Wednesday, October 21, 2009

So close...

to break! I can't wait!
Today I...did laundry in the bathtub again. It's quickly becoming my least favorite activity, yet it's still better than paying inordinate sums of money to use the apartment complex's washer and dryer. There are now clothes hanging all over my room.
I went to class, as per usual. I don't even know why I bother mentioning was German, we finished our second book, Am kuerzeren Ende der Sonnenalle, and we have our midterm tomorrow. Which I should be studying for instead of writing here.
Then we got our vaccines. Except they weren't, as advertised, the H1N1 vaccines. It was the normal flu vaccine, which I am glad I got, but I'm a little annoyed about their apparent inability to inform us of this ahead of time.
A couple other girls and I went to the Deutsche Oper to get tickets to tomorrow's performance of Carmina Burana. I absolutely love that work, and was hoping the tickets wouldn't be too expensive. Well, apparently if you go the day of, one hour before, they have tickets (in good seats!) for 13.50. Hellz yeah. So we're going back...even I can afford that! I am so excited...I can't wait to see it performed by a major will far outshine Pioneer's A Cappella and NYU's Choral Arts Society. Yay!
Just two more classes and then it's break. On Friday I take the bus to Munich, and wander around the city for a couple days. Maria will (hopefully) be coming back Sunday night, so we can catch up then. I can't wait to see her! I come back on Monday, and then on Tuesday I leave again, this time for London! I'll be seeing Ems and Karina for sure, and hopefully Danni and Stac as well. 'Twill be a camp friend-filled break :) I am sooo excited!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I know, I'm terrible...

I'm sorry for not updating for so long-I've been both busy and lazy. It's not that I haven't done a ton of stuff...I just haven't felt like writing. So, sorry, and I'll bullet-point it for ya-
  • ended up going out with Holly's friends not that night, but the one after...I only hit one place with them, then decided I was too tired for much more. Good decision.
  • I saw a production of Shakespeares Sonette with the Berliner Ensemble. It was directed by Robert Wilson and music was written for it by Rufus Wainwright. You should check it out; it was amazing, although I definitely didn't get all the directorial choices.
  • I managed to not have to pay the stupid fine! Yay! H and I went to the BVG office and talked to an employee there (auf Deutsch, obvi) for a long time and she was very nice :)
  • H and I went to the Turkish market last week and I didn't buy anything...yay self control. But we also had lunch at Yellow Sunshine, where I had a vegetarian bacon cheeseburger. Twas delish.
  • Last Friday we (as a program) went to Weimar and Buchenwald. It was a nasty, rainy day...not so nice for walking around. In the morning we went to the Goethe House, which was kinda cool-it's all organized to his color theory. Weird stuff. After lunch we went to Buchenwald, which was a labor camp just outside the city. It was a very...vivid...experience. I may write more on this later, as it really merits more than just a bullet point. It was my first visit to any kind of concentration camp and suffice to say, it felt right to be there in bad weather.
  • Saturday night was JOSHUA RADIN!!! It was sooooo good. I may or may not have seen him 4 1/2 times already...but it was amazing. He is just so personable and is just wonderful onstage. Many musicians are either great recorded artists or great performers, but I think he truly is both. He actually played some new stuff-he's recording another album in February, when he heads back to NYC after finishing his tour. I'll be back there then too...maybe I'll run into him... ;) H and Kathleen went with me and I think they had almost as much fun as I did haha. We went to dinner at a Tibetan restaurant in Kreuzberg first...yum. I love me some momos.
  • Sunday Daddy visited! I had to get on a bus ridiculously early (7am) to go pick him up at the airport, but it was worth it. He came and dropped of his stuff (and all my stuff). He brought my winter clothes, thank goodness, and some goodies-my comfort food, mac&cheese, and Halloween candy that Shiva was nice enough to get for me! I do love me some Halloween candy...there's no calories in it, right? :)Then we went and got breakfast near church. My "choir" was singing so it was nice to have him there for that, although the sermon was not as thought provoking as I would have liked. All Souls really has spoiled me. After church, we went to lunch at an Italian place near Potsdamer Platz...delish. I had a goat cheese-stuffed gnocchi and some tasty Riesling. Ahhh I do love good food. Then we went to the Friedrichstrasse area. Because it was Sunday, basically nothing was open. Yeah, Berlin pretty much shuts down on Sundays. However, Dussmann (the equivalent of Borders) was open for a special Staatsoper event, so we went in there. We got to hear a string quartet perform a bit. Dad also got me a guide to Munich (since I'll be there in just a few days) and The Man Without Qualities, a novel about the disparity between Viennese high society and the lower classes in 1913. Looks good...and it's crazy long so it should take a while to's 1130 pages :) I haven't started reading it yet, but it seems like it might be similar to Vanity Fair. He also got me a set of 4 CDS, a vocal jazz collection. I've been listening to them on repeat. Sadly, Dad had to leave to get to some conferences, etc elsewhere that evening so the visit wasn't as long as I would have liked, but it was good to see him!
  • Yesterday...I went to class. Nothing too exciting. Oh! Except the best buddy ever, Joe, sent me some Disney movies. And by some, I mean about 12. And I got them yesterday and have been enjoying them ever since. I watched Hercules last night. And Pocahontas this evening.
  • Tonight Chelsea and I had our regular Gossip Girl viewing. What is with this show? It really needs to improve...and fast. It's getting frustrating. (Yes, we take it far too seriously)
  • This morning my Museums class went to the Neues Museum on Museumsinsel. It was pretty cool, although we had to speed through because it only opened a few days ago, so we were assigned a block of time that we were allowed to be in there. They've got a ton of Egyptian stuff, so that was cool...I've always been a fan. C and I also went to a sweet bookstore in Prenzlauerberg, St. George's Bookshop, to get our books for our Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud class. I could have spent hours's all English language and has mostly used books...I loved their music section. And their massive lit section. I think I may make it back there...
So I'm getting really excited for fall break. It's next week, although really mine's starting on Friday. I'm going to Munich early Friday morning and getting back to Berlin Monday evening. I'm going to be staying at Maria's apartment, although she'll only be there Sunday night, as she's going to be going home to the fam for her birthday. Sad, but understandable. I'm still excited to see Munich though!
A week from today I'll be in London! I'm flying in Tuesday morning and flying out very, very early the following Monday. I'll hopefully be staying with Karina, and seeing Ems and Danni and Stac. I am soooo excited! I'm looking forward to seeing London, of course, but mainly I'm super excited to see my girls. It's hard to be far away from people you've grown really close to (obvi) so getting to see them while I'm on this side of the ocean is very important to me.
Ok, this was an epic post...I could probably write more, but I've really got to go do my German reading. Although maybe I'll watch Mulan instead...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Anybody need some spinach?

