Brad Boyle

Brad Boyle

Hey everybody, I'm Brad and I am a German major here at Franklin and Marshall. I will be a junior this coming year and I will be spending my junior year in Heidelberg, Germany (check out the map to see where that is). I will be taking classes at the Universität Heidelberg which was founded in 1386, so it has a history of having great academics and being a great city to study in! I am very excited to be heading to Germany and sharing my experiences here with you all!

 
Me and the ladies up at the historical amphitheater dancing in May!

So this post is a bit spur of the moment after I came to a realization in the shower this morning, but I promise it will be the best, mostly because of the awesome German word I’m going to teach you all in this one

das Tohuwabohu – pronounced tow-who-va-bo-who (as fast as you can to make it all the better) das Tohuwabohu is German word for hullabaloo!  As awesome as hullabaloo is Tohuwabohu definitely needs to be adopted by the English language.

Anyways, as awesome as Tohuwabohu is (can you tell how much I love this word yet???), there is another reason for this post besides wanting to say Tohuwabohu as many times as I can without making you want to rip your hair out!

While in the shower this morning I was thinking about stuff back in America and imagining the conversation I would have with a professor about a class or MVA employee about renewing my license.  This sparked the rather obvious but cool epiphany that I was imagining talking to these everyday Americans in German.

Sunset outside my apartment! The weather is finally getting nice!

So midway through my conversation (in my head) with the guy at the checkout register in the grocery store I realized I was speaking in German and that’s why the man had a confused WTF expression on his face as I babbled along.

As obvious as it might seem, I had never really thought about how I’m thinking in German even when I’m in America in my mind (and it turns out it’s been happening for a long time).  Some of you might say, well duhhhhh you’re thinking in German, but it really isn’t that simple.  Thinking in a foreign language is a whole new ballgame, and if you can do it it’s a real sign of how much you know of another country’s language.

One of the beautiful views I get on sunny days while riding my bike around Heidelberg while thinking in German!

So coming to the realization that I think in German most of the time (I say as I write and think in English for this blog post) gave me a great ego boost on a Mosey Monday, and I thought it warranted a good ol’ blog post!

We’ll see whether the epiphanies keep on coming because the past two have been pretty big ones.  Besides the two recent realization making me feel über German, some other stuff has been going on too!

Most recently I celebrated my 21st birthday a couple Saturdays ago!  Why am I reminding you about my already celebrated birthday you ask?  Well because there are a few interesting differences regarding a 21st birthday in Germany as you might expect.  If you’ve been reading my posts from the beginning, you know that Germans can drink alcohol legally from age 16 on, and if you haven’t been reading my posts now you do!

Celebrating the big 2-1 with my Amis!

This difference in the legal drinking age means that my 21st birthday really means absolutely nothing to the Germans because they can already do everything anyways.  Their final legal limitations are removed when they turn 18, and so what was I to do for the all-important 21st birthday in a country where it doesn’t really matter to anyone?  That’s why I keep my fellow Americans close at hand of course, and so it was the Americans in my program (who know what a 21st birthday means) who made me feel so special!  They made me breakfast (pancakes with Vermont Maple Syrup!), baked me a cake, and, of course, bought me a few drinks later!

That was amazing, but what I really thought was amazing was what my German friend, Ozzy, did for me.  I’ve known Ozzy for 6 years now and he is studying English at the Uni here in Heidelberg, so he does know how much a 21st birthday means to us Americans.  So, being the great friend that he is, he took me out to dinner for traditional German food, house-brewed beer, and good conversation at a local restaurant.  It’s a well-known fact that when you have a German friend you have a friend for life, and my birthday was just more proof of that fact.  And everything combined made for an awesome Tohuwabohu!

Just wanted you all to see my fantastic bike with all it’s awesome colors!

For even more Tohuwabohu fun, last Wednesday was the 1st of May, and for Europeans this is a big deal because it means the weather is actually starting to get nice again!  So of course we need to have a celebration to go along with this exciting beginning to a new season, so in Germany we tanz in den Mai!  This means we dance into May, so naturally we build a big bonfire up at the historic Nazi era amphitheater and dance around into May!  So basically this just adds to the list of awesome celebrations and things that should come to America in my opinion.  So that was another awesome Tohuwabohu, and that’s the last time I’ll say that…in this blog post.

Me and the ladies up at the historical amphitheater dancing in May!

