Wednesday, January 25, 2006

International Abend

Last night the exchange students put on an international evening for the campus... Or should I say, we were told that we were going to put on an international evening for the campus and given less than a week to prepare everything! I was slightly annoyed by this since we were not given much time, instruction, or direction where as by Coe, the international students are given at least a month’s notice. Oh well, in the end it worked out alright. Kathy and I got together on Sunday and baked about 80 chocolate chip cookies. We were supposed to present our country in some way, either by making food, presenting something, or both, but the topics were left very open. I didn’t know what I could say or present about Coe or Chicago, plus that would require a lot of talking in front of a lot of people in German, so I decided to teach people the basic steps to swing dancing. I’ve been teaching Mario how to dance so he was able to help me. I wasn’t sure how it would go over and if people would be up for a ten-minute dancing lesson, but I think it went over well. I was also nervous because I was the first one to present and my German is still so bad, but when I told people that I wanted them to try, a bunch of people jumped up and gave it a shot. I think they had fun... :-)

Friday, January 13, 2006

My New Pet

Ok, so I stole the idea from someone else's blog, but do you like my new pet?

my pet!

Break is Over :-(

Well, so much for starting my term papers over break... But I wasn’t completely unmotivated, I finished two books over break: a German book for my lit class (which was pretty stupid but at least not too difficult to understand) and Frankenstein. Over break I ended up hanging out a bunch with Mario and then later with Kathy. One day last week, Mario and I went for a walk in some woods around Landau. It was really pretty. We also went running and one evening we cooked together. Later, we got together with Kathy for movies and cookie making (which turned out very tasty by the way). Other than that, there isn’t too much exciting stuff going on. I really am going to start working on my papers soon... If anyone knows how to cite a world book or an internet site let me know! I know how to put them in the works cited part of my paper that comes at the end of the paper, but I’m not sure how to cite them in the paper since they don’t have pages like books do. Ex: The indigenous people in.... (Miller 56). Any advice would be much appreciated.

I almost forgot the highlight of this week. This whole week our Hausmeister has been gone for unknown reasons, so Kaija and I have not been able to do our laundry because we couldn’t buy Münzen for the washing machines. Finally, last night, after washing some clothes in my mini bathtub/shower, I went to visit Kaija (who was also washing clothes in her bathtub/shower) and we decided to call Mario and ask if he could buy Münzen from his Hausmeister the next day. We would pay him back, we just wanted clean clothes. He said he would give it a shot and we crossed our fingers that the other building used the same washing system. About 15 minutes later, he rang by our building and handed us two Münzen. We couldn’t believe it. He had gone around to other people in his building and asked if they had any Münzen for us. That was so nice of him. Kaija and I ran down to the basement and did our laundry right away and today I have clean clothes :-)

Monday, January 02, 2006

Happy New Year

1 January 2006
The European Christmas is much different from the American Christmas. In the United States, we start preparation for Christmas right after the end of Thanksgiving. In fact, I heard that the Friday after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping day of the year because everyone really starts their Christmas shopping. For my family, that is when we start thinking about picking out a Christmas tree and setting up the Christmas decorations. In the U.S., pretty much the whole month of December is gift buying, decorating, food preparing. We almost bankrupt ourselves buying gifts and when the whole holiday season is finally over, we practically need another vacation because we are so worn out.

Not so in Germany... Although there are Christmas markets everywhere starting around the beginning of December, Christmas is not nearly as big a deal here. I only exchanged gifts with one friend besides Urs’ family and I didn’t even go to Urs’ house until the 23rd because we had classes through the 21st. We celebrated Christmas on the 24th by exchanging gifts (many fewer than in the U.S.) and then going to church. On the 25th, Urs and I went to another, bigger church service in Manheim to hear the orchestra that played the mass. Then we came back and had lunch with Urs’ grandmother. Both ways of celebrating are good I think, although I did miss our way a little. It was good for me to experience Christmas in Germany though, and actually, I think if it had been very similar to Christmas with my family, I would have been a lot more homesick.

Urs’ dad, Urs’ brother (Hans), and I went to go see the big church in Worms a couple days after Christmas. This kind of church, by the way, is called a Dom. A little church is called a Kirche, a medium sized church is called a Dom, and a massive church is called a Kathedrale. In 1521, the Edict of Worms, which declared Martin Luther a heretic, was issued here.

The next day, Urs’ dad and I went on a walk in a special park near Ludwigshafen that has a bunch of animals. It was so pretty because it had just snowed and it was fun to see all the animals. It was also nice to get out and walk around since we had been spending most of the time indoors.

I came back to Landau on the 29th and for New Year’s Eve, I celebrated with Mario, a friend of his, and Alex and his girlfriend. It was so much fun! Mario, his friend, and I hung out in Mario’s room for a little bit, then we went over to Alex’s apartment around 10. We stayed there until about 1 and then went to Logo (a club around the corner). We watched on T.V. for 12a.m. and then right at twelve we ate twelve grapes each for good luck. It is a Mexican tradition to do this. You have to eat one grape for every chime of the church bells (so about one grape every second) starting at twelve. The twelve grapes stand for twelve wishes, one for every month of the next year. After the grapes had been eaten, we went outside to see the fireworks. I couldn’t believe it, but people were setting off fireworks in the streets all over Landau (and probably all over Germany). I was surprised partly I think, because in Illinois it is illegal to buy fireworks without some kind of special permission, and also because I didn’t see any police out. There were so many fireworks and some of them would be set off wrong and go spiraling down the street or hit into buildings. Alex’s girlfriend and I were kind of afraid of getting hit by one. Logo was fun and the music wasn’t too bad, although I still think it’s funny to see Germans jamming it up to Surfing U.S.A. by the Beach Boys, and I didn’t get back to my room until almost 4 a.m.! Oh well, I ended up sleeping until almost noon (a new skill I seem to have acquired here) so today I’m not too tired.