Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Week of Nonsense

              Orientation week is over although, it was very fun! Met lots of new people and learned a ton of new things about the Uni. here. This past week we have been doing nothing but preparing for our semester and traveling around Germany. On Monday and Tuesday we basically did nothing but stay at home and look up some fun courses to take! (There are SO many!) Then on Wednesday a group of us went to Hamburg for the day. The group consisted of 5 of us: Ashley, Jonathan, Cedric, Akshay, and myself. Once there however, we acquired a new member: Cedrics friend Martin who was living in Hamburg and was willing to show us around a bit. First up: The Harbor!

                     The Harbor View!
     The Harbor was Ashley's choice and it was a good choice. Thanks to Martin we took a taxi-boat and was able to get out onto the water and look at the sights. It was so surreal, it looked almost as if a robot-city. Lining the harbor was shipping containers, ship-building cranes, ships, docks, etc.. It was just packed and created it is own unique atmosphere. It made me wish for my big DSLR camera and a whole day just to walk/boat the whole harbor. I think I would have gotten a few good shots but alas, the point and shoot mama lend me did just fine and got some great pics! (Thanks again mommy!)

                                                                                                           The Red Light District...

Next was the Red-light district. I wont say who wanted to see it but I think deep in all of us we wanted to see what it was like because we do not have these kind of things in the States. It was HUGE! Pretty much the size of Northern Michigan University's campus. There were a good 4 streets just lined with sex shops, strip clubs, night clubs, whore-houses, etc. Since there was a decent group mixed of boys and girls we got a lot of weird stares, especially since it was during the day. Ash and I tried to leave the boys by themselves so we can witness them getting hit on by prostitutes, but alas, there were none to harass the boys. :( There will be a group of us going back during the night to experience the full throttle of it all. Wish us luck and safety! ;) From here we went and sat downtown and relaxed until our train, then we went home. What a fun day!

The Olympic Roller-Coaster

On Friday we went to Freimarkt in Bremen. Freimarkt is like Oldenburg's Kramermarkt which is like our state and county fairs. Full of carnival rides, beer tents, and food stands. There was a decent group of us who went and we rode some pretty awesome rides. One of which was a roller coaster in the shape of the Olympic Rings! Another, and my favorite, was an adventure-based roller coaster that had us going into these long tunnels and giant cave full of flashing and laser lights. Talk about nifty and awesome at the same time! After we went to the bar street and got some good grub and drinks!

The next day we were supposed to go to Nordeny for a Uni. excursion but alas, the tracks were broken so we could not travel that way. However, we decided to go back to Bremen for the day. This time it was quite a large group of a lot of exchange students. We first decided to get something to eat. So we went to this great pasta-bar called Vapiano's. It was so delicious and not a bad price at all. Then we went to the mini-markt happening in the city center. Here we found a few section of vendors that were renaissance themed! Ash and I drooled over the leather-wear and nifty wooden musical instruments. Also, there were these "potions" there made by witches. But if you looked at the bottle you would figure out it was just fruit wine! Alright! You can bet we bought some! I bought Mead and Ash bought Honey-raspberry and Cranberry wine! Yum!

The Wine-Potion Bottles with Descriptions!

The next posts will be soon and there will probably be two since Ash and I will both want to update you all as to the classes we are taking! So far they are great but I have yet to visit them all!

XOXO Emily

Travel Tips:

1. Your wallet. -> It probably has everything from money, cards, passports, pictures, etc. The LAST thing you want to lose. Keep it close and safe maybe in a purse or in a zippable jacket pocket. Everywhere in the world there are pick-pockets, so keep it secret, keep it safe. (Yes that was a LOTR quote) If all else fails, attach a leash to that sucker.

2. Before you leave home, make a playlist of your favorite songs of all times.Or, songs that remind you of home. Trust me, when you get to a new and different place you will want something that will remind you of home and the people back home that love you and want you to succeed. It also helps in cases of homesickness. Me? I have a playlist called "Country Home" its all country and all songs that keep me in touch with who I am and who I want to be.

