Yesterday I (finally) went to mass at the Münster in Freiburg. It was pretty easy to follow along and figure out which part was what, but I couldn’t understand the priest very well. He definitely told us during the homily that the Catholic church should be vegan, but I couldn’t follow what he said after that, so I don’t know if it’s a metaphor for something.
Anyway, it was really cool to go to mass in German in a medieval cathedral. I wish that I had gone earlier in the semester.
I’ve had this week off class because it is Pfingsten (pentecost). I stayed in Freiburg, which was a great decision. Mostly I’ve spent a lot of time working on my final papers which are due in two weeks. 28 pages in German total! I’ve finished one and I’m about halfway with two more. It’s been great, because I’ve been sitting at cafes with my friends while we work. Very productive.
Last weekend, the first weekend of Pfingstenferien, my friend Joseph came to visit Freiburg. He’s studying in Brussels this summer, but he has no time off, so he was in Freiburg for 41 hours. I packed all the important Freiburg activities in that time, though. We went hiking up Schönberg, we got ice cream and sat on the Blaue Brücke (blue bridge), we cooked spätzle, we ate schnitzel and drank beer, we went inside the Münster.
Other that homework and Joseph’s visit, I’ve had a pretty relaxed week. On Friday, a bunch of my friends came over to my WG to watch National Treasure and hang out, which was a lot of fun. We drank whenever Riley deserved better or Abigail shouldn’t have to put up with this. (Fun fact we noticed: there is exactly one (1) female character in this movie.) I’ve been drinking Melonsecco and Mangosecco recently, which is Prosecco mixed with melon or mango juice, and it is delicious.
Yesterday Julia, Ally, Jessie, John, and I went to the Seepark. At first we just stretched out and sunbathed, but eventually Julia, John, and I went swimming in the lake. It was so much fun.
Today, I’m not doing much. Just some homework, and then I’m cooking schnitzel and spätzle with Teddy and Andriana for dinner. Afterwards, I’m finally going to go to mass at the Münster like I’ve been saying I will.
Venice is exactly as I imagined it. The canals are really a sight to see. Honestly, I would have been happy to stay there forever.
We arrived Friday morning and immediately had a city tour. Honestly, the tour was awful. The day was extremely hot and sunny, we were all stir-crazy from the bus ride, nobody had eaten lunch, and the tour was three hours of nonstop walking. It was hard to appreciate the beauty around us when we were so miserable. We did get to go into the Cathedral of Saint Mark (Saint Mark of Gospel fame), which was gorgeous. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside.
After that we had free time. A couple of my friends and I sat outside an Italian cafe and ate fried zucchini blossoms and mozzarella balls and I don’t think I have ever been more content in my life than in that moment. I was surrounded by good friends and eating good food in the most beautiful place I have ever been. Honestly, I could have sat there forever.
At dinner, I had hoped to try the risotto that is traditional in Venice, but for some reason all of the restaurants only offered risotto for two and I was never able to get anyone to share with me. I did get some great shrimp pasta, though, so I got the Venetian seafood.
Saturday was entirely free time, so most of the girls went to the island of Murano, which is known for its glass. I bought a beautiful wine bottle stopper. I learned that there are 47 true Venetian glass families and all others, while legitimate, are not the traditional Murano glass.
When we returned to the main island, my friend Emma and I split off from the group. We ended up walking from the northern coast nearly all the way to the southern coast. We walked through a residential neighborhood and the tourist shopping district. Although, really everywhere in Venice is a tourist area. I definitely heard more English than Italian and a significant amount of German as well.
Eventually, we met up with the entire IES group for dinner. I had high expectations for Italian food, but honestly it is a million times better than I could have imagined. I could really live in Italy, I could.
On Sunday, we mainly just had the bus trip home. We did make a two hour stop in Verona, though, but instead of seeing Juliet’s tower, I made friends with Kylo Ren at the Disney store.
Last Wednesday I went to Italy. This was a trip with my program and almost all of us went, which made it a truly great experience. We had a 10 hour bus ride and that was a fun bonding experience.
First, we went to Padua and right off the bat, we had free time to do some shopping and eating. Italian pizza is as delicious as you would expect.
On Thursday, we had a city tour, which included a visit to the Scrovegni Chapel and the first anatomy theater at the University of Padua, where medical students would watch bodies be dissected to learn. It was eerie standing on the exact spot where countless corpses have been.
Afterwards, we had more free time, so my friends and I went to Saint Anthony’s Basilica, which is absolutely enormous. And the tourist there were terrible (not us, of course). I saw a woman fill up her water bottle with the holy water, and Ally said she saw a girl splash the water down her shirt. Everyone was taking pictures, even with flash, despite all of the signs telling them to respect the historical monument and art. I was pretty angry at how obnoxious these tourists were being.