So that’s the (relatively) quick update on life here in Deutschland, and I didn’t even get around to talking about my new classes! O well!  More to come soon, so stay tuned for more tales of fantastic Tohuwabohus!  Ok I lied…one more was necessary!

 
DSCN9704

Hey, faithful readers, (I learn about more of you every day)!  First off I’d like to say thanks for following my adventures over the course of the past semester!  It means a lot to know people are keeping up with all the stuff I’ve been doing!  A new semester is about to begin for me in less than a week, so I would love to start with a German lesson!

 Vielen Dank (feel-uhn dahnk)!  This means, when literally translated, many thanks, but it is used in a more casual tone for the Germans as a generic thanks!  So, dear readers, vielen Dank, for your continued interest in my European adventures!

Me standing in front of the Millennium Bridge across the River Thames from St. Paul’s Cathedral

As many of you know I’ve been pretty much constantly traveling for the past two months while between semesters in Germany.  I’ve made the grand European circuit (only Poland and the Netherlands are left in Western Europe really), and through the process of moving around constantly I have come to a great realization.

The Heidelberg Schloß (castle)

I now consider Heidelberg to be home.

Might seem obvious I guess, but it is something that hasn’t come particularly easily to me.  What brought this on was, in fact, all the traveling that I’ve been doing!  As I’ve zigzagged across Europe I have met a ridiculous amount of people, and with pretty much all of them the topic of home has come up.  When it inevitably does, I inevitably need to make the important distinction between home in the USA and home in Germany because more often than not I’m talking about Heidelberg!

And now that I’m leaving London (and family), I have found that I’m ready to go home to Heidelberg.  I miss the city.  I miss speaking German.  I miss my apartment and friends!  I have been so unsettled for the past two months that I’m sooooooo ready for the routine and normalcy of my life back in Heidelberg.  The things I’ve seen from Barcelona to Copenhagen and London to Rome have amazed me, but none of it really is home despite the friends and family I’ve found along the way.  So as I head home, I’m so very much looking forward to it!

Me and Chipotle caught up a couple of times while I was in London!

As I said this epiphany took a while, and that is a testament to how great home across the pond is!  I hung on to my family and friends from Maryland, Pennsylvania, and the rest of the U.S., and that for a time prevented me from really putting down roots in Germany.  In the end Germany has changed me and affected me in ways I don’t even understand yet, and I know that my multiple homes can coexist peacefully.  There’s no reason that Germany and America have to be mutually exclusive, and I’m so happy that I’ve come to that realization!  So here’s to the beginning of another amazing semester at home in Germany!

 
Me in Madrid in the Retiro! It took me long enough to get there!

As promised on Facebook, here is the story of my night on the streets of Barcelona!

So as most of you who will read this know, I am on vacation between semesters for a two-month period! Crazy right???  Anyways, if there’s one thing that I’ve learned in my life that is critical to fun vacations it is the phrase Semper Gumby, a.k.a. always be flexible.  My youth pastor at home taught me this wonderful phrase, and it always comes up whenever I’m traveling.

My first stop on the journey in Karlsruhe, Germany

So, you might ask, why am I talking about Semper Gumby now? Well, if you’re patient and read on I’ll tell you!  This time around I really needed to refer to this saying while attempting to get to Madrid to visit a friend there.  I was supposed to travel on Tuesday, the 12th of February, in a travel time of about 15 hours.  Instead the journey took an extra 33 hours, and didn’t begin until the 13th.

So clearly there’s a decent story here!  Turns out that on Mardi Gras my train that was supposed to take me to Paris was cancelled. I have no idea why and neither does Deutsche Bahn, but I definitely wasn’t going to make my connections in Paris and Figueres Vilafant (northern Spain).

I hurriedly ran to the information center, and asked what was going on and could it be fixed.  Well the long answer made short is yes, but, unfortunately, not until tomorrow.  Apparently there was no similar connection on Wednesday, so instead of 2 simple connections I had to make 5, and I would be in transit for 27 hours.

The central train station in Strasbourg, France (stop number 2)

So after waking up at an ungodly hour I hopped my first train at 5:45 am and after traveling through Karlsruhe (Germany), Strasbourg (France), Montpellier (France), and Port Bou (Spain) I arrived at the Barcelona Sants train station at 10:30 pm.  After that I was stuck.  No more trains were traveling to Madrid Wednesday, so I would have to wait until 6:05 am Thursday to finish the journey.

