Ohne dich ist alles doof!

I almost wrote a title in german…
September 30, 2009, 2:25 pm
Filed under: hamburg | Tags: , , , ,

Every one keeps mentioning that dreaming in another is the first sign of fluency. Having dreamt in German (Studying in my sleep, and then one dream that had smidgens of german in it), I can’t claim to agree. Last night I dreamt in gibberish. It was an odd thing to wake up to.

I haven’t been up to too much adventuring–schoolwork has been keeping me moderately busy. This week I have my first real presentation in German. It’s on censorship, and potentially quite interesting. Which means that either I am incredibly boring, or the vocabulary makes it difficult to understand. I’m opting for vocab–i’m not ready to admit selfhood defeat just yet. Before I had to do this somewhat important presentation thing–which is tomorrow, by the way–i went on a not too exciting but decidedly awesome adventure with Margaret. She hosted a German exchange student named Jonas (I think?) in middle school, and as a result has obtained a fantastically nice Deutsche Familie. We visited them for a weekend a few weeks ago, and while Detmold isn’t anything to write home about (har har) oh hey, it was a fun visit. We ate a ton of really good food, spoke with actual germans (this living in a dorm thing isn’t doing much for german interaction) and had an all around good time. I also saw my first Freilichtmuseum (outside museum)! Actually, I think I went to something like that once with my parents. It involved fire fighters, a black smith, and hair cross stitched wall hangings.

The Orientierungsprogramm is almost over. It isn’t scary to be done, but I don’t feel quite ready to start at the University. I’ll be taking 6 hours of mineralogy a week, along with chemistry, a threatre course, and grammar. We just had our second placement test–fingers crossed I tested into the higher level. The lower level has to continue with grammar next semester, and takes the place of an elective. I have to take 3 science courses next semester. An elective would be nice.

We head to Berlin this weekend, which should be great fun. Maybe I’ll be able to fit in a daytrip somewhere around there.

I’ve also started thinking about spring break plans. Never too early! Right now I’m thinking biking from Hamburg to Florence might be nice, though I hear I might have to cross this thing called the alps. That could be a problem. Good thing I have all semester to find a solution!


In Which Kassia, Liz, and Margaret (hooray for oxford commas) Set Out (and Return!) from a Very Great Adventure
September 14, 2009, 6:05 pm
Filed under: hamburg | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Saturday began slowly. We ran into Amy and her friend Stefan en route to adventure, and ended up spending multiple hours at the folklife-esque Kultur fest at the university. Imagine an area half the size of Smith, filled with multiple hundred of people, filing through aisles surrounded by food/craft stalls on both sides. With multiple music stages. And adolescent/early 20 year old boys attempting to breakdance to beat-lacking music and failing. Miserably.

It was hilarious.

And the food was so good!

And in order to explain my new found love of curry wurst, I must first explain the Altona-Rathaus incident.

Every other day (or so), we meet up with Sarah, a UH Student who did a year abroad at Smith last year through the American Studies dept. She shows us around Hamburg, attempts to elucidate certain cultural differences, and basically shows us a good time. Last week, we were supposed to meet up at the Rathaus for a tour. A very important tour-our professor was going to be there. Alas and alack, the morning was instantly doomed to failure. Step one: Meet Ali and Sarah, and learn that Ali has discovered a super fast way to the Rathaus using HVV (like trimet.org). Step two: get on bus 25. Step three: get text from Sarah telling us we need our passports and anmelden (address registration forms). Step four: take 25 in opposite direction and get forms. Step five: get back on 25 in what we *think* is the right direction. Step six: switch to 15. Step seven: get off and find Rathaus. Step eight: discover it is the wrong Rathaus. Basically we had to maneuver our way back to a u-bahn line, and take the route we had initially intended to take to the Rathaus. We were super late for our tour, didn’t have time for lunch, and had to get curry worst.

Think sweet and super yummy ketchup over sausage. Sooooooo worth it.