3. Don't be afraid to ask questions, even stupid ones. You may seem or feel silly but people will understand that you do not want to offend or do the wrong thing. No question is too small and no question is stupid. Trust me, I've asked more times where the bathroom is than anything else. :)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Orientation week and Baking!!!

However will we climb conquer the Fortress?

So orientation started this week! That means I will have some normalcy in my life again!!!! I can’t wait for actual school, we haven’t started yet. Yes, I am that excited. Most of our friends, in the States, have been in class for a month and a half and I feel left out. Also, this means I won’t have enough time to bake. So I save money.
Speaking of baking, I made a Kit-Kat cake. The cake part is vegan, my first time trying something like this, and the rest is well non-vegan. It turned out to be a fortress cake and it is taking a while for my flat-mates to eat it. The reason that it is vegan is because I made it with a vegan friend, but he hasn’t been able to try it yet. I am also getting a reputation among some of my friends as the baker. This Friday I went to Bremen to make some cookies with a friend, the one whose name I fine beyond entertaining. I made raspberry chocolate chunk cookies. They taste just as yummy as they sound. I left some at my flat and with the flat below mine and they disappeared. I have one guy asking for the recipe! Maybe I should start asking for a small price for my baked goods that I can hand out. ;) Just to cover the costs. I do this for the fun of it, but man it gets to be expensive in both Germany and the States, but less in the states because we can buy huge things of flower and sugar. I am also getting used to making using different ingredients or the same ingredients but in different forms like brown sugar here is dry and crystallized unlike the State’s wet and heavy brown sugar. It is fun no matter what.
Creating the Fortress
Enough of my baking experiences, maybe I should start a blog about what I’ve been baking. Orientation week was full of fun games, people, and well that’s it.

 Our first day you could tell who knew who from Facebook, flats, or class but that all ended very fast. We all blended in and mingled just perfectly. I felt like I was in the October Rotary conference! It was a wonderful feeling.  Some of the Americans skipped the campus tour, naughty naughty, but we got to hang out and get to know each other better. I found out about a movie night that happens frequently and helped them with a few things around Lappan, with Emily’s help of course.
Just starting the night
                Not much happened on Tuesday. We took a tour of the library, ooh exciting stuff, and learned about the technical part of registering for class.  I think we all spent more time goofing off during breaks than anything. Then Emily and I went out with two of the Americans, one had never been in a bar legally before. Let’s say the guided tour Wednesday wasn’t very much fun for me.  ;)
Wednesday was also the day we took our German proficiency exams. I ended up writing about the wrong thing but I put in everything that they were looking for, I just can’t follow instructions. The second part of the test was killer. It put Jon’s test to the challenge in my eyes. Instead of crying, which is what I do on Jon’s tests, I said screw it. I let my mind relax and fill in the blanks with words it saw fit. I must have did something right because I got placed in the 3rd level class out of 6. It’s not the best, but I’m happy for now. After that not much happened. There was a cocktail party Thursday that I didn’t stay too long for. One of the international students spilled my beer on me, but it was funny. Oh, the Finnish guy gave me stickers with the cutest animals on it. It feels good to be making friends and getting out of the flat once in a while now. Who knows what next week will bring. One more week before classes!!!
Some of the fun fun games.
Travel Tips (that Emily would like me to put):
1.       If you walk a lot, or bought cheap shoes, you might have to buy new shoes. Not always a bad thing, I had to do this Saturday. =.=*
2.       Try to pay attention in your orientation.
3.       Read my other travel tips, since I would just be repeating myself and no one likes a broken record.