Gossip Girl was not as good as I'd hoped...of course we had a good time watching it though! We enjoyed our usual treats and comments directed at fictional characters.
Wednesday...German class...I can't remember doing anything other than going to that and doing homework...
Thursday for our Lit class we were supposed to meet at 9:30 at a cafe about 45 minutes from our apartment. Holly, Chris, and I all traveled together, actually arriving about 15 minutes early. I got a chai and they got tea and an egg, respectively, and we waited for our professor. For 45 minutes. Apparently class didn't start till 10 that day...a fact of which she forgot to inform us since it said 9:30 on the syllabus. Great start, eh? We then went on another walking mini-tour in the rain, culminating in visiting an elderly lady who lived in England during WWII as a Jewish refugee from Berlin. It was amazing to hear her story and that of her parents (who were sent to a concentration camp and only lived for a few weeks after arrival) and some of her friends (one of whom survived by hiding and presenting false identities throughout the Holocaust). She was a very nice, sweet, and stylish woman-despite being almost 90 and having lived through all this, she was completely put together, down to her makeup and jewelry. She even served us tea and cake! The only downside of this was that I was about 15 minutes late for German and H had missed her entire class. Sometimes our professor doesn't exactly understand we have anything in our lives other than her when she handed us a book she wrote and told us to read it-then sent us an email today telling us we owe her 23 euros each. A bit inconsiderate, especially as I'm sure I could find it cheaper elsewhere.
Then last night H and I went to Bierhimmel. I swear, soon they're going to start recognizing me. But on a cold evening, their drinks and atmosphere are so much better than beer in a hot, smoky bar.
Today I did laundry in the bathtub (my usual method here, as the machines are crazy expensive and my sleep/class schedule does not agree with the Hausmeister's and the machines are in a different building). It's actually quite effective and I don't have to worry about the machines messing up or shrinking my clothes. The only hassle is least there's a drying rack built into the shower. It'll be nice to have my washer and dryer back in A2...
Then Chelsea and I went to the Turkish Market. Soooo good. All the produce there is super cheap and fresh-I got a ridiculous amount of fresh spinach for a little more than a euro, and 7 apples for 70 cents and 6 clementines for about a euro. I actually wont be able to eat all the spinach before it goes bad. So if any of my NYU in Berlin peeps want some...let me know. I also bought some overpriced chai but it'll be totally worth it for those days that I'm not feeling the coffee and I need something hot/with caffeine. Ahhh I love chai. On the way back we stopped at Yellow Sunshine, a vegetarian burger "fast food" place. Not that fast, actually. I just got a chai (ha) but I tried C's french fries that she got along with her burger...they were delish. Legit fries that you could tell actually came from a potato.
Tonight we're supposed to be going out with a bunch of people-H has some friends visiting, and I think they'll be fun...we're all ready for a good time.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Apparently "student" doesn't translate

Every once in a while (and by that I mean very often) I am reminded of the differences between NYC and Berlin. Yesterday, I was reminded of the differences of what they consider "students". NYC, and everywhere else that I've been in the US, regards anybody who is in school, from preschool to college, as a student. Here, it is a different story. I'd forgotten that student only refers to people up through the German equivalent of high school. The problem here was that I-and many other NYU in Berlin students-had bought student monthly passes (for the bus, U-Bahn, etc). Apparently we're not allowed to do so. Now, usually on the train, if inspectors come through, they glance just to make sure you have a ticket. Yesterday on my way to class, however, the guy going through looked closely at mine, started speaking to me in German that I (mostly) didn't understand, and had me get off of the train. Our communication was not very effective; I couldn't understand most of what he said and I'm pretty sure he only understood about 2 words of what I said. The main point here is that I had to walk the rest of the way to class on the verge of tears (because crying is what I do when I get frustrated), and have to go to the BVG office to pay a 40 euro fine. Oh yeah and of course now I have to buy the regular monthly pass. There's almost 100 euros down the drain! Great start to the day, eh?
After what seemed like 10 years of class (we watched a movie, Sophie Scholl, Die letzte Tag, in German and were lectured in Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud), I came home, made dinner, and did homework. I had so much reading for my Museumsinsel class today.
We did have a bit of amusement on the way home though...a few stops before ours on the bus this crazy (literally insane) old lady got on the bus and immediately yelled at my friend Dave and me for one of us to stand up and give her a seat. Ok, well I would have done that anyway...I thought maybe she was just pushy. I moved a bit away and D ended up still standing right next to her. She started talking to him and naturally he ignored her...she then asked me, "is he always this unfriendly?" Of course I didn't respond...she then mumbled to herself and anyone near her in German, some of which I understood, none of it good things. As she stood up to get off the bus 1 stop before us, she literally leaned over and growled at D. We were both a little afraid she would actually bite us or something. Like I said, crazy. Gotta love Berlin for that.
This morning we went to the Infocenter Wiederaufbau Berliner Schloss, Lustgarten, and Altes Museum. At the Schloss (info center) we talked about the structure of the city center before WWII, especially the palace, cathedral, garden, and museum. We then walked over to the Lustgarten, which used to be the royal gardens for the Berliner Schloss. Then we went into the Altes Museum itself, where we talked and looked at several sculptures, as well as the temporary exhibition about the history of museums (perfect for this class!).
Later I went to get the new book for German class at Dussmans at Friedrichstrasse and to buy a new ticket :( I actually walked from my apartment to the bookstore (about 40 minutes) because I was tired of wasting money on 1 trip tickets. Hey, at least it's exercise, right? Then I made some yummy soup for it's time for homework and then...Gossip Girl! Yay!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Procrastination station

