Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ich bin ein Sonntagskind (but I was born on a Tuesday)

There's a saying in German that someone is a "Sonntagskind" (literally a Sunday child, or a child born on Sunday) because children born on Sunday supposedly have luck. I was born on a Tuesday, but I am definitely pretty lucky. Classes at the university started on Monday and to be honest, the fact that I am done with my bachelor's has made me care even less about picking courses. I am less motivated than when I was in Berlin and my motivation level here is incomparable to that which I had in Middlebury.

The reason for my Sonntagskind title is simple: I showed up to a class today where I could learn some practical, hands-on stuff for film. However, about 80 or so other people also decided to show up and it turned out that the class had only 15 slots. The professor handed out slips of paper where we wrote our names and put them in a bucket, then picked out the 15 people who would be able to take the class. At this point, I thought about leaving because my chances were slim and I thought it was a terrible system, but at the same time, forced myself to stay since I was already there. To my great surprise, my name was picked out. It almost felt like a Golden Ticket type situation like in Charlie & The Chocolate Factory and many people went home disappointed. One girl showed up late and hadn't even put her name into the drawing. She begged and begged to be let in, but the professor had to say no because if he made an exception for her, all the other people would also want the opportunity. This isn't the only time that I've had my name picked for something so coveted, either, and that's why Christian said that I'm a Sonntagskind. (Another saying that he taught me about being lucky: "Die Sonne scheint aus deinem Arsch." Literally, the sun shines out of your ass.)

Another sort-of-lucky, but also educated-guess thing yesterday happened in this course, The Differences Between British and American English, which is taught in English. We were allowed to ask our professor questions and someone asked her where she was from. She had us guess and the first guess was "Arkansas?." That was wrong and the second guess was "New Orleans?," which was also wrong. Now, I have a good feeling that the German students made these guesses because the professor is black. So I finally just blurted out, "Washington D.C., but you've spent some time in England." I had to explain why I thought that, so with all 200 pairs of eyes on me (and I turned bright red), I said, "Well, you say certain things like a Southerner, others like a Northerner, but you definitely have a British accent thrown in somewhere there." It turns out I was right: The professor is from New York, but her mother is from Maryland and her father is British English, but she went to University of Maryland. Admittedly, I felt pretty good about myself that I had (educated-ly) guessed correct.

On a completely different note, I am finally posting pictures of my apartment because I finally took them and uploaded them. So here they are:

This is my room with the sun shining in. Christian's mom got me the bed and mattress from friends, Christian's old roommate gave me the TV, and Christian gave me the lamps, speakers on the floor, and the TV stand. I bought the rugs and the chair from Ikea, all for less than 50€. I also got a wardrobe (a "Schrank") for 30€ but that's not visible in this picture.

This is the kitchen. It's bigger than my kitchen in Berlin, but we don't have a massive cabinet here. However, it is nice to be able to sit in the kitchen and eat at the table. We had a table in Berlin, but our bread box, toaster, and water cooker thingie took up a lot of space. I wouldn't say that this kitchen is conducive to having Christmas or Thanksgiving here, but it's cozy enough for get togethers.

The bathroom is set up in an interesting way. The toilet and the sink are in one room together and then the bathtub/shower is in another room. It's pretty handy in the morning when one of my roommates wants to shower and I need to use the toilet or sink. It makes sense. Sort of like the bathrooms in the LaForce suites back in Middlebury, and unlike the bathrooms in the Atwater suites. Intelligent!

The last picture I am going to post is of the smalled Ikea that I have ever seen or been to. Christian and I went to pick my chair and larger rug up there because it was near his house and they had my chair in stock. It took us 20 minutes to find the chair walking through the entire store, pay for it, and get a little bit of food. I couldn't believe how small this Ikea was and that's why I had to take a picture of it.

Lastly, if you are reading this on Facebook, the spacing and everything is probably all messed up. So you should have read it on my blog.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

2 Months in Köln in a Nutshell

It's been a long time since the last time I updated due to a lack of internet. However, I moved out of my host mom's place and moved into a shared apartment (WG) where I have two 28-year-old German roommates, Volker and Stefanie. Both seem to be really friendly and do their own things (I hardly see Volker), so I've been cooking for myself.

