Sunday, September 23, 2012

Location, Location, Location.

 A beautiful view from the Castle-Museum
       Oldenburg is so pretty! I love it here already. The people are really nice, the food is AMAZING, and life is good. Lately Ashley and I have been just exploring Oldenburg, getting ready for University, and getting to know our Flatmates. I think we have been placed in perfect flats. Ashleys flat is low key and chill. They encourage her to speak German. They even took her to  the cinema to watch a film in Deutsch! I think she will do very well there! My flat are very chill but have fun often. They took me to IKEA the other day to get bedding and other room needs. They told me they usually go to IKEA to goof around and to get hotdogs afterwards! They were yummy! Then we did a bit of Geo caching in the parking lot! The other night we had a bit of a party to celebrate the end of their summer exams! We started out here in the flat then went to the clubs. It was very fun! They speak English to me but encourage me when I pick out German watching TV and when I speak it randomly. They are so nice!

  Left: The streets of Oldenburg. All of the houses are so pretty
Right: A church in the Inner-city


          Exploring Oldenburg is like walking through a fairy tale. The houses are beautiful and well kept, the attractions are easy going and gorgeous. When we go to the markets (which are right outside of our house) people are very friendly when we try to speak and converse in German (I think by now they must know we speak English and are trying to learn German.... ). There is always lots of fresh fruit, veggies, meat, and lots of cheese and coffee!

Left: A drinking horn very elaborately decorated.

Saturday night some of the international students got together and went to the Museums because they were free for the day. We first went to the Castle-Museum which was huge and had lots of very cool things in it about Oldenburgs history. It even had photos of the princes and princesses who resided there in the past. Lots of pictures and lots of information. However, all of the information was in German so I did not understand a lot of it, but we figured we'll go again later in the semester and we will see how much we've learned. The second museum was the City-Museum. It was very crowded so we stuck to the kids room where we got to make buttons and pictures. It was a lot of fun and less stressful as the rest of the crowded museum. We decided to try going there in the day and see it when it is less busy.

                                          A miniature model of the city! 

Travel Tips:

1. You and your family should have Skype on your computer with money loaded onto it. This way if something happens and you need to get in contact with each other right away then you can call the other person on their cellphone using Skype and talk to them. It does not matter what country they are in. (It is also very, very cheap to do this!)

2. It is best to shop from local markets. This way you are supporting local farmers and economy and you get the best prices and quality food!

3. A lot of people in Germany do speak English, however, it is best to try your hand at German as much as possible. You might mess up a lot but they understand you are making an effort and will help you in your grammar or pronunciation!

4. Before you leave the states check with your bank, post office, government offices, etc. and give a family member whom you trust a power of attorney. This way if have problems while overseas then that family member can take care of things at home with full access to your accounts/information. 

Love Lots,


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

American football has a following, say what?!?!?!

A cute house we saw in the town before the football game.
So after our wonderful bar hopping night thanks to Benny, we had to get up at the crack of 10:30 to go to where he plays football. Now this isn't any normal football game. This was his championship game for the American style league he plays on. That is right, they do play American football in Germany, and some other European countries as far as I know of. It wasn't just a small game either. There had to be about 300 people, but back to me telling you about our time at the game and then I will get back to the bit of culture-shock this game brought.

We met up with Fabian, I think that name is just so much fun to say and think... like Fabio, to head out to the field/ middle school they play at. It was an interesting car ride, because we could understand even more of the conversation than normal and they were talking about football in German. Emily and I just couldn't stop giving each other looks and eye rolls. Once we got to the field we did what we do best: sit and watch everyone else set up. Honestly, we didn't know what to do. They had a system down and we would of ruined it! After the set-up we finally went to breakfast,the only reason we would get up so early after staying out till 2:30-3 a.m.

One of the streets we saw,
Breakfast was good. It was full of healthy food for growing boys who have a football game in 3 hours and coffee. I couldn't find cream or sugar, so I drank it black (ick) like my mom. We were introduced to some of the teammates, more like they introduced themselves. Benny started to tease us, because after breakfast we decided to walk around the campus. It turns out we were heading towards the locker rooms without knowing it. Once we realized this we started to walk around the town.