...we have arrived!
Thursday was fairly unexciting-I had German and Lit classes. It was pouring down rain in the morning, so naturally that was when my Lit professor decided we should walk all over to try to see the Giants (Riesen) and get our press passes. Yup. Press passes-apparently now this blog qualifies me? Oh, Esther. I think it was that evening that I finally got to talk to my dad, which was great :) I love that it doesn't use up my minutes to receive phone calls or texts-those international calls are expensive and I can go through a 25 Euro phone card in just over 10 minutes.
Friday I got to meet up with Max! He worked at the tennis program area at my camp in 2008 so we got to be pretty close that summer. However, he's from Germany, so I hadn't seen him for over a year! He just got back to Berlin from a trip to NYC, actually, so we met up for coffee and a mini-walking tour. I had a chai (love that stuff) and we caught up for a while, discussing camp, etc. Then his girlfriend, Natalya (I have no idea if I spelled her name right, she's Russian) met up with us as well and we walked around west Berlin for a while. Of course we had to visit the Ka-De-We (one of the largest departments store in Europe) and go up to the food floor. OMG I could happily spend days and millions of dollars there. Sooo much deliciousness. We got some marinated olives and mozzarella and marinated feta and broetchen. Delish. The funniest part of it was the American imported food section-the prices were ridiculous! A 4-pack of Oreos: 8 Euros. A box of Pop-Tarts: 9 Euros. Eeek! Good thing I don't particularly like those things...We then just wandered around some more, eventually ending up near a ticket kiosk where I was able to buy tickets for the Joshua Radin concert! Yay! They ended up being 18 Euros each...not too bad. I would have paid a lot more, so I'm glad I didn't have to...and hey, that's just 2 boxes of Pop-Tarts :) Can't wait for the 17th!
That evening I went out with a whole bunch of people. We hung out in the apartments for a bit, then went to some club that was playing hip-hop spanning about the last 10 years. I couldn't bring myself to stay for too long, because I had some serious reporting to do in the morning! But it was fun, and let me tell you, I felt like a great dancer next to a lot of the people there! A very rare feeling for me, as most of you probably know...
Saturday-die Riesen kommen! To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Wall coming down, these giant puppets were in the city. It was the story of an uncle and niece being reunited. The uncle, or Big Giant, actually emerged from the Humboldtbecken. We got to see him just after he left the water and he walked right by us on his way to the Brandenburger Tor (gate). We saw the niece, or Little Giantess, on her way as well. We decided not to brave the insane crowds to see the actual reunification, but there are photos and videos all over the place. Definitely check them out-they are sooo cool.

Holly and I also had a delicious lunch-a treat, to be sure, but worth scrimping a bit this week. We went to this cool Italian place-kind of a 20s, Art Deco feel, where we both had the minestrone soup and different kinds of gnocchi. Mine was pretty basic, with an herbed butter and parmesan, while hers had pumpkin, almonds, and mascarpone. All of it was soooo good. Ahh I love food!
Yesterday I also got to talk to my mom via Skype. Not the best sound quality, but it was so good to hear-and see-her! Also good that it's free. Yay free. We got to talk for about half an hour and I even got to see Lucas (brother), Caspian (dog), and Mariel (cat). Apparantly Rhubarb (cat) was not up for the webcam. Haha-thanks Lucas.
Today H and I went to church again at the American Church of Berlin. Again, the service wasn't the most thought-provoking, although it was pretty good. The best part was that I was able to join in the choir rehearsal afterwards! The music so far is pretty easy (especially since I'm a soprano, ha!) and I was complimented on my sight-reading skills. One of the things from high school that has stuck with me (thanks, Mr. Westerman). It's not my favorite music, but I'm just so happy to be singing again. :)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My life is one big party

Well, Gossip Girl night was a resounding success. We very much enjoyed our dessert and Prosecco. And the episode.Oh my goodness so much drama all. the. time. It makes me so glad I don't have friends or enemies like that...although I wouldn't mind the clothes...
Bierhimmel, too, was wonderful. I had my steamed milk with Baileys again, and Chelsea and Holly had hot chocolate with Baileys. Our bellies were so full of deliciousness.
Today was completely uneventful-I went to class. Futzed around online. Made dinner. Did homework/futzed around online. Listened to a lot of Disney music and now I really want to watch Hercules and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (I obviously have iTunes organized alphabetically by album). Aren't you jealous of my fabulous life?
And now I'm really tired and have class at 10am (that I have to leave around 9 for) but I can't sleep. Boo...that's what happens when I sleep past 9am. I'm becoming an old woman. Early to bed and early to rise.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I WILL get tickets to JR's the meantime, let's go shopping!

