Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Hi All

Had some things that made me laugh, so I decided to share them...

Thanksgiving with the Uni

Ok, so I know that Thanksgiving is over and that it’ll be in my posts a second time, but really…one can never have enough Thanksgiving. I went to the dinner the Study Abroad office here puts on in the Mensa (think cafeteria, because it is one) for all the American students. The students from Colorado help to do the entertaining and all of their host families are invited. Everyone else was supposed to bring a side dish – so I made a vegetarian tortellini dish and helped Jake make…mashed potatoes. It was kinda funny, because we thought that they’d make a huge helping of those at the banquet, but he decided to make it anyways. Well, we got there and they had huge quantities of Turkey, stuffing, gravy and cranberries…but no mashed potatoes!

The Colorado group had decided to put on a skit and have Sara sing. After the opening remarks, Grant (a student from CO) wheeled out the Turkey. Now, all the CO students had costumes (stereotypical pilgrim hats and headbands with feathers) but Grant had taken his a step further. It was probably the fact that he got the green feathers that prompted Sara to arrange them for him in a very…herb-like fashion. So he got lots of laughs.

The skit they put on (in between dinner and dessert) was also rather funny. At first you saw 5-6 pilgrims “paddling” a boat (sitting in chairs and scooting along) with the guy in back asking

“Are we there yet?”

One person “No…”


Three people: “No!”


All: “NO!”

Girl “And if you ask ONE MORE TIME, I swear, I will TURN THIS BOAT AROUND!”

Now, this was all in German and while it directly translated, I got the impression that kids don’t ask their parents that here. Must be all that public transportation. It was hilarious, however. The skit culminated with all the settlers and natives celebrating German-style: knocking back a beer.

After the skit, Sara sang a song in German: Liebebrief (?), or Love Letter. She sounded good, and poor Tekla (her accompanist on keyboard and also from CO) had a hard time using the crappy keyboard without pedals. But it was definitely amazing to hear her sing “for real.”

Then came the most exciting part of the evening for me – pumpkin pie! Mmmm, it was homemade too. Grandma, I know you’re going to read this, so can you make a pumpkin pie for Christmas too? I definitely have had a deficit this year. And for those of you not in the know, I am pretty much directly responsible for the best rule ever at my Grandma’s. The rule is: “You can always have pie for breakfast at Grandma’s!”

Mmmmm, I can’t wait!


See how thoughtfully I separated this next section so no one will think that anything blew up at Thanksgiving? I know, I know, I’m pretty much amazing. Anyways…

Due to the fact that UNESCO (some large corporation?) was in town, Regensburg decided they would launch off fire works. So, I get my doorbell rang by Eric and Claudia around 10 o’clock and we wandered down to the riverfront. Then we waited. And waited…and waited.

Finally, there came an announcement of which one of the few words I was able to catch was “sabotage!” So I turned to my interpreter (Claudia) and the scoop. Apparently, the announcer was saying that the mechanism to launch the fireworks in time to the music was sabotaged (to which Eric said “Yeah, right. The batteries are probably just dead.”) so they were going to attempt to light them manually.

At any rate, the music swells into one of the songs from Fantasia. Suddenly, the music cuts to…chanting monks? I kid thee not…chanting monks. Next, Flight of the Valkyries.

came up and then a couple others of no special merit. Finally, right before the finale, they played “Yellow Submarine.” I didn’t know what amused me more; the music or the fireworks, but I definitely had a fun time

After the fireworks, Mr. Announcer came back on and told us that we better be grateful…someone loves his job.

Oh, Goldener Turm

So, while there is the perk of living in the altstadt, sometimes I discover there are hidden perks – like scaring children.

While rushing of my room door to run to the bus stop for Karate, I suddenly hear a scream. A scream of terror consisting of what sounded like about 25 young girls. I gave it little thought, because as I passed Russell’s room I noticed his door was open and figured it was the soundtrack to his movie or something.

Two flights of stairs later, I fling the outside door open to hear a collective:


Facing the door (and a costumed actor/ historic tour guide) was a group of 25 or so girls under the age of 12. Not quite sure what I should do, I made a “gasp” face of my own and hurried past them. As I walked past, I heard the tour guide going on about ghosts. Then again, they could’ve been horrified that I dared wear bright red sweatpants in public.

