So today was paper day. Blah. So I decided to take a study break and lay outside and enjoy the sun. It was magnificent weather today. Just beautiful. So a friend comes up and convinces me to put my paper off further and go to a pool. How could I resist? I mean, really. The first pool day of summer? Yes, please.
This pool is apparently the largest pool…not sure if that means in Freiburg, in Germany, in the world…who knows. Either way, it was undoubtably the best pool I’ve ever been to. At the foot of one of the Black Forest hills…scenery to die for. There was a large grass yard where you could lay out, a water slide, a trampoline, a second deep pool, animal fountains…everything you could want in a pool. I will go back.
And yes, I even managed to finish my paper. Though it was technically due yesterday. Oh well. My new philosophy is this: it’s Germany and I’m supposed to (and am) having the time of my life. Why let a few silly 15 page papers keep me down? No, thank you.
Next stop, beer gardens up in the Black Forest hills looking over the city…who would ever want to leave this city?
So this is just a quick note to say that future blog posts are going to suffer. I will eventually catch up with everything, but school work is brutal right now. We’ve had to make up all the classes we missed due to the volcano, on top of working on the three 15 page papers and one 8 page that I have to do. It’s quite fun, if you couldn’t guess, but it will be taking up the majority of my time, so I’ll have to write in the good ol’ blog a bit later. And just when I was about to get back into the swing of things. Of course.
I may have time this weekend, however, because before this whole volcano fiasco disrupted my current circumstances, I booked a trip to Nice, France with one of my best girls on this program. It should be immense fun, and I will divulge the details when I get the time. Until then, just know that I’m working hard with the hope of playing hard soon after…Tschuss!
Oh, sweet Freiburg. How I have missed thee. I finally got back today after being gone for 2 1/2 weeks. It was not supposed to be this long of a vacay, though. In fact, it was supposed to be 4 days shorter. See, this is how the story went:
Day 1 of travel issues, Thursday, April 15: IES kids receive word that a volcano in Iceland has erupted and will probably have some sort of impact on our travel plans back home. While in Athens, a beautiful city, we are not too worried about being stuck there for a few more days. Oh, how we were so naive…
As the weekend goes by, there is an underlying level of stress as airports continue to shut down due to the ash cloud spreading across Europe. We go to the beach and visit the tourist sites around the city, trying to keep our minds off of school and travel as long as possible.
Sunday, April 18: We go to the airport to find that our plane has (not surprisingly) been cancelled. We were prepared for this, as the ash cloud had continually caused much disruption throughout Europe. Stressed, but still in relatively good moods, we go to rebook our flight for Tuesday, hoping that we can try to relax and enjoy the rest of our now extended trip.
Monday: Stress while attempting to relax. We had fun in each other’s company, but still longed for home…Monday night rolls around and we are informed of our new (forced) travel plans. We will take a 3 hour train to get on a 20 hour ferry to get to a 12 hour bus. Oh, the joys. Let the breakdowns ensue.
Tuesday: We embark on our hellish journey that yields no sleep due to a lack of beds. From 10 AM Tuesday to 3 AM Thursday we are traveling. No breaks. No beds. One shower that smelled of urine. I was officially home sick. And not for Freiburg. For real home. Alabama. Sweet home…
But now I’m back in Freiburg and am already feeling better. I haven’t really slept much because we were forced to go to class at 10 AM after getting in at 3 AM. Then we had extra classes to make up for time lost. And I have class at 9 AM tomorrow morning. IES, I am definitely not a fan right now. I appreciate you getting me home, don’t get me wrong. But I would appreciate that you would not treat us like we are at fault for this whole volcanic incident.
Enough ranting. I’m just exhausted and upset. I have so much work to do, as well. I hope I will at least get to enjoy my last few weeks here.
At least it will make for a good story to tell my (sister’s) children…
Second stop on our lovely tour: Brussels. We get there and our hotel is fine. Not the greatest, but definitely not awful by any means. We did take issue with the shower, however. It was on a platform in the bathroom and the curtain let water out all over the floor. I’m pretty sure we flooded the bathroom everyday and were using all our towels to sop it up. Cultural experience?