Yeah, so yesterday wasn't too exciting. And I didn't do anything exciting last night either...I did look up tickets for my trip to England. Yeah I'm not too excited about those prices. But it will be worth it, RIGHT GIRLS? Yes, it will-4 of my fave Michigania people all in the same place...can't wait.
Today my Museumsinsel class was also cancelled because we had an extra class on Friday, so that was nice. I went to the bank since I'm going to have to get a new U-Bahn, bus, etc. ticket for October and that costs money. Serious money. Then Holly and I went on a mission to get tickets to the Joshua Radin (ie my future husband) concert on October 17th. Ummm so the venue, Fritz-Club at the Postbahnhof...super sketch. At night I'm sure it's hoppin...but in the morning, there is nobody there. And no directions for anything. We eventually had to give up and will call-all I can say is, they'd better not have sold out of tickets. I will actually cry. Legitimately.
It was a good thing Holly, Chelsea, and I had planned on shopping anyway-I definitely needed some retail therapy after that disappointment. I needed some new basics-long sleeved t's, a cardigan, that kind of stuff. So of course we went to H&M-good for basics, good for the shopping H and C wanted to do, good for the nightgowns C and I wanted to get for our now weekly Gossip Girl parties :) We both love that show a little bit too much and have decided that we need to watch each weeks episode in style. We've both noticed that the girls are always in gorgeous nighties/lingerie and decided that we should probably wear nighties and headbands. So I got a super cute slip-style nightie in a dusty rose color, two scoop neck 3/4 sleeve tees in black and dusty rose, a white puff-sleeve 3/4 sleeve tee, and a black cardigan. Pretty great deals, although I must say, I despise the conversion rate. Oh, and C didn't actually find a nightie she liked in her size, so I will be the only one with that tonight...although we both still will rock headbands and be adorable. So there.
When we got back we were cold and starving (it was nasty and rainy all day), so C and I made tomato soup with rice and spinach pizza. 'Twas delicious and meant I didn't need much in the way of dinner. A bit later, we went on an expedition to the Turkish market to get some strawberries to be a part of our Gossip Girl greatness, but it basically turned into an extremely long walk. We never found the market, although we did find a beautiful park and a [very] discount store where we got frozen apple pastries and vanilla ice cream.
The plan for tonight: Bierhimmel with C and H for milk with Baileys (soooo good, especially in yucky weather like this), then Gossip Girl party with C-outfits and dessert as described above, plus Prosecco. Sounds like a pretty great night to me!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Back to my old faves-with some changes in taste

So last night we had to go see Mein Kampf for my "Berlin in and as Lit" class. It's written by George Tabori, and yes, co-stars Hitler. It's a very, very strange play. I read it in English last week and prepared a presentation on it (that I never gave, don't ask me why my teacher wanted me to do that if we weren't even going to discuss the play), which was very helpful. Obviously, the performance was in German. It was produced by the Berliner Ensemble, a very prominent theatre company. I'll be seeing another show with them in a couple weeks (Shakespeare's Sonnette) and am looking forward to it. Mein Kampf was very into realism. Scenes that could involve nudity-full nudity. The pet chicken, Mitzi, was a real chicken. She literally wandered around the stage from her entrance in (I think) the 2nd act until she was turned into dinner. Thankfully it wasn't the same chicken then, but it was another real chicken! That realism I couldn't handle-as they started-literally-hacking up the dead chicken I stopped watching. Despite my vegetarian squeamishness, I really enjoyed the show. I thought it was brilliantly performed and well worth the student price of 7 Euros (and more).
Today I had German-we finalllllly finished reading Die Weisse Rose. Whew. Not my fave book. Even better, my Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud class was cancelled. I like that class, but any extra free time I love. Even if it is finally cold out and so I did not enjoy wandering around as I would have if it had been a nice day :(
I'm on a jazz kick right now. I really need some more-all I have is Jamie Cullum and Frank Sinatra. Not even very much of either. If anyone wants to email me some tracks, I would be eternally grateful...I'm sure my roommate will get tired of hearing the same 3 CDs over and over.
For some reason I'm also craving great choral music. I listened to the Carmina Burana for the first time in quite a while and just enjoyed it so much. I think that not being in a choir right now is intensifying my need to at least hear the kind of music I'd like to be singing.
"So tell me why should it be true/That I get a kick out of you" -Jamie and Frank!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Museums and bars and churches oh my!

It's been a while since I updated, I know. I've been having difficulties with my internet connection-and then when I finally sat down to write here, I received some upsetting news. One of the ministers from All Souls, who had been the senior minister for years and then was the minister for public theology, Rev. Dr. Forrest Church, had passed away (Thursday evening). It's a bit difficult to be here and not in NYC. He had fought cancer for several years, so it wasn't exactly a surprise, but still is hard to handle. I am there in spirit with all those who cared for him, and at the memorial service.
Anyway, more cheerful stuff...
So on Tuesday we went to the Gemaeldegalerie in my "Museumsinsel" class. It was begun basically as West Berlin's answer to the Museuminsel, which was in East Berlin and housed most of the great works. We looked at several paintings in detail, so I didn't get to see much, but I learned more about how to look at works of art.
Wednesday was unexciting-just class, etc. although Chelsea and I did go back to the delish Thai place in Kreuzberg. I had the exact same thing as last time-couldn't resist.
Thursday-basically just class and homework, although C and I hung out and enjoyed some wine :) possibly my last Riesling for the year-it just feels silly to drink it once it's long-sleeve weather. Paul came up and hung out for a bit as well...he had locked himself out, silly boy. I love having chill evenings at home like that.
Friday my Museumsinsel class went to the Museum der Dinge, or Museum of Things. It literally was a bunch of...stuff...displayed in a somewhat jumbled manner. It was interesting, although I would have liked a bit more explanation as to why some things were in there and why they were displayed in the manner that they were. It certainly inspired some discussion as to the agenda of the curator and what makes a museum. Weird stuff. Afterwards, C and I went to a super-cheap Vietnamese place around the corner, Green Rice. Not my favorite. The food was pretty good (I had a red curry), and you know how much I love cheap, but the proprieter was so rude. I actually couldn't believe it. I was trying to tell him that I wanted tofu and no chicken but he just refused to make eye contact and kept mumbling! Honestly, no matter what language you speak, I'm not going to understand you if you mumble. I've never understood why people in service industries think it's a good idea to mumble.
I spent the rest of the day just chillin'. I spent a lot of time reflecting on Forrest's influence on my life and related topics. I really will miss his voice (written and spoken). May he always be remembered and finally be at peace.
Saturday was another relaxed day, doing homework and watching movies/Gossip Girl (too much). C and I did discover our new favorite place-Bierhimmel. It means "Beer Heaven" and it truly is divine. We split a piece of chocolate torte with slivered almonds and she had a hot chocolate (Kakao) and I had a steamed milk with Bailey's. OMG soooo good. And soooo reasonably priced. If any of you reading are coming to visit (and I hope someone is!), we will be going there. I've decided it's "my place". :)
Today, Holly and I went to the American Church in Berlin. Much better. Still not quite my cup of tea-I'm really not as Christian as any of the churches here are-but definitely the best fit. The sermon actually required a little thought, which was nice. It's a much bigger congregation, and they are very welcoming. I talked to the greeter while I was waiting for H, and he asked us about our studies, etc. Apparently he told the choir directors there that I'm studying music, because before the service, two of them came up to us (at different times) to try to get me involved. I think I'm going to do it-I do really miss singing, even if it's a different style than I am used to. It'll also be a great way to get to know some people outside the NYU in Berlin group. I think that I'll go to the rehearsal for the Chamber Choir on Tuesday as well as the one next Sunday for the Contemporary Choir and see if either/both is a good fit. I hope so!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Mmm...I love Thai

