Sunday, June 24, 2012

Last Weeks in Tuebingen

I've been really enjoying my last couple of weeks here in Tuebingen. I really love this town and the friends that I have made while living here. Class really slowed down after our midterm retreat and it has been nice to have the academic part of the experience be less stressful. Last weekend I stayed in Tuebingen and wandered around taking pictures of everything with Olivia. It's really beautiful here this time of year with the flowers blooming and the sun shining most everyday.

Sunset view from my dorm room

Kitchen!
  
My dorm

The cheapo store near the dorm where I do all my shopping


University building!

Where I have class!

Olivia eating Italian Eis downtown

The outdoor market where I buy lots of my produce

Tuebingen church

On the Neckar bridge


Warm enough to swim! But the water is pretty dirty.

Me and Olivia by the river

Last weekend Olivia and Julia busked downtown! (Busking means playing music on the street for people.) Julia and Olivia have been playing together a bunch the last couple of weeks and they sound really good. It was super fun to watch them play.

Julia and Olivia
This past week was my last week of grammar with our regular teacher, Barbara. I'm really going to miss her because she is such an awesome teacher. She is full of energy, great at explaining concepts, and super dedicated to her job. She left this weekend to go to Portland for a few weeks to teach language intensive there.

On Friday I made bagels with Olivia and Sara and this sweet German girl named Laura they met over a month ago when their train broke down. Laura helped them navigate their way through all the confusion and finally make it to Freiburg. I had never made bagels before, but Laura is an expert so they turned out really good. I haven't interacted a ton with Germans, other than our teachers, since I've been here, which is a shame. I think it's mostly because I was so busy with the program stuff and traveling and partially because my language skills are still super basic. It's too bad we didn't get to hang out more with Laura throughout.

Yesterday I went to the zoo in Stuttgart with Sara, Olivia, and Andy. Stuttgart is only about an hour away from Tuebingen so it was pretty easy to get there by train. The zoo is really big and has lovely gardens. We wandered all around, even to the end where the farm animals were, so that Olivia could see the chickens and goats. It was pretty cute to see all the baby goats. But I was most entertained by the ponies. They all had their heads over the fences so people were petting them, but they were biters and I saw more than one person get bitten. There was a sign warning people, but people kept getting bitten anyway. So hilarious.

Today I went on a walk with Olivia back to the book tree and then made a bunch of salsa. Mmmmmh. I'm going to start packing because I'm checking out of my dorm on Friday and going to Munich to meet up with my dad, brother, and grandparents! I'm so excited to travel around Germany with them!

This week we have two days of review and then our final on Wednesday. On Thursday we have a group excursion to Bodensee (Lake Constance), which should be super fun.

The first two weeks of July I will be traveling around southern Germany car-camping with my dad, brother, and grandparents. Then I will meet up with one of my best friends, Cloyce, to travel all around Europe for a month until August 14th. We hope to go to Munich, Vienna, Croatia, Italy, southern France, and Barcelona. We're getting rail passes so we'll have a lot of travel flexibility, which will be awesome. It should be a crazy month and a half!

I'm a little sad to be leaving Tuebingen so soon, but I'm really excited to travel! I probably won't have time to blog again before Friday so my next blog may not be until mid-July or maybe not until I come home mid-August. But at some point I will write a closing/reflective blog about my study abroad experience and do some blogging about my next month and a half of travel! Studying abroad is a pretty crazy experience and I am so lucky that I have had the opportunity to do it twice!

Thanks for reading, hope you are all doing well back in the States!

Love,
Jessica

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Berlin!

Well, it's been about three weeks since I last blogged. Oops! But not too much has happened, other than my trip to BERLIN!

After I got back to Tuebingen from Munich we had a week of film and art classes, which was really fun. We saw "Das Leben der Anderen" (The Lives of Others), "Das Wunder von Bern" (The Miracle from Bern), "Sophie Scholl," "Metropolis," and "Triumph des Willens" (Triumph of the Will). I really liked "Das Wunder von Bern" and highly recommend it. It does a good job showing what West Germany was like post WWII and how important soccer has been for re-unifying the country. I would like to see some of the other films again with English subtitles so I can understand all of the dialogue.

That week we went out to Top 10, the best-known and biggest dance club in Tuebingen. They have three rooms with three different kinds of music. On Wednesdays students get in for free and drinks are half price. We had a lot of fun, though possibly the most fun part was wandering around town looking for it.

The only other exciting thing I did was making Mexican food. I found some really hot peppers at the outdoor market and made some decent salsa and quesadillas with Olivia and Sara.

My brother graduated from high school and my mom graduated from OHSU with her master's in nursing!!! I really wished that I had been able to be there. I'm so proud of both of them!

