American Students’ Survival Guide for Studying Overseas
Alright, alright, I give in. Studying here in my second home was indeed a bigger leap of faith than I had expected it to be. The week after Nuremburg was crazy crazy!
For our Advanced German Language course, I feel absolutely never “good enough.” For the presentation that was set to give on Monday 17 Mai, I had turned in the handout at last three weeks before it was due (and the due date for the handout is even one week before the presentation!) only to get it back numerous times with the smallest, ittybittiest Kleinigkeiten ripped apart. I submitted the handout a total of five times before receiving one back that did not have red marks. I lied if I ever told you German was not hard. The presentation I had practiced a million times over since I knew we had to use specific Redemittel, and that ended up a mess too. The gap between what I am told about my German and what is the reality about my German is ever increasing…while some hail my German to be surprising akzentfrei, the professor for our AGL course pulled me aside and suggested I download a free voice recording program to seriously work on my Aussprache…
I don’t know what to do now!!
Then came an ENORMOUS Referat at the University for my course about forms of protest in Munich since 1945. The text on which we were to give a presenation was twenty pages, yet it was so incomprehensible that I read it…oh, maybe seven times. Every where I went for two weeks I was reading this text – on the U-Bahn, during my breaks, in my dorm, in the restaurant. The text concerned Ulrich Beck’s, a leading German sociologist, ideas about the strategies of civil societal and advocatory movements within the context of forms of protests … *gah* I don’t know how I made it…
A few days later I was due to give a Referat for my Contemporary German Culture course concerning guest workers in Germany and the recent developments in integration politics. This one actually went pretty well – (thank God I had already spent last summer and the fall semester researching related topics for my thesis!) two bad presentations had taught me many a lesson : how to use complicated Redemittel to elevate my presentation to a level of sophistication, how to engage my audience more effectively in this awful (but lovely) German language, and how to convey my philosophied thoughts to folks who may or may not share those same opinions.
A tough but fruitful week of learning indeed!
In order to boost my already wavering presentation confidence (I love public speaking and performance, but in German is something different…) I was dressed to the nines for each and every presentation. Let’s just say that I haven’t worn the high heels since…
Pfinstferien – Erholungszeit in Barcelona
Then came Barcelona!! I am grateful to be in a country (yes, Bayern is a country of it’s on… didn’t you know?) where there is a religious holiday at least three times a month, if not more. I am indeed a faithful person and believe that these periods of Erholung help set your mind back on what’s important. It’s amazing – I’m getting so much more done because I have time to take a proper break from everything, something that is relatively non-existent at home. Me and five friends – Nicole, Shelby, Emily, Alex, and Erica – all decided to use the five day long Pfinstfeiern time to travel to Barcelona. We had bought cheap tickets through Ryan Air, but let me tell you, we did not just fly. We took first the U-Bahn from our dorms to the Munich Hbf, then had an hour and a half bus ride from there to Memmingen (where a small airport is located), boarded the flight to Reus (which is best described as a two and a half hour Sky Magazine on wings..they tried to sell us every product imaginable!), then another bus for two hours to Barcelona. Nicole and I wanted (and needed) to save money, so we opted to Couch Surf rather than spend the week in the hostel. Couch Surfing is Facebook for travellers. Not knowing our way through the city but getting by on German-laden Spanish, we eventually found our way to our Couch Surfer host’s, Anni, home. Three streets from the spectacular Barceloneta beach!
A good three weeks of gray skies and rain in Munich had really gotten to us, and we rejoiced to see and FEEL the sun on our arms like fruit flies to a candied apple!!! We were estatic! A great week, here’s the recap, and then a slide show below:
Day 1, Thursday, 20 May
– travelling from Munich to Barcelona
– poor Nicole losing her purse
– finding our hosts home and going for a late night walk near the beach
Day 2: Friday, 21. May
– filing a report in hope of finding Nicole’s purse
– unsuccessful attempt to find the “lost and found” office – no pun intended
– hanging out and meeting with some of the others at the beach
– seeing the coolest more elaborate sand castles I have EVER seen
– getting hit on by random men
– finding out that none of the cards to withdraw money work in Barcelona…and I have very little cash on me…
– standing in awe of how beautiful and relaxing the old city is, including clothes lines from balconies, neat doors, and people talking in the U-Bahn
– paying lots of money to enjoy food at a restaurant that was good, but in the most touristy and therefore most expensive street in all of Barcelona (La Ramba) (a German Maß of Pepsie was eight Euro…)
Day 3: Saturday 22. May
– enjoying a really awesome African festival and the food and meeting a nice (?) guy
-getting hit on by random men
– being mysteriously locked out from our hosts’ apartment (turned out she had the radio on and didn’t hear our frantic knocks haha)
– hiking all over Olympic Park at 1am and getting some neat pictures
– coming home to find out our host had been robbed for the third time in her own home (not to mention six other times outside of her own home – especially a problem with the recession)
Day 4: Sunday 23. May
– enjoying Barcelona’s gorgeous architecture – La Sagrada Familia and a few of Gaudi’s homes
– attending a bull fight in the La Monumental arena (Nicole’s favorite highlight)
– eating Doener – too broke to eat anything else, and it was delicious!!
– visiting the Magic Fountain (my favorite highlight)
– enjoying the best and fruitiest gelato I’ve ever tasted
– experiencing what it’s like to really be broke…
Day 5: Monday, 24. May
– finding a backery where just about everything is under two Euro (the only advantage to a declining economy…)
– getting awesome pictures with Grafitti
– another failied attempt at finding the “lost and found”
– eating Doener – again too broke to eat anything else, and it was delicious!!
– walking around the city and by chance discovering some of the most significant buildings – three churches/cathedrals, Gaudi, Gaudi, Gaudi, (!!), and a zip line to one of Barcelona’s castle, giving us an unparalleled view of the entire city and ocean!
– getting hit on by random men
– picking up souvenoirs
– eating at an amazing traditional Catalonese restaurant to bring a close to a great trip
Day 6: Tuesday, 25. May
– U-Bahn to the train station
– cab to the Reus airport
– flight to Memmingen
– cab to Memmingen airport
– train to Munich Hbf
– U-Bahn to our dorms
– SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP!
Barcelona in Pictures