That was definitely the highlight of the day. Holly and I went on a quest for some delish Thai food-and we found it. It's a little place in Kreuzberg, south of us, in a great neighborhood for restaurants. I had a green curry with tofu, and it had quite a few veggies too. Yum yum yum. She had spring rolls and pad thai and said that it was good too, although quite greasy. We both had some good juices too-I had the mango-passionfruit and H had the mango. The sweetness went really well with the spiciness of the dish. I know that this will definitely be a go-to restaurant-my food and drink only came to 8,10. Not bad for a full dinner!
We also walked past not one, but two places that serve Tibetan food! I was so excited-it's one of my faves and have so far only found it in 3 cities. These two places are literally a block apart and just about 5 subway stops away (2 trains though). I am so ready to go back and have some momos :)
Other than that, today was the usual German class, long break, then Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud. In between I went and bought a planner-I was hoping not to have to spend money on one of the really overpriced ones (because that was all I could find) but I was so afraid I would schedule things when I already had plans that I had to give in. Grrr. I hate spending money on necessary items and not fun ones! Oh well, at least now I can feel very expensively organized.
I don't have any homework to do for tomorrow, so I am going to take an easy night and watch Casablanca in my bed :)

Weekend update

It has been quite a busy one!
On Friday, we had a day trip (as a program) to Hamburg. We had to meet at 7:15am in front of our building-far too early for my taste. We then took a local train the the Hauptbahnhof (main station) and an ICE train to Hamburg. We walked from the station to the Hamburg Institue for Social Research where we had a lecture/discussion with one of the researchers there, Dr. Claudia Weber. She works in the Theory and History of Violence department of the institute, and is researching the Katyn Forest Massacre. It was fascinating, although I was a bit distracted by hunger-as I'm sure we all were. Eating breakfast at 6:45 and not going to lunch till 2...not my favorite. I had also kind of assumed we'd be doing tours of the city, actually seeing it, and not sitting in a conference room.
However, after lunch (which NYU paid for! yay!) we had a few hours to explore. I, along with Holly, Andrew, and Greg, decided we would walk around enough to make sure we knew how to get to the train station, then we walked along the river and sat on the bank. Hamburg was a port city, and so the feel of it is very different from Berlin. I loved it-much more relaxed and being on the water again was great. We did only see a bit of it, but I did like that much anyway. As we were walking along the river, we went past so many sailboats. All I wanted to do was hop on one and just sail around for a few hours. That was definitely an I-miss-Michigania moment.
We (having added Shevani to our group) decided to go get a glass of wine at one of the many cafes right alongside the river. I had a delicious Riesling (god I love German Riesling!) and we just chilled out for a bit. It was so nice to relax and chat for a while.
When we got back, I just came up, made dinner, relaxed...and then was convinced I should go hang out for a bit. Ok. So I went down to Holly and Shevani's room and we just chilled with a few people. Then it was decided we should go out. I somehow was convinced to go (I'm such a doormat! I was sooo tired) and we made our way to a hookah bar near our apartments. At the entrance, they asked if we were 21. We were a bit confused by this, but pretty much just ignored it. As I don't smoke (anything), I just had a beer there and hung out with the massive group we ended up having. I have to say, I do not like traveling in groups of more than 5. It just gets ridiculous (as it did that night). Most of the group then decided to continue on at another bar, but my bed was calling to me. I think I made a good choice :)
Saturday was much calmer. I ran some errands (getting more minutes for my phone, grocery shopping, etc) and then met that same group at the Biergarten in the Tiergarten. I've been wanting to go to a Biergarten since I got here, before it gets too cold. That was pretty cool, as it was a gorgeous day and I got a large, delicious beer for 3,50. Gotta love German beer culture :) After that, I came home, made dinner, accidentally fell asleep for a bit, then tried to go out. I went and met the group at (yet another) hookah bar, waited for them to finish up there, then went on a quest for a karaoke bar. Long, boring, story short, we didn't find one. They then went to another club or something, but it was already after midnight, so I came back and went to bed.
Yesterday all I did was homework (sooo much reading and annoying German worksheets) before going to an evening church service. Holly and I went to the English Episcopal service at St. Georges. Again, it just didn't speak to me. It was another tiny group (I think I've been spoiled with the huge congregation at All Souls) and just not thought-provoking. I love having a sermon that really makes me think, that I can mull over and debate for days following, but last night's (and last week's) was just so...basic. I may have to just start listening to/reading All Souls stuff online. However, H and I will continue our spiritual journey next week, possibly at the American Church in Berlin.
Hope you enjoyed this extra-long post :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Such an exciting life I lead

I literally went to my one class today and spent the rest of my time in my apartment.
It wasn't till 2:30 so I futzed around for hours after waking up at 9:30. It was German, so the norm-I babbled until my teacher started talking and then just agreed with her. It's been a very effective form of participation.
I got home a bit before 5-thanks public transportation. I did homework, made dinner, did random stuff on the internet tubes, homework, and then lots and lots of emails and FB messages. I feel like I've just been staring at my screen for hours.
Oh I did do something productive this morning! I booked my bus ticket for Munich/Oktoberfest! I'm going down on October 23rd and coming back up on the 26th. I wouldn't spend so much time at the Fest itself except that a good friend, Maria, goes to school there. I worked with her at my camp (she also played with the ponies) in 2008 and haven't seen her since last September. I can't wait!
I also spent some time figuring out my hopeful visit to London. I plan on going the day after I get back from Munich since it's my fall break and leaving on November 1st so hopefully I can find cheap tickets for then...I do need to talk to my English girlies and confirm with them so I don't get there and have nowhere to stay/have to wander around on my own.
Oh and I did do a spot of shopping yesterday as a little retail therapy for the fire scare-I got an adorable headband from H&M. I can't find it online, but it's a seafoam green stretchy headband with a bow made of the same material. Not a big tacky one-just one made out of folds of the fabric. I'm a little obsessed with it since it meets the love requirements-some shade of aqua/teal and a cute accessory that can jazz anything up. So cute!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Last night...crazy

