Saturday, December 24, 2005

Weihnachten ist am 24. Dezember...Wait, what?

As I write this entry, I am sitting ganz allein in my apartment. Pablo went home to Köln and Christian went home to Düsseldorf, so I have the apartment to myself. It's actually not too bad, but I really don't go into the living room or their rooms. I cleaned the other day so the whole apartment is spic and span clean. Hurrah.

I discovered that Germans celebrate Christmas (Weihnachten) on December 24th. Weird, right? I found out from Pablo one night when we were watching TV together and there was an ad that said something about the "1. Weihnachtstag." I asked what that was, he answered that it was the day after Weihnachten which is the 25th. I was like, "What are you talking about? No, Christmas is the 25th! You're shitting me!" I had to check a calendar to make sure, and sure enough, Arsenal (the cinema where I have to see films for film history) is closed today, the 24th, but not the 25th. Talk about getting culture.

Liso and Marisa came from Prague and will be here in Berlin for the next few days, along with Alex's family. It's been interesting so far because Alex has been grading Marisa on her performance in front of her parents. This means that Marisa is not allowed to swear (any words, such as "sucks," "crap," and anything worse than that), talk about sex in any form (including nudity), talk about drinking or drugs, and basically, just not saying anything that could offend Alex's parents. Last night Marisa got a B, mostly because she started going off on how some woman had "propositioned her" and then the first time she had tequila. I'm only wondering what is going down right now, since Liso and Marisa went touring with Alex and her family. I didn't go because I'll have to do the same things next week when Lannie comes.

It doesn't feel like Christmas at all. So, I'd just like to share some random thoughts:
1. Christian just called to wish me a Frohe Weihnachten, and I felt really stupid on the phone. I still hate talking on the phone in German because it's still really difficult. I also felt even more stupid because I didn't notice the little tree in the corner of his room that he wants me to water. I was like, "Wait, you have a little tree in your room?" Sometimes I think he must think I'm the stupidest person he's ever come across. Oh well, such is life.

2. It's amazing how the Stella McCartney H&M stuff hasn't sold out here because I read some articles and heard from my sisters how bad it was in New York. Let's just put it this way: I found a crapload of stuff for 30-70% off, which is unbelievable that it's still there. I bought the wide leg pants and the jean jacket. Couldn't resist.

Dinner with the Romeros last night

3. I called all my friends last night because they were at Matt's house. I'm sad that I'm not at home in New Jersey to spend the holidays with all of them since we always get together during the holidays. But it also felt good because they haven't forgotten me.

4. I've come to the conclusion that I really, really love it here in Berlin. There is no other city in the world like it. I'd seriously consider moving back here after college to work if I could find a job. Sure, I get anti-Americanism once in awhile, but it doesn't come across a shock (though it always still sucks when it happens).

5. I have discovered listening to Radio Eins here. It's awesome and I must thank Nils for recommending it. They play everything from Franz Ferdinand to The Beatles and then have news, as well as callers. Since I have nobody to speak in German to, it's been helping me out with listening comprehension so that I don't become completely retarded (as in my first observation) with German. And I'm listening to Radio Eins right now as there is a reading of some Christmas story. Excellent.

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Top of the Reichstag Smells Like...Döner.

After mixing up military time (16:00) and regular time (6:00), causing me to be 2 hours late, Nils showed me around the area where he interns, walked through a historical Friedhof (English: cemetery), and then went to the top of the Reichstag. I found it interesting that the building he works in is outfitted with solar panels on top, so that the electricity produced can be sold. I asked him how was it possible to get a lot of electricity if it's always cloudy in Berlin, but apparently it just works. Although Nils is not from Berlin, he's like my personal tour guide and knows a lot of handy little facts about the city, as well as history. It sort of makes me think, Wow, I wouldn't be able to pull out handy dandy little factoids if I showed someone around New York or Washington, D.C. But anyway...

Surprisingly, we didn't have to wait too long to get into the Reichstag. It was a five minute wait, so I suppose being 2 hours late might've paid off, in the fact that we didn't have to wait in a long ass line. Nils said people can wait about 2 hours just to get in, but we were lucky. All we had to do was walk up to the entrance and go through a security check (which both of us set the metal detector off).

The inside of the Reichstag dome is really cool and very practical (typical German engineering). There are mirrors that catch the sunlight so natural lighting can be used down below while discussions go on and of course, everything is controlled by computers. However, there is a large rotating shade that moves as the sunlight moves, so that the sunlight isn't too strong on the mirrors. Practical, environmentally friendly, and efficient. What you would think of Germans, right? In my opinion, the inside of the dome reminds me of the Death Star in Return of the Jedi, when Lando Calrissian flies the Millenium Falcon to the center to destroy the reactor. (And yes, this is dorky, but seriously, just look at the picture!) People who like Star Wars will probably agree with me. (Speaking of Star Wars and going on another digression, Nils said that Germans don't say "Herr Vader," meaning "Mr. Vader," rather, they just say "Lord Vader" just like in English.) I tried finding a picture of the Death Star to put it up here, but I can't find one at the moment. You'll just have to go watch the movie or trust me.

To explain my title for this post, the funny thing is that as soon as we got to the top of the Reichstag, I sniffed and all I could say was, "Es riecht wie....döner!" (It smells like döner!) Go figure. Berlin smells like döner, I swear. Not that it's a negative thing or anything, I just found it amusing that even the top of their government building smells like it. Ironically, it's a Turkish import.
Yet another tangent: Right now I've got an Ohrwurm, Nerf Herder's "Nikki Webster." I don't know why. And Ohrwurm is such a great word. It literally means "ear worm," but it means a song that you've got stuck in your head. I'll probably use that when I get home because saying "I've got a song stuck in my head!" takes more effort than "I've got an Ohrwurm!"

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Final Draw - WM 2006/Wetten, Dass...

So Friday was the final draw for the Weltmeisterschaft 2006 (World Cup), where basically they chose which teams would play against whom. I had gone out to eat with Alex, Zoey, and Meredith, and came back to my apartment to find Christian, Pablo, and some of Christian's friends ("Matze," Sebastian, & his girlfriend) sitting in the living room around the TV. Of course, this was not nearly an important event to me as it was to them, especially since I know nothing of which teams are good and which are not.

I decided to sit down and watch, and all I can say is it was a pretty European moment. Every so often, someone would either receive or make a phone call on his cell phone to say, "Kannst du es glauben?!" or something (Can you believe it). Basically, the whole program was a bunch of guys standing in a crescent, picking balls out of these large bowls with team names and games on pieces of paper within the balls. It wasn't all that intriguing, but at the same time, I thought it interesting to watch the reaction of the people around me. Everyone was hoping that the U.S. would end up in a game against Mexico, but it didn't happen. Schade, because that would be fun to see.

