penalty shot. The defense jumped in anticipation of a shor in the air and the offensive player shot right under their legs - ouch! (See photo above) But the bar was packed and aside from the guy in front of me who had no idea of personal space (something Germans occasionaly have a problem with) I enjoyed being there. Before I end this entry I must tell you about the man who scored the first goal for Barcelona., Ronaldinho (see photos). He is actualy from Brazil and plays on their national team. He is also considered one of the best players in soccer today. However, that being said he is the ugliest soccer player I've seen. His face is busted, mostly becasue of his teeth/mouth region. As if that were not enough he has hair as long as mine and equaly as curly. Tonight he was wearing both a black headband and a red scruncci - who wears scrunccies to play soccer...12 year old girls! I'm still trying to determine if he is so well known because of his soccer skills or his ugly mug!
Lubeck is home to Niederegger, the Godiva of Germany. Niederegger is a maker of marzipan candies and their flagship store in Lubeck is impressive. They have everything you could possibly think of made of marzipan from cakes to logs to red lobsters! They even have a marzipan based liquor, though that is imported from Spain. This year marks the 200th yead of the company and as such they created a marzipan likness of the founder (see above). In their windo display you can see things in history which have occured less than 200 years ago, of course, made of marzipan. Some of the creations included, Neopolean, the Statue of Liberty (green marzipan), Marilyn Monroe as a sex goddess, (glitterized marzipan) a famous soccer player, and the reunification of Germany symbolized by a car. It was entertaining. The store was packed out but I managed to buy some chocolates in spite of the crowd! Additionaly, they were making and selling fresh made donut like pastries in the front of the shop which made the entire place smell delicious. When I went to bed that night I noticed that my hair did not smell like smoke as it most often does when going out in Germany but like the sweets and nuts being made all around me in the martk, it was refreshing.
Monday, December 04, 2006
I wish I had a night vision camera so I could have captured the people at the Lubeck Christmas Market! It was so crowded. On our way to Lubeck we passed through a toll booth, as it had been awhile since Patrick drove to Lubeck, he asked the toll booth operator if we were headed towards the city center (Zentrum). The man confirmed we were going the right way but warned it was packed and there would be no place to park, Patrick asked for his reccomendation and he told us to go home. Patrick was caught off guard by this response and as we drove away he translated for me then we both began to laugh. We drove almost 2 hours to go to the Market, not to turn around and go home so we proceeded toward the center w/o (ohne) hesitation. As we crossed into the city Zentrum there was a digital sign which listed open parking spots in our direction at 4. There were more if we wanted to park significantly further away. As we passed under the brick archway that seperated the center I noticed a silver Mercedes with its lights on and LEAVING a parking spot, it was going to be a good night! We got out of the car and bundled into our coats and scarves as I wished I brought my earwarmer instead of my umbrella and headed down the street without direction. We walked about 5 feet and Patrick asked a woman about our age in which direction we could find the markt. She was not German but gave great directions. The Lubeck markt is one of the more well known and larger markets in Germany. I hear the largest is in Nurenberg, unfortunately that is in the south, about six hours from here so I will most likely not be able to make it there this season. Anyway, we walked about 3 blocks before we stumbled upon the markt, the photo with the ferris wheel was my first impression and this was only a very small section. The section with the Ferriswheel also (auk) included a few other carnival rides, and some booths selling food and drinks. Next to this section was what appeared to be a large church. Patrick informed me that it used to be a hospital and the history in the building said it was build in the early 1200's. I was under the impression thatt his was an indoor Christmas markt until Patrick told me that was only part of the markt. We hesitated at the 2Euro entrance fee as we were unsure of the contents then we noticed the student rate of 50 cents and went in. We got to the door just as they started letting people which was nice as the line was cold and they were only letting new people in after so many people left. When the building was a functioning hospital it consisted of 85 single rooms and a few twin rooms. The original setup remains intact. The rooms are about 8feet by 8 feet with a celing that is about 7 feet high. I stood by the door in one photo to give an idea of how tiny the doors were. Each of these rooms was transformed into a booth for the night and some were open with benched to sit and eat or drink. People were selling all sorts of crafts from all over the world. I would have to say the most interesting was the woman who was selling jewelry made of the tusks of wooly mammoths (I believe from the netherlands). Unfortunately, she was so popular we were unable to actualy enter her room due to overcrowding. We ate heart shaped waffles made fresh by someone's grandma and covered with powdered sugar and cinnamon...yummy. On the outside we further explored the market, the unique and the typical. We stopped and drank a Lumumba, essentialy hot chocolate with Amaretto Liquor and topped with whipped cream (pictured above in our souviner mugs). It is typical in Germany that when you order coffee or some other hot drink it is served in a real mug instead of a paper cup and you pay a deposit, on these mugs you pay the 1.50 deposit and then most people keep them. You can also buy them for the same price and I realize that if we were smart we would have returned the ones we drank from and bought clean ones haha. I thought we had walked the whole thing when Patrick pointed out a whole nother section. This section was by far the most crowded and thus the least enjoyable and by this time we had been wandering the markt for at least about 3 hours so we got out and said Auf Weidersehen to Lubeck! I'm glad I saw this markt as it put the BS markt to shame. Lubeck is also famous for Marzapan...my next blog topic.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
December 1st brings Christmas Markets (Weinachtsmarkt) to cities (Stadte) across Germany. The first one I went too was in Braunschweig (where I live), last Thursday (it began a few days befor December) night. The booths in the photos above are typical, there is prepared food, local specialties, snack foods, gifts unique to the city or region, international snack foods (few), crafts, etc. The BS Christmas market is famous for 1/2 meter Bratwurst, which we did not eat but Patrick promises I will eat next time, we shall see. I am still not convinced by any of the wursts. To be honest, the only one I tried was Curry wurst as it most simarly resembles a hot dog w/o (ohne) a bun. Anyway, another local dish looks like spinach with sausage in it and is made in a giant wok looking device, for the record I will not be trying that one either. They even has wurst made from Horse meat in one of the stands, also something of no interest to me. I did eat those little fried dough things you can see in the photo. They are called Deke, essentialy it is fried dough in bitesized pieces and served topped with powdered sugar in a paper cone with a small wooden fork. It is easier to eat then a gian ball of fried dough but also more greasy! Germans love grease and fat and cigaretted and fire hazards, all things Americans are taught to avoid. Christmas markets also have Gluhwein, a sweet wine heated with cinnamon added and an optional shot of brandy or Amaretto. I've had that at the University (minus the shot as I had to return to class) and it is growing on me. At first the concept of hot wine was not appealing. The second German Christmas drink involving heated wine is called "Fire Bowl" It involves wine and sugar on top which is ignighted. There is a classic movie to go with this which I plan to watch when it is shown at the Student cinema next week. I have yet to try this one. Well I don't want to go into all the Christmas stuff now, I must save some more information for Part II - Lubeck to be published tomorrow as I am off to bed now. Tomorrow is my last German lesson.