Friday, October 5, 2012

Night Clubs and Castles

The Brandenburger Tor, Berlin

        This past weekend Ashley and I were planning a trip to beautiful Prague with Benny. However, due to some misfortunes we had to delay our trip by a day which meant we would not have enough time for Prauge.  So what did we decide instead? One day in Berlin and the next in Dresden! Sounds good enough! But first the parade of Kramermarkt:

Some acrobatic girls at the ParadeThe Parade was so much fun. We really did not even know it was happening, I was only taking out some of the recycling for my flat when I heard the sounds of a marching band. As I followed the noise I came upon the main street where there was a huge parade procession. There were acrobatics doing awesome stunts, party floats that were throwing out confetti, candy shops handing out large heart-shaped cookies, local organizations giving out candy, roses, and pamphlets. As I stood there tons of candy just shot towards where I was and I noticed two of the cutest girls trying to collect it all. So, as the candy landed I helped the girls pick them up and put them into the bags (of course I kept a few for myself to try). The girls were so proud of themselves by the time the parade ended and their huge tote bags were filled to the brim with candy and popcorn. The parade itself took about 2 hours from start to finish and there was never a dull moment.  

        By the time the parade ended Benny had found his way into Oldenburg and was ready to pick us up to head on out. The way to Berlin was about 4 hours by Autobahn. Benny went fast a few times but always slowed down when and if we asked him to. But he is a good driver so we were happy just going the speed he was already going. By the time we reached Berlin it was 8pm and we were slightly tired. Benny's friend Ricardo was kind enough to let us crash at his place for the night and offered to show us around a bit. After a pep-talk and a pre-game session we decided to go out to a hip night club in Berlin called "Sisypho". Oh. My. Goodness. The club was fantastic. It was partially outside and partially inside. The outside was where you entered and it was fenced in by this tall wooden fence. And around the inside were broken down trucks, built up gazeebo's, fireplaces, etc all with cushions and blankets to keep people warm and happy. And do not forget the flashing lights everywhere lighting up the place. The inside were a few different abandoned buildings built into disco clubs. There were 3 rooms in total each playing a different style of music. My personal favorite was the main stage with huge blocks of squares built into one large square which flashed blue lights below it. We ended up staying there from 1am until 7am. Just enough time to party, party, party and then see the sunrise! Website:

 The Siegessaule, Berlin (Victory Statue)

         The next day we woke up around noon and started our day. We packed our bags and the car, got breakfast, and headed out on the subway to reach our next destination: Berlin's City Center. We decided because we did not have a lot of time to explore Berlin that we would take a tour bus around the city. It was only 10 Euro and was the best way to see the city in one day. The English translator was not very good so we gave up paying attention to her and made our own commentary. We saw many cool buildings like the Presidents office, the Berlin University, St Mathhaus Church, the Siegessaule, and the Brandenburger Tor. It was all so lovely that we did not want to leave. But alas, after a wonderful meal at a cute little Italian restaurant named "Gorgonzola" (the food was the best so far!) we headed out to Dresden.

 A beautiful view of Dresden along the river.    

         The road to Dresden was less busy and time and we got there around 11am. First thing we grabbed some breakfast at a little cafe. It was really good and filling. Then Benny left us to go check out his new apartment in Freiburg. Which meant that the two goofy American girls were left to explore Dresden on their own (oh boy!). We found another bus tour for 20 Euro and decided to hop onto it. It had headphones that we could listen to in English but it was so delayed in its translation that we were never near the places it described. Also, it would be in the middle of a description then just break off and head to the next one. So we never really knew what was going on and at the end we had the biggest headaches because of all the  information, the delay, and the constant break ups. So we decided to take a break and get some coffee and gelato. By the time we finished our coffee and gelato and explored Dresden a bit more it was time for dinner. Benny wanted us to go to this medieval restaurant! It was very fun, the set up was very time-realistic and the food was good! The best part I think is at the end when Ashley and I were standing at the entrance waiting for Benny the cute baker boy gave us a piece of cookie he was baking because we were watching him make it. Benny laughed at us but I think he was jealous that he did not get any!

By the time we left Dresden to head back to Oldenburg it was 10pm which meant we did not arrive to Oldenburg until 2am. We were very tired at this point and headed straight to bed.
 A small ferris wheel in Dresden, of course we rode on it!