It was also pretty cool that Germany was picked for the opening game. I'm sure it's going to be crazy and I'm really looking forward to it. Germany will also be playing a game here in Berlin, so I'm hoping to get tickets for that least I will have some sort of association rather than blindly cheering for a team I have no sort of feelings for. However, I wouldn't really care if I wound up seeing a game that I don't care about either team, because it would just be an experience to go to a World Cup game.

Last night before Alex and I went to a movie with Meredith and Zoey, we watched TV with Christian, Pablo, and Sebastian. It was this program called Wetten, Dass...(Bet That...) which I think we need to import to the U.S. To put it simply, it's Letterman's Stupid Human Tricks but an entire show. The twist to it is that they have all these celebrities on, and then they bet the celebrity about the stupid trick.

Stupid tricks last night included a guy who could name any Beatles tune being played by three guys with brooms and a kid, when blindfolded, who could tell you what stuffed animal was in front of him by feeling it with his barefeet. I'd like to comment on these, um, "talents," if you will. First, the guy & The Beatles songs with brooms. How the hell do you figure out you have a talent like that? Do you practice Beatles songs with brooms? And why would you do either? I guess it could be a pretty interesting pick up line: "Yeah, so I can name any Beatles tune that is played with many people do you know that can do that?" Regardless, I guess it was a pretty unique talent, and ziemlich geil.

Then the kid who could identify his stuffed animals by feeling them with his feet. Um, three words: What. The. Fuck. Seriously! What sort of child sits around and feels his stuffed animals with his barefeet? Does he have any friends? Or do his friends indulge in this strange behavior as well? Christian, Alex, and I were definitely making fun of him. I mean, what kind of "talent" is that? If I were the kid's mother, I would be worried if he just sat at home all day feeling stuffed animals with his feet. That's just weird.

The last thing I would like to comment about last night's episode of Wetten, Dass... is Robbie Williams. He was on performing, and God only knows why he is so popular here. The people in the audience were going NUTS for him, as if it were just like Beatlemania. I mean, girls were crying and screaming and tearing out their hair practically. I'll admit it wasn't nearly as maniacal as with The Beatles, but it was pretty close. He walked around the audience while performing, singing "to" people, taking pictures with their cameras, etc. During the performance, I just had to say, "Ich verstehe nicht, warum Robbie Williams so populär ist. Er ist SO langweilig!" (I don't understand why Robbie Williams is so popular. He's SO boring!) Everyone just sort of laughed and agreed.

So for anyone who is coming to Germany any time soon, be warned: Robbie Williams is EVERYWHERE. He's taking over Europe, apparently. I keep thinking, "Robbie Williams...he's that dude that sang that song 'Millenium' and 'Angels.' Why is he so great?" He's on posters, advertisments, commercials, etc. He's even playing the Olympiastadion here in Berlin, which would be the equivalent of playing Giants Stadium at home. If Robbie Williams had a concert in the U.S., I feel like he would be lucky to fill Jones Beach Amphitheater. It's so strange to think that Robbie Williams is actually popular...

Currently listening to Nerf Herder's "Pantera Fans In Love"

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Christmas Time is Here....Again.

Once again, I have some more pics to post, and stuff to say, so here goes. This weekend I went with Nils to a flea market over at Prenzlauerberg, where Alex met up with us. It was really great because you could find every and anything you could think of, from old German board games to ugly furniture from the 1970's. I managed to get a Christmas present for my dad, which I hope he likes, but I'm not going to say what it is here in case for some reason he actually does end up reading it. It's really a hit or miss, but I guess you can't really go to a flea market ("Floh Markt") with anything super specific in mind. Apparently this market runs year round, but I'm not so sure about that, considering that it gets really "Arschkalt."

I'd just like to digress on the word "Arschkalt" for a second. Christian taught me it, and it literally means "ass cold." Basically, it means it's fucking cold out. I didn't believe him when he said it and thought he was totally bullshitting me, but it is now one of my favorite words. I try to use it whenever possible: "Is it Arschkalt outside?" "I think it's going to be Arschkalt tomorrow." "It's Arschkalt now." Of course, it doesn't sound nearly as great in English.

Topographie des Terrors & part of the Berlin Wall

But back on track: Other things I did this weekend included going to the Topographie des Terrors (aka old SS headquarters) with Alex, but it was just so Arschkalt (see, there I go again) that we couldn't read everything. More pics are up on Flickr. I also went to a party with Christian where it was slightly awkward for me because I didn't know anyone and my conversation topics are limited by my languge skills. So then that's when I just got up and danced with the other four people that were dancing. Good music, though: Hot Hot Heat, Weezer, Le Tigre, Modest Mouse, Violent Femmes, etc. It was like a WRMC party in German.

As for Christmas time, I've mentioned that the Weihnachtsmarkt over on the Ku'damm is amazing. And that, it is. I finally got around to bringing my camera around and taking some pictures. The best way to describe the atmosphere is like a carnival without the huge rides (ferris wheel, salt & pepper shaker) with a holiday spirit and the scent of alcohol on the air from the numerous Glühwein stands. Glühwein is a malt wine, I think, and sort of tastes like a warm Sangria minus the fruit. That's the closest I can describe it, and I should be bringing home a bottle or two.

Anyhow, yeah, the Weihnachtsmarkt doesn't really have anything super exciting as Christmas gifts, in my opinion. (The flea market was probably better and more unique) But the FOOD. I shared some zeppolis with Devin the other night walking through it. (Zeppolis or fried dough, whatever you call them, are called "Quarkbälle" here) I actually haven't walked through the market during the day, but I really love it at night because everything is lit up and it's a little colder, so you just feel so comfortable all bundled up.

As always, there are more pics up on my Flickr account. It's sort of hard putting them up on the blog and trying to put the ones that are most representative of what I'm talking about. I'm just sticking a few on here at the end just because I really like them, and in case you don't want to look on Flickr. I'd also just like to add that I'm really getting into the holiday spirit and I'm looking forward to when Lannie comes to visit me. Yay for Christmas!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Thanksgiving...German Style.

I wasn't sure how Thanksgiving in Deutschland would turn out, considering that sometimes "normal" ingredients are hard to come by (like brown sugar). However, everything fell together wonderfully; Alex and I made great mashed potatoes, Rob and his friend Dave made interesting sweet potatoes (marshmallows? What?) and Cam...well...Cam was absolutely brilliant. He made the turkey, green beans wrapped in ham, stuffing, corn pudding, carrots, and pumpkin pie. One of his roommates, Joanna, made the cranberry sauce and apple pie, which were both delicious. I was certainly impressed with everything because not only did it look good, it tasted amazing. I know, all the pictures that I have are of empty plates rather than how good the food looked, but that just means it was really tasty.

Today I went over to Cam's again so that we could make soup out of the leftover turkey carcass. We didn't finish it by the time I left, but we did manage to make a tasty turkey broth, which is a good start. I'll probably end up going to Cam's pretty often between now and whenever we finish the soup. After all, he does have my large pot to use. And there is always turkey soup at the end of Thanksgiving, which always signals the beginning of the Christmas season.

