So I have been terrible with keeping up with this, haven’t I? My apologies. Between trying to keep my head above water on my research (so to speak…), attending classes, making new friends, keeping up with old friends (I’m currently joining my best college friends in celebrating one very exciting engagement from afar!!!), and traveling, not to mention finding time to keep my room clean and go Christmas shopping, things have been a little crazy!
The research is plugging along nicely. I finally have some leads on people to interview, and some of them have even responded to my e-mails (written in flawless German, naturally)! Here’s hoping for a fruitful January and February with lots of interesting conversations with legislators and city planners! Living the dream, I tell you.
The year is somehow winding down… how did it get to be December 16? It is madness. The German university calendar is a bit wacky in that the semester doesn’t end until February (or at least classes don’t end until February, and then the semester somehow officially ends at the end of March, except for the part where it doesn’t. Don’t get me started). Regardless, we get a nice little break starting after this week. I’ll be meeting my family in Prague a week from today… I am so excited!!
The Advent/Christmas season has been beautiful so far! I have enjoyed going to some of Dresden’s many Advent markets:
Flitzi and I traveled to Jena to celebrate Thanksgiving, Part II:
St. Nicholas’ feast day was on December 6. Traditionally this is a big day in Germany, as St. Nicholas was always the Santa Claus figure here, so his feast day was a big gift-giving holiday in addition to Christmas. But now there’s a pretty stark regional difference in that respect, as during the Communist regime here in East Germany, St. Nick was replaced with the secular, Santa-esque “Weihnachtsmann.” But as I’ve gotten plugged into the small, but lively, Catholic community here, I got to celebrate St. Nicholas not once but twice!
On the 6th, Agnes (I mean, St. Nicholas!) filled my shoes with some chocolate treats as per tradition. Then some friends of mine hosted a party in their apartment with lots of glühwein (hot spiced wine that is my new favorite thing! I can even make a pretty good batch of it myself). The next week, at our weekly Catholic center community evening, we had a belated Nikolaus celebration complete with a gift exchange in which the presents were distributed by the good Bishop himself! He was very witty, I must say. Lots of Glühwein was had, and we sang Christmas carols and enjoyed the musical talents of our fellow students. (I don’t have any pictures, sorry!)
This past weekend, I took a short day trip to two towns here in Saxony: Görlitz and Bautzen. My friend Domi organized the trip because he had visitors in town from his hometown of Budapest. It was freezing cold and I left my hat and gloves at home by mistake (a mistake I will not make again!) but it was a delightful day.
We saw lots of old buildings and water towers and fortresses and the like, and a few stunning churches, as well. Görlitz is right on the border with Poland, so we walked over the bridge to another country! How cool!
We got to Bautzen just before sunset and enjoyed beautiful views of the walled city at dusk, and then enjoyed some Glühwein at their Advent market. Are you sensing a theme?
My international friends are slowly departing for home before Christmas, and my German friends will soon start to leave, as well. I’ve been very blessed to be able to meet so many lovely people during my first 3 months here. (It’s now been exactly 3 months since I left Texas; how crazy!) I am absolutely loving my time here. I wish I had more time to update you guys on what’s happening, but I guess it’s good that I’m spending more time doing things rather than blogging about them! Don’t feel I’ve forgotten about you; I’d love to hear from you, too, by snail mail or e-mail or Facebook or whatever! 🙂