Until next time, love always, XOXO Emily

Travel Tips:

1. When traveling to a new city try not to let anything pass. Do as much as you can no matter  how tired you are. You will have so much more fun and have great stories for later.

2. It is important to be connected socially. Whether this means a phone, facebook, twitter, etc. you should have one. This way you can be informed about events, outings, and friends/family back home.

3. Expect to spend money where ever you go. Going to a new country and not wanting to do anything because it costs money is no way to travel. People will think you are off put and you will miss out on so much. If  you do not want to spend much then budget yourself. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Just another average week

   So this past week was pretty average. We are slowly getting to know our surroundings. We've both made a few oops, but that's normal.
One of my many oops. You can apparently order liquor in cafes. 
    I mean I bought a kilo of plums because I didn't know what a kilo of  plums was. Just for future reference that is about 2 pounds of plums, aka a lot of plums. What did I do with these said plums? Well I made a cake! It was very yummy and who ever ate it said good things about it. My flatmates are going to love me, because I just love to bake. They've recently discovered the amazingness of No Bake cookies, after I screwed up a batch.
Our German is slowly improving. We each have different ways of learning. Emily watches a lot of TV with her flatmates, while I bake. I made the mistake of buying the wrong kind of oatmeal for the cookies and I had to describe to my flatmates what I needed. They eventually told me what I needed. We joked that I shouldn't go shopping alone, but it is usually. Janeck usually goes with me and he explains what objects are and has me repeat him until he is sure that I know what it is in German. To each their own right?
   We've also been exploring Oldenburg, when it's not raining, by bike. It is so much fun! Emily bought her own bike Wednesday I think and that ride alone was a few miles into unknown territory. We almost got lost, but someone brought her handy-dandy map. That map is a lifesaver sometimes. I'm just glad someone is usually prepared, since I'm usually not.
View from the Ferris wheel.
   We have run into our amazing friends Sharif, Henning, and Nick. Not all at once, but all of them have  noticed us before we've noticed them. It was fun seeing them after a few months and on their turf! We are planning a Sunday night football day with Henning and Nick. That should be fun! Things are bound to get more interesting over the next few weeks. I mean Emily is going to write about our time in Berlin and Dresden and after that we have orientation to talk about! I can't wait to finally start classes. Sometimes you just get bored when you have nothing to do.
   Oh, we did have one super exciting thing we did this week besides getting lost, discovering that flannel is popular(I wish I would of known sooner or I wouldn't of left most of mine home.), and winning the pub quiz Wednesday. It is called Kramermarkt! I'm not too sure what they are celebrating, but it is like our county/state fair.We even rode the Ferris wheel. It is a blast. We went with Ruben(Spanish kid on the 3rd floor) and Emily's flatmates. We did run into some other internationals. We did end up joining them and meeting some more students. I'm slowly falling in love with the area, but it still brings the heartache of homesickness since it is so close to the UP. But enough of me just blabbering on, it's time for my travel tips.

1. Before you leave know how you destress and relax, mine is baking. It makes it easier to deal with the irritability of homesickness.
I count the trucks I've seen. So far it's 8.

2. Don't be afraid to get lost. Just take pictures of some landmarks (and excuse to take pictures) and maybe a map.

 3.Do thinks with you flatmates, host siblings, or anyone you can. It helps you makes friends, understand a language, and have fun.

4. Try to say yes instead of no. If you get invited to do something or go somewhere take up to offer if you can. If you say no too many times then the offers won't be offered again.

5. Just keep your mind open. It makes life simpler.

6. Remember to laugh and try not to get frustrated. Especially when things don't go your way, it starts to get difficult, of if you just want to cry. It might seem tough now, but laughter always helps even the most bleak things seem a little bit lighter. You might look like an idiot, but why not?

Now that I made up for my lack of tips from my last post and I blabbered on about nothing, I can leave you all in peace.

Ash xoxo