Sunday, April 23, 2006

Sommersemester Woche 1, Drew Visits, & Die Wannsee

Whenever I don't update for awhile, one of two things usually happens. First, absolutely nothing happens. Literally, nothing. Orelse the time flies by, I've done so much, and I just don't know where to start. This time, the latter has happened.

To sum it up quickly, my friend Drew from language school came up to visit from Tübingen (near Stuttgart) last week. Last week was also the first week of classes for Sommersemester, which in English would just be known as second semester. On Sunday, Drew left and I went to the Wannsee for a picnic with Rob, Cam, Ashley, Dan, and some kids from Rob & Cam's program. That's the short version of events. Read on if you want to know the longer version.

Drew came up on a whim and didn't know when exactly he was leaving. So I let him stay. During the day, I would go to a few classes and then come back. On Wednesday evening, we went with Ashley to see Dropkick Murphys and Less than Jake in concert. It was pretty chaotic, to say the least. We were up front for Less than Jake and the crowd went wild. We were moshing and ska-dancing around, so much so that I basically pushed Drew over (even though he's at least 5 inches taller than me) and broke my bra. Yes, people, I broke my bra from moshing and yes, it was a first for me. Hey, it happens.

We moved to the back for Dropkick Murphys because you could feel the anxiety in the air to just go crazy. We were pretty beaten up from Less than Jake, and not to mention that there was a creepy bald guy trying to hit on Ashley and me by staring at us with a look he probably thought was seductive. (It was just plain creepy.) The acoustics were pretty crappy, but even so, I sang along to "The Workers' Song" and "Barroom Hero," amongst others. Stiny, if you're reading this: I wish you had been there! You would've had so much fun.

On Friday evening, I chose a club in Prenzlauerberg, Icon, to go to because I had seen an advertisement saying that one of the guys from the Propellerheads was DJing. Ashley and Drew came with me and the selection of music was pretty good. It was electro, so it was a surprise to see Pablo with his friends Alex and David. Sure, I had invited them to come with us, but I didn't expect them to go. Pablo always goes to drum & bass parties, which, unsurprisingly, he went to afterward. Anyway, that was basically Drew's visit.

Last week was also the first week of classes. I realized that I'm not as stressed out as last semester when I had to pick them out, and it's probably because I know the rules of the game. It was pretty funny today because Ashley, Cam, and Gergana (Mt. Holyoke student in the Midd Program) came to a Vorlesung (general lecture) that I went to last week. At the beginning of the class, the professor said that he had to speak to the one American student afterward. I was the only American student last week, all the others were Austrians. (Short digression: Can I just say, Austrians doing their 'abroad' year/semester in Germany is a little ridiculous? That'd be like Americans going to Canada for an 'abroad' experience.) Anyway, Ashley, Gergana, and I discussed writing a Klausur (written exam) for the course and Cam asked if he could take a 2 hour one. The professor said the Klausur would be around 45 minutes, so Cam can't take it (not enough for his program), and Gergana asked, "Wait, are we allowed to do that?" On the sheet we give to professors, it says the Klausur has to be 1 hour and a half long. I wanted to just nudge her really hard and say, "It doesn't matter!" I explained later that it doesn't matter because as long as we're writing a Klausur, the program director doesn't need to know the tiny little details. It'll say on paper that we did an exam and that's all that matters. It's learning the rules of the game.
Dan on the jungle gym at the Wannsee. No, he didn't knock little kids off.

I'm almost done choosing classes...I'm definitely taking Massaker in der Frühen Neuzeit (Massacres in the Early New Time), Das Kino aus Taiwan (Taiwanese Cinema), and Geschichte der öffentlichen Kommunikation: Der Nationalsozialismus und die deutsche Gesellschaft (History of Open Communication: National-Socialism and Germany Society). Das Kino aus Taiwan is actually a Hauptseminar, a.k.a. graduate level course. However, it's being taught by an American, so his German is actually really easy for me to understand. Even so, I'm probably crazy for taking a grad level course in German!

Last thing to mention is the trip to the Wannsee. Cam thought it would be a good idea to go out to the lake, have a picnic, play a little Fußball. That's exactly what we did. A bunch of students from his program came and Ashley, Dan, and I were there representing the Midd program. We played an impromptu game of Fußball (Ashley's shoes acting as one goal, two empty bottles of Beck's being the other), which was not too bad, considering most of us playing are American. The only Germans playing were Cam's roommates Anna and Joanna. However, some Turkish kids wanted to play with us, so we let them. They weren't half bad. It was really amusing, too, because Cam would urge them on, saying, "Ok, Ahmed!" and "Gut gemacht, Aqbar!" (however you spell it). Ashley thought he was being mean and making up names for them, when in reality, those were really those names. We also 'adopted' a German girl, Sammy, who was pretty brutal, and then a little German boy whose name I didn't hear. All in all, it was a very active day.

And this has to be the most scatterbrained entry I've written in awhile.