Any way! Back to our super awesome adventure! After eating our currywurst, we made our way to the Hauptbahnhof (main train station) and got on a random train heading in a random adventure. And where did we end up? Well! Crazy enough, I will tell you. At a super awesome Eintritt Frei (No entrance fee) Botanical garden, complete with pouty fish, North American conifers (speaking of which, I just heard the They Might Be Giants conifer song off of their kids album. educational music is so entertaining), and crocuses. Giant purple crocuses trying to find the sun. I feel like this is a constant struggle in Hamburg, as it is very often rainy and cloudy. One of my first weather experiences in Hamburg involved rain that turned into hail (huge huge painful hail) during our return trip from ikea. Lucky enough I had purchased a drying rack, which I attempted to hide behind. I achieved moderate success.

Pictures are on facebook! All my love,


Settling in–I hope
September 12, 2009, 7:49 am
Filed under: hamburg | Tags: , , , , , , ,

I won’t officially become a resident of Hamburg until I receive my visa, but even more than that, I really need to get off my butt and go outside. When there are only 4 people in your dorm that you know, and you don’t want to risk going completely ape shit as you tire of their company, it becomes quite necessary to spend time alone. Time spent alone, however, does not always lead to fantastically awesome solo adventures. Instead it leads to time spent online, or wading one’s way through a kid book in German. Not bad things in and of themselves, but I’m in Germany, and there are way cooler things I could be doing.

The first week I got here (for the second time) I went exploring by myself through a fantastic park bordering a canal, and finally to the public library. I now generally know the parked area, the area surrounding hauptbahnhof and the library, and the area surrounding my dorm. Hey! I even have an inkling as to what one might find in Altona (there is a story behind this. It will be told later), But I still don’t feel like I know the city. Rather, my mental map consists of a few simple street lines, and is built on my knowledge of local buses and train lines. To get to the library you can take the 5, or you can go to Osterstra├če and take the 4 or the U2. Best “pretend I have local knowledge” moment so far? Last night. A Smith Alum and 6 year resident of Hamburg needed to get on a specific train line, and was planning on going all the way to hauptbahnhof before switching trains, and then heading back in our direction. But! Because I had just made a better connection myself, I knew to switch at Shlump. Now to know the rest of the city that well. So! In the spirit of exploration, today Liz and I will be jumping on a random bus and having awesome hamburgian adventures.

Cool things you really ought to know about:

Alster fest. Star Trek cover band. AWESOME.

Wasserlichtkonzert: Nightly event in the Planten und Blomen garden. Water and light displays set to music.

Fire Dancing: Margarete got the good pictures of this, but I will see what I can do to upload mine. It was incredible. He lit his wings on fire, and played with all sorts of flaming batons. One of which flew sparks everywhere and startled/scared the crap out of me.

Socks!: I only brought 4 pairs of socks with me to save on packing space. Oops. I finally brought socks, and can wear close toed shoes again. (It has been quite chilly here, and wearing sandals every day has not been the epitome of fun).

September 2, 2009, 8:55 pm
Filed under: hamburg | Tags: , , , , , ,

I keep hearing the most contradictory things about Germany. One day, professors will go on and on insisting that the junior year abroad will affect the rest of our lives, and the next they’ll be telling us how unimpressive and uneventful it can seem. And how depressed we will be. Reminding us that the days are only getting shorter, and that any improvements in our German will for the most part go unnoticed–by us at least. And in an absurd, hilarious way, they are right. The depression hasn’t set in yet (and hopefully won’t), but I have begun to notice the interaction between the exciting and the mundane. Every conversation I have is a struggle to understand and communicate, and feels less like an accomplishment than an experience that is no longer unique. But as pedestrian as these conversations have become, and as sludgy/trudgy as they feel, in retrospect they are quite exciting. During, even. I am so excited to have more and more of these pedestrian and difficult conversations, about beer, spring break, carnival, and some place called Majorca that I still don’t understand.

I could go on. But instead I am going to bed. I am exhausted. Before I go, I will leave you with a list featuring only a few of the very awesome, and very common-place, things I have done so far.

Floor party!

Made Omelets!

Tested into the higher grammar class!

Eaten amazing food provided by Joe and Sue!

Tried a Berliner! (YUM)

Went to an Outdoor Flea Market thing and ordered a Crepe auf Deutsch!

Watched 10 Things I hate about you auf Deutsch

And most important of all–Have asked that my floor mates speak German to me, as it is the only way I will improve. Results so far–positive.

All my love,