We also went to the botanical gardens, which was so pretty. Since the area was so beautiful, we more or less just relaxed and took photos.
For a while, we sat by the river in a park full of statues, but then a guy started talking to us. His greeting was “hakuna matata” and so we pretended not to speak English, only German. Some people (not naming names) kept responding to what he was saying, though. It didn’t really work to speak in German when they were clearly understanding what he was saying.
I’ve been meaning to record some of the little things so that I can remember them, so be prepared for some boring details about my life.
I take the 3 Bahn towards Haid everyday and get off at Holzmarkt, which is one stop before Bertholds Brunnen (the main street). The IES building is right around the corner. There’s a bakery next to Paula Modersohn Platz, where I get on the tram. I get Brötchen there for .45€. My weakness is the Mohnschnecke, which is kind of like a cinnamon roll with poppyseed (and it translates literally to poppyseed snail).
I’ve been eating a lot of sandwiches. I’m addicted to Rosemary chips and can eat a whole bag in one sitting. But I don’t feel guilty because we don’t have them in America, so I need to eat as much as I can while I can. I’ve also been eating a lot of zucchini recently. It’s funny because I never ate zucchini at home, but it’s so common here. All I’ve got to do is put some olive oil and parmesan cheese on top and pop it in the oven, and it’s heaven. Speaking of cooking, the stove only goes up to 3, which I find frustrating.
There’s an old gate downtown called Martinstor, but we call it the McDonaldstor, because the McDonalds next to it defaced the beautiful historic monument with a giant ugly sign.
In Germany, there’s no central air, so you’re supposed to leave your window open for a few minutes a couple times a day, and I really enjoy it. Also, there’s no garbage disposal, so you have to scoop out any food bits out of the sink. I enjoy that less.
On Sundays, all stores are closed. The only places open are bakeries, döner restaurants, and cafes. It can be a really relaxing day of the week, or stressful, depending on if I remembered to go grocery shopping on Saturday.
For some reason, it’s not common to pay with credit cards here. Germans usually use cash (Bargeld) or EC cards. A lot of restaurants and smaller stores don’t even accept credit cards, and when they do, it’s a whole process. Sometimes you have to follow your waiter to the computer. You always have to show ID at the grocery store. Honestly, paying with cash would be so much easier, except there are so many coins. Anything smaller than a 5€ is a coin.
Wow, this has gotten kind of long, so I’ll take a break. I hope you enjoyed a little insight into the mundane bits and pieces of my life.
A few weeks ago, I received an email that I found extremely exciting. Free breakfast and lunch for two whole days. All I had to do was let a photographer take some pictures of me for the IES catalog. It was a great experience; I got a ton of food out of the deal, including pretzels, schnitzel, the Freiburg long red wurst, strawberries, and ice cream. Like I said, very exciting.
I’m also going to receive some great pictures of me and my pretend friends (the other students who signed up for the free food). Right now, I don’t have any of the professional pictures, just some that I took, but rest assured, the pictures are great. We went all around Freiburg yesterday, and today we went into the Black Forest to pretend to go hiking and for a picnic.
This weekend a few friends and I went to Frühlingsfest in Munich. Frühlingsfest is basically the springtime (and slightly smaller) version of Oktoberfest, and it was an amazing experience.
I know I already talked about my Dirndl last post, but here are some better pictures of my and the other girls wearing them. Plus one of the guys wearing their Lederhosen. We were super proud of how great we looked, especially since we could tell that a lot of women were wearing the same handful of Dirndls that were clearly from tourist shops or department stores.
Frühlingsfest was more more like a carnival than I expected. There were a lot of rides and games, and there were children everywhere. We ended up finding a huge tent called the Hippodrom, where we could buy beers for 9.50. They were each a full liter. At first, we sat and drank and hung out, but at about 5:00, the staff kicked everyone out of the tent to make room for the VIPs who had reserved tables for the night. Luckily, we met some nice Germans, who hide in a corner so that we could stay.
Once all the reserved tables were filled up, we managed to find one that was empty, where we stayed for the rest of the night, hanging out with some Germans, Americans, and various other people we had met. It was so much fun, and we got to dance a lot to some great German music.
I had expected Frühlingsfest to be more of a beer festival than a carnival, so it was a pleasant surprise how relaxed and family-friendly it was. Everybody was very nice and open, so we got to meet some new friends.
Also, the event was very touristy (although not as much as Oktoberfest from what I hear), so we impressed everyone by speaking German. Shouting in German was a great way to make our way through crowds of American tourists, who moved right out of our way. I even heard a few call us Germans, which made me feel very proud of my language abilities.