Now this town was way cool. It had cobblestone roads and the cutest houses! Surprisingly, we didn't get lost. We did make it back to the game with 1 1/2 hours to spare though. Now that was boring, slightly interesting, and it had a bit of home sick all intertwined. There was a bbq set up, a normal concession stand selling team good and drinks, and a few people brought their American cars ( a mustang, corvette, what I think was a blazer, and some kind of dodge), that proved to be interesting. It did make me miss my boss from the Drift Inn. That just set off a huge bought of homesickness that I just got over last night, Tuesday night.

The game itself was pretty fun. Benny's team even sent 3 guys to the hospital, one knee injury, a shoulder injury, and a guy hurt his neck. Benny's team did win so that was always a plus. We joked with him that the only reason they won was because he had his two good luck charms at the game, they've lost the last two games. After the game, while Benny and Fabian (still a highly entertaining name) were showering Emily and I were left to our own devices, this can be a good or bad thing. We found a bunch of monkey-bars to swing on, good thing, and while we were on the monkey bars we met one of the coaches, Coach Red. We asked if he was American, we heard him talking on the phone, his response was "Of course I'm American; I'm black". That started a long conversation with him about why he was there and what we needed to to while in Bremen and Europe in general. That would mostly conclude our Sunday besides that we watched the Ravens vs the Eagles later that night.

A tree we saw. Can anybody tell me what it is?
Finally Monday comes and that means we get to move into our flats!!!!!! (applaud!!) This was a very fun experience and awkward, at least for me, experience. I tend to be very shy and I didn't know how to handle the influx of new people into my life, add in all the official appointment we have to go to no wonder I don't want to talk to anyone. So far we have met some of the officials at the ISO, International Studies Office, and registered with the city. We both opened bank accounts so we can pay rent and other fun stuff. We do live right next to the bars, perfect for us, and downtown.

Downtown is very beautiful. Some amazing architecture, I will take more pictures of it later, and the stores are just cute. It is very different from the States. Everything has its own store and it is pretty nifty! There is no supermarket or superstore. The closest we found to a superstore that had cleaning products, some electronics, toys, school supplies, and make-up.  It is refreshing to not have a Walmart, but it would be useful sometimes. I'll let Emily talk about the food some more, but the good news is I haven't had a terrible food reaction yet!!!!!

As for our flatmates they are awesome. Emily's invited her to IKEA while mine invited me to go swimming. It was fun, but frustrating since I am still super shy about talking in German. But my flatmates and I are slowly working through my shyness and its nice. One of them was even joking with me about my German. The others are helpful when I don't know how to do something. They are getting curious on how well I speak German since it is my minor. I explain it, but I am trying hard to speak to them in a bit of German. I have a feeling that this shyness is going to pass! Emily is going well that I know of. Her flat has a hamster so she has a fuzzy animal to play with. Her room is coming along. I have a feeling that she is going to do well here. But that is all I have to say for now. Talk to you later, Ash.

                                   Have a good Homecoming NMU!!!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Arriving in Germany!

Day ???/One:

 Ashley and I arrived to the Chicago Airport via my wonderful Mom. We took the airline KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and they were fantastic. They always made sure we were well fed, well watered, and overall well satisfied. Our seats had their own built-in entertainment system with the screens right in front of us (they even gave us headphones to listen with!) . The second flight was also through KLM but only lasted an hour. At noon we arrived to our final destination: Hamburg, Germany.

         Benny was very kind to pick us up from the airport and let us crash at his place for the weekend. When he picked us up he toured us around Hamburg for a little while. We didn't do much in Hamburg, just walked around and grabbed coffee. But it was a very beautiful and refreshing walk.

                                         Benny and I in front of a harbor view of Hamburg.

After a few hours we left for Bremen to grab some food. And our choice of our first meal in Germany? A Turkish dish called "Rollos" which were basically a pita wrap around cucumber sauce, a tomato sauce, lamb meat, veggies, and cabbage. It was soooooo good! After this we just went to Benny's where we played FIFA, ate junk food, drank beer, and slept (picture at right). What a good night!