Speaking of Christmas season, today was the first day it snowed and it was gorgeous. What a great way to wake up the day after Thanksgiving. I'm posting a picture of the view outside my window with the low cloud coverage and snow, though you can see more snowy pictures on my Flickr account.

I think this weekend I'm going to some markets with Nils. The Christmas markets here are simply amazing and there just isn't anything like it that I've experienced before. Sure, the Macy's windows in NYC are fantastic, but just walking through the Weihnachten Markt on the Ku'damm is the embodiment of Winter Wonderland. Everything just seems so bright and cheerful. I should take pictures of it, and when I do, I'll be posting them. Oh, and still on the topic of pictures, I went to London last week and there are pictures up from there. Nothing super interesting, except for the fact that there was a food stand in Stansted Airport called "Lovejuice." (I kid you not)

I'm posting some other random pictures on here because I thought the buildings/art was interesting. That's one thing I absolutely love about Berlin: You can find art everywhere...street art, performance art (though Cam has a great story about that), etc. The graffiti is not just graffiti, and I find myself stopping to look at walls with stuff on it. Take for example this building on the left that I saw walking around Friedrichshain with Cam. I'm also posting another picture which I took on the way walking to his apartment. I really need to walk around the city more because there are so many nooks and crannies, just like Thomas's English muffins.

I know anyone who is reading this is most likely too lazy to post a comment (which is perfectly ok), but I took some pictures that I posted on my Flickr account that I think might be worthwhile seeing. So, if you're not doing anything after reading this sort of pointless post, look at my pictures. I'm lazy enough that I'm not going to post them anywhere else (ie: Facebook).

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Sometimes, firsts aren't that great.

As my last entry was my first time in a German club, this entry will entail yet another first. However, it's not a "Yeah, it was great my first time" type story. No, my friends, this is one of those firsts that I'd rather not have happened. And what is it? I missed my flight to London. Yes, for all of you who know me, I'm always punctual, usually showing up 15 minutes before necessary, but this time, I missed my flight!

I woke up 2 hours beforehand and left my apartment with an hour to spare to get to the airport. Christian and Pablo (my roommates) said that it shouldn't take me more than 30 to 40 minutes to get to Berlin Schönefeld. I figured I'd still be early. Well, I was standing at the Warschauer Straße S-bahnhof when the S9 to Schönefeld shows up at a not-so-great-time of 8:25 a.m. My flight was at 9:40 and I started to panic. Final check-in closed at 9:00 a.m. Would I make it? I hoped so.

I get to the airport at around 9:05 and try to find the check-in desk for RyanAir. All I saw was German Wings. RyanAir? Anybody? I finally just cut the X-ray line, mumbled a panicked and rushed, "Es tut mir Leid" (Sorry), and ran to the counter, blurted out to the guy behind the desk, "I know I'm late for my flight, but can I still get on???" He shook his head and said, "London Stansted? Sorry, final check-in closed 15 minutes ago." I asked if I could get on the next flight and he directed me to the RyanAir office on the next floor down. He added, "You're not the only one who missed the flight" and gave me this sorry look.

I went downstairs and saw absolutely NO office for RyanAir and I had to ask Information twice about what they meant. The "office" was really this door that said "Virgin Express" (as in, Virgin Atlantic, which confused the hell out of me) and there were four of us that had missed the flight. One German, two Brits, and me (the American). I wound up paying an extra 60€ for my flight out tonight, and the woman behind the desk really stressed, "Check-in is at 7:55 and we highly recommend that you check-in two hours beforehand." Thanks, you don't need to rub it in.

So it's about 9:30 a.m. when I have my flight rebooked, and I'm thinking, "Hmm, what should I do?" Well, I might as well go home. I called Chris to tell him I missed my flight (did I feel stupid? Just a wee bit), and then I called Alex and bitched to her about my life. Yesterday public transporation wasn't working for me, either, but that's a whole different story.

I got back onto the S-bahn and sat down, and this guy a few seats away says, "Missed the flight to Stansted too?" I moved my seat across from him and we had a nice chat back into central Berlin. Turns out he's taking the flight tonight, too, so I'll probably see him later. He's also only been learning German for about 2 months now, so we conversed in English.

The weirdest thing happened on the train, though. This little old lady boards and says to me (in German), "I want to sit there." I thought she meant the empty seat next to me, so I got up so she could sit down. Instead, she took the seat that I was sitting in! There was an older German man who said to her angrily (in German), "There are other seats on the train! Why do you have to take the one she's sitting in? What's wrong with you? Look at how many seats there are!" (Which was true) I was like, ok, whatever, lady, take the seat. I sat down next to Miko (the British guy) and we continued talking in English. He left at Ostkreuz Bahnhof, which was one stop before I wanted to get off at Warschauer Straße, and once he got off, the little old lady (who was now sitting across from me), was eyeing me with really narrow eyes. Eyeing my shoes, the bottom of my pants, my coat, and finally she was just staring at me.

I got off with my very tiny luggage at Warschauer Straße, brought it up the stairs, and started rolling it. The little old lady had apparently gotten off at the same stop and as she walked by me, I think I heard something along the lines of "Verpisst dich!" (Fuck you) or something else. I didn't even know what to say...I was going to say, "Arschloch" (Asshole) or, "Hast du ein Problem mit mir?" but I was just speechless. What the hell did this woman have against me? I didn't do jack SHIT to her. I mean, c'mon, lady, you took my fucking seat, not the other way around. And the other people on the train thought it was rude, too.

Anyway...I guess that is just another asshole person just giving Germans a bad reputation. I came back to my apartment where Christian asked in German, "Uh, aren't you supposed to be on a flight?" I told him the whole story, including the little old lady, and he was like, "Yeah, crazy people in Berlin, can't really do anything about them." I told him she knew what she was doing (she seemed intent, not as if she was some crazy just being), and he apologized for it. Not that it was his fault.

So now I have almost 10 hours until my flight to London. I'm looking at it positively, saying that I am spending less money for the 60€ than what I would pay for by being in London. And I can be productive by doing some reading for class. Berlin's not that's just one day short of time in London, and considering it's my fifth time there, not a HUGE loss. At least I'm not missing Harry Potter, and at least I didn't get tickets for Guys and Dolls.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

My German Club Virginity Has Been Lost

As I write this, I would like to note a few things. First, it's 5:20 am and I got home about 20 minutes ago. Second, the adrenaline is still running, which leads me to my third point of why I'm writing this now.

The night started off relatively quiet: I cooked dinner for Nils (my "tandem partner," aka language partner) and my two roommates. It was pretty simple; I just threw together some pasta sauce by adding some garlic, tomatoes, chicken, and some spices. Alex came over but didn't eat anything (she hates tomatoes...Schade!), and we all watched some crazy German TV together. There was this little kindergartner who could recognize single puzzle pieces, so the host of this show just pulled random puzzle pieces and asked him, "What's this from?" It was something you would see on Letterman as a stupid human trick, and all the little boy would say is "Ja." I said to Alex, "Hey, that's like us! Just 'ja' and everything is good!" to which she answered, "Yeah, now I can understand him!" Sad, but true. (Ok, a bit of an exaggeration, but nonetheless, close to the truth.)