Last weekend I went to Berlin with Ashley and Olivia S.P. We had a four day weekend so we left on Thursday and took the train. It was a ridiculous day. First we bought the wrong type of ticket, so we got kicked off the train (at least we weren't fined). Then we missed our connecting train by one minute because we were waiting at the wrong end of the platform. We literally got there right before it took off. I was pushing the button to open the door and it wasn't opening and we were freaking out and then it left. But we were able to catch the next train so it wasn't a big deal.

Ashley and I stayed at a hostel called Baxpax. Despite it having the worst name ever, it was pretty nice and cheap and it was in a really good location. Olivia stayed at a different hostel nearby.

On Friday we wandered around Berlin and did touristy things. We went to the oldest still-operating church in Berlin, we saw Alexanderplatz, and we took pictures by the Berliner Dom. We also took a boat tour around the historic district.

Marienkirche

Neptunbrunnen

Altes Museum

In front of the Altes Museum

Berliner Dom

Then we went to the Pergamonmuseum, which is this super rad museum with crazy Greek and Roman statues and gates, Babylonian art and architecture, and Islamic art.

Pergamon Alter


Athena

Market Gate of Miletus

Ishtar Gate, Babylon

Mshatta Facade, Jordan


It was really weird to see all of that ancient architecture in Berlin. The Pergamon art was excavated by Germans in the 19th century, so naturally they brought it to Germany? Bringing important pieces of past civilizations so far away from their homes seems quite imperialist and Western to me. I'm not sure how I feel about it. It doesn't seem fair to collect the history of other nations like that. It would be interesting to read more about the politics surrounding the museum.

That evening we went out to eat at Nord Sud, a restaurant recommended by my Lonely Planet travel book. The book said that it would be super busy, but we got there early so no one was there when we arrived. The owner's son was throwing a temper tantrum when we got there and we received no service for quite a while. When he finally came over he verbally gave us the three menu options for the night, each with an appetizer, main course, and dessert, and each only 7.5 euros with a drink purchase. The food was French (like the owner) and was incredible. Worth the strange reception.


Later that night we went to a club on the waterfront called Watergate. We had heard that it was nearly impossible to get into many clubs in Berlin for foreigners, so we were pretty worried about getting in. But we were the only females in line so we actually got in really easily. The club was pretty neat inside and had a dock on the river connected to it with a great view.

But when I went to the bar I got the worst service of my life. When I ordered I just said "ein Mojito" because I had already gotten flack for my poor German earlier that day and it was loud in the bar. The bartender then gave me a lecture on how to properly order--in English. I was extremely insulted and felt like I was being judged just for being American. I contemplated what I would say to him and decided it would quickly turn into a angry rant, so I just gave him the finger. Naturally, he took my drink back and I didn't order anymore drinks the rest of the night. I think I did the right thing.

The next day we slept in late and went to Zur Letzten Instanz, a restaurant that claims to be the oldest in Berlin (since 1621). My guidebook says that Napolean and Angela Merkel have eaten there too!


Me, Olivia, Ashley 

After that we went to the Brandenburger Tor, the Reichstag, and the Holocaust museum and memorial.

Reichstag
Brandenburger Tor

Holocaust Memorial

That night we me up with Olivia's boyfriend's brother, his girlfriend, and her friend. It was fun to hang out with some people who know Berlin. We saw the first Germany game in the Eurocup and went to a much more low-key club on the river that was a lot more fun. Then we went to check out part of the Berlin Wall that is still standing.

In Kreuzberg

On Sunday we had a delicious French breakfast, missed another train, had to sit on the floor the whole way back, but then finally made it home. It was a busy trip, but super fun. I'm not sure how soon I'll be back to Berlin, but I'm really glad I went.

I only have about a week more of school and then I'll be done! It's hard to believe I'm coming up on the end. Studying abroad in Tuebingen has been really great and I'm so glad I'm here.

Jessica

Monday, May 28, 2012

Blaubeuren, Ulm und M√ľnchen!

Last time I left off at the beginning of last week. So this time I'll catch up with all of last week! 8 weeks done!

On Sunday I went with everyone from my program to the Tuebingen study center in Blaubeuren for our midterm retreat. Blaubeuren is a cute little town about an hour outside of Tuebingen and the university has a retreat center there for students and faculty. I felt pretty rushed going almost straight from Frankfurt to Blaubeuren, with just a night in Tuebingen (probably not the greatest planning), but I got back into the swing of things well enough on Monday.

I stayed in a room with Olivia and Sara (the friends I went to Frankfurt with) and Olivia played her guitar a lot, which was super lovely. She says she'll teach me to play a little and I'm really excited.

Sara with Julia's clarinet and Olivia with her guitar

Sunday-Tuesday we had intensive intensive class with longer grammar class plus tutorium. We also were required to speak German at mealtimes. Suffice it to say that I was quickly German-ed out. But we went to a beer garden in town one of the nights, which was super fun. And on Wednesday we just had a half day of class and then we went to Ulm.