We leave the hotel to get some dinner and embark down an alley filled with restaurants right next door. Upon stepping foot in the area, however, we are immediately bombarded with men trying to get us to eat at their respective establishments. We were NOT prepared for this. They were telling us we were “beautiful girls” and grabbing our arms to pull us into the place. That was our first experience with such a touristy European area, and we were just caught off guard entirely. So we leave and try to find another place, but on our way are assaulted by a very drunk man who insists on calling me “baby” and blocking my way. We finally push past him, and it’s fine, but we’re all tired of grabby men by this point, so we head to the first restaurant we can find. It turned out to be really good, after all. I learned quickly how I was not a fan of aggressive tourist traps. We ended up eating there later because it was cheap (Brussels is also very expensive), but the food was quite mediocre and the silverware was probably stolen. Very interesting. Brussels cultural experience number two.
The trip would soon look up, however. The next day we went to some meetings at the European Commission and Council. They could have been better, but what can you expect from trained politicians? Nothing more than roundabout answers, that’s for sure. It was still amazing to be in those institutions.
Afterwards we went and tried to sight see a bit. We went to the famous Mannequin Pisse statue…very unimpressive. It’s literally a 2 foot tall statue of a naked little boy peeing. Very odd. They dress it up sometimes in random clothing. The second day it was in gangster rapper gear. I asked no questions.
We also went to a really cool bar. Delirium Bar. Like the beer. It had three stories and something like 2,000 beers on tap (I don’t believe it, though). I was in beer heaven here, as they supplied all of my favorite Belgian beers for decent prices. Chimay. Duvel. Kwak. Mmmm. Loved it all.
A side note: Belgian waffles are delicious. Eat as many as possible if you are given the chance. Mine had Nutella and strawberries. This girl was in heaven.
So, Brussels was really my first time feeling the cultural jolt. Even in Prague, things weren’t bad because I was able to get used to not knowing the language by just using patience. I think the tourist area culture was too much for me to handle. I hate being a tourist and I hate things like that restaurant alley. Ugh. But Brussels redeemed itself with EU institutions, food, and beer. Good save.
So we were off to begin our second field study trip with IES. This time we would hit up Luxembourg, Brussels, and Paris. This means I finally get to use my French. I was pumped! So first up is Luxembourg. Honestly, it seems that the place is trying to compensate for the tiny size by creating exorbitant prices. The only thing we could really afford was Pizza Hut. That’s right. Pizza Hut. I claim it as a cultural experience, however. The pizza was different…don’t judge. The only problem was that the waitress and I were communicating in English, French, and German. Quite unsuccessfully. It was very confusing and I was upset that my French was very much lacking, but we got through.
Really, I can’t say too much about Luxembourg. They really love their prime minister. Pictures of he and his family are everywhere. All over postcards and such. Slightly strange. But we only spent half a day there, anyways, so I didn’t get to experience too much of the city. Oh, well.
This is why I don’t keep a diary…I seem to easily forgot about it. Same with this blog, apparently. But it’s only been, what…two months? haha…sorry. I’m back now, though. Hopefully this time will be better! And fear not, as I will update on all the lovely adventures I’ve been on!!
Right now I am currently stuck in Athens, Greece due to a volcanic eruption in Iceland. The ash cloud has closed airports all across Western (and encroaching upon Eastern) Europe. I’ve been away from Freiburg for 2 weeks now, and am ready to be home and do laundry, but will have to wait at least two days…possibly more. We shall see. Until then, I’m trying to enjoy the sunshine without getting too stressed out. So look forward to several posts in the next couple days as I keep myself unstressed and busy!! (When I’m not trying to relax on the beach!!)
Let me start off by saying that I LOVE being in a country that doesn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. It is genuinely my least favorite holiday. Even though I do enjoy the extra love and delicious meal that my Mom used to make when I lived at home, it’s just a crap day. And this year, I forgot it was that dreaded day until it was almost over! Ah..It was nice…
Anyways, we went to the Swiss Alps on Saturday and it was crazy great. So beautiful. The weather was perfect and the scenery was beyond imaginable. We went to Grindelwald and split into groups to go skiing or sledding. I went sledding. Naturlich. I can’t ski nor do I own ski pants. But sledding was phenomenal! A bus took us up a windy road to the top of a mountain, and you just get on your little wooden sled and go to town. Literally. Go all the way back down into town. Sooo much fun. We even stopped and had Gluwein (warm spiced red wine…mmm) at a bar. The only bad part was when we started on the path that the cars were on, too…a little dangerous. I almost got hit several times. But fun, nonetheless.