Alex, Nils, and I left my apartment at around 10 and went to Cam's housewarming in Friedrichshain. We met some other Americans there (Zoey and Devin came later), a few Germans, and a weird Croatian. This Croatian guy was just all over the place and I know Alex, Zoey, and I just wanted to say, "Dude, chill out...calm down..." Nils left early, and then Zoey and Devin went to a club in Friedrichshain.

I went with Alex to Club 103 in Kreuzberg and met up with some people from my film history class, Julian, this-girl-whose-name-I-really-need-to-see-to-remember, and Julian's friend (a guy, but also named) Alex from Nürnberg. Alex's feet were hurting from the silly shoes she was wearing, so she only stayed for about a half hour before she left. The rest of the night, however, was chock full of dancing to techno and speaking German.

I didn't mind the music selection and I must admit that it grew on me as the night went on. I think the highlight of the night was a techno version of the Kaiser Chiefs' song, "Every Day I Love You Less and Less." It was especially cool because only a few minutes before, Julian, Alex, the girl, and I were talking about how we liked the Kaiser Chiefs. So it made it that much more exciting. Another musical highlight of the night was this techno band (?) of three guys that played a lot of stuff. Can't tell you what exactly it was, but it certainly was very danceable.

We managed to sit down and have a nice talk about various things, ranging from favorite movies to experiencing anti-American sentiments. I think the most interesting topic was when they asked me about 9/11. At that point, I just couldn't truly express what happened due to my lack of vocabulary. I think they understood me, and even so, I think they were really interested in what I had to say. I also found it interesting that they think Germany may be the next target for terrorism, after the bombings in Madrid and London. Let's hope that doesn't happen.

So all in all, I must say it was indeed a very good night. When we left the club at around 4:45 a.m., the music was still going strong, the dancing was still happening, and the drinks were still being sold, but we found ourselves in the crisp, clear night sneaking back home into the warmth of our beds. (Though I'm still not in mine yet) I never thought I would say this, but I really enjoyed clubbing. A lot of dancing was done, a lot of German was spoken (and in my opinion, not too badly!), and a good amount of alcohol was consumed. My eyes are growing heavy, and the adrenaline is coming down, but I will say this: I think a lot more clubbing will be done this year than previously thought.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Endlich: Ich habe eingezogen!

So I finally moved into my apartment yesterday with the help of Meredith and Alex. (Pic on the left is the view from my window with the U-bahn going by.) I don't think it could've went any easier, either. We took the bus one stop to Schlesisches Tor from Meredith's, then took the U-bahn one stop to Görlitzer Bahnhof. We walked the block or so to where I will be living until April 30th, when I have to move out. The room I am renting belongs to a 30-year-old law student, and I think she is away for the 6 months because she has studies to do of some sort. I'm living with two German guys, Pablo and Christian, so it will be good for using my German. I feel as if within the past two days that I've been here, I've used my German more than the whole month that Alex and I were in the hotel, but even so, it's a bit awkward still since I'm the "new roommate." Not to mention that I've been completely retarded and can't manage to open the damn door to the apartment. It's pretty difficult and I am determined to be able to open it by tomorrow evening on my own. (Yes, Pablo & Christian have both had to let me in, even though I have the key)

The past few days have been relatively uneventful otherwise, to say the least. I went to Ikea with Cam today and bought sheets and a pillow for my bed. I kept telling Christian that I was going to Ikea (pronouncing it "eye-key-ah") and seeing that he was confused, I said, "ee-key-ah?" which solved the problem. Oh, Ikea. No matter where you go in the world, as long as there is Ikea, there is cheap furniture and bedding to be bought. This other picture is of my room, but the furniture came with the room. It's not mine, obviously...But yeah. Ikea went well and Cam helped me pick out which pillow. I never realized that there were so many to choose from, but apparently there is.

I also went real grocery shopping and spent 20€ at Plus. I probably could've spent less if I hadn't bought bottles of shampoo & conditioner, but whatever, 20€ is still pretty good. I still find it really strange to have to bring your own canvas bags if you don't want to pay for another canvas bag or for a plastic bag. Germans are super environmentally friendly, I noticed, with the exception of my roommates who don't seperate their garbage like everyone else. The canvas bag I have says "Schützt unsere Umwelt!" (Protect our environment) with a turtle and a frog kissing under a rainbow. (And this next picture is the living room)

Some random observations about Berlin that I've made within the past month:
1. Everyone at home has a twin here. I've seen numerous people on the street almost thinking that they were someone from home. I'm not sure why this seems to be the case, but seriously. Both of my roommates strongly remind me of students at Middlebury.
2. Berlin is the smallest big city. I see the same people all the time on public transporation (ie: U-bahn, S-bahn), and it's not even at the same time. How is it possible? I have no idea. It's also really easy to run into people you know on the street. Doesn't happen often in New York.
3. People are really cuddly and openly affectionate here. Call me a prude, but I don't want to see people making out on the U-bahn (which has happened lots of times before). Seriously, whether it's a heterosexual or gay couple, there will be a lot of kissing, ass-grabbing, really intense eye contact, etc. involved.

So that's it for now. I've made other observations, but nothing worth writing about. I found these interesting.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Breaking Down Stereotypes...or not.

So as I am here in Berlin, I am learning where the German stereotypes come from. Some of them have been broken down. For example, everyone thinks that Germans are highly organized and efficient. My thoughts: Yes, this is true, but only to an extent. Take a look at the whole system of signing up for classes. In my opinion, I don't find it efficient at all, nor do I find it organized. Showing up to a class that has been cancelled until November 4 and having no prior notice is not what I would call efficient.

Another stereotype is that Germans can be very cold people, or rather, very rude. I suppose this is true for just about any nationality (Americans are loud & obnoxious, the French are pushy, the Chinese are pushy in a different way, etc. So it all is some form of being rude), but for the Germans, I am understanding why it seems to be true in some instances. When Alex, Cam, Rob, and I went to the movies, we had to pick our seats when we bought the tickets. (I met Rob through the Middlebury Language School and met Cam through Rob here.) When we got to the theater, our seats were occupied, and the woman there was snippy, to say the least. She basically told us it doesn't matter where your tickets say you sit, but it was in a very abrupt manner that came off as being, well, bitchy.

I think last night epitomizes what someone would think of "German rudeness." I don't mean to offend anyone, but the guy we encountered last night was just a dick. I don't usually use that to describe people, especially in writing. However, read on.

