I figure that since my last few posts have been somewhat angsty and/or therapeutic in nature, I owe y’all a post telling you what I’ve actually been up to since I’ve been in Freiburg. In case you were wondering, today was a really good day! I met some other international students on a tour of the offices around campus that we need to go to in order to register, and now I have an American bureaucracy buddy! Yesss.

Also, I went up to the Shrine today.

This isn't today, it's from last week. The weather was really nice today... unlike last week.

It is absolutely BEAUTIFUL!! It’s on a hill next to a vineyard and it looks down on Merzhausen and Freiburg! It almost competes with Addie Roy in terms of beauty. Almost.

The Shrine is a few miles away from campus… about 5 Straßenbahn stops and then a good 15 minute walk from there. It’s kind of a pain, but it would be a lot better if I had a bike. Actually, getting to campus from my dorm would be a lot better if I had a bike, too! Hmm… I thought about buying one, but they seem kind of expensive, and an unnecessary expense considering that I’m also thinking about buying a bike once I get back to Austin.

But the Blessed Mother’s got my back, apparently!!!

I went over to the Shrine today because there was a lecture and some kind of pilgrims’ meeting (I couldn’t completely understand the description of the event…) that turned out to be kind of like a mothers’ group or women’s group or something. There was a bit of an age gap haha, but it was ok, all the ladies were super nice and the sister who lives here is awesome!! She’s Japanese, but she’s lived in Germany for quite some time. She told us her story about how she became Catholic and how she was introduced to Schönstatt. I understood most of it, which made me feel super awesome!

Then we had Mass, and afterwards I talked to some of the women. They were really impressed by my German (ha… I was kind of proud of how well I did though!). One of the women, I have decided, is a German version of who I want to be in 20 years haha. So I’ll keep you guys updated on that.

But more importantly, we got to talking about whether I’ve bought a bike yet. The answer, of course, is no, not yet, but I’m waiting to see how prices work out and such. I couldn’t quite spit all of that out auf Deutsch. But the next thing I knew, the woman (whose name I don’t know… FAIL) was telling me to write down my cell number (which I also don’t know… DOUBLE FAIL) because she has an old bike that she’s willing to give me!!! Score!!! So, I wrote down my e-mail address for her and hopefully in a few weeks I will have a bike!!! YAY!!!!

So, as if I didn’t already know, Mama Mary is definitely here in Germany with me! Which reminds me… I went on a spontaneous hike the other day that brought me up to this gorgeous viewpoint from which I could see basically the whole city… even the Seepark next to my dorm complex and (I’m pretty sure) the Shrine! It was AWESOME! The picture doesn’t quite do it justice, but here:

The shrine is on the far side of that green patch on the left (you can't quite see the building itself). How pretty is this!?!!?


die leutebeobachtung (or: people-watching)

At this point, I could write a bunch of different entries… one about how difficult the transition between languages is going to be, one exactly like this post about bureaucracy, or another depressing one about how I haven’t really met anybody yet. But I’m going to keep it positive because it’s a really beautiful day outside and I just ate some delicious cheesecake.

Which brings me to my current locale. This blog post is brought to you by the free Wifi at Kaffeehaus am Bischofskreuz, across the street from the student apartments at Sundgauallee am Seepark! I “officially” moved into my dorm this morning since my mom flew back to Texas today. It was a bittersweet farewell. Now I’m more or less on my own, and it’s a pretty weird feeling. Also, I don’t have internet in my dorm yet… that will probably happen on Monday. So for now, I’m hitting up any hotspots I can find.

If you know me at all, you probably know that two of my favorite hobbies are people-watching and eavesdropping. Call me nosy, but people are interesting and I like being able to experience a cross-section of their lives as we cross paths, even for just a fleeting moment. Going to college at a large urban university with an extremely eclectic student body has only made me appreciate these activities more… you can’t even begin to imagine the things I’ve overheard at UT and the crazy situations I’ve witnessed.

Well, it turns out I am multiculturally creepy because here I am in Germany, and I still enjoy people-watching. Earlier, I went out and sat by the little lake near my dorm complex (it was really pretty out, btdubs) and just observed what people were doing. My favorite was the guy sitting on the grass, shirtless, playing the ukulele. Which was both entertaining and reminded me of my dear friend Justin. All the while a few little girls, probably about 6 years old, ran up and down the paths and countless joggers and bikers passed me by. It’s kind of comforting to know that people in Freiburg, Germany aren’t all that different from people in Austin, Texas, since I’m willing to bet that there will be people performing all of these same activities today on the South Mall. Except they will probably do so surrounded by a lot less grass. 😛

Eavesdropping is not as universal, and is a little bit trickier in a different language… I can only pick up a few words now and then, since not only are these people native (re: fast-talking) speakers, but they are also a few meters away from me and aren’t actually talking to me. However, I’d say that trying to ascertain the conversation topics of the couple at the table opposite me at this coffee shop is quite helpful to my German skills. It really stretches the boundaries of my vocabulary and lets me hear what real German conversations sound like.

Sometimes it’s confusing though. A few minutes ago, the guy at the next table was having a short conversation with the waitress, which I could only assume was about which milkshake flavor is the best or how much a slice of cake costs. But then I heard the waitress say, really distinctly, “den Zweiten Weltkrieg.” Which definitely means “World War II.” Hearing that buzzword prompted me to listen a little closer to what they were talking about, which, as far as I could tell, had something to do with “the German mindset” and people’s work ethics and unemployment…? Maybe.