 

The view out in front of stop number 3, Montpellier, France

I figured that a stay overnight at the station wouldn’t be too bad.  There was a McDonald’s (which I am sitting outside of now writing this) that provided free wifi and some surprisingly comfortable seats!  But that was before I found out that the station closes at 12. Womp womp…I was in trouble now.

The view from the train between Montpellier and Port Bou, Spain

Next to me I saw 2 (also confused) young guys and decided it was worth a shot to ask what they had in mind.  They were French and in the same situation as me with an early train and nowhere to stay overnight, while trying to get back to Paris.  After a few minutes of deliberation in broken English we decided to go looking for a nearby hostel that wouldn’t break our meager banks.

Me being lonely in the Port Bou train station…I was catching the last train of the day!

And, staying true to my horrible luck in trying to get to Madrid, there was absolutely nothing we could do, so it looked like it was going to be a night on the streets, my first ever!  I found a few benches and they found some coca-cola and we settled in.  I turned on a movie on my IPod and they tried to find some way to get home, which they did around 2 am.  They found a cheap bus, and so I was faced with what I figured would be about another 2 hours alone on the streets.  I found another bench closer to the station and bundled up because it was getting down into the 40’s.  Finally two hours later I nearly ran into the station and got warm and some wifi back in front of McDonald’s.

The Barcelona Sants station circa 4 in the morning!

2 hours after that I was on my train and almost immediately asleep, and 3 hours after that I finally arrived in Madrid!  Without keeping my motto in mind every leg of the journey I probably would have had a mental breakdown, due to all the stress and craziness involved.  Luckily, I kept my cool (literally I felt like I was freezing), and I got to Madrid in one, tired piece!  So to all you other travelers out there stay flexible, and in the end you’ll have a great time like me!

Me in Madrid in the Retiro! It took me long enough to get there!

 

Hello once again faithful readers!  Your German word to take to heart this time around is…

die Ferien- which means vacation or break, like in the sentence in den Semesterferien reise ich um ganz Europa!

So that vacation I mentioned is beginning as I write this post, but before we get to that exciting stuff I want to take a look at what my first semester in Germany was really like.  This post will focus on the school bit and the next one I’ll be looking at how I’ve adjusted to life in Germany outside of the classroom!

Uni here in Germany is very, very different from uni in America.  It’s going to be hard to just remember all of the differences (so there will probably be a few that are forgotten).  So I guess I should just be honest about it, so this semester was a lot easier than a semester back at dear old F&M.  The first thing that made it easier was the fact that I was taking fewer classes during the actual semester.  I took one of my classes before the semester started and then only took 2.5 F&M credits, a.k.a. 2.5 classes (after dropping Arabic).  This is, however, not the norm for German students.  My German friends take 6 classes or so a semester and do that for 5 years rather than the 4 of American students.  I will however be making up my lack of work next semester, so have no fear that I’m wasting all your money Mom and Dad!

Another huge difference is what many of the classes are actually like.  Compared to F&M (and the American system in general) the German system is heavily based around lecture as opposed to seminar style teaching, and grading is much more concentrated on a few assignments.  This turns out to be both a blessing and a curse!  Being lectured at has never been my style, so luckily I found classes that were seminar based, but the grading system still put me on edge.  In both of the classes where I received a grade I had only 1 or two grades the whole semester, which means of course if I bombed anything my grade was bombed. I only had tests, but there are classes that also grade based on lengthy presentations (I had a short one) and term papers due after the semester ends.  Luckily everything turned out fine and my grades didn’t suffer due to the lack of assignments.

The final major difference that separates the German unis from the American ones is the lack of homework.  In uni here in Germany there is hardly any homework.  Nearly all of the work is focused on class and papers at the end of the semester. Where us Americans are forced to slave away for hours with homework every night the Germans are left to their own devices to study, obtain extra information regarding class materials, and do the little amounts of homework they are assigned (and it’s rarely graded).  In the end it comes out to a system that is more relaxed, more self reliant, and more fun (in my humble opinion).  So from that description I would say I’m enjoying school here in Germany very much so far, and I will have a difficult time readjusting to life when I get back to F&M in the fall.

 

So here’s the non-academic side of the past 5 and a half months!

I guess we can give the German words a break since I’m on a train in France going to Spain while writing this!