Alex, Cam, Devin (she goes to Sarah Lawrence but is going through the Midd program), and I were standing outside this bar, The Pip's, waiting for Zoey and Meredith. Alex had a beer in her hand and was finishing it before we went inside, so the 4 of us were just standing around talking. Devin said, "Hey, there's a guy standing in the window giving us looks." Cam, Alex, and I turned around not so subtly to see this man giving us dirty looks from a second story window. (Which is actually considered the first floor here, but regardless.) He left the window and we continued to chat.

And suddenly water just fell out of the sky. Not rain, but a bucket's worth. We all turned around again to see the guy in the window, and indeed, it was a bucket's worth of water. When we looked, the guy threw another bucket of water on us. As if one wasn't enough? He hadn't even shouted anything to the extent of "Shut up" or "Go away," and it wouldn't have even mattered if it was in a foreign language because we would've understood the tone. No forewarning of any kind. After the two buckets were thrown on us, other Germans walking by just shouted, "Arschloch!" and whatever, which was very kind of them.

See, so this just furthers the stereotype of being rude. I realize that this guy was just a total asshole anyway, but who seriously throws 2 buckets of water on people, when it is only 11 pm on a Friday night in a neighborhood that is filled with bars? Additionally, he didn't even say anything! Could we get more passive aggressive? If you don't want to hear people outside talking at night, don't live near a bar, jack ass. Perhaps I would be a little more understanding if it was 2 am and he gave some sort of forewarning, but it wasn't the case.

However, on a completely different note, I suggest that everyone read Alex's blog entry for today (Oct. 22, titled "Honestly, wouldn't one bucket have sufficed?"). She wrote out some funny stories that Cam told us last night and they are pretty funny. I've come to the conclusion that Cam is probably one of the most quotable people, orelse he just has the most ridiculous stories. I'm not sure which.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Oh, How I Miss Bannerweb

I have come to the conclusion that I miss that P.O.S. software called Bannerweb that we use back at Middlebury to sign up for classes. Yes, it crashes sometimes. Yes, it may lock you out so that you can't get that class with Mark Southern. Yes, it can be slow when you need it go faster. But damn, those are the things I miss and now can fully appreciate. Bannerweb does this amazing little thing called a "practice round." You can see what classes you want to sign up for, where they are, how many spaces are available, who teaches the course, when it is, how often it meets, and everything you basically need to know about classes.

"Shopping" for classes is nearly as stressful as finding an apartment. I don't know how many credits I'd be receiving and the course catalog isn't the least bit helpful. For example, I didn't realize that all the film courses come in mandatory pairs. All I know is that I need to get 4 credits from the Middlebury Schools Abroad...but, as it turns out, I can take the mandatory pair of film courses and get 2 credits for it. Sweet. Makes my life a little easier...but...the problem is not just with getting credit, but if it will count towards my major.

I may not be able to get credit for taking Film History here, even though the course here entails more work than at Midd. I emailed the current head of the film department, and he said that he is not willing to give me credit. Thankfully, I had emailed the department head (good ol' Ted Perry) last year and had asked him if I could take film history abroad. And thankfully, he said yes, and even more thankfully, I kept that email. So I can tell the current department head, "Well, Ted Perry said I could do it, so there. Ha!" Which I might actually (not) do. In the end, to make it simplified, I may be taking 5 courses this semester (though 2 count as 1 in Middlebury's eyes).

Some building at the FU that I don't use, but I took the picture because it says Freie Universität on it.

I've already picked 2 classes: Political Culture in the French Revolution and Comics in History --History in Comics?. Both of the professors are really nice people and easy to understand, and of course the topics sound really interesting. I'm taking the one on the French Revolution because the professor seemed chill and I don't know that much about the topic. The comics class just seemed really different and something I wouldn't be able to take when I get back to Midd. (Yes, Bennigans, I know that you took a class on cartoons, but that was during J Term, and well, I don't think I have a J Term class left, especially if I do a thesis...scary.)

So all in all, this week has been a bit of a bust because of the film courses. Oh, and they start next week, too, unlike the rest of the university. (Who knew? Bannerweb would know that...I miss Bannerweb) Nobody told me that the 8 film courses I took start next week so I should've been attending history or politic or some other subjects' classes. Totally sucks. I also sat in on an art history course by accident that I wouldn't take even if I was interested because it was the same exact course I took back at Midd, just in German. In conclusion, I would just like you all to know: Appreciate Bannerweb. It does a lot, even though you may think it's a huge piece of crap. Alex and I started a Facebook group called "Going Abroad Made Me Realize Bannerweb is the Best Thing that Ever Happened to Me," so feel free to join.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Der Erste Tag

I survived. The first day of classes. Well, ok, it was one class´about the French Revolution. I probably will not even take it because I will most likely end up taking more film courses. The professor was really nice and the class already has a 10 page paper built into it already (Hausarbeit), so it's not a problem that I will have to write 12 pages (of course, depending on if I take the course).

Before the class started, I was unbelievably nervous. My hands were shaking and I just kept reminding myself to breathe. I mean, I know it's just another class, but it's in another language. The first thing the professor asked was "Was ist politische Kultur?" I could possibly explain myself in English, but in German? Good question. Was IST politische Kultur? Got German.

The class felt very much like a discussion class back at Middlebury: There wasn't more than 12 students, we sat around desks set up in a large square, and the professor was laid back and sitting, too. What the professor talked about mostly was a very brief introduction to the course and just answering his one question of "Was ist politische Kultur." I was surprised at the amount that I understood and as forgetful as I am out of nerves, I had forgotten my English-German pocket dictionary, so it was even better than I thought. Out of the entire class, there were only 3 international students including myself. The other two were two French guys (the only reason why I knew was because they whipped out a French-German dictionary that had a large French flag on it) who I am sure know a lot about the Revolution. Maybe.

After the class, I had to approach the professor and ask him if it was ok that I write a 12 page paper instead of a 10, introduce myself, and tell him that I am with the Middlebury program. I was so nervous that I used the informal you form (du instead of Sie), which I was later kicking myself for. I asked him if he was familiar with the Midd program and he just sort of gave me this look, then asked, "Is that in Vermont, between the mountains and in the really pretty valley?" Apparently he was there last summer. Perhaps with the Language Schools, I didn't ask. He was very nice and didn't seemed fazed that I used the wrong "you" form (Thank God, otherwise I would definitely NOT take the class).

So hurrah, the first day is over. It's always the hardest. Tomorrow I have three classes to go to: 2 film ones (both are taught by the same woman) and 1 history one (which I'm excited about the title: "Comics in History - History in Comics?"). No idea what ones I will take, but regardless, I am glad that the first day is over.

Oh, and for the Fair Lawn people reading my blog...I just heard that a certain Vicky from the class of 2003 has become a stripper. With her best friend that is a year younger than us. I'm not giving specific names, just in case this is googled or something. All I can say is I can't wait til 5 year reunion.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Remembering Germany's Past

I am deleting everything that I wrote the other night because it was so ridiculously scatterbrained. However, I will leave it on here that I downloaded Skype on the unreliable wireless I am mooching off of. So, feel free to add me.