Oh, but here's a joke that Ashley told me that I really enjoyed. But first, the background story to why it's so funny to me. A lot of Americans I know here have been adopting German grammar. In German, you would say, "Kommst du mit?" in order to say, "Are you coming?" However, the literal translation of that is "Are you coming with?" What I mean to say is, many of Americans are just tacking on prepositions to the ends of sentences and questions, where in German it would work. Obviously, it isn't grammatically correct in English. And now, the joke:

There was a prospectus walking around the Princeton campus, admiring the buildings and wandering. He wanted to know where the library was, so he stopped a student and asked, "Hey, do you know where the library's at?" The student blinked at him and replied, "Yes, I do. In the English language, ending sentences with prepositions is grammatically incorrect. I know where the library is." The prospectus paused a second and rephrased the question: "Do you know where the library's at, asshole?"

Ashley and I found this joke quite humorous because we're ending sentences with prepositions now and we both have a small dislike for Princeton. The End.

Oh, and sorry for all of the pictures from the Wannsee. I just didn't take any pictures really when Drew was around. And I don't have any pictures from my classes, obviously.

Friday, April 14, 2006

A random assortment of thoughts

Not that I have much to write, but I'd like to say that I never know when holidays are. Because I never know when holidays are, I never know when stuff (ie: life sustaining establishments, a.k.a. supermarkets) is closed. For example, today. I thought, "Wow, it's a lovely day out! I'm going to bring back some of those beer bottles sitting in the kitchen." I stuck 30 bottles into a backpack and 20 more in two separate canvas bags. I walked around the block and to my dismay and annoyance, the Getränkmarkt was closed. Already feeling like a dumb ass, I noticed that the supermarket next door was also shut. At that point, I just wanted to drop everything, fall to my knees, and scream, "Nooooo!" I forgot: It's Good Friday. Translation for me: Good Friday = everything closed in Germany. (And Easter = some holiday about some guy named Jesus returning.) Unlike in the U.S. where everything is open no matter what (with the exception of Christmas, which is the only religious holiday I can remember the date of), everything shuts down here. All I can say is I hope that everything is open tomorrow, otherwise I will be sustaining on plain pasta, bread, tomatoes, and what little cheese I have left.

Oh, and just to let you know...that's actually an older picture of the bottles that accumulated in our kitchen. (I took most of them back in a two day period) They really do accumulate. After about 5 or 6 bottles per person per week (on occasion more if we go out), times three people (well, not with the new roommate, but that picture was taken before Pablo moved out), plus times we have friends come over (add on another 3 bottles per visitor, I'd say) adds up. Even if we didn't have people over, that's about 15 to 18 bottles per week, and I take the bottles back maybe once every month. Just to let you know, there are more than 100 bottles in that picture. Yup...100 bottles of beer on the floor, 100 bottles of beer...

Doug enjoying a Paulaner Hefeweißen Bier in Görlitzer Park...but out of a can! *gasp*

On another note, Doug and his friend Chris (and Chris' brother) were here last week in Berlin visiting. We met up for the day and I showed them parts of Berlin. (We took the scheiss Bus 100. How many times have I taken it?? It's not your fault, Doug.) It was such a lovely day out that we decided to sit out in Görlitzer Park near my apartment and drink some beer and soda. People were out and about because of the weather, walking around, sitting and playing music, enjoying a cup of something outside at a cafe, biking, running, etc. While we were in Görlitzer Park, you could see the colorful motley that makes up Berlin: punks (Punk is NOT dead by any means), hippies, hipsters, goths, students, Turks, fashionistas, fashion victims, old people, young people, gay people, straight people. Everybody doesn't give a damn what everybody else thinks of them and for this reason, I love Berlin.

The summer here is supposed to be extraordinary and you can tell that it will be. In addition to the World Cup (WM, as the Germans call it, short for Weltmeisterschaft), it's going to be wonderful to see everybody out and about enjoying the weather. Even yesterday when the weather was more on the downside (gray, colder, a little rainy), people were fishing along the Spree, walking dogs, or still biking. I myself went for a walk in Treptower Park, even though it was probably a better idea to stay inside.

In addition to walking in Treptower Park, I made a small trip to Platz der Luftbrücke, where the Berlin Airlift took place. In addition to a memorial to the Luftbrücke, Berlin's biggest airport, Flughafen Tempelhof, is also there. For those of you, like me, that are huge fans of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the airport where the zeppelin takes off and where Indy says, "No ticket!" is Tempelhof. Yes, I am a dork. I never would've thought of it, though, had Christian not said anything while we watched the movie. Of course, I had to take pictures. I'll actually go inside it when Tracie comes to visit me, since she's flying in there. (The thing on the left is the memorial to the Airlift, and the building behind it is Tempelhof.)

Lastly, classes (finally) begin on Tuesday. I have a list of about 15 or so to go to. I'm just hoping that my schedule works out advantageously like it did last semester so that I can travel on the weekends. My goal for this semester: München, Hamburg, Heidelberg, and Wien.