The view from the train in France headed for Port Bou, Spain

As you might expect life in Germany is quite a bit different from life in the United States, and it has taken quite a while to adjust, but I would say that now I’m leaving to travel around Europe for a couple months I feel pretty well adjusted to life over here.

The lifestyle of the college student here in Germany is what I think was one of the hardest things to adjust to besides leaving my family and friends.  Being a uni student here is actually like being a young adult.  Students are expected to find their own housing, register themselves completely for uni, cook most of their own food, and be independent in almost every way.  It is a real change from the almost pampered atmosphere that F&M provides its own students in Lancaster.  And it really was a change to have a period in my life as a young adult.  Our parents and elders at home in America talk about us as young adults, but in reality we’re still treated largely as children!  Many of us go back to living at home between semesters where everything is given to us, and while at F&M we have a dining hall at our disposal for food, simple course registration, and housing provided for us.

Cooking and shopping for myself pretty much the whole time!

We hardly get any training in how to live life on our own, as so many of us do once we graduate from college.  I can’t help but feel that if I hadn’t come here to Germany I would have felt wholly unprepared once I graduated from F&M.  Luckily I chose to come here to Germany, and while still pampered some by my study abroad program, I have largely been left to my own devices, and finally I am coming to enjoy it and have learned so much!

I have of course had ups and downs over the past 5 and a half months, but I haven’t set my apartment on fire yet and I haven’t been arrested or anything terrible.  As a result of having this time to explore myself I know that when I come back to America I will be a changed person (how could I not be after 11 months abroad), but definitely changed for the better.  The only problem I worry about at this point (and it’s a stretch to even call it a worry with it being so far off) is how will I adjust to going back to the pampered life of home and F&M?  Will my new experiences just add to the fun and incredible experience I’ve had at F&M so far, or will the reverse culture shock hit like a ton of bricks?  In either case it’s still 5 months away, so it’s not really a problem and won’t be for quite a while!  For now I’m just focused on enjoying my life here!

On that note I’ll stop and get on with enjoying my train ride to Port Bou, Spain on the way to my final destination of Madrid!  You’ll be hearing about this wild experience soon I can assure you!

 

So I promised lots of blog posts this week so here’s another!  It’s my photo blog that is a rough outline of everything I’ve done this semester!

You faithful followers still get a German lesson though!

Bild – picture (plural Bilder), like in the sentence, es gibt viele Bilder in diesem Blog!  Ok so enjoy the Bilder everybody!

So we begin all the way back in September…there’s me with all my stuff that I brought along!

And a day later I was in Heidelberg gazing up at the castle at sunset! It was a beautiful way to start my stay!

For the first month that our whole group was in Heidelberg we toured the city and other places during our preparation class! Here’s a view of Heidelberg from up at the castle.

An important part of preparing for life in Germany was getting all the basic supplies we would need! I got myself a bike pretty early on…too bad it’s stolen now! If anyone sees it let me know! haha

We toured many nearby cities to get some of the local history as part of our preparations…one of the first places we visited was Rothenburg ob der Tauber…a tourist magnet is Germany and right on the Romantic Road!

Of course there were personal expeditions too like this one to Oktoberfest! Lots of fun and lots of Americans!

One of the other fun planned expeditions was a trip to the Mercedes-Benz museum in Stuttgart…just an hour or so by bus! What would Germany be without its cars?!

Of courseeeee all the while I was following my beloved Orioles as they struggled for and made the playoffs! Keeping in touch with America in such a weird way was really fun!

Not all of the fun was outside Heidelberg! There was a huge fall festival in town at the end of September that was lots of fun! So many people came to the city, so people watching was fun too!

Our last planned expedition of the first month was to Speyer with its beautiful cathedral, which was blocked by a crane…this was one of the longest days of the fall and we had many stories afterwards!

It’s Grandma! After our month of preparations we got a week and a half to ourselves, so some went off to Paris or Rome or London like me! I spent the week and a half visiting family and friends with my grandparents!

This one got featured by F&M study abroad! Pretty cool picture of the houses of Parliament and Big Ben! London is an incredible city…there is history oozing out of every alleyway!

After London the landscape changed a little because we headed to Sweden! A beautiful country with beautiful people!

Two Swedish kids I met…Timothy and Elena! They have made me promise multiple times to come back and continue to this day to pester me as to when I’ll be back! Looking forward to it in March!

