22 November 2007

Chopsticks and Thanksgiving?

First before I actually start writing...I wanted to send out a big Happy late Thanksgiving! Cant believe it's that time of year already, Seriously where did 2007 go?? but I hope you all had a nice holiday!

So I had an interesting Thanksgiving day! Granted it was much like anyother day around here. I had German in morning for a few hours then only one conversation class! Yes, we talked about Thanksgiving! hahah But after a few hours work in my office I arrived back in my flat to find my French and Chinese flatmates hanging out in the kitchen! The chinese girl was cooking...the chinese cook..ALOT!! and more times then not its amazing food! Well on this particular night it was Octopus/Squid Soup...(not quite 100% sure, this is what we translated it to from Chinese into German, French and English). Seriously, so great! The soup was absolutely awesome! The only requirements when hanging with the Chinese is you use chopsticks and they want you to eat all the food they make! but they are so incredibly generous! And my chopstick skills are pretty much awesome by now! So no..I didnt make Turkey or Pumpkin Pie or Cranberry Sauce...It was a whole lot of soup...

But Thanksgiving in Europe is never really the same! I am always a little depressed and feel better that its over! So some updates......

I have started giving private English lessons at the moment! One is with a member of the Faculty. She works to set up study abroad programs. We basically work on casual conversation, developing conversations, formal language, as well as any other help she needs in English. For example the other day, I helped her write a presentation she has to give in English! She is fun and so eager to perfect her language skills. The other lesson is with another member of the Wolfsburg faculty. Her level of English is lower and we teach each other. I teach her English and she teaches me German!!! Love it! Just the Basics, vocab, building sentences...and the worst..English and German grammar!!! WARUM DER DIE DAS!!!! (why, Der, Die, Das)..Sorry had to express frustration with german grammar...

This past weekend, I was so honored to be invited to my two friends' (Rudi and Thomas) graduation ceremony! Even though they had already received there papers and diplomas, they were honored and have offically graduated from University! It was seriously awesome! I think I was more excited than they were! They have the event in the Castle...much more classy then in the dome! But it was so neat to be apart of it. Only something like 5% of the whole global population actually gets a University degree...it really is an accomplishment!

But all is well in Germany and I am so looking forward to Xmas!!! The Weihnachtmarkt (Christmas Markets) are going to be starting this weekend!!!! I am just excited!!!

So when in Germany...skip Thanksgiving turkey and go for the Octopus Soup and chopsticks!!!

08 November 2007

Berlin...

Since I last updated, I have been to the German capital city twice! Berlin has instantly became one of my favorite cities in the world!!! It's just an amazing town! Ok well the first time I went to visit a friend of a friend . Well, I had met him through one of my German friends who studied with me in SD. Marco went to a university in Berlin and his college was having a party one weekend. So I went to Berlin and had a great time....maybe a little too much for the next day after the party, I did not feel so great! So hence, I didnt get to see much of the city. Pretty much just Marco's flat and a whole lot of German MTV. hahaha

Feeling bad, Marco called me up and said he wanted to put together a city tour for me! So back to Berlin I went! Again...like the first time I went to Berlin, I missed my first train. So I was like two hours late...again...story of my life!!

Ok so here is a basic overview of my Grand Tour of Berlin...Marco was my tour guide and printed out information about every sight we visited. It was awesome! I learned so much!

1st Stop: Eastside Gallery. The Eastside Gallery is the part of the Berlin Wall that is still standing and is decorated with murals. The murals were painted to commerate the end of the city's divison in 1989. From the Wall, we jumped into his car and heading into the city.

2nd Stop: Freidrichstrasse. The most well known street in Berlin. Very busy. Shops, cafes, everything you need! Checkpoint Charlie is the location were the Wall cut right in the middle of Friedrichstrasse and was the former crossing point for West and East Berlin. But we only wandered on this first stop to the street to another beautiful street.

3rd Stop: Unter den Linden. It was great, like a boulevard with trees in the middle of the driving lanes andd this street leads right up to the Brandenburg Gate.

4th Stop: When you think of Berlin you most likely picture in your mind the Brandenburg Gate, well at least I used too...It's the city's most recognizable symbol. Learned it was built as tribune of Peace by Friedrich Wilheim II and was later an icon for the city's division, situtated in the middle of Berlin right along the wall and was a gateway to nowhere. But now it's a powerful location for reunited Berlin....at this point of the tour took a turn for the not so good! Well the sights were still gorgeous but the Weather was not cooperating! AWWW!!!

5th Stop: The Reichstag! Ok this is one of the most impressive buildings I have ever seen! Seriously so awesome!! Just old, huge, and they have added this glass dome that you can go into and see a spectucular view of the city!!! Especially at night! I loved it! A very special highlight! Oh yeah I should mention that the Reichstag is only the place where the whole country is ran..but no one needs to know that!!! Kidding, yes its' where the German Bundestag (federal government)meets and parliament is held.

6th and 7th Stops: Ok so it was raining...rather hard by this point in my Berlin touring! Seriously, have to love fall in Europe...unless I am just bad luck and the weather is following me. But the next two stops were at the Denkmal fuer die ermordeten Juden Europa (Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe) and the Potsdamer Platz. Ok first the Memorial. A very interesting place it completely open from all sides so you an enter it from all sides. It's 2,711 concrete blocks of all sizes on different levels of sloping ground. You feel when you walk through the maze as you are on a wave. The creator of the Memorial wanted it to move away from the idea of just having a stationary memorial but something you can walk through and experience. Ok after the chaotic run through the museum we walked down the Strasse (street) to the Potsdamer Platz, the time square of Berlin. It's funny tho how you go from the historical city center to the completely modern area! If you only went to the Potsdamer Platz and were totally ignorant of the cities sorted history...you would have never imagined that this town was totally split in two! Ok so I am so excited for German Xmas and the Weihnachtmarkt! (christmas market) and they had one! Already set up in the Potsdamer Platz...ohhh I was soo stoked the best thing at this stop hahah!!! Kidding it was quite impressive!

8th Stop: We watched/ got lost on our way to Checkpoint Charlie...guys are all the same all over th world...never want to ask for directions.. Checkpoint Charlie..the former border of East and West Berlin where the American and Soviets checked people going in and out! Yes, I walked the line where the Wall was and jumped back and forth from East Berlin to West Berlin!

One of the last stops of our tour was by favorite...everything in life is better if you wait right..the Gendarmenmarkt was so stunning I almost couldnt breathe. We went at night. In the square there are two catherdrals, a German one and a French one, facing each other to open up into the square part with a fountain the the Opera House in the middle! I felt like I was in an old black and white movie from the 50's...that's cheesy I know but it was soo gorgeous! Before completely our tour we made one last stop at the TV Tower and the Alexanderplatz! When the 368 meters to the top to have a great overview of the city at night...I was able to map what I all saw!

Still can't believe that it was split into two completely different Berlins and to now see it all reunited I think its crazy but I can't imagine what Germans who lived in the former times think!! Just Wow!!

So when in Germany....Go to Berlin!!!!!!!!! I am sure you can use my tour guide, Marco! He is really cheap haha and you have the option of German or English as choice languages and has and interesting persecptive, he lived in Former East Germany as a little kid! No, Berlin would not have been the same without him telling me, showing me and really teaching me about how it is now and how it had been! A very special thanks to him!