Hello my (hopefully) loyal readers. Today was the big day. We got our grades for the German Language class I've been taking for the last three weeks. I got an A- (or in Germany, a 1-). It's broken down into five parts, and the only one I got a B on was the grammar. I'm sure that's not particularly important for language though. Still pretty good, considering that I missed the first week. I got a certificate and everything. Everyone in the class passed, which was good.
Minor change of plans for this weekend. As of yesterday, we were planning to go to Nuremburg, which is roughly four hours away by train. Upon looking at the train schedules, however, we determined that we could either start at midnight and get there at nine, or we could leave at seven, get there at noon and pay €115 for the round trip tickets. Neither of these options seemed ideal. After careful consideration, we decided to wait on Nuremburg until we have matriculated as students. That way, the train fares will be greatly reduced. So instead... I'm moving!
Amanda lives in an apartment that is all of a three minute walk away. She lives on the second floor as opposed to the fourth, and it's a pretty sweet situation in general. This week, one of her apartment mates moved out, so I swooped in and snagged the room (assisted heavily by Amanda, who did most of the actual swooping). So for the rest of today and possibly some of tomorrow, I'll be lugging stuff up and down stairs. I'm excitied about it, particularly considering what an efficient mover I am. Hmm... Anyone want to fly over and help? I'll buy you lunch...
Today was the Speak + Write final exam. I think it went pretty
well. Tomorrow we'll get our certificates of completion and have
a potluck party, and we're done. On Sunday I take a placement
test for the IUSP program, which is the one I'm actually in, and I
start class on Monday. Should be pretty entertaining.
Since Saturday is a relatively free day, Amanda and I are
traveling. We're off to Nuremburg to see the courthouse where the
Nazi War Trials were held. I'm very excited about this. I
took a Holocaust class in High School and ever since, I've found that
period of history to be particularly fascinating. I'll take lots
of pictures. Nuremburg is about four and a half hours away by
train, so it will almost certainly be an all-day affair.
Next weekend we have another trip planned as well. We're planning
on going to Switzerland for three days. We're not sure when we
plan to leave, but we're thinking Destination : Zürich. I want to
go to a Swiss bank. And see the Alps. And eat cheese.
What else is Swiss? Chocolate. Clocks. Neutrality.
Francs. Man, what's not to like about this country?
So you know those Sundays in Virginia when you wake up and realize that you really, really want a chicken sandwich, waffle fries and a milkshake? And then you realize that Chick-Fil-A is not open on Sundays. Drat. So you sit there for a few minutes and admire them for their Chrisian business ethics, while still thinking 'Man, a chicken sandwich would be good. This stinks.' Well, welcome to Germany. Except for select restaurants, nothing is open on Sunday. This is not hyperbole. There are no grocery stores, clothing stores, book stores. It makes Sunday a lazy day, which is not a bad thing necessarilly, but you quickly get in the habit of going grocery shopping on Saturday. Otherwise, you're scraping a bit by dinner time. Man... I'd really like a chicken sandwich and waffle fries. A milkshake would be good too...
On Saturday we climbed the gigantic hill to go to the Medieval Market. That was a bit of a letdown. It was €5 to get in and then all you could really do was buy stuff. The ticket however doubled to let us into the castle on the top of the hill, so we got to go to a museum instead. The museum is dedicated to Saint Elizabeth, who, as far as I can tell, is Marburg's big claim to fame. After her noble husband died, she came to Marburg and started a hospital to aid the sick and poor. In turn, these saintly actions made her sick and poor, so she died three or four years after arriving in Marburg. Hopeless people came to her grave and were miraculously healed, so she was canonized only three years after her death. This year is something like the 800th anniversary of her death, which is pretty significant in Marburg.
It's finally Friday! Yay for the weekend. As it turns out,
there is a Medieval Festival in town for the next few days, and it's
hard to complain about that. Actually, the weather is supposed to
be kinda crappy, but the festival will be fun, and the food will be
Yesterday I made my first not-strictly-practical purchase. I
bought a pair of shoes (I'm sure everyone is shocked). Ballet
flats are very popular here, and I only brought my red ones, so I got a
new pair of bright green ones. Very cute. In fact, most of
the shoes I see here are pretty cute. I figure that it might be
important for you loyal readers to know about my shoe shopping
adventures in Deutschland. I also ate at a restaurant for the
second time since being here. And it was not McDonalds.