Hard call, really.

Anyhow, I hope you’re all in the holiday spirits….


Friday, November 23, 2007


Hi all,

Prepping for Thanksgiving
I was all excited to download my pictures and post one for the blog today. I whipped open my camera case and was sorely disappointed to discover I'd left my camera at Eric's. So I will be posting that at a later date to the blog. However, yesterday was a FULL day. I got up early (ok, ok but 9:30 is early for me) and threw a load of towels in on my way to the supermarket. It was a quick trip and I was soon back in my kitchen peeling away at apples. I hate peeling apples...but about 12 cups later, I had enough for my two pies (one in a large tart pan and another about 7 inch "container" thingy). After realizing I had to double the pie crust, things went a little awry, I realized I'd doubled the flour, but not the crisco (substitute) after I added water, so I kinda just flung some more crisco and flour in until it felt ok. Surprisingly, it turned out wonderful - really easy to roll and didn't stick. I got lucky - somewhere the saint of pie decided to smile on me.

The stuffing was a bit more of a challenge. I think I added a bit too much water, but it still turned out great, but somehow not as good as my grandma can make it. Some of her magic grandma-ness must rub off when she cooks - I have no other theory.

Thanksgiving Dinner
Everything was finished around 3:30, so I wound up at Eric's door at 4 to help with anything or everything that he needed a hand with. I must say that "Ted" was all Eric and that it was a good, tender Turkey that actually fell to pieces as Eric tried to lift it onto the platter (Ted is in the picture...he was a hefty 6 kilos...). It did, however, solve the debate on who got/had to carve Ted. Christine and I teamed up on the cranberries (apparently only a recent popular import) and we peeled way to many (but just enough) potatoes and carrots. So we had mashed potatoes, turkey, graving, pork stuffing, apple pies, cabbage, glazed carrots, peas, rolls (cheated on those), and some cheese and crackers. All our German guests were punctual, while the other exchange students walked in only 5 minutes late, so the food was still plenty hot. In all there were 11 people: Eric, Christine, Claudia, Tom (Eric and Christine's other apt mate), Regina (Claudia's apt mate), Constantina (A German friend of Christine), Max (England), Vaso (Greece), Niamh (Ireland), Carol (France) and myself.
Everyone had questions about what a "true" Thanksgiving was like. Perhaps some people have elaborate traditions but we essentially told them it was about spending time with family (or friends), eating a meal together, and fighting...erm "discussing". In the spirit of agreeableness we soon had hilarious conversation flowing (Max brought up the topic of "Weirdest thing you've ever had thrown in your face"). This led to many stories about Eric getting a hockey puck to the face "Weren't you wearing a face mask?" to other such stories of woe and abuse-ment by siblings. Christine was also very gracious and allowed me to talk to my family on SKYPE (the internet at my building was crashed all of yesterday) on her computer. So all in all, it was a very decent Thanksgiving although I did miss pumpkin pie.


As many of you know, on December 4th there is a vote concerning a levy to support WHA High School. Without it, WHA will surely sink down to a depth of depressingly low -quality education. With all the cuts that will have to be made to academic (not to mention sports) WHA could very well be facing a crisis that would take years to reverse, if it can be. Obviously I feel quite strongly on the issue, so I set about (with a lot of my mom's help) registering as a voter and applying for an absentee ballot. I received the ballot in the mail on Tuesday, and hit my first brick wall...While reading the instructions, I was surprised to learn that I would need a 'witness'. Not a big deal, right? Well, the criteria for the position was rather depressing. I needed either a public official (would German count? And if it did, where on Earth would I find one?!?!) or a registered MN voter. Essentially, if Eric wasn't a MN voter, I could count myself out.

Thankfully, Eric "of Course!" is a MN registered voter and I thought I was in the clear (after having to go home again to look at my passport number) to send it out. Apparently not. My mom had said that Marcy (i?) would send me a return envelope, postage paid, that would be first class back to America (like the ones they send to the troops). Well, it was postage paid, but only within the continental US. This meant a trip to the post office. There, I find out, that because of the ridiculously large size of the envelope (keep in mind the ballot is smaller than 4x4 inches and you can fold it) I had to pay 3 euros to send it. I mean, it's worth it, but definitely depressing when you consider that it was supposed to be postage-paid and I'd already had to send 2 previous letters to get registered and request the absentee ballot. I know that sounded a bit whiny, but really, shouldn't we be able to do this online yet?