Hopefully my paying-attention-in-class skills are more finely tuned my eavesdropping skills, but classes don’t start for one month today so until then I’ll just continue being creepy. I mean… what else is new?

wandern durch luzern

**note: since the title of this post is auf Deutsch, I figured I’d take the time to say this now. There are a few things on here that I’ve written in German, mostly cognates or things that aren’t vital for anyone to translate, but if you do want to know what I’ve written, I have linked to my favorite German dictionary at the bottom of the page!**

We’ve spent the past 2 days in Luzern, Switzerland. It’s a relatively-small city on Lake Luzern, and it is absolutely beautiful! Spring has almost sprung here (much to my relief… I was worried that I was leaving the sunny south to come to a frigid pre-spring Europe, but I was wrong!) so there are daffodils and green grass, but the mountaintops are still snow-capped. Here’s what we see outside our hotel window!

We’ve ventured into downtown/old town Luzern both days, following a walking tour from a travel guidebook and kind of making up our own. It’s a really quaint and pretty city (at least the touristy part is)… one cool thing is the way that the history of the city is documented on its buildings. The Kapellbrücke (chapel bridge) is painted with placards of historical figures of Luzern and poems describing what is shown on them, and lots of the buildings and façades bear murals depicting what the buildings are/were used for. For example, in the Weinmarktplatz (wine market square) there is a mural of the Wedding at Cana!

The main motifs of the city seem to be fountains (the water coming out of the fountains, just like all the water in Luzern, is extremely clean, so the people who live here apparently fill up their water bottles out of the fountains!) and churches (which are BEAUTIFUL!).

We saw the Jesuitekirche, Hofkirche (St. Leodegar), and Franziskanerkirche, three very different and distinct styles of churches despite their similar sizes.  We laughed, of course, about the apparent frugality of the Jesuits and their artificial marble and mismatched furnishings. We were a bit disappointed when we stumbled upon the Franciscan church, because there was a symphonic and choral performance of some of Bach’s music… just ending. We walked in just in time to applaud for about five minutes.

I really loved St. Leodegar… it was really delicately decorated with some apparently-very-well-known art.It was once only a monastery, but today it’s simultaneously a monastery and a parish. They also had Eucharistic adoration, so we went in for a few minutes. Always awesome!

At first, I thought Leodegar was some kind of made up German name, but it turns out it's not:

Our other adventure besides wandering the city was actual “wandern”… hiking! This is a huge pastime in Germany (in our case, the German-speaking world) and we had the fortune of staying in a hotel a mere 30 minute walk from a castle! So we took advantage. It was a great walk with fantastic views that led us to land that used to comprise a single estate, but now it’s owned by a bunch of different households of normal (extremely lucky) people who get to experience the glory of Lake Luzern, vineyards, and the Swiss Alps every day! The castle was pretty–not what you’d think of when you hear “Schloss,” but it was like a beautiful old manor.

Der Schloss Meggenhorn

On the land there was also a vineyard, a Christusstatue that looked a lot like Cristo Redentor, a chapel, some boathouses, and a dock. I may or may not have almost fallen into the water.

We’ve basically exhausted all of the non-summer attractions in Luzern, so tomorrow we head to Bern en route to Colmar, France!

exhaustion + beauty

Hello friends! I am currently typing this from a hotel room overlooking a lake at the foot of the Swiss Alps in Luzerne! But before you get too jealous, it’s 6 PM here and I haven’t slept since 9 AM yesterday! What a crazy day of travel.

A few points of interest…

-I left my awesome travel pillow that I got for Christmas at home. Mistake. If you’re in the position to fly across the Atlantic anytime soon, definitely get one of those babies.

-Lufthansa, the German airline with which we flew, basically allows their patrons to drink their weight in alcohol… case and point, the elderly woman sitting next to me. She had to get up to use the restroom like 3 times and each time complained about her hip replacement. This was after downing like 2 glasses of scotch and a few glasses of wine.

-My iPod is confused… it used to have huge problems matching up album art with the right songs, and it’s mostly corrected the problems, but whenever I listen to any songs from Wicked, it shows one of Josh Turner’s album covers. It’s quite amusing.

I mean, he's good-looking and all, but it really doesn't match Wicked.

-I am going to have trouble convincing Germans to speak German with me. The first encounter I had was a good one… the stewardess asked me (in German) what I wanted to drink! I was incredibly flattered, but that also meant that I had to choose orange juice (Orangensaft) instead of ginger ale (my go-to airplane drink) because I didn’t know how to say ginger ale in German. For future reference, it’s “Ingwerlimonade.” Eine Ingwerlimonade, bitte! Definitely keeping that in mind for future flights. But besides that, apparently Germans have some kind of American radar or something (or maybe it’s because I have my non-German-speaking mom with me… 🙂 ) because they all shot down my attempts to speak German with them. I figured it wasn’t worth the battle with the guy handling passports at the Frankfurt airport, but I’ll definitely have to get more insistent about me practicing German rather than Germans using me to practice English!

So tonight the plan is to explore Luzerne a little bit, eat dinner, and crash hardcore. Yay jetlag!

Bis später, meine Damen und Herren!