Today I went to the Deutsches Historisches Museum by myself. I actually could only figure my way to the part of the museum that I.M.Pei designed because I didn't see any maps to lead me around. (Picture on the right is where I was) I'll eventually figure my way over to the Zeighaus, which is the older part of the museum. The part the I.M. Pei designed houses the temporary exhibitions, so I stayed in this one exhibit titled Der Krieg und seine Folgen 1945: Kriegsende und Erinnerungspolitik in Deutschland (Translation: The War & Its Consequences 1945: The End of the War and Politics of Rememberance). It was absolutely fascinating because it dealt with how Germany changed after the end of World War II, from 1945 until present day. The exhibit was actually only supposed to last through August, but it's been extended until October 23.

I get the feeling that many Americans think that the Germans sort of try hiding the past, but that's not true at all. The Germans were affected by Hitler's regime just as much as any other country and they, too, had to deal with the aftermath. Much of the country was left in ruins, many women were left husbandless, children were orphaned, and the country was split into quadrants. Seeing it from this perspective has really made me realize that Germany has struggled with its past in the sense that they could not really be patriotic like Americans, because the rest of the world saw it as coming too close to Nazism. I suppose it will only be a matter of time before that is all changed with younger generations, but the past will surely not be forgotten.

The picture on the left is one I took while walking on Unter den Linden, one of the main roads here in Berlin. It is where the Deutsches Historisches Museum is, along with Humboldt Universität, the Deutsche Guggenheim, and a good amount of other museums. It's the Fernsehen Turm and I have no idea what the other pretty building is.

On a completely different note, I am beginning to feel more comfortable here. Granted I have not been speaking nearly as much German as I should be, but considering classes will be starting on Monday and I will be moving into my apartment in about two weeks, I feel like I'm getting to know the city better. I am remembering the U-bahn and S-bahn systems better and I don't constantly have to pull out a map. Tomorrow I will be going back to the FU to make sure I know my way around on Monday. I'm including a picture of the Silberlaube in this post, which in my opinion is extraordinarily ugly. The Silberlaube is essentially the student center, I think. (Dan, if you're reading this, I think the Doshisha University is probably a million times prettier than this one building that is central to the FU.) Isn't it awful looking? David, another MiddKid who was here in the past, described it as the "big, ugly, silver building that you can't miss" in a packet he wrote for us on where to go look for housing advertisments. I think he is completely right.

My last thing that I would like to post about today is regarding beer. Yes, I am in Germany, and yes, beer is part of the culture here. Like I have said in an earlier post, it is strange to see prepubescent kids on the streets urging each other on to chug a half liter bottle of beer. Today was my first experience buying beer from a supermarket because I offered to bring some beer to my friend Rob's place tonight. Alex and I went to Kaiser's in Wittendorfplatz, which is down the street from our hotel. When people at home told me, "Yeah, beer is cheaper than water over in Germany!," I thought they were kidding. No, everyone who told me that was in fact 100% correct. And to prove it, I am posting my receipt for the three half liter bottles of beer that I bought. One can see Hasseroeder (0.59€), Holsten Pils (0.55€), and Paulaner (0.60€), with an 8 cent deposit on each one. The last item on the receipt, the DW Tasche, was a canvas bag I bought in order to carry the beer back with me. (That is one thing that is very different here: You have to buy the plastic bags for your groceries, or buy canvas bags and reuse them. Canvas bags are useful, so I figured I should buy one.) And yes, you can see that the canvas bag cost me 1.00€, which is more expensive than one bottle of beer.

1. I will be trying a lot of beer this year and there are a lot of beers to try.
2. Beer is in fact cheaper than water, but of course not healthier.
3. The Germans are really all about saving the environment with using canvas bags for everything.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Berlin photos

Due to the joys of wireless, I am able to post some pictures that I've taken over the past few days. (Basically, I turned on my computer to listen to the new Franz Ferdinand CD, and lo and behold, my computer picked up a wireless signal.) So here on the left is a picture from when Alex and I stopped by Checkpoint Charlie, which was where you could cross into the American sector of Berlin into the Russian sector. I have more pictures by it, but I thought this one is just one of those things that you always see in history books. It was pretty surreal seeing it in real life, but at the same time, it was a total tourist trap and there were a ton of people just everywhere buying postcards, replica hats, etc. There is also a very different feel between the two sides. You could definitely see the buildings on the eastern side were newer because the old ones were knocked down. Even today you could feel the difference although it is now one city.

Here on the left you can see a picture that I took of part of the East Side Gallery, which is a lot of street art on part of the Berlin Wall that was left. I think I took 50-some odd pictures over at the East Side Gallery, but you can check them out on my Flickr Account. I didn't load all of them yet, and I also am lazy, so I didn't rotate some of the pictures that should be rotated. You get the general idea, though.

Then below is a picture of a bridge that Alex and I walked across to get to the East Side Gallery from the western side of the river. (Not sure which river it was...sorry.) It's a bridge you cross from Kreuzberg to Friedrichshain, which are two neighborhoods that are the equivalent of the Lower East Side and the Village. The detail that some of the buildings and infrastructure here have is truly amazing and it is very unique. It makes me wonder why we couldn't have stuff like that at home, but I suppose that's what characterizes Germany and the U.S. as the U.S. I have more pictures from the bridge, too, and I think they are also on my Flickr account. The last picture is also of Checkpoint Charlie. I apologize that there really isn't any sort of order to the pictures that I am posting on my blog, but oh well, you will just have to deal.

Oh...and if you're actually reading my a comment...I feel as if nobody reads it. I'll admit my thoughts are a scatterbrained, especially in comparison to Alex's (God, she takes forever to write her entries)...but...just post so that I know whether or not I should even continue to update this thing! Even if you just say something ridiculous...

Monday, October 10, 2005

Die Universität

Today was the orientation for students going through the Middlebury program. We essentially sat around for a long time reviewing what we had already read through in the handbook (the only difference was that it was in German) and eating in this Italian restaurant in the Student Center. (Or something.) I can't say it was honestly helpful because I felt as if I missed a lot of what was said, orelse I already knew what was being said because of the handbook. So either way, I still feel quite confused about the whole process of finding classes. To be perfectly honest, and I never thought I would ever say this in my life, I think I miss Bannerweb. For those of you who do not know what Bannerweb is, it's what we use at Midd to register for classes online which frequently has crashing problems as you register. Bannerweb is easy, though it may kick you of the system at a crucial time or the like, and it is straightforward. I'm not so sure about having this process of "shopping for classes."

I don't think I was the only one to feel confused, as we all looked at each other and asked, "Did you get that?" or "Wait, is this what was meant?" To sum it up using Zoey's quote:

"I am SO over this Deutsch bullshit."

