Sonnenlicht = Sunlight

It is the glorious part of the day where the sunlight streams in through my floor length window/door-to-nowhere, across my floor, and bathes my bed in happiness. No, seriously. Every time my room looks like this, I feel better about life. If it were this sunny more often, I would be a much more productive person. (Let's ignore the fact that the last time it looked like this when I was home was Wednesday, and I promptly lay down in the sun and took a nap. When I woke up, it was grey and already dusk. Discouraging, to say the least.)
Here is my large window. And my desk and my bowl of chicken noodle soup (Mrs. Grass' sent from home because God knows there must not be any super-plain chicken soup in Germany) and my bookshelf and my sweatshirt on top of my towel on my radiator. It is so bright in here; the picture doesn't do it justice. Oh, and there's a cake pan I borrowed from Maraia on top of my shelf, along with a tall stack of books on the Anschluss Österreichs. And the cable modem thing and the wireless router and a tangle of cords and a bowl on the floor full of water that is supposed to be on my heater, acting as a very cheap humidifier.
And here is the sunlight on my bed, which is usually made, just not today because I'm feeling sick and was reading under the covers—the fun, striped, flannel covers. I have issues with my bedside table. Really with all surfaces (including the floor). Papers just get out of hand.
I'd been avoiding posting pictures of my room until the day when it was not only clean, but also schön eingerichtet—a phrase that, I am afraid, I am incapable of translating. I know exactly what I mean, but that doesn't really help you. Oh, furnished. It means 'nicely furnished'. Not that I'm going to buy any more furniture. But someday, my TV will come. By which I mean, someday Maraia and I will get around to going ALL THE WAY TO STUSIE to get the TV someone from last year sold to Maraia. It hasn't been five months already, we're not lazy, shut up! Also, I want to have things hanging on my white stucco walls besides the giant, free calendar from the Bundestag in Berlin that rolled-up caused my backpacking backpack to reach its full height. The photos in it weren't worth it.
Now I have squandered the peak sunlight in my room taking pictures that don't capture the experience. Maybe it's time to get dressed and buy some bread.

Keine Panik! = Don't Panic!

Have I mentioned lately that it's STILL THE FIRST SEMESTER in Germany?

Sure, we didn't start until October 20th, but it's almost February. I have zero desire to show up to any of my classes at this point.

I have to write a 10-page term paper in the next two weeks. I think I'm going to write about how German immigrants to America held onto the German language, and when and why they lost it, and what that says about something. No, I have clearer plans than that. What I actually want to research is how the newer German immigrant groups, that came in the thirties fleeing the Nazis, integrated and/or assimilated, and how much of a 'German community' still exists in America. That's what my teacher really wants to know. So far, I haven't found much information on that, though. Maybe I need to search 'Jewish' instead of 'German'...

I have to add 5 1/2 pages to my history paper in the next two weeks. It's on the Anschluss of Austria in 1938, and whether or not there was really a resistance to the Nazis. Or to what extent. A question that is also strangely difficult to find answers to. So far I've got: the Kanzler tried. But he tried to buy time and then it was too late. The communists and socialists called for solidarity with Austria and the Austrofaschists against the Germans, because it's hard to create a communist Austria when Austria no longer exists. And there were supposedly resistence groups, but none of my sources said what they did or what they were called or how effective they were. My further question is: why so vague? I don't know that I'll be able to answer it.

And then, I get to add 5 pages to my essay comparing Frühlings Erwachen by Frank Wedekind to the adapted performance currently at the Freiburger Stadttheater. In the next three weeks. I've seen the performance twice, but I'm still not sure what its message is. All I can confidently say that the modern version is less optimistic.

I also have a presentation, article summaries, reading, homework assignments, and a linguistics test of some sort. Meanwhile, there are movies I want to see, photos to post, letters to write, people to see. I have to pick which courses to take next semester—as well as figure out which ones to take next fall. My registration appointment is going to fall sometime during my six-week trip.

Of course, this is when I decide that I need to come up with a concrete post-undergraduate plan.

Mitbewohner = "Cohabiter"...hahaha

My brother's visiting me in Germany for five weeks, starting in May. When we were booking the tickets and looking at travel dates, that seemed like a reasonable amount of time. It makes those plane tickets really worth it. As soon as the tickets were booked, I put the official dates into iCal, counted the weeks again, and started second-guessing that final week we tacked back on.

Five weeks of my brother? On my floor, in my room. My highly-dependent-on-other-people-when-in-a-strange-place brother. Without a cell phone. Stuck in my room. For five weeks.

That's not true. There are trips planned for almost every weekend and ten days to be spent in beautiful central European cities. And yet, I was worried. I need to do my homework, I consider myself to be a fairly private person...and what if I got a German boyfriend? (This whole concept of 'getting' boyfriends—ex: "My Mitbewohner tells me I just need to get a German boyfriend, and then I'll really know German."—is strange. But now I'm off track.)