Amanda and I went to this little Italian restaurant. Not as good
as Gino's, but still sehr prima. So between the shoes and the
pizza, I think that yesterday was a pretty decent day.
The only thing that might have made it better had to do with the
bank. I was having problems with my Bank of America ATM
card (as in I could not take out any money) and banks in Germany tend
to have less convenient hours than banks in America. So yesterday
I was finally able to go into Deutsch Bank and ask them why my card was
not authorized. They couldn't tell me. As it turns out, I
was typing in the wrong pin. My didn't I feel like an
idiot. So I went to the bank that Amanda uses so that I could see
if it was worth it to get a German ATM card, since Visa is not
generally accepted. Well. We got the one bank employee who
speaks no English and was not interested in talking to me through
Amanda (who, by the way, was doing an excellent job translating).
She kinda yelled at us and got very huffy, so I decided that cash was
fine and that I could survive without an ATM card.
Next time I post a blog, I will post pictures as well. It's
difficult for me to post them because I don't have frequent access to
the internet, and the most available computers don't have any place for
me to upload them to. The pictures are very nice, however, and
worth waiting for.
And now, since I got complaints for not having them, the exchange
rates. I apologize for not posting them in my last blog, I didn't
have time. They are easily available, however, so I'm calling the
Wambulance on all of you.
One USD = €.74
One Euro = $1.35
The monthly average for US Dollars to Euros has been 1.36:1 in August, down a penny from July.
So. I finally had my first German beer. Or, to be more accurate, I had about a third of a German beer I expected it to be pretty all-around horrible (I had been warned several times). Sadly, it pains me to say that the beer was better than the conversation I had while drinking it. I was talking to Rudolf, who is from Switzerland. He was quite convinced that the United States has colonized Germany, and that America plans to drop the Atomic Bomb on Deutschland. He ranted about this for a little while, and Amanda and I just looked at each other. It was a very odd experience, and I wasn't sure that I wanted to get into a discussion about the U.S. dropping the atomic bomb on Germany, and I didn't want to seem culturally insensitive, so I went to bed. Otherwise, I would totally have finished that beer (or at least half of it).
It's now 4:20 Eastern U.S. time. I hope everyone has a wonderful morning.
Today in class, my lehrerin (teacher) decided that we should become
familiar with food. And really, who's going to argue with
that? So she gave us a grocery list and we went over all the food
on it so that we had some general idea of what we were looking
for. Then we went to the grocery store and had an extended
scavenger hunt. It was lots of fun, as scavenger hunts tend to
be, but maybe a little more useful than hiding army men in different
rooms and racing to find them (though that is a more competitive
atmosphere). When we found an item, we had to write down the
price and later we all compared to see whether we had found the same
items. I think we were in there for an hour and a half at
least. Very exciting. That's my update for today, more some
This weekend was so much fun! The amount of walking that goes on in Marburg is really pretty spectacular. I think I’ve probably walked around three hours a day so far, and I can’t imagine that will change anytime soon. After class on Friday, we didn’t have any real plans, so Amanda went home and I walked around town for a while. I found a bookstore that sold books in English (which was really very exciting, because until school actually starts, I’m pretty restricted on reading materials). A little expensive, particularly with the exchange rates, but it was really nice to have a new book. I got Saving Fish from Drowning, by Amy Tan. Not the best book I’ve ever read, but certainly not the worst. Definitely made Myanmar sound interesting…
On Friday the Kneipe was open again. I ended up sitting and talking with this guy from Moldova about economic growth. He’s in Germany to get his Master’s Degree in Economics, and it was a really interesting conversation. He is focusing on growth within his Master’s, and I just finished my SURF project on growth in the US, so we had read a lot of the same literature. It made me very happy. I also had quite a long conversation with a guy from Nepal. He’s in Germany for a Master’s of Engineering, but he’ll be leaving Marburg and going to a different university a few hours away. It’s actually relatively difficult to avoid getting into a political discussion with many of the people here. It was a really good experience to just sit and talk (in English) for a while. Very relaxing.
Saturday was a really lazy day. Amanda, Maya, Globalhar (it’s quite possible that I’m butchering the spelling of her name, but that’s it phonetically), and I had a cookout with two of Globalhar’s friends from home. Starting fires in the absence of lighter fluid is way harder than I thought. The food was really good though. Maya made this excellent chicken and Amanda made a cake. Probably the best meal I’ve had since I’ve been here. Soooo good.