Which is funny, especially because I am going to be here for a whole year. In the end, putting it into perspective makes the year not seem TOO bad. I will be confused, scared, and intimidated throughout first semester and second semester I will hopefully be confident and comfortable.

The university is HUGE, especially in comparison to Middlebury. I feel like I will get lost every day, and there is this whole system of finding rooms which confused me even further. (Apparently there are addresses within the buildings...sort of.) The buildings are pretty ugly, especially when you look at the cute little quaint buildings of that School on the Hill. Founded in 1948, the Freie Universität looks like something out of the 1960s with bright colors popping out everywhere. For those of you from home, I think it is way uglier than Fair Lawn High School's B-wing. (Didn't think possible, but it seems the possibilities here are endless.) I found it humorous that there was a JFK Building, as well as a Henry Ford Building.

On the up note, we got a catalog of "Hochschulsport," which is essentially just a bunch of workshops and classes that are for sports. I think I really want to do a swing class (as in, swing dance, not playing swing) or perhaps a salsa class. I already took ballroom dancing during J Term with Dan, but I think taking it in another language will be ridiculously embarassing (and thus make for good stories) and at the same time, loads of fun. They also have a gymnastics class which I am very tempted to take, but considering I haven't done any gymnastics since oh, junior year of high school, I probably shouldn't. (And even then nobody could spot me because I was too big.)

So in retrospect of today, I think it was a good day. Alex and I will have eaten 3 meals by the end of the day and this is awesome because we've been cutting meals out to save money. And Middlebury is paying us to eat out. Always good. Thanks, Middlebury. I got the course catalog on CD from Katharina, one of the assistants, so Alex and I will have a good look at that. Hopefully I will not be class-less by the time we actually have to choose classes. And seeing the university...well...yes, I am intimidated, scared, and nervous, and it feels worse than being a freshman all over again at Middlebury, but it will be a life experience I can put under my belt and say, "Yes, I actually accomplished something in my life."

Put simply, I am still taking one day at a time.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Burrito In My Pocket

No, this post has nothing to do with burritos in my pocket, although Alex and I did have a discussion about that. (I did do that while I was at Middlebury though, last semester.) We had lunch at a Mexican place in Prenzlauerberg, which was surprisingly good. I didn't think I would find any Mexican restaurants on this side of the pond, but, well, we did.

Most importantly to post on here is that I have FINALLY found an apartment. After emailing nearly 90 people and making at least 30 calls (no exaggeration), I have found a place in Kreuzberg, which is similar to the Lower East Side in New York City. I will be living with two German guys, Christian and Pablo. Yes, Pablo. Alex and I have discussed what cracked out German would give their son a Spanish name, but I will probably figure that out in the not-so-distant-future. I won't be able to move in until November 1 because Heike, whose room I will be occupying, is not leaving until then. I believe she is going abroad and will be back in May, when I will have to move out.

I'm not too concerned about having to move out because I've got it all figured out. I can live on my own for the last two or three months while I am here in Berlin. It won't be too long nor will it be too short, and people can't say, "Well, you should try living with people." Of course, plans can change, but for now, I'm not thinking about that. I think I will have to worry more about the fact that I am starting classes in 10 days and will be living in a hotel for the first three weeks.

On the note of living in a hotel, I think that it will probably delay the culture shock which is sure to come. I feel like a tourist rather than a student, and people still talk to me in English rather than German. It's a bit frustrating, mostly because I feel like my vocabulary is slowly dwindling, even though I am here in Germany. However, once classes start, German will be in full force and I will probably talk mostly in it.

So besides de-stressing because I have found a place to live, Alex and I went to Checkpoint Charlie and the East Side Gallery today. It was bizarre seeing Checkpoint Charlie swarming with happy tourists, but I suppose it can be seen as two different symbols: a symbol of freedom and a symbol of division. I guess when I think "Checkpoint Charlie" I think symbol of division, so I didn't take any pictures with Alex or me in them. On the other hand, I took a ton of pictures over at the East Side Gallery, which is basically this long stretch of the Berlin Wall which has been left with lots of street art on it. It was very powerful seeing some of the artwork and I think much more interesting than Checkpoint Charlie. (Not to mention we didn't have to pay to get into a museum or anything, plus it was a gorgeous day outside.)

If you want to read something more eloquent on what we saw today, I suggest reading Alex's blog. She's a more eloquent writer than I am.

So things I have accomplished so far in Berlin:

1. Finding an apartment, after seeing about 12 and having more than 90 emails sent out.
II. Went to the Brandenburg Gate on the Tag der Einheit Deutschlands, having wurst, and drinking beer. (And no, I have not gotten drunk. Just red.)
c. Discovered the joy of döner kebabs. And Alex has made many a joke on that.
Four. Begun to master the public transportation system of the U- and S-bahns.
Fifth. Been in an internet cafe more than I would like to admit.

And on that note...I guess I should end it here. But yeah, I am not moving into my apartment until November 1, so I can't receive any regular mail until then.

Friday, October 07, 2005

I am still Obdachlose.

I am still sitting in this beloved easyInternetcafe in the Zoologischer Garten and I am still homeless. I have yet to find a place, but I am still looking. I counted the number of emails I have sent out, which is 40 only in my Gmail account. This doesn't count the number of emails I sent through websites themselves, so I guess the total would be around 90 or more. And I've seen a total of 11 places, I think. And not one prospect.

I have decided that it is frustrating that my fate is being decided by complete strangers, whether they want me as a roommate or not. I am coming very close to the decision that I should find an apartment by myself, although it would be lonely, and I'll be here for the entire year. It might be easier, and I suppose I could just better my German in class.

I was talking with Alex, and I've also come to this conclusion: There really isn't much time to live on your own. Many people say, "You shouldn't live on your own, there is plenty of time to do that after college." This might be true, but this is my thinking. After college, it seems extraordinarily likely that one will move out and into an apartment with friends or with total strangers. Perhaps a significant other. And then after that, marriage forces you to live with your significant other, unless I am otherwise mistaken. So when are you supposed to live on your own? This is why I think it wouldn't be too bad living in an apartment by myself.

However, the other thought that came to my mind was this PBS program I saw on why humans have this emotion called "empathy." We are very sociable creatures, and empathy stems from the fact that we can imagine ourselves in someone else's shoes. The fact that we are sociable creatures creates this desire to NOT be alone, to live with other humans. So this is the downside of living by myself. As much as I might think it'd be a great idea, in the end, I'd end up lonely. On the other hand, I won't be homeless.

It has been a frustrating process for me and I am still pushing on to find somewhere to live. I know a lot of other people might have given up by now and decide to live in the Studentenwohnheim (dorms), but I really don't want to do that, especially because I am here for the year. I am just hoping that where ever I find a place, I will be happy there, and that the people (if there are people) will be friendly.

I am also looking forward to finding a place to live because then I can actually eat properly. I feel like I haven't eaten a proper vegetable in almost 2 weeks. I don't think in the past I would ever think this, but man, I miss vegetables. And fruit. Alex and I have been living on doener kebabs (read her blog, I'm sure she mentioned kebabs somewhere), which aren't bad, and actually are really dirt cheap and filling, but I just want some broccoli or something.