After our fall break we actually started classes, and so it took another month for me to get out and explore some more of Europe! Berlin was the next stop to see Germany’s capital city, meet up with Emily and Hannah from high school, and hang out with my German friend Ozzy!

Life is good! Not too much beats the Reichstag building as far a governmental buildings go! This trip was a lot of fun!

The iconic Brandenburg Gate…need I say more?

After Berlin Thanksgiving sped up on us Americans and right after that the Christmas season got underway with the opening of the Christmas markets…couldn’t miss capturing my first Glühwein (hot mulled wine) on camera!

No matter where I went to see a Christmas market (you’re about to wade through a flood of pictures from them) the city always put on a beautiful display! This was the first night of Heidelberg’s Christmas market!

The next sop on our Christmas market tour was Nürnberg (Nuremberg for you Americans), which is one of the most famous markets in Germany

And right after that trip we got our first snow in Heidelberg! Snow makes the country even prettier than it already is!

My third stop around the Christmas markets of Europe was Basel, Switzerland! A cool market in an otherwise kinda uninteresting town!

The next day (one of the first Saturdays in December) I headed off to Munich and was blown away once again by how beautiful the city is! It’s one of my favorite cities in Germany!

The Christmas market wasn’t too bad either!

Something that opened a little later than all the other markets in Germany was the market up at the castle in Heidelberg! It was by far one of the most beautiful markets I got to see!

Another fun one to visit for the novelty of it was Strasbourg, France! Got to see Maddie (another F&M student) there!

And in Strasbourg I found one of the most impressive tree I saw in Europe!

after that it seemed like Christmas was basically there, which meant family!!! With them we went to Vienna, which is where this beautiful market was!

This is another European city where history oozes out of every alleyway! Behind the family is the Kunsthistorischesmuseum! The big important art gallery!

The city also has one of the most impressive cathedrals I have seen so far! The St. Stephen’s Cathedral is incredible even when hidden by fog!

And we saved the extremely impressive Schönbrunn Palace for Christmas Day! Definitely one of the more impressive places I’ve visited!

The 26th meant the family headed to our next stop on our Christmas vacation…Prague!

They gave Vienna a run for their money in terms of Cathedrals and sightseeing!

The Charles Bridge was always an exciting crossing whether by day or by night, like in this picture!

And even though Christmas was over the Christmas spirit continued to linger around the continent!

And most importantly I got to spend it together with my family!

But eventually we had to leave Prague and visited Dresden for a day! And what a day it was!

It definitely offered some of the best views of the trip, and made for a great end to the year!

So that is my experience so far in terms of pictures! Note the ridiculous lack of schoolwork pictures haha!  Hope you all enjoy it!

 
Christmas in Germany!

Hey faithful readers!  Thanks for patience in waiting for another blog post!  It has been a couple months I know, but I’m still in classes for first semester, so cut me a little slack!  There has been sooooooo much going on since I last posted, so the hope is that I’m about to throw up a few blog posts right in a row!

Soooo if you can remember we always have a German word of the day!

We’ll start with Christmas because that’s always a fun topic even if it happened last year!

The Christmas tree in Strasbourg, France…the most impressive one I saw in Europe!

Weihnachten – Christmas

Weihnachten ist mein Lieblingsfest, weil ich Santa Claus liebe!

So Christmas is a tad different than in America as you might expect!  Kinda surprisingly I would say Christmas is just as commercialized here in Germany as it is in America.  Instead of endless commercials and Christmas music on every radio station (some still play it!), the Germans have Christmas markets.

 

The Christmas market at the castle in Heidelberg

Pretty much every single city, town, and hamlet in Germany has a Christmas market (Weihnachtsmarkt or Christkindlmarkt in German), and they are done as much for the locals as for the tourists!  They are very exciting and personify Christmas in many ways (in my opinion at least).  Everyone from tourists to Germans congregates in the markets to grab a drink and share some quality holiday time with their friends and family…much better way to spend the holiday season in my opinion!  And of course there is a drink of choice at these Christmas markets- Glühwein- heated mulled wine!  It is different in every village and city and is very tasty!

Besides the entirely different advent season the actual holiday is very different too!  The big holiday day is the 24th not the 25th and gifts are swapped then.  And overall the celebration is smaller and more intimate, which makes for a wonderful holiday.  I got to enjoy mine with the family in Vienna, and despite being thousands of miles away from home family turned out to be all that mattered!