So I was going to post last night...but I got so tired that I went to bed. Then, of course I couldn't sleep, so I lay there from about 12-2 unable to sleep. Finallyyyyy I passed out, only to be woken up about 10 minutes later by Chelsea, "Um, Emma? There's a really big fire right outside..."
I jumped up and looked out my window-sure enough, there was a massive fire on the ground right behind our building. We grabbed our valuables (in my case, my wallet with all my card, key, and passport photocopy in it) and ran down the stairs, ringing a couple bells on the way. We ran into a couple other girls, Courtenay and Caroline, who live on the 3rd floor, and Christopher, who lives on the 1st floor. The girls all see Christopher standing there, who then exclaims, "It's out front!"
There's mass confusion for just a moment while we all realize that there is fire on either side of our building. We don't want to walk out directly into one-but there is no way I'm staying in a building when there are fires on both sides of it. That just seems like a death trap.
So the girls and I run out of the building and partway down the street, away from the FLAMING CAR. As we exited our building, Chelsea cried, "it's a car! It's going to explode!" Naturally this led to us running away. We saw the police/fire department coming-whew!-and then called the NYU emergency phone number. Naturally nobody answered.
We ran into others from our program, with all of us eventually gathering in (I think) Cornelius' apartment. We waited until a bit after 3 for the firefighters to put out the fire and clean up enough for us to get back into the building.
After that, of course I couldn't sleep. Not only did (do) our rooms reek of burning rubber, but my adrenaline was really going. That was one of the scariest things that has ever happened to me. It turns out that there are people that do this all the time; I'm not going to go into detail here, but I'll post an article link here and just say it's mainly young people who are anti-capitalization, anti-gentrification, anti-a lot of things. They have apparently done this to 100+ cars this year. And lucky us, we got 2-one on either side of the building, plus the ones that caught off of those. So much excitement!
After that, especially, yesterday and today were very uneventful. Literally just class, homework, and chilling out. Oh and trying to figure out Oktoberfest/fall break in London. I'm looking for I can't wait!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Boring day

Really, it was.
I went to church this morning. I got there surprisingly easily considering my lack of familiarity with the public transportation here. Just one transfer, whew!
Church itself though-not a success. As I mentioned before, I went to a Catholic mass. I basically just felt uncomfortable the whole time. Part of that was due to my beliefs, which don't exactly line up with Catholic dogma. However, that wasn't all-or I think even most-of it. It was a very, very small congregation. Like 40 people, maybe. I felt awkward because I didn't always know what to do, since I haven't been to a Catholic service other than Christmas in a long, long time, and I didn't feel like anybody was ready to help me out or welcome me. True, I didn't stay for their version of coffee hour, but I just didn't fit there at all. It didn't help that everybody there was about 35+ or their children-mostly the younger adults had kids, so I didn't feel that there would even be anybody to really connect with. I know that age shouldn't matter...but when I already feel divided by faith, age doesn't help. I think I'll try a different church next Sunday...
The rest of the day I spent doing homework/watching the rest of Moulin Rouge for the millionth time/reading Sing Them Home. I finished Gourmet Rhapsody on the train this morning-brilliant book, read it ASAP-and started Sing this afternoon. It's a little odd but very good. I also love that it's quite a thick book so hopefully it'll take me a bit longer to's the last of the 6 books I brought with me. I don't want to have to buy too many while I'm here, both for financial and space reasons. Trying to take 20 books back with me...not an easy task, even from NYC. I think I'll be doing a lot of rereading...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Let's play catch up

Words that always mean a good start to the night.
But in this instance I mean I haven't posted since Thursday and it's now Saturday. Two whole days without my wonderful storytelling, how did you survive? :)
Friday I don't have class. Basically, it's wonderful. Woke up when I felt like it (around 10), made breakfast, and made another mildly stressful trip to the bank. It's not the trip that's stressful-it's seeing that I still don't have all the money in my account I should and hoping that none of my checks got lost in the mail.
Then Chelsea (my fab roomie) and I went to Sprintout, a copy shop, to get our course readers. Of course, our professors neglected to inform us that it was a 1-day waiting period and you could only get it early the next day if you went before noon. Also they apparently aren't open on weekends because we can't pick up our readers till Monday evening. We were not too pleased. We then met up with some other students for a tour of Humboldt Universitaet, our host uni. It was pretty quick (whew!) but informative-we saw the international students office, cafeteria(s), libraries, and found out helpful info about computer labs, internet access, etc. Then C and I went to get a late lunch at this random Aussie restaurant-we had bruschetta and baguette with sun-dried tomatoes, and she had a beer and I the worst wine ever. I actually didn't drink it-that's how bad it was. I just love paying for overpriced box wine (which I'm pretty sure is what it was).
I came back, did some hw, a few exercises-I was feeling a bit lazy after my summer of riding. Then I was informed that people were going to a club called Love Lite for their soul-dancing night. Despite my skepticism regarding the name (is it just me, or does it sound super sketch?), I thought it sounded like quite the good time. We all hung out for a bit in one of our rooms-Holly and I ran out to get a couple beers. When we got back we had enough time to have one and then realized-wait! We're in Germany! We can drink in public here! We then, of course, ended up taking our second beers on the walk/train ride with us. God I love Berlin. I may never come back haha.
Love Lite was awesome. It was quite a trek to get there and a bit difficult to find, but totally worth it. I danced for literally hours. And because it was actual music, not just bump-and-grind "music", I was actually dancing. I loved it, although I was ready to leave fairly early. I'm such an old woman sometimes. However, we ended up not getting home till about 4. I wasn't exactly concerned about safety, though, because there were literally about 15 of us there. Over half our program went. Pretty cool, eh?
Today I took it really easy. I didn't wake up till a bit after noon, then made some lunch and basically did homework all day. I have so much reading to do. Some of it's in German, which makes it that much harder. 20 pages in normal English, no prob. German-something of a prob. The other reading that I haven't yet finished is Marx, and he is no easy read. It doesn't help that I'm reading it online since the stupid copy shop won't give me my reader till after my class. Grrr.
In the morning I've decided to make the trek to an English-speaking Catholic church. I wish there was a Unitarian-Universalist one here, but alas. I'm opting for the Catholic one for a variety of reasons. It's (partially) my heritage, so I feel a little more welcome, it's easily accessible by train, and they have the least scary website. By which I mean my non-declarative UU self is scared off by things proclaiming We consider it a joy to be able to be “an ecumenical home for people from diverse nations sharing God’s love in Jesus Christ.”
Not that I have a problem with that-and not that Catholicism doesn't celebrate the divinity of JC, obviously-but for some reason I find statements like that somewhat off-putting for my personal faith and search for truth, or at least search for something for now.
Due to this morning quest, I should probably go and get some sleep about now...don't want to go back to my 7-grade self, falling asleep in church!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