And the search continues....

Monday, October 03, 2005

I live in an internet cafe.

So today is my fourth day here searching for an apartment or "Wohngemeinschaft" (WG) in an internet cafe. I feel as if Alex, Zilai, and I are just living here. I think we stay here for about 4 hours or more per day, emailing, calling, and running around the city to see various places. I am starting to get accustomed to the keyboard here (like remembering the y and z are switched on it from the U.S.), but even so, I still make some mistakes.

The weather is still basically cloudy. I don't understand it, but it seems like Berlin really does have worse weather than London. Didn't think it possible.

One other observation I've made is that nobody here jay walks, as in, everywhere is clear, but the Germans wait until the pedestrian signal goes green. I've jaywalked (I'm from the NYC area, what do you want!) and gotten heads shaken at me. I guess everyone is not nearly in as big of a rush as they are back home, but even so, it will take some time to get used to.

Today is actually a national holiday here: Der Tag der Einheit Deutschlands. 15 years ago today the two Germanys were reunited into one nation. I heard from our host that there might be stuff going on by the Brandenburg Gate, such as beer drinking (surprise, surprise) and eating (wurst, perhaps?). I think we may try to go over there later after some appointments.

Other than that, there really isn't so much to say. The 4 places I saw yesterday were really nice and the people are friendly. Two of those places spoke in English with me (well, actually, one of them we spoke in English, German, and Spanish in one period of time!), and the others were completely in German. It is still a process, but I am sure it will sink in in a few weeks.

The car with the Midd sticker still hasn't seen our note yet. It's been sitting there since...Friday?

Saturday, October 01, 2005


I'm sitting in a Starbucks paying 8€ an hour because Alex and I thought we could get free wireless here. But no, you have to put in a credit card number...but we figured, eh, we trekked here with our computers, might as well just do it. And now I can post pictures because they're on my computer, while normally I would be in an internet cafe.

The search for an apartment is only going ok...Alex is having better luck with getting appointments. But it's only the second day we've been searching. I'll just keep pressing on, I suppose. It still scares me though because I don't want to end up in some crappy neighborhood...maybe I'll just end up in an apartment by myself. We'll see.

Im posting pictures from the past few days, including the car with the Middlebury sticker on it.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

New Beginnings

First off, Im going to apologize ahead for anz punctuation and what maz appear to be tzpos. I'm on a German kezboard in an internet cafe, and well, I am trzing to maximiye mz time while Im here, rather than worrzing about punctuation and spelling and all that good stuff.

Mz time in London went well, and seeing Ken and his friends and Chris was reallz great. We went to a comedz club in Leicester Square, which was quite fun, and we got some pints to drink (This is England we're talking about). We also went to a pub afterward, and I think the result of that night is prettz much a given of what happened!

I also went to see Ewan McGregor in Guys and Dolls in the West End, and all I can saz is that it was FABULOUS. I love the music and of course Ewan being in it helped a lot. The worst part was probablz the imitated New York accents, but what can zou do? I thought it ironic that I went to London to see a musical about New York...go figure!

So as I said, I'm in an internet cafe with Alex sitting here next to me. She is updating her blog too but she seems to keep typing and then deleting everzthing. But anzwaz, I showed up in Tegel and thank goodness that Zoey and Alex were there, otherwise I would've had a major panic attack (which I had onlz a few dazs ago anzwaz). We took the bus to the Zoologischer Garten, where Alex and I picked up a (Mercedes) cab and got to our B&B, which is actuallz in a residence.

Alex took a nap since she's been awake for a few hours (let's saz, 28 hours??), and then we left to walk around. Funniest thing ever: We walk outside and there, very close to where we are staying, was a car. And not just anz car. But this car had a MIDDLEBURY STICKER ON IT. I know it's rude to type in all caps, but honestlz, what are the chances that we're here in Berlin, and a car has a Midd sticker on it? I had to take a picture of it, and I promise I will post it when I get on mz own computer and all that.

So how am I feeling through this whole experience thus far? A few words: Apprehensive. Scared. Nervous. Doubtful. And yes, mazbe even a little excited...but honestlz I think mz apprehension is overshadowing all other emotions. I also feel like nobodz will understand me when I trz speaking in German because mz American accent is so thick, but granted that I will be here for a zear, mz German SHOULD be getting better.

Oh, and first impressions of Berlin:

1. The weather is worse than London. Whz? Well, I show up in London expecting prettz bad weather, but it was prettz decent. I show up here and its cold and raining, which causes everzthing to be this graz color. Mazbe it has something to do with how I feel.

II. There are ridiculous amounts of H&Ms. Alex and I saw what...4 in a row? We were thinking that thez were possiblz the same building, but no, thez weren't. Thez were seperate H&Ms on perhaps 2 blocks. What the heck do zou need all the H&Ms for?

c. It seems like everzone loves their pizza. Alex and I have found numerous pizzerias. We haven't eaten any....yet.

Four. Considering that I've onlz been here for 8 hours, I don't think I can actuallz have a fourth observation. Especiallz because we haven't reallz walked around that much...we went through a bunch of residential neighborhoods.

Oh, but I do have to say, it will take me awhile to get used to people being able to smoke just about everywhere. So just as a warning to any family members reading this: I'm probablz going to come home smelling like cigarettes, the way Tzeh did when she came home from Florence.

So, for now...I guess I'll be ok. I'm hoping to buy a cell phone within the next two days (I'm going to ask Zoey for help), and hopefullz I will find an apartment within the next 6. I'm not forcing mzself to find anzthing in this time period, because I realiye that will just make things harder. All I reallz need is a good location, internet, a kitchen, and a bed. Not too difficult, I don't think.

So I guess that's it for this edition of mz adventures in Berlin. Perhaps the next time I write I will have mz own place bz then..........

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

New York, New York

Over the weekend I went to see Back to the Future with my sister Tracie and her fiancé Wayne in a theater on the lower East Side. But after dinner, we had time to kill. We decided to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, so when we were in Brooklyn, I took this picture of the Manhattan skyline. I love New York, and damn, I'm going to miss it when I'm in Berlin.

Isn't it pretty? I took it with my Canon SD400 Digital Elph and had to hold really still by placing it on a banister. I also had to change the shutter speed. I must say, it came out really nicely.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

OK Go Pictures

My friend emailed me the pictures from the OK Go show we went to on March 29th at Higher Ground in Burlington. I must say, it was a really fun show and it was good see OK Go again. If you ever get a chance to see them, definitely do it. They care about their fans and actually interact with them. All around, just plain friendly. And FUN.

Oh, and the reason why there are so many pics of Damian is because we were standing right in front of him. I didn't take the pictures. My friend did. So you can ask him why there aren't any pictures of Andy, Tim, or Dan.