 

The St. Stephen’s Cathedral all lit up inside on Christmas Day

So I hope all of you had wonderful Christmas holidays or whatever holidays you might have celebrated.  My holidays were wonderful here, and I still have a few more days left to enjoy (and write blog posts!), so a happy new year to you all!  Hope it will be the best one yet!  More to come soon and maybe even a photo one!

The family all together for the holidays!

 
the famous Houses of Parliament and Big Ben

Hey everybody – before I left London I thought I would quickly report on my travels around the city during fall break!

 

The London Eye – the first thing we visited in London!

You do still however get a German word to remember:

die Reise- which means trip as in, meine Reise nach London wird wunderbar!

 

The iconic Tower Bridge from inside the Tower of London

Anyways London has been fascinating and exciting and tiring and all sorts of things!  There is so much history here, all of which just blows my mind and acts like a sensory overload.  I mean the first thing I did was go on the London Eye and I got great views of Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and so much more.

the famous Houses of Parliament and Big Ben

How often am I going to be able to see so many ridiculously iconic places/things in the span of a few days!?  I feel so blessed to be able to experience it all, and there are so many historical stories that I’ve picked up from tours and locals that I would love to share, but it would be a short novel as opposed to a blog post, which nobody wants to read at the moment!  I am happy to share stories if you skype me!  I’m always happy to skype because I am still missing home lots.

 

one of the many beautiful entrances to Westminster Abbey!

However it has been a little easier here in London mainly because they speak English!  I never thought I would miss English so much.  I still love German and Germany of course, but I didn’t realize how much different life in a country that speaks a different language was until I got back to an English speaking country!  It’s incredibly refreshing to hear English spoken on a regular basis and to be with family for a week!

 

Big Ben

I have now spent more than a month away from home, which has felt like almost no time at all!  Over the course of this month I have become accustomed to a greater extent to German culture and not really given much thought to how I felt about this new and different culture.  But now that I have left it for a week I have been faced with contemplating these differences.  I’m not sure I still comprehend it all yet, but I have been asked many times now by my grandparents and other family here in London what I think of the differences, so maybe when I get my thoughts straight I’ll share ‘em here but until then you will just have to hold your breath (or maybe not cuz it might take a while).  Overall though I am still feeling a mixture of amazement and less and less homesickness, which is good!  I’m off to Sweden next, and then finalllllllyyyyyy I will start classes, and I will be able to report on that exciting new aspect of German life!

Keep in touch everyone and I will continue to through facebook and here!  I have been posting lots of other pictures on facebook and if you want to see them email me and I can share links to the albums!

 

Hey America! I have been thinking about what to write about for this blog post, and the obvious answer to that is just updating you all on my adjustment to life in Germany.  I could talk about the first two weeks (since that’s how long it has been as of today) and how well I am adjusted to it already, but in fact I’m really not that adjusted yet so I will save that exciting post for another time!  But here’s a little taste of life in Heidelberg!

A view from below the castle at sunset!

 

So I will begin with your German lesson for this post.  Der Dürkheimer Wurstmarkt literally translates to the Sausage Market of Bad-Dürkheim, but in reality it is the largest wine festival in the entire world (that’s right), a giant carnival, and a celebration of German culture.  Could my first weekend in Germany get cooler?

The Giant Ferris Wheel at the Wurstmarkt

 

So, you might ask, what is the topic of this post?  And to that I reply…alcohol.

The main focus of the Wurstmarkt (it should be called Weinfest in my opinion) is the wine.  Every vineyard from the surrounding area sells bottles of wine by the thousands during this festival that lasts two weekends during September, and, despite this, there are hardly any problems with excessive drinking.  Small children (and some Americans too like yours truly) wander around playing carnival games and enjoy the rides while everyone else is drinking wine and eating traditional German food.  As I was walking around with my group of friends I realized that you would never find something like this in America!

The GIANT cask at the Wurstmarkt

In Germany the legal drinking age for beer and wine is age 16, and it’s 18 for everything else.  Therefore, drinking in general is a larger and more accepted part of culture for teenagers and college students than in America (mostly because of the illegality of it in America).  Talking with a German friend studying at the Universität Heidelberg and listening him talk about all the stupid American students he meets that are excessively drunk got me thinking of a good blog post about cultural differences.