It's the weekend!

I had my last first class this morning, Berlin in and as Literature. I'm still not quite sure how I feel about it, but I think I'm going to like it. We visited Brecht's apartment (which is just a couple blocks down), which has been turned into a museum/archive. That was pretty cool, as we were given a tour through it that was just long enough to be worth it but still short enough to keep my attention.
I had yet another long break between that and German, so I went and bought some more notebooks and had lunch, killing time because I didn't yet have very much homework (for which I had the necessary material). However, that will all change tomorrow. I already have 20 pages of German to read (Der weisse Rose), a play by Brecht (Mother Courage and her Children), in English thankfully, and once I get the readers much more. Eek. Good thing I've got at least all weekend for them, if not even longer! Gotta love these (mostly) once a week classes.
I then did some real grocery shopping, getting staples like milk, eggs, OJ, olive oil, etc. Let me tell you, living on the 4th (5th for you non-Germans) floor with no elevator is not fun when you just did the newly-moved grocery shopping. Boy did my shoulders hurt by the time I got to the top of the stairs. Oh well. I'll be in great shape, right?
This evening I went out for "happy hour" (ie a beer early in the evening) with about 8 other people from my program. We went to some random bar and just hung out for an hour or so. After one (quite large) beer I was ready to head back and make some dinner and fall asleep, so I came back a bit earlier than most of the others. I had a great time though, and I've become a big fan of leaving while I'm still having fun, so I don't end up annoyed or frustrated or just too tired (which believe me, has happened too many times).
So goodnight all, and join in my happiness at not having to set an alarm for tomorrow :)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wow, I actually have homework now...

and I just finished it. Back to those silly German grammar worksheets, boo.
I only had my German class today (uneventful), but we were also supposed to go to the opening of the International Literature Festival for my Berlin in and as Literature class.
I actually only saw 2 people I knew there-Jim, who is on the advising side of the program here, and Holly, who is actually one of my classmates. I wonder where the rest of my class was...Anyway, it was a pretty interesting opening. After we got past the insanely long intro, all in German, natuerlich, and a ridiculous number of thanks, we finally got to hear Arundhati Roy, the author of The God of Little Things. Thank goodness I read it this summer! (incidentally, I really would recommend it. Great read.) She spoke about "Democracy's Failing Light" English :) It was fascinating to hear some of her answer to the question "is there life after democracy?" from the point of view of someone who has lived in India's democracy. Not only was the topic interesting, from the broad ideas to the specific facts, but the way she spoke was as compelling as the way she writes. She is simply a fantastic speaker. I am so glad I had the opportunity to hear her. I have no idea if it would be possible to find this talk online, although apparently it's the intro to a book coming out soon-I have no idea which one, but look out for it.
This little field trip went until about 8, and then I had to get all the way back across Berlin to get home. Luckily Holly and I live in the same building (as do all the NYU students) so we could travel together. When we got back, I went to her room for a peanut-butter-and-nutella sandwich (ie deliciousness) and then came up to mine to do homework.
What a packed day. I am so tired! But not too tired to update you, my lovely readers. :)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Getting adjusted's finally happening.
This morning I went down to the Baeckerei (bakery), etc on the corner and got some fresh Broetchen and Kaffee, then brought it back upstairs to have with some of my brie left over. Delish. The Broetchen were still warm from the oven. Does it get any better than that?
I only had one class today, so that was nice. It was one about the Museumsinsel, or Museum Island. We're going to be visiting all the museums that are a part of that, as well as the Gemaeldegalerie in the Kulturforum and the Neue Nationalgalerie. A little more than half will be those trips, the other being lectures/discussions. Yay. It's going to be so much fun.
After that my roomie, Chelsea, and I went to Friedrichstrasse to pick up some books and for her to buy herself a birthday present (it was yesterday). We went to basically the Berlin equivalent of Borders or Barnes and Noble, Dussmans. We got our German-English dictionaries (why did I have to forget mine?!) and I also got a journal for my time here. While I right about all the stuff I've done in a strictly narrative manner here, I want to have a place as well to record my private reactions, thoughts, and feelings during my time here. As pretentious as it may sound, I really feel like this could be a time of great personal growth. It is certainly the most independent I have been.
Anyway, when we got back I did a little mini-grocery shopping. I went to a place called Aldi, which is strange. Lots of stuff, but a very random selection...and you have to pay to use a grocery cart! And they don't give you shopping bags. I literally carried the about 8 items I bought in my hands because all I brought with me was my wallet. It was a little silly looking, I fear. I'm going to do some more extensive shopping tomorrow.
Tonight I went out for a (yes, one) drink with a couple people from the program, Chelsea and Paul. We went to a little bar a few blocks away and I had my first beer in Germany! It was quite fun-and yummy. We just chilled out there and then came back...I love going out and still managing to have an early night. Of course I don't have class till 2:30 tomorrow...but I do love being good to my body :)
All in all, a good-and productive-day.
See you tomorrow!