Then I went to Berlin and forgot about my brother amid the excitement of vampire teenage romance movies auf Englisch, sparkly modern architecture, hatred for tour guides, and most importantly, POLAR BEARS. The trip home was almost the entire study abroad program in one train car. I was sick of them. When I got back to Freiburg, I was alone in my room again. Hours at a time. Almost days at a time. I was sick of myself.

I am so excited to have a roommate for five weeks. And he's my brother—I'm used to living with him, day in, day out, even if I haven't for almost a year and a half. He'll yell at me to do my homework (that won't help), but he'll also provide the necessary brief distractions that allow me to keep on working.

Plus I'll always have someone to hang out with. For five weeks, he gets to be my new best friend. I never would have considered myself a "people person." My friends probably wouldn't consider me one, either. But lately I am extremely aware of how much I need people.

Noch nicht = Not Yet

I don't want to leave Berlin. There's so much I haven't seen yet.

I've seen central East Berlin, but not central West Berlin. I've seen Potsdamer Platz, but not Alexanderplatz. I've seen Unter den Linden, but not Kurfürstendamm.

I'm unclear as to how everything connects above ground. I've seen the U2 and the U6 a lot, though.

It's cold and wet and above all, icy. I don't know how all the inhabitants have survived the cobblestones with their layer of ice.

I still want to walk more.

In Berlin

1. Potsdamer Platz
2. Piece of the Wall
3. Sony Center
4. Potsdamer Platz in the fog, viewed from the Monument to the Murdered Jews of Europe
5. Brandenburger Tor & the Reichstag, viewed from theMonument
6. Obligatory (Brandenburger Tor)
(last night)

Einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr!
= Happy New Year!

It's hard to believe that we're already a third through January.

Seriously? Even though I just realized it, seeing it written is something like a slap in the face. Which is maybe what I need.

To say "happy new year," Germans wish you a good "Rutsch" into the new year. A good "fall," "slide," or "slip" into the new year. I ended the year full of good intentions and positive thoughts about the new one, but instead of sliding well into it, I appear to have stumbled down a different path and onto my bed. My butt hurt last night, but no longer from skiing and snowshoeing. Instead, it's from sitting on my bed with my computer on my lap for more hours than I'm willing to admit.

But today is a new day, and initiative is necessary. So here's to not being a couch potato and internet zombie! Und ein besser (better) Rutsch ins neue Jahr!

It's been a while.

Over a month, in fact. Once I left Freiburg for Munich (and then Mijoux, France), my internet access was limited, and blog posting never seemed to be the top of the list. When I got back to Freiburg, my internet use seems to have been limitless, and yet I spent all my time on other things.

I am tired from all my computer use. Living in a room by myself, in an apartment with three other people who don't interact all that often, never seems to get better. If I want social interaction but am supposed to be getting homework done, I just sign online. And the computer screen sucks away my day.

The best thing about being in Munich was living with a family. We left the cereal out for each other at breakfast, discussed the day's plans when we saw each other, ate dinner together, watched movies, and said good night, sleep well. They were busy, but they were there.

At first, it made me more legitimately homesick than I think I've been. Usually I miss people, but I don't actually want to be there. Being around my mom's best friend, or maybe simply a family, made me miss my family. Seeing Rebecca with all her friends, many of whom study in other cities now and she hadn't seen in months, made me want to be reunited with the people who know me best.

And I got used to the apartment, and the U-Bahn, and Rebecca's grandfather's continual comments about film ("You know, that's not real. They can do anything in the studio!") and the weather (it was snowing a lot in the US, and there was no way Rebecca was going to make it to Lansing in time for her cousin's wedding). As my departure approached, I considered staying. Throwing away €90 worth of tickets and staying in Munich a few more days, and then buying a new ticket home to Freiburg.

In Mijoux, I missed Munich and the family I had left there. But in Mijoux, there was another family, in a chalet on a mountain belonging to the Jura range, which is north of the Alps. They have a moody teenager, 11-year-old twins, and adorable 4-year-old Florent, who usually speaks French but ended up using more English by the time we left. They have a cat, Blackness—which sounded like 'Loch Ness' to me the first time the daughter told me. I was about to tell Maraia that I wished I'd stayed in Munich, or had simply got off the train to Basel when it stopped in Freiburg, when the cat appeared. Immediately, everything felt better.

I'm glad I didn't get off the train in Freiburg. It would have been a waste of money, but more importantly, I wouldn't have met the friendly people we stayed with, or learned to ski a little, or snowshoed up a mountain. Or eaten couscous and shrimp and potato and carrot soup and lentils and delicious Galettes de Rois. (It's good for me, I guess...but I really only would regret not eating the cake.) And I would've had to spend hours on the computer planning a six-week trip after we got back to Freiburg.

Oh wait. I've still spent many, many more hours planning since getting back from France. The end of February is coming sooner than I'd like to think, and with it, two months off. Hopefully I won't want to be back in Freiburg so soon next time.