Although I've moved into a WG, it's a bit sad because it marked almost everyone else's move from Köln to their permanent placements. The only people left here in Köln are Daniel, Greg, Jason, Aldous, and me, which I think actually makes up a really good group. However, there are other people who are not too far away, like those also in Nordrhein-Westfalen, Mainz, Wiesbaden, and Frankfurt. Hopefully I will be able to see those people once in awhile.

The past two months flew by and a lot happened. In order to condense everything so you can read it if you want to or skip over it, I'm writing a commentated list:

1. People had birthdays and a few of us discovered a jazz club. I don't have any pictures from Lara's birthday because Daniel, Kari, and I had no desire dealing with a large group and bounced. However, I do have photos from Justus and John's join celebration in Flanagan's (this Irish bar that caters to the international student population). However, Megan, Daniel, Greg, and I wanted to go to a jazz bar we had seen, so we did and had a really great time. The mood was perfect, the music was fun, and the beer pricey but worth it because the money went towards the musicians. We went another time and saw and old man from our language school who wound up buying us a round of beer and CDs from the performing group. I had heard from my teacher that the old man smoked cigars, so Greg ran out and got some to smoke with him. It turned out that the old man had quit smoking cigars two months previously. My face turned red not from beer but from embarrassment that I had been the one to suggest getting cigars. (How was I supposed to know?!)

2. Nine of us went to a friendly soccer match, Germany versus Romania. It was really fun even though we had seats stuck up in the corner and it was pretty much the B-team playing. We got to hear this cheesy song, "Viva Colonia" multiple times. This song is for the local Kölner soccer team, 1. FC Köln, but they played it at the national team game anyway. Who cares? Besides which, Lukas Podolski used to play for FC Köln. I managed to guess the outcome of the game correct; Germany won 3 to 1.

3. We all finished two months of "intensive" language courses and took tests for them. Pat and I had been in Level 8 in August, but passed the test at the end to move up to the next level. However, the Oberstufe (advanced class) consisted of people in Level 9 and 10, so we just did Level 10 stuff. In essence, Pat and I skipped a Stufe. ("Jaaaa!" is what Pat would always say) Now we can say we're supposedly fluent in German because we passed the Oberstufe exam.

4. I went to Brühl and Bonn on separate occasions. Daniel, this Korean girl from Tajikistan (Tajik?) in our class Lena, and I wanted to go see the Schloss in Brühl, but unfortunately the Deutsche Bank was holding an event there, so we couldn't go. Then our class went to Bonn on an excursion to the Haus der Geschichte (House of History) and the Beethoven Haus. It was really interesting and I will have to go back to the Haus der Geschichte. Daniel and I now have a joke that whenever we're in Bonn (or more like whenever Daniel is in Bonn), we're partying with Beethoven. (Daniel wants to do orchestral conducting and likes classical music, so it makes sense....Party mit Beethoven!)

5. I went to Berlin twice to visit Christian and we saw Wir Sind Helden. While in Berlin, I also saw Andrea once, but managed to miss Devin somehow. It was surreal being with Andrea in a smoky club in Berlin, but it was definitely fun. As for seeing Wir Sind Helden, they were really good and I enjoyed them, but I don't think I'd pay to go see them again. They played a lot of their mellow songs, which are nice to listen to when I'm at home chilling, but when I'm at a concert, I want to dance. Or jump. Or mosh. Ok, admittedly, everyone was jumping in sync when Wir Sind Helden played "Denkmal," but that was strange. Best songs of the night had to be "Heldenzeit," "Nur Ein Wort," and "Guten Tag." Well, I suppose "Endlich Ein Grund zur Panik" was good, too...any time the horn players got some good time was pretty much kick ass.

So that pretty much sums up the last two months. I actually updated my Flickr page as well, so there's a whole bunch of new pictures up if you want to see them. Hopefully I will be updating this a little more regularly, now that I have regular access to the internet.