Day two:
A tour around Bremen! Benny took us to the stadtmarkt, which is like a farmers market. There were so much fresh and delicious looking fruit! I wanted to buy it all! We just walked around, took pictures, and really enjoyed ourselves. (We also got cell phones! #overseascommunications!)

For lunch/dinner we had currywurst from this chic restaurant where you can add spice to your dish! If you haven't had currywurst before it is just bratwurst with a topping sauce made of ketchup and curry sauce. It is very delicious. At this restaurant I had a spice level of 3 of 41 (after level 10 they make you sign a waiver that if you pass out from the heat that they WILL call you an ambulance and YOU will have to pay for everything) at level 3 it was spicy enough to give me the sniffles!
  Below: "The Bar Street" at night


Above: Dome of Bremen (S'Petri Dom). 

At night we went around to the different pubs/bars. The first one was this street along the river just lined with bar after bar after bar. Each bar had outside seating where they had to have different colored tables, chairs, and awnings because they are so close to each other (some chairs end up and different tables). But you just go with your friends, sit around the table, and enjoy a beer. It was a very relaxing set up. From there Benny's friend Fabien joined us and we went to a little micro brewery with good beer. We didn't stay long because it was loud and crowded, also, Benny wanted us to go across the street to an old bar to take this shot called an "Oil Lamp".... SO FREAKING GROSS!!!!! It tastes JUST like oil lamp! Gross! Luckily I nabbed some free tic tac handouts earlier and was able to get rid of the taste. Benny says the shot was a part of the "ultimate Bremen experience" (blah, blah, blah, gross... ). After the shock of the shot we bounced around bars and nightclubs until 3am. Then we just went home cause we were tired. (Duh.)

The stadtmarkt in Bremen

 So, our Travel tips?:

1. Get a money purse for the flight and keep your passport, air line tickets, money, phone, head phones, etc. It comes in handy and it makes the security and flight a lot easier and more safe!

2. Review your airline before you book the flight. This way you are able to see how decent they are with service, luggage, and flight time. That is how we decided (and loved) KLM.

3. When in Europe: DO NOT stir the foam into your cappuccino. You keep it the way they give it to you unless you want to add sugar, then you put the sugar onto your spoon and slowly dip it into the coffee. Then you stir underneath the foam and bring out the spoon in the same spot you lowered it.

4. At night it is O.K. if men wear glitter, it does not mean they are gay! It is just remnants of a techno club they partied at. XD

                                                Ashley and I found the Bremen musicians!

TSCHUSS!! :)  ~ Emily

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Greetings from Lansing!

It’s been a week since I left the UP and I miss it like crazy, mostly the cooler weather. However, this week has gone by in a whirlwind of last minute preparations and shopping. Emily’s family keeps me busy. When I am not packing or trying to help Emily sort through her belongings I am being kept busy with Asher, Emily’s nephew. He makes me miss my lil Oliver more and more every day.
Yesterday I went to the Renaissance fair with Emily’s family. I’ve been going with them for three years now and each time I see something new and I always have fun.  This year I even had a dress to wear! The last couple years I’ve improved with Emily, but I made sure I could dress up. I usually hate wearing dresses but I didn’t mind this. Maybe it was because I could pretend to be a princess even though I’m just a lowly bar-wench.  It was at the Renfair that Emily and I discovered we have a cold. Just the thing we need before a flight, eh? So we are spending Sunday sleeping, drinking, and going to the going away party her dad is throwing her.
 I will meet the other side of her family for the first time. Her mom’s side reminds me a lot of my family, so the going away party for her mom’s side was pretty fun and normal for me. Sunday I went to her dad’s going away party for her. I wish I was most social, but I was too out of it. Emily and I were falling asleep on the couch! Luckily, we both made it back to her mom’s house without getting into a car accident. As soon as we made it back we fell asleep for close to 15 hours, pretty sure that we have gotten over this cold. We will be ready to fly out in 3 days!