On Sunday, we all got up and went to this sports complex. It had five swimming pools – indoor and out- and a waterslide! There was a whirlpool and a lap pool too. Then there were tennis courts and soccer fields and all these other really cool things to play on. It was so much fun, and well worth the 3 euros. We swam for a while and I finished my book, then Amanda and I decided to walk up the hill that Marburg is built on. Until then, I had only seen a little of the City, because busses don’t run up the hill. It was so gorgeous. The architecture has been kept up for hundreds of years and everything is cobblestones. There are a lot of shops and historical monuments up there. Most of the monuments have to do with Saint Elizabeth, who is almost a patron saint of the city. She lived in Marburg and opened a hospital. She was canonized only three years after her death. Then we walked through the botanical gardens. It was a great weekend.
By the way, hello Heather Frame. Also, one Euro=1.33 dollars. One dollar equals €.73. Is anyone speculating based on my blogs? That would be amusing...
My goodness, this blogging thing is amusing. Last night, I
experienced a new part of student life at Philipps-Universät
Marburg. My dorm has a bar in it. Something to look into
for Randolph-Macon, no doubt. It's called the Kneipe
(kah-nipe-ah) and it's open three times a week. This bar is run
by student volunteers called 'Team Kneipe' and the bar often stays open
until 7:00 in the morning (I stayed until 11:30) or whenever people
leave. It was terribly exciting, they have a fußball table and
everything. As it turns out, I am ridiculously skilled at
fußball, I actually scored almost all of the points in one game
(ignoring the fact that several of those were in my own goal).
Today at Speak + Write (which is apparently trademarked), we talked
about our favorite television shows. I was unaware that Law and
Order has actually transcended America and has quite a presence in
Germany. That is amazing, and I can't wait to see if I've already
seen what ever episode is playing in German. Although at this
point, I don't have a television (or a microwave, or personal internet,
or a car) so I'll probably survive without Law and Order, just as I
seem to be surviving without everything else. It's weird
though. I cook for myself every meal, which I have rarely done
before, I'm in class for four hours a day, I go grocery shopping and do
errands every day, and somehow I seem to have a lot of free time.
It's very different. I don't find myself running around nearly so
much, but I still seem to get everything done. I like it.
And, for those of you who are reading my blog for the sole purpose of
keeping up to date on the Euro against the Dollar, here goes.
€ 1 = $1.34
$ 1 = € .74
The dollar is up by a penny, I believe. By the way, all my euro
vs. dollar information is coming from the Federal Reserve Bank.
Guten tag. I arrived safely in Marburg, Germany, and today is my
fourth day. Each weekday, I attend a Speak and Write class, where
I attempt to learn some of the German language. I think it's
going pretty well. I can now go into a store, say hello, find
what I need, pay, and say goodbye. Simple questions will come
shortly, I'm sure.
Marburg is absolutely beautiful. It's a city on the side of a
hill, so after I've been here for a little while longer, I'm sure that
I'll be pretty legitimately buff. So far, my biggest culture
shocks have been:
1) The letters on a keyboard are not in the same order that they are in
on a US keyboard. That sounds like a little thing, but as I sit
here typing and looking at the keyboard for a few seconds to find the
next letter, it's an interesting experience.
2) There are bakeries everywhere. It's awesome. I have
pretzels all the time. I don't think that I truly appreciated
pretzels in the US, but a freshly baked pretzel is very tasty.
3) And because all good points need to come in three's, I'll mention
the alphabet. So today, I went grocery shopping and I was shocked
to find English Alphabet soup. We know that it is English because
we spent quite a long time looking for the ß (We figured that it would
be difficult to attach an umlaud, so that was really the only
distinguishing letter). It was quite exciting, nonetheless.
My dad wanted me to include the dollar to euro exchange rate each time
I write a blog, so today's exchange rate is 1 Euro = 1.35 U.S. dollars
(One dollar = 73 cents in euros). Not too bad. I note that
a month ago, when Amanda Ingenito got here and was exchanging her
money, the dollar was at a relative low, against the Euro, so she lost
at least $40.
So, my soon-to-be loyal readers, I will keep finding out new things
about Germany and writing to you about them. I did find out, just
for Troy and Jes, that my room, the Speak and Write, and the student
Mensa make an approximately isoceles triangle.