In talking to him, I learn that despite all our stereotypes of Germans as lederhosen-wearing, beer-guzzling, wiener schnitzel-gobbling (fun fact: its actually an Austrian, not German, dish) people, they are in fact more in control of themselves than most American students.  In fact my friend tells me that some of the best conversations he has ever had have begun with a bottle of beer.  For 99.9% of Germans drinking is a social norm, and it is perfectly acceptable for a couple of 20 year old university students to sit down at dinner, have a beer or two, and get into some really deep political or philosophical discussion.

In America you would be hard pressed to find young adults doing the same thing partially because it would be illegal and partially because many college students (I know not all of us) don’t drink in such a social and responsible manner.  Here in Germany alcohol is an extremely different aspect of culture for people than in America, and it is pretty refreshing.  Like I said, where in America could you find a wine festival that close to 1 million people visit each year that is also totally friendly for families with young children?  Just the basic premise makes it near impossible!

My glass of Riesling

So yes, I’m still not legal in the U.S. of A.  Yes, I tried some delicious wine at the Dürkheimer Wurstmarkt (like the picture shows you) and have had some beers with dinners.  Yes, sometimes Germans do live up to the stereotypes Americans have of them, but no it is not anything like what I expected.  The culture is so different here and I am still adjusting to it, but by going with the flow and trying to fit in as best as I can, I think I’m doing a pretty good job of it!

Hopefully this post will make you all think a little about our own American culture surrounding alcohol and cultural differences in general because they are in fact really interesting!  Please keep following through facebook and on here!  Until next time- Tschüs!

 
Here is the packing I have accomplished so far...gotta make sure I don't forget anything this time!

Hey everybody! First things first is the German lesson!

This blog has two words for you all to memorize- aber and das Flugzeug

Flugzeug is just a fun word in my opinion and it means airplane!

Aber is the conjunction “but.” Besides just being a fun word it also has a cool function; as a friend told me this summer you can be talking about one thing and then all of a sudden- BAM – you throw in an aber and you can go in a whole different direction, like this (stick it into google translate)!

Ich freue mich sehr auf dem kommenden Schuljahr in Deutschland, aber ich bin auch sehr nervös!

As everyone back at F&M starts the school year today (Wednesday) with the beginning of classes I am sitting at home here in Maryland and watching TV, relaxing, and continuing to enjoy my summer vacation.  Sounds pretty much awesome right?!

Welllllllll, it isn’t quite as great as it sounds.  As I’m getting ready to leave for Germany I realize what a challenge the preparations are.  There are the emotions of leaving my life in America behind and there is the physical aspect of packing the next year of my life into two suitcases.  How do you handle those things? I have no idea! F&M is only an hour and a half from my home, so for my first two years of life at college I have never really missed anything.  I can always visit with family and my friends at home when I want, all of my college friends were there with me at F&M, and, very importantly, if I forgot anything at home it was a phone call away.

I will have none of these wonderful luxuries come Sunday evening when I get on board a plane headed for Frankfurt.  So as a result I have been spending the past week saying goodbyes and gathering supplies.  So far the goodbyes have been the hardest part, and the actual packing has been wayyyyy easier.  Last Friday I started the rounds with my friends from high school, which was tons of fun, but then Sunday came around and I had to say farewell, first, to my church family (something that’s very important to me), and then, second, to my family at F&M.  Saying goodbye to a roommate who has become a best friend and a few other people who have really been incredible friends was something I had never had to do before.  So for this week I have been attempting to keep myself as busy as possible.

To do that I have been packing and shopping!  I now have all my power adapters, a simple global phone (just ask me for the number if you really want to get in touch!), toiletries to last me a few weeks, a couple books, and a lotttttt of clothes, all of which comes close to 100 pounds of stuff.  And I have to pack for all possible weather conditions imaginable.  Summers can be as hot and muggy as Lancaster, rain happens just as often as does snow, and temperatures last year stayed below 0˚F for a couple weeks.  I’m trying not to panic too much!

So as good as an extended summer vacation and going to Germany sounds (it will be awesome once I adjust!), the preparations are not all that jazz and way more difficult than I could have imagined.  So as I head off on this totally new experience to live in another world for a year I am both extremely excited and really nervous.  Here goes nothin’!

Post Blog Script- please leave feedback because I am totally new to this, and I don’t want to totally bore all of you with these posts!