Monday, September 7, 2009

First day of classes

As you might guess from the title, today was the first day of classes. I had two, Composition and Conversation and Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud.
First, however, I had to find a Citibank and turn in all my forms. I managed to sleep through my alarm or it didn't go off...I have no idea which one...and so got ready in a panicked hurry, rushing out the door in an attempt to get to the bank and to Humboldt by noon. I managed to find the bank-and almost had a heart attack when I saw my balance before realizing they just hadn't yet processed my paychecks. I got to Humboldt in plenty of time and had everything I needed for my residency permit application except my health form, which luckily I can just email. Whew.
I had about an hour and a half before class then, so I got passport photos for the application taken and grabbed a light lunch with some other girls from the program. Gotta love the availability of Broetchen mit Brie oder Mozzarella. Und Kaffee.
So, my German class...there's only 3 of us. Good, yes, but I almost feel like it's too much individual attention. Gotta be perfect every day. Okay, time to study...haha.
I had about another hour after that finished before my next class, so I got a coffee (of course) and sat outside a Starbucks copycat reading and people watching. I love just seeing the people go by, especially in a city I don't know well. It really gives me the feel of the city.
Next was Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud. I think it'll be really good once we get into the readings. Today just seemed really long because I was starving by about 1/3 of the way through the class and the professor went off on A LOT of tangents. Usually I enjoy things like that but I was just so hungry! Ah well, I really can't wait to get started on the actual content.
After class I decided to walk to the S-Bahn instead of taking the tram to see if there were any stationary shops, as I hadn't brought any notebooks with me. Luckily I found one, so I got a couple notebooks. Then when I got off the subway I just picked up a frozen pizza (and some Ritter Sport) for dinner. Too lazy to make anything complicated. Man I need to go grocery shopping! It's happening tomorrow. I only have one class. It has to.
Oh, I also started reading Muriel Barbery's second book, Gourmet Rhapsody. It's amazing, just as good as The Elegance of the Hedgehog. Many passages are beautiful and brilliant and inspiring. One sentence, however, has stuck with me. "The real ordeal is not leaving those you love but learning to live without those who don't love you." Don't ask me why, but this speaks to me. I think perhaps because it is so honest but not something people will often recognize...I don't know. It is certainly something to ponder. I feel like it's one of those things that could inspire an entire essay, drawing on the ideas at which it hints. If you have any ideas regarding it, let me know. Even better if you've read Gourmet Rhapsody. I don't think I can fully understand this book without discussion.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Today was so much better. I managed to get a full night of sleep last night, which was great. It's been so long...haha
This morning, before our tour of Potsdam, I decided to go out in search of coffee. That, of course, turned into me walking around for about half an hour-I decided since I had so much extra time I might as well explore. I didn't see anything too exciting, but it was good to get a small sample of the area. I came back with coffee for my roommate (who also happens to be a veggie!) and myself, then left for the walking tour of Potsdam.
We took the train out of Berlin into the history-rich city that is Potsdam. As soon as we got off the bus at the bridge into it, we learned that during WWII that was a site for secret exchanges between the Soviets and the Western Allies.
Once we walked over the bridge, we walked around and learned various historical facts, including about the many restructurings of buildings. In this, we visited and learned about the Nikolaikirche, or Church of St. Nicholas. Although it is now a Lutheran church, it originated as a Roman Catholic one. We then went to the Dutch quarter to get some lunch, although I had gotten a Buerek mit Kaese just outside Potsdam, so I just had a glass of Riesling (yum yum).
After lunch we walked around some more, visiting the Garnisonkirche, or Garrison Church. The church itself has been destroyed, although the bells remain-and played as we stood there. WE then headed to Sanssouci, a palace of Frederick the Great. It had some beautiful gardens and is surprisingly modest. At that point, however, I was exhausted and ready for dinner and bed. Some people stayed a bit longer to look around the gardens more, but I went back with a few others.
I grabbed some food from a sort of convenience store (must go grocery shopping!), brought it upstairs and sat down with it and my computer, getting everything ready for class tomorrow! Eeeeek!
Now, I think it may be time for a movie and bed...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Welcome to Berlin!

Hey y'all!
Following Michael Bennett's lead, I thought I'd start a blog while studying abroad. That way you can all hear about my fabulous adventures and be jealous :)

I left yesterday evening at 7:20 pm from Detroit and flew overnight to Amsterdam. The flight was thankfully both uneventful and efficient. I had ended up sitting next to a lady who wanted to talk to me. A lot. She's on her way to do missionary work in Nairobi, about which I had to refrain from remarking on my dislike for the religious aspect. I respect the physical help given but something doesn't sit right with me about trying to convert people, especially with material goods desperately needed.
Anyway, she was pretty talkative. I learned that this was the culmination of a 50 year old dream for her, which is amazing. I hope that in 50 years I can be living my dreams. She then asked all about my trip, but didn't seem too interested in my career plans. The question she seemed most concerned about was, "Do you have a boyfriend?"
Hahahaha. It was all I could do to make a joke about all the attractive European guys I'll be meeting and not wanting a boyfriend to tie me down. I just said something about not right now, and how I'm not worried. Still she seemed to feel the need to reassure me :) Really though, I'm not worried.
So apart from the 2 1/2 hours of sleep I got, that's my flight to Amsterdam. I had about 1 hour in their airport then caught my flight to Berlin. That one was completely uninteresting, but also very short, so that was nice. I caught a cab right away and got to my apartment.
I was met by Cornelius, our main connection in Berlin. I simply dropped my stuff off and immediately went to a lunch/orientation meeting and then a walking tour of Berlin. I am absolutely exhausted, but at the same time very excited.
I'm finally done unpacking, and despite already possibly having broken my iHome (which I'm really upset about, obvi), I can't wait for things to get going. It's my suitemate's birthday this weekend, so I may be going out with them...if I don't pass out first. We'll see...