Thursday, September 10, 2009

Its Only Been Two Weeks...?!

So sorry that it has taken me so long to update this! Somewhere between San Diego, San Francisco, Reno, 4 different airports, a RIDICULOUSLY long plane ride, and Freiburg, I was attacked by a nasty little virus and it took me down for a few days. Luckily, I got some meds courtesy of German Public Healthcare and I am back in action! Since we started school on September 4th, things have been absolute MADNESS. IES packs our days as full as possible; it's sort of a joke. If we aren't in class, then we are in some sort of orientation session or meeting or excursion...EXHAUSTING I TELL YA! That combined with being sick has nearly pushed me over the edge into crazyville a few times... We are in our "intensive phase" (ya, no shit) which ends on Monday (tomorrow - thank you Jesus!), so I'm really hoping that they will pump the breaks on the madness post-Intensive Phase. I'll let you guys know...

Although I haven't been here for long, I have already experienced my fare share of "culture shock". I had heard of this so-called ailment, but refused to believe that it could/would happen to me! Well low and behold, I stand corrected. There are so many things that are different from home, little things that you would never think of until you go abroad. All of these small changes coupled with the fact that I desperately miss my mommy, my daddy, my boyfriend, my bed, and basically EVERYTHING about my home (this list could go on and on; if you are reading this blog, you are probably on this list...), I am having a pretty hard time with this whole being 6,000 miles away from home thing. I found myself at the ER yesterday because my disease just wouldn't lay-off, and as I sat in the waiting room with my blankie and my [awesome] roommate Moni, I cried. It's hard enough being sick, but being sick in a place where you don't know where a hospital is and even if you found the hospital, you couldn't tell them what the hell was wrong because you can't speak their language, well that is just about enough to break you. But don't worry! I managed my hospital experience and am feeling much better today!

Since we are talking about culture shock, here is a little list of some of my observations concerning the cultural discrepancies I have experienced thus far...

1. The toilet flusher handle is on the wall behind the toilet, not on the toilet itself. And said toilets have the flushing power equivalent to a small child pouring their juice on the floor. Basically, you better be careful of what you put in that potty and how much of it you put, because if not you are gonna be shit outta luck, no pun intended...

2. The sell local milk in glass bottles! This has become my latest vice. I could drink AT LEAST a bottle a day and still not be satisfied. This stuff is DELICIOUS! And extremely fattening I’m sure…

3. Their recycling/garbage system is outrageously complicated. I believe I have mentioned this before, but I am going to say it again because it is so intricate that it deserves a second mention. Here is a quick overview:

--You’ve got your Green Bins for paper, basically anything made of paper that hasn’t been soiled by…anything.
--Next is the Bio Bin. This is for organic kitchen and garden waste. Fruit peels, tea bags, flowers, etc. I generally don't make any of this kind of waste; I am not especially organic and I am DEFINITELY not gardening over here in Deutschland.
--Now there is the Yellow Bags. Here you put plastic packaging, composite materials, and metals. Personally I don’t understand why ALL the packaging, paper and plastic alike, can’t go into the chute together, but I guess that is why I don’t run this joint.
--Now outside of the house you will find the Bottle Banks and the Rubbish Bins. Bottle Banks are for anything glass (duh) and the Rubbish Bins are for anything that cannot be recycled (everything except bottles and cans in my opinion).
--I will only admit this to you guys: I have yet to actually partake in this system. All of my trash continues to go in one place, except the cans and bottles of course. I have been a little too preoccupied with trying not to lose my damn mind to put my tea bags in the Bio Bin (if you think that you are sensing some sarcasm here, you are right.) I am afraid to reveal this transgression to my German flat mates because I am pretty sure that they will be outraged. These people take this stuff SERIOUSLY, let me tell ya.

4. The keyboards in the computer room at school are ALL MESSED UP. There are symbols and letters that I’ve never seen in places that they don’t go. If any of you ever get an email from me with Z’s where all the Y’s should be, you now know why…

5. There are very few public trashcans around town. In the states, there is a trashcan every 20 feet. This is one of those things that you don’t realize how convenient it is until you are in a place with NO trashcans and you have to stash all your crap in your bag until you finally find one. I bet this is because all the Germans are waiting until they can go home and sort all of their said garbage into the various bins listed above…HA!

6. Nothing is open on Sundays. And I mean NOTHING. I don’t know what people do around here on Sundays! You can’t even go out and buy a take-and-bake pizza from the grocery store to keep you satiated and busy if you wanted to! I find this very annoying as I am used to being able to buy whatever I want whenever I want it at home, but I am sure I will get used to this. I don’t exactly have another choice…

7. Most people around here don't use a car to get around town. Although this is a small town, it is pretty compact and there is little room for lots of auto traffic. Most people ride bikes (I have never seen so many bikes!! When I first got here, I coulda swore I was in China...) and use the public transportation (Busses and Trams which go all over Freiburg). I can proudly say that I am becoming an expert at riding the tram; I take it to school everyday and I am no longer harboring a fear of public transportation. This Reno girl is Big City now! haha....

Well that concludes my list for today. I am SURE that I will have many more German quirks to reveal to you as my time here goes on.

My classes are going very well so far. As I mentioned before, we are in our Intensive Phase which means that the only classes we have started are German Language and EU Studies Integrative Seminar. I am in German 101 and have thus far learned little phrases that will help me get around town. My favorite one is: Ich mochte ein kaffee und ein strussel, bitte! Translating to: I would like a coffee and a strudel (DELICIOUS pastry) please! MY eating habits are the one thing that have not been shocked by culture; they are alive and quite enjoying German sausages, pastries and beer. hahaha. The Seminar class is all about the European Union. This program is based on the EU and learning about how it is organized, its legislative process, and how it fits in to the rest of the political world. I am really enjoying this course so far and am eager to see how all of our upcoming field trips around Europe illustrate what we have been learning in Seminar. Speaking of field trips, we leave for Berlin, Germany and Riga, Latvia on Tuesday! I am SO excited for this. I have heard from multiple people that Berlin is an AWESOME city and I cannot wait to experience it for myself. Riga is probably not one of the places that I would ever travel to on my own, so I think it will be great to see it while I am here.
Well I think that that is all I have for you for now. Enjoy the pictures!

Until next time,

Dinner with my buddies in my flat. I made pasta!
The view from my table at El Bolero cafe right around the corner from IES.

My AMAZING roommate Moni :)

My German vice. The milk is to die for. Please note the "3.8%"...WHOLE MILK!! Haha

The kitchen in my flat.

The kitchen in my flat.

View from the front door looking into my flat.

Our [bleak] little bedroom.

The town square.

Freiburg's famous Bachle, but this time it's my own photo!!

Fire troubles at our bar-b-que....

Standing behind the MENSA, the university cafateria. SUPER cheap food!

The anarchist commune...AKA- my neighbors :)

Moni outside our dorm. Unfortunately it is under construction, but it's a cute little place.

Germans are a little liberal, to say the least...

1 comment:

  1. 1) you should come back a gardner
    2) i like your apt
    3) glad you're feeling better, SO SORRY you were sick--i woulda kicked anyone's ass over there to get you some medication :(
    4) good to see you're living in the ghetto