Today’s Big Thoughts

5/3/2016 (This one got lost in my Word doc for a bit!)

So far, there’s been some English, some German, and a minor identity crisis. I’ve been studying German all through high school and college, but with no idea of what I really wanted to do with it. When people asked me, I brushed the question off by saying that I enjoy studying a foreign language, but now I think I understand why I was drawn to it. It’s what brought me here—to Europe, or a corner of it, at least. I’ve seen almost nothing—barely even scratched the surface of Mannheim—yet everything just clicks. While I may never end up getting a job in German or pursuing it at a higher level of secondary education, it really doesn’t matter—what matters is the connection that it’s offered me to this culture, this place, this people. It took me a while to recognize that, and even longer to decide to go after what I saw. But now that I’ve realized what’s out there—just how big and exciting and beautiful the world is—I see no reason to stop. Language is the spice of life—it’s what gives mundane things a spark, what makes them come alive. Without other languages, just think how flat and boring the world would be, and how little it would truly offer us. It’s this mix of cultures and nationalities, this openness and warmth, that’s making me fall in love with European culture. I love it here, love it here, love it! I’m already thinking of ways to come back next summer, though I’d be happy with a little less smoke.

Off to speak more German with people I’ve never met before. Wish me luck!

Xoxo,

Susan

 

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Digging in

5/6/2016

I’ve decided to stay in Germany for another month! (I’ve also had continuous difficulties getting online, which is why there’s been such a lack of posts!) I had a few things planned for June back home, but being here just seems too important to cut the time short. I need the chance to experience as much as possible. So, you know what that means—more pictures, coming soon!

Fluency?

5/5/2016

Today was a holiday, so I spent the day doing one of the most exciting things I could think of…you guessed it. Sitting in a coffeeshop, not managing to get even halfway caught up on everything on my plate at the moment. (My phone didn’t even keep the picture of my beautiful raspberry-cake breakfast…so sad!)

Europe is beautiful, but it’s frustrating, somehow, having been placed into B 2.3, because essentially everyone I encounter tells me that my German is “sehr gut”—even some of the students in the C1 level, and some of the teachers, and storekeepers in town! Yet I’m just not quite there, I guess. Perhaps I could be, if I were willing to do the work, but I guess it’s a bit late to complain.

On a more positive note, we did manage to play our first round of Settlers of Catan in German this evening…!

On a more positive note, we did manage to play our first round of Settlers of Catan in German this evening…!

I guess the biggest thing to remember is that I’m here for the experience–whatever that means, both the good and the bad. I’m here to enjoy myself, to learn as much as I can–and sometimes, when I think of it, to share with the folks back home. 😉

Xoxo,

Susan

Dinnertime in Deutschland

5/4/2016

The last few days have been an utter whirl of activity: finding the youth hostel; getting to Goethe; making new friends. Mealtimes have been crazy, and I definitely haven’t slept enough since I landed (very early in Eastern Time) on Sunday morning. Yet it’s still just such an amazing feeling—being here, in Europe, for the first time, on my own. No responsibilities (other than washing my dishes once in a while and, of course, doing work for class), and the ability to speak to people in the language of the country make the days feel long and glowing.

And having beauty everywhere certainly doesn't hurt!

And having beauty everywhere certainly doesn’t hurt!

Mannheim may not be the biggest city in Germany, but it’s big enough to get lost in, and to find yourself in as well. And everything is just, well, better here. The people are nicer, and life moves along at the right pace. Army time makes sense, writing the day in front of the month makes sense,  speaking German makes sense. It’s barely the start of the adventure, but I can’t wait to see what else this trip has in store.

Even the eggs are brighter!

Even the eggs are brighter!

Xoxo,

Susan

SPAGHETTIEIS!!!

5/2/2016

The day started early with breakfast at the hostel, a quick check-out, a quick S-Bahn ride, and our arrival at Goethe! There are so many international students taking courses here—it’s pretty amazing, since the United States seems to be composed of mostly U.S. citizens, and I haven’t really had this kind of exposure to people from other countries before.

After our placement interviews and getting checked into our dorms, we had the rest of the day to ourselves, so my travel buddy Andrew and I teamed up with new-friend Catherine and went off to apply for Mannheim citizenship! With our Staatsangehörigkeit, we were able to then apply for Entdeckertickets (discovery tickets), which will allow us to ride all the buses and trains for free or at a reduced rate, after paying an initial fee.

Once that was over with, we ventured downtown, where we passed a lot of shops and finally,

Finally,

Found

Some

SPAGHETTIEIS!!!

SPAGHETTIEIS!!!

It tasted every bit as good as I’d hoped it would!

AND, It tasted every bit as good as I’d hoped it would!

We split it three ways while looking down at a beautiful fountain near the city’s monumental water-tower, which is a sight in and of itself.

So lovely!

So lovely!

So historic!

So historic!

I just wish I had more time here, so I could explore as much as possible. Everything is so bright and busy and convenient and clean and fun. My dorm is almost too nice to call a dorm, and is a lot roomier than my friends’!

Sounds like a great place for some future dinner parties.

Sounds like a great place for some future dinner parties.

I’ve already stocked the fridge!

I’ve already stocked the fridge!

Xoxo,

Susan

 

Airport Time

5/2/2016

It’s been a few days since I arrived in Germany, and everything is so lovely, but  Internet access has been a little spotty!

I'd never been on a flight quite this long before, but it was SO very worth it!!

I’d never been on a flight quite this long before, but it was SO very worth it!!

The first night, I stayed in a youth hostel (Jugendherberge) just off the Rhine river (on the Rhein Promenade).

I could not believe how lovely this place was!

I could not believe how lovely this place was!

My room overlooked a playground, and there were kids running around and playing for the entire day on Sunday! I’m traveling with a friend, and once we’d settled in, we walked around, bought meals to-go, and generally took in the sights.

We found little white flowers scattered in-between the S-Bahn (streetcar) tracks...

We found little white flowers scattered in between the S-Bahn (streetcar) tracks…

 

...the ever-busy playground...

…the ever-busy playground…

And a beautiful park, where we catnapped the afternoon away!

And a beautiful park, where we catnapped the afternoon away!

Not to mention that our rooms were pretty great!

Not to mention that our rooms were pretty great!

I’m just loving this so much—so happy I’m in Europe, that I have a buddy to do this with, and that I had such a good experience on my first couple of days here. When I came back to my room, I even found a sweet roommate who was happy to welcome me to Europe, and who made for a great conversation partner!

We’ll be settling into our dorms tomorrow and getting registered for our classes at the Geothe Institut, and I really have no idea what to expect.

If nothing else, I hope to find some Spaghettieis soon!

Xoxo,

Susan