Ulm is the largest cathedral in southern Germany and has the world's highest church steeple.

Ulm Muenster

I didn't think that the inside was that great in comparison to a lot of the churches I've seen in Germany. Our program director gave us a mini-tour with some history of the church that actually made me like it less. She talked a lot about how the church was built to be the highest mainly as a display of power and an attempt to be famous. Many of the statues were of rich people who donated money instead of saints. It was also sadly lacking in paintings and sculptures of Mary (which I'm biased towards).

But we climbed to the top of the tower (768 steps) and that was an amazing trip. From the inside going up, we had a great view of the architecture of the church and of the surrounding village.

Just before going up the last flight of stairs

View from the top

After that I was so exhausted that I just sat by the Rathaus and drank a Hefeweizen.

Me and Hayley

On Thursday we all took our big midterm exam. Everyone was panicking over it just before because we had spent so much time preparing for it. But I thought it was pretty easy, it just covered a lot of material, and I felt well-prepared. So that was nice.

On Friday I took the bus from Tuebingen to Muenchen to see my Oma and Opa! I was a bit worried because my bus was an hour late due to traffic, but from my seat on the bus when I got there I could see my Opa sitting on a bench waiting for me. I was so excited to see him I ran over and gave him a giant, long hug. My Oma was disappointed that she missed my arrival because she was checking the arrival time again on the board. Getting to hug both of them at the train station was so wonderful, I had missed them so much!

That evening we wandered all around downtown Munich and they showed me a lot of the important buildings, churches, and places to shop. We had dinner at a cute Bayrisch restaurant downtown and then took the train to Birgit's house. Birgit was my Oma's best friend growing up and they have remained close. She still lives in the same house she lived in while growing up.

On Saturday I went to my Oma's brother, Wulfi, and his wife Ingrid's house. We spent the whole day with them and it was really nice. Ingrid made lots of delicious food and I practiced my German a bit :)

On Sunday I went to mass with my Oma at the church she used to go when she was growing up. Her dad was an artist and he made the stained glass window in the church, did one of the paintings, and restored many of the figurines after the war.

The main alter
A painting done by my Oma's father
The stained glass window made by her father

Birgit's house is right across the street from the church and right across the street from where my Oma used to live. We heard the church bells all day long because it was Pentecost holiday. It was really wonderful to be in the place where my Oma grew up and to see all of the places she used to go to. She is one of the most important people in my life and it was so nice to learn more about her childhood and her family. This weekend in Muenchen was the best and most meaningful time that I have had in Germany in my 8 weeks here.

After church my Oma made German pancakes and I cried during breakfast because I had missed her, her pancakes and my Opa so much. One of my favorite things to do with my grandparents is getting together for breakfast and it is one of the things that I have missed the most.

Then we walked by a lake that was formed on an old gravel quarry that has become a holiday destination area.

Lots of people sunbathing
Opa, Me, Oma
My Oma brought ingredients to make fajitas because she knows they're also my favorite. So that night we made fajitas. I was in heaven. Later that evening Birgit drove me around Munich at night and it was beautiful. I am so glad that I will get to spend more time there when my brother and dad come and later when Cloyce is here.

Today we went to three churches in Munich: St. Peter's, Dom zu Unserer Lieben Frau/Cathedral of Our Dear Lady, and St. Michael's.

St. Peter's had a beautiful ceiling and statues of all the saints with the weapon they were killed with, which was pretty neat.

St. Peter's
It also had the bones of a saint encrusted with jewels.


Dom zu Unserer Lieben Frau has lovely towers that Munich is known for. Birgit says they were originally designed to be gothic, but they ran out of money so they just made the tops baroque.

My Oma and Opa are the tiny figures at the bottom

According to legend, the architect was threatened by the devil while he was building the church. The devil told him that unless he could make a church in which only one window could be seen from the entrance, but was still light, he would destroy the church. After the church was completed, the devil walked into the church he could only see one window:

View from the entrance
He was so mad that he stomped his foot. Now there is a footprint in the entrance of the church:

It doesn't look like the devil's foot was that big...
St. Michael's is the church where my Oma was confirmed.

St. Michael's

There is a statue of the saint she was named for there.

St. Veronika
They say she was there when Jesus was crucified and she gave him a cloth to wipe his face with. When he gave it back it had a perfect picture of his face on it.

After our church tour I had to get back on the bus to Tuebingen. My grandparents gave me a great sendoff with lots of waving and signing love to me. I hardly made it back to Tuebingen because I knew how much I would miss them. I wish I could've stayed and biked to Vienna with them instead of going back to classes tomorrow. But we have a two week break from grammar and have culture classes instead. So it shouldn't be too bad. And I'll see them again in just over a month! This next time with my dad and my brother!

There are more pictures of churches on my Facebook page. I know I put up too many, but the churches are just so lovely.

I'll try to blog again soon!

Love,
Jessica