Italy 1.0: Padua

I don’t know what the deal with this was, but I thought it was pretty funny.

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.

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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.

Here I am at the botanical gardens (notice my new Italian pants, which I had bought at the market that morning)

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 basically had a photo shoot at this spot. All the pictures turned out great!

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.


Hungary and More

Currently I’m in Poland, but I’m not going to talk about that yet. I’ve got to catch you up on the first half of my Easter break.

Four friends and I left Freiburg on Friday, and we were off to a terrible start when John got on a train to Frankfurt without the rest of us. I freaked out, but it was really fine since we all met up at the airport.

We flew into Budapest, which is an amazing city that I love. I’m already looking forward to going back. Apparently, free walking tours are very popular in Europe, so we did that and learned a ton about the city and its history and culture. Also, Hungarian money is hilarious. 1 Euro = 1 dollar = 312 Florints. We felt so fancy waving around thousand dollar bills.

On Easter Sunday, we went to mass at St. Stephen’s Basilica, which is a beautiful place. Mass was in Hungarian except for a brief summary of the homily in English, but I actually think most of the people in attendance were tourists. And there were a lot of annoying tourists in the back, who kept talking and taking photos.

Unfortunately, after that I got sick. I think it’s just the same bug that went around most of our group about a week ago, but it meant I missed out on going to the Turkish baths.

Also, and this is very important: Hungarian food is wonderful. It’s all meat and bread and fried everything. Lángos is one of my new favorite foods; it is fried dough with garlic sauce, sour cream, and cheese on top and pure deliciousness. Other than that, we really enjoyed a food truck festival and the Easter market, both of which had great selections of food.

I’ve actually been to 6 countries in the past few days: Germany, Belgium, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, and Poland. Belgium and Austria were pretty much just layovers, but we had about six hours in Bratislava. Nobody spoke English there. Luckily our waitress knew enough to explain what was vegetarian for my friend Emma, but other than that there was no English. I had to buy cough medicine from a Slovakian pharmacy while speaking German (and I forgot the word for cough, so it was an adventure).

Sorry for the long post, and I’ll update about my time in Poland soon!

Türkisch für Anfänger

I don’t know if any of you are looking for a German tv show recommendation, but let me just tell you about the glory that is Türkisch für Anfänger. The title translates to Turkish for beginners. It is basically the German Brady Bunch, and I am hooked. Basically, a German woman and her two kids move in with her Turkish boyfriend and his two kids. Lena, the German daughter, is the main character, and she hates her new life. There’s drama, there’s romance, there’s family, there’s friendship, there’s angsty teenagers, there’s an excessive amount of throwing oneself on a bed crying, borderline incest (they’re step-siblings, but still). You’ll love it. It’s on youtube, watch it.

I’ve also learned a lot of German words from this show. Bescheuert, ständig, feigling, pass auf, all sorts of new words and phrases. In other words, this show is educational, and I should feel no guilt for binging it.

I can’t figure out why Nils isn’t in this picture I found, but I couldn’t find a better one. I don’t know why he’s always overlooked; he’s the only kid who wants to be a happy family. But apparently he’s going to leave the show(?), I don’t know I’m not that far yet.

A Breakthrough

I’ve finally had a real conversation with my roommates. There are two tall men with large hair and beards, and they really intimidated me, but they’re actually super nice. When I came home, they told me they wanted to get to know me, so we sat and talked (in German). I found out that in Vauban, there are knitting, reading, and yoga groups I might want to join. They also want to take me to the Vaubar.

One, Haytham is from Palestine, and he is very against capitalism. So somehow I ended up having to defend America to him, and my German is really not good enough for that. They taught me a bunch of new words, though, including einschüchternd, which means intimidating. I’ll be using that one a lot.

Learning Some German

We’re in the middle of a break from class right now. For the first two weeks, all of the IES students have intensive German language courses. Then there’s a week in Berlin before regular classes begin. We only started class yesterday, but it’s going pretty well.

I’m learning more outside of class, though. With the other IES students, I speak mostly Denglish. I’ve started to think in Denglish, which is pretty good. I’ve learned some pretty fun and important new words.

hinzufügen = to add (so fun to say)

ein Kater = a hangover

unglaublich and unglaubwürdig = unbelievable (but in different contexts, unglaublich is like “wow!” and unglaubwürdig is more like “that is not true”)

Ami = slang for Americans

Asi = ghetto

bubblen = to chit chat (it’s Badisch, which is the local dialect)

Orientation 2.0

At Hausbrauerei Feierling, the beer is brewed in house
At Hausbrauerei Feierling, the beer is brewed in house

My luggage has finally caught up to me, and I learned a new German word: erleichtert. It means relieved, which is exactly how I feel.

This is great because I had to walk around without an umbrella and it was hailing during our tour of the city. On the bright side, Freiburg is beautiful. My favorite part so far was the Freiburger Münster, which is a beautiful, old church.

I drank a Radler, which is half beer half soda, and all delicious
I drank a Radler, which is half beer half soda, and all delicious

The tour was one of the main things we did today (technically yesterday), but we also had to take a written German placement test and do a short interview in German. This is all to figure out our German levels so that we can be in the right classes. After the interviews, we had a few hours before icebreakers and pizza, so a group of us went to Hausbrauerei Feierling, a Biergarten.

After the pizza, some friends and I went to a cafe for cocktails and to get to know each other. I really like the people in this program, and I am impressed with how well we all communicate in German.


I thought about switching to keeping a journal in German, but I decided to do a blog so that I can share. We talked a lot about speaking in German

lunch döner
lunch döner

(while actually speaking in German) today during orientation. Minimizing our English use was a major theme. The other students and I agreed that we wanted to speak in German as much as possible even among ourselves, since that’s what we’re here for.

Today we learned more about the IES program and took a tour of the city. I had döner for lunch and dinner; döner is a Turkish meal that is basically a pile of shaved rotisserie meat. I also had to buy some things, since my luggage still hasn’t arrived.

dinner döner
dinner döner

Afterwards, my friends and I split up to go to our apartments. Since I was alone and not sure how to get back, a guy named Tylor went with me. Getting lost seems to be becoming a theme because we got off the train at the wrong stop and having to use my map to figure out how to get to the apartment. I am so proud that we found it without the help of a GPS, though Tylor deserves all of the credit. It was an adventure for sure! And we found lots of streets named after famous German artists and writers.