Oh, and I had hot chocolate about 3 times that day because I was convinced (by Megan) that Swiss hot chocolate had to better than other hot chocolate. (And then we hoped it wasn’t Swiss Miss…) Overall, the day was amazing. Here’s to the Alps.
Home is where you make it. Sure, it can be where the heart is. But it can also be where you want it to be. Right now, Freiburg is my home. Though I miss and love my Alabama home, and my heart is most surely there, my German living space is more than just a living space. It’s my temporary home. I love Freiburg. I love the friends I’ve made here. For now, it’s home.
Given that, I of course find myself doing things I would do in my American home. The following are just a few things that I have brought from home to Germany in my own way: 1) eating Pringles. Same rule applies: once you pop, you still can’t stop. 2) Watching football. I totally drank some beers and watched the Super Bowl. And yelled “who dat?!” Loudly. 3) Dancing in my room. A little more reckless here since I don’t have blinds…what’s up guy across the way who can see right into my room. 4) Trying to make ranch dressing. Failure, by all accounts. 5) Eating grilled cheese. Why does it seem so much better here?
Moral of the story is this: I miss my American home. I do. I love it. But I love Freiburg, and while I’m here, I’ll still bring some American home into it. Consider it a makeshift home. Home away from home. Whatever makes you feel good. Just don’t think I’ve forgotten about my Alabama home.
In the end, there’s a common bond that brings both my homes together–the fact that I’m just a Southern girl in any place I call home…
IES took its lovely children to see Strasbourg yesterday. We walked (briskly and briefly) around the city in a tour and then went to European Parliament. Before I go on, let me just say that as much as I love these trips with the program, I always feel rushed. We seem to be late often. I understand that there’s sooo many people to tote around, but…come on. I’m running in 3 inch heels through the snow. EU boot camp. :)
But really, I do love these trips. So we shall continue. Strasbourg looks pretty, but it was cold and we didn’t have much time, so I will definitely head back when temperatures get above freezing. Parliament was really wonderful. We got to sit in on a debate over SWIFT, which was this proposal concerning cooperation with the US on anti-terrorism policies…it dealt with banks…I won’t go into detail. Anyways, it was so cool to be sitting there with my greasy headphones on, listening to the speakers get politically correctly pissed at one another. It was really great…I felt so important and smart.
But since we were in France, I decided to try to speak French to a woman at a bakery in which we briefly stopped. I got all excited and ordered in French, waiting for a reply…but what did I get? English? No. German. I don’t speak German. Precisely why I was so excited to be in France. haha I can’t win with this language battle. At least I’m trying…
Prague. An extremely beautiful city. Breathtaking, really. Home to the “most romantic bridge in the world”–the Charles Bridge.
Prague was much more fun than Berlin. (No offense, Berlin. I’ll come back to give you a second chance.) We had so much more free time to explore and relax.
I ate some absolutely delicious things here. Gnocchi with blue cheese and arugula…tons of Czech meats…gnocchi with gorgonzola and mushrooms (gnocchi is now one of my favorite foods)…KFC. That’s right. KFC. It was our first hour in Prague and it was close to the hotel and open…it was just so cold. It was actually the coldest I have ever been in my life. Apparently the coldest winter they’ve had in about 20 years. Same for Berlin. My Southern skin just hates it. But, anyways. The girls (Susan, Megan, and Sam) and I went shopping one day in this really great mall. I know, I know. Wasting my time in Prague shopping. But it was great. It was definitely a cultural experience–this mall was crazy! And very European. So I spent way too much money…don’t judge.
That night we went to the biggest club in Europe! Five stories. Crazy. All the IES kids were dancing like absolute fools! Everyone knew we were very, very American. But we had so much fun. Before we got to the club we walked across the Charles Bridge. Holy crap. I can’t even describe how beautiful it was at night. Definitely romantic. Just amazing. And I had my girls there to fall in love with! <3
The next day we went and saw the sights. I tripped in a puddle and rolled my ankle because what is a trip without my grace intervening? :) It was still really great, though. Prague is so freaking beautiful. I had no idea. It just saddens me to think that so much more of Europe could look like that had it not been for all the bombing during the war…
Prague, even though I think of your money as worthless Monopoly money, you have stolen my heart.