Germany Thus Far: 15 Months

Another month in Germany has gone by…

While I can obviously complain about the horrible weather and lack of snow in southern Germany in December, there’s also plenty to be happy about (like the fact that I have tons of snow now!).

Around Baden-Württemberg

I celebrated my birthday this month with some friends from the Uni. We made up five nationalities: Bosnia, China, Germany, Georgia (the country, not the US state), and of course the US. Thanks you guys for an entertaining night and the epic multi-lingual toasts / speeches that you gave me!

Christmas markets were also in full swing, and I got my fill of Glühwein. I certainly made sure to visit the Konstanz market as much as possible since I will be living elsewhere next year. I also made it back to the Ravensburg market and the very last day of the Ulm market.

Christmas Cookies

My Christmas was celebrated with my adopted German family. No snow, but lots of food and singing carols (which I will forever hate). All in all, it was a relaxing holiday weekend.

In the Books

December was a busy study month. From midterms, to take-home exams, to a few papers, I didn’t have much downtime. I would have liked to have gone out more, but that’s life as a Master’s student.

New on the horizon: a Master’s thesis. Right before the break, my study program (all five of us) had a meeting with our advisor to discuss the upcoming thesis registration. I need a topic, and a thesis advisor, plus a second grader. There are a lot of topics that I find interesting. Too many in fact. Now the game is to narrow it down from my list of twenty to just one and make a proposal.

Speaking Denglish

Over Christmas, German had my head spinning. I spoke so much German that I had difficulty forming proper sentences in English by the end of the night.

I also noticed several times over the last month that I’ve been forgetting English words that I should know. For instance, I was at lunch a few weeks ago being quizzed on German words, and discussing trickier words which sound alike. We landed on the topic of the wood chip stuff that you put around trees and flowers. I used to work in a garden center, so I should know this word. Only a few days ago did I finally remember that it is “mulch” that I was searching for.

So that was my month. In other news, my mother sent me my little sister’s senior photos. I can’t help but show off how cute she is. She graduates from high school in May!

C's Senior Photo

Cheers!

Another Birthday Abroad

I celebrated my twenty-third birthday this month in true Lynnae fashion: with Mexican food and Christmas markets.

I went to the Christmas market in Ulm and enjoyed my first ever Feuerzangenbowle. It’s a type of Glühwein with a little cube of sugar on top covered in rum and lit on fire. Luckily, I didn’t light myself on fire. Though, I did see one guy light his shoe on fire, so it seems to be easily done.

Afterwards, I went to Enchilada, one of the few Mexican restaurants that I’ve seen. It was pretty good, but not as good as the American-Mexican and Southwestern food that I can get back in the states. It was also nowhere near as good as the Mexican food that I had in Oaxaca. I quickly cleared my plate all the same.

I also went to the Ravensburg Christmas market on my birthday weekend. I was surprised at how big it was for a small town. While I was there, I had some yummy spring rolls.

RV Christmas Market
Ravensburg Christmas Market

Overall, I’d say I had a good variety of some of my favorite cuisines, including cooking my favorite lemon chicken and pasta. I also got to see some really festive Christmas-time celebrations in Germany.

After this weekend I had one major conclusion. I have missed people drinking in public and during the day like in Northern Ireland. And the strange thing is that even with the public drinking, it still feels more like a family event than anything I’ve been to in the States.

What do I think about birthdays abroad? Not so bad. Sure, I’m not with family, but at least I have a good view, though no view can beat last year’s.

Cheers!

Finally, I’m in Deutschland

Hallo! So… I’m in Germany. It’s weird to say it. I don’t know how to explain how it feels, but I can explain what I’ve been up to! Here are the highlights…

Sunday, September 27: Arrival in Munich. After dealing with the fact that my luggage was left behind in Chicago, I went straight away to see some friends that I haven’t seen since I left Northern Ireland last year!

This first day was very relaxing and just what I needed after three flights originating in St. Louis. I was beat.

Tuesday, September 29: I visited the city of Ulm! The Ulmer Münster (Ulm Minster) is the world’s tallest church at 161 meters (530 feet). I climbed up the church steeple to the very top. From there, I could see the whole city, and even the Alps in the distance.

Ulmer Münster
The front of the Ulmer Münster. It’s a bit dizzying even from the ground.
Up Ulm Minster
Almost to the top. It was very windy up there!
The blue blur on the horizon is actually the Alps!
View from the top. The blue blur on the horizon is actually the Alps!

If you’re not good with heights or tight spaces (narrow spiral staircases), I would not recommend climbing up to the top of this steeple. It was also very windy the day I went, so the top had incredible wind, which clearly made it difficult for me to control my hair as you can see in the photo.

Surrounding the church is a nice little shopping area with some shops and good eats. I definitely must go back, as I didn’t have quite enough time nor energy to explore everything.

Thursday, October 1: I spent some time staying at a friend’s apartment, which was good because I needed to sleep off jet lag and get adjusted. On Thursday, it was finally time for me to take the first half of my luggage, which arrived a few days after me, and head to Konstanz (Constance) where I will be studying.

I took the train to Friedrichshafen, which is on the Bodensee (Lake of Constance, but I will call it Bodensee from now on). This little town is just so cute. I really must visit it properly one day. From here, I took the ferry to Konstanz.

After I arrived on campus, I collected my keys, checked the flat for damage and then started to unpack the first bit of stuff. I will talk more about the uni and the city of Konstanz in other posts.

Sunday, October 4: On Sunday I made my second trip to Konstanz with my other suitcase. When I got to Friedrichshafen, it was clear at last, so I was able to properly see the Alps for the first time. THEY ARE HUGE.

First Alps

I can’t explain how big they really are in just words and photos. You would have to see them yourself, if you haven’t already. I have never seen such massive pieces of earth sticking out against the horizon. I’d also like to point out that these are the Swiss Alps on the other side of the lake.

Monday, October 5-Now: This past Monday I began orientation at Konstanz Universität (University of Constance). Right away they started explaining German bureaucracy. In the first day already I filled out all my forms to apply for my visa, also called a residence permit, and for other bureaucratic things.

Another feature of the orientation is being placed in a German-as-a-foreign-language course. I took a written test on the first day, then today I took another written test and oral test. I know that a few people who spoke zero German were told that they would have to sign up for the most basic German course at another language institute. I was very nervous and figured I would suffer the same fate. Fortunately, they gave me a class! I guess I have basic / can-understand-a-few-words-and-maybe-answer-in-crappy-sentences German. Yay! Now, I just have to figure out if this class conflicts with my Master’s courses.

The last major feature of orientation starts tomorrow for me. It’s the here’s-how-to-survive-in-the-university section of the orientation. I will also get to check out the library tomorrow, which is super exciting since the uni just opened a new library! If you know me, you may understand how much I like libraries.

Well anyway, I will be off. More details on my life in Germany coming soon.

Cheers!