Anyhow, my ballot should make it there in time and after this voting really should never seem like a big deal, so no excuses...
I hope that everyone had a great Thanksgiving, and I look forward to seeing everyone at Christmas!


Friday, November 16, 2007

Making a Splash with Hotdish....

Hi all,
I wish I had lots of exciting things to talk about and make you laugh at which is usually why my blog entries take a while to appear. However, this hasn't been a very eventful week, but I'll try to make it sound interesting...

Yes...we call it a "Hotdish"....there is no German equivalent.
So, one of the most exciting things to receive in the package from my mom (the most exciting probably being the baking soda) was the condensed soup mixes. I have since found out that they have very similar things here, but not in a can form. Anyhow, after requesting the recipe from my mom I picked a night (yesterday) to make hotdish. This warranted intense scrutiny from my Mitbewohner (co-inhabiter of an apt) Christian who was rather perplexed with it. Of course, the whole conversation ended up being rather amusing since he kept trying to describe something he was looking for... "die Saugluft" - it made more sense to me once he described it (complete with body motion and sound effects) and he had a good giggle over the name it has in English - vacuum.

Later, when I kept popping my head out of the window that overlooks the courtyard from the kitchen he asked if I was expecting company. I'd invited Eric, Claudia and Christine over and had heard an affirmative from Eric at least (he had my phone charger and my phone died...) so I said yes. Christian then asked if my boyfriend was coming to dinner - which is funny for a few reasons. He's seen me with Eric and Claudia a lot and I've introduced him to both. Likewise, he knows I have a boyfriend named Chris. What made matters more interesting was that we were having the conversation in German and of course that's never perfect. The simplest thing for me to say was that I didn't have a boyfriend in Germany...which was then interpreted that I didn't have a boyfriend at all. After a few minutes of trying to explain in German I had to admit defeat and switch to English. At least we both got a few laughs out of it...

The hotdish turned out great and Christine was thrilled (she came later) to finally have a hotdish (apparently during her year at UND she somehow missed out on theses delicacies...).

Time at the Pool
As much love as I have for swimming (or rather, wearing a swimsuit) Eric managed to convince me to go swimming today (he mentioned a waterslide and wave pool...). Honestly, I ended up having a great time. Upon entering the building, Eric sees the little swim shop in the corner and says he's interested in goggles (since he actually swims...). After eying the display for a minute, one of the ladies (of about 6 crammed into a little 15x15 corner) runs over and helps him to put them on. It was hilarious. The whole time she's positioning and re-positioning a pair of goggles on his head she's talking to me (and pretty much ignoring him) about every detail (talking about his large head, how to adjust them, where they're most likely to leak...and then demonstrating multiple times the correct way to put them on). So while Eric's having his head squeezed, poked and prodded I get to stand there intently listening to the whole spiel. At one point, it got even better and we had 2 ladies "helping". In the end they let him borrow a pair to try until 6 o'clock.

Now, while Eric swam in the big cold pool, I stuck to the side heated pool with massaging bubble beds and people watched. My favorite would have to have been the 5 year old (or so) with the oversized floaties on his arms. He had a method of swimming that consisted of: Flailing his right arm in a forward, letting his body spin 360 degrees while drifting forward 6-12 inches with the momentum of the flail and then repeating. No left arm...just the right. It was hilarious. The best part was the defiant look he gave everyone while giving his all to his task.

The pools were actually amazing. Next to the warm bubbly pool was the wave/splash pool. Even cooler (literally) was the pool that opened up to the outdoors. The water was comfortably heated and it made mist rise (since it was around 30 degrees). Also outside (though connected to the indoors) was one of the water slides. I didn't try it out, but I was impressed. For 3 euros you get 3 hours at the pool (or you can do a 10x for 30 euros or 6 months for 130) it was fun and inexpensive. Anyhow, the picture is a map of the pool facility.

Anyhow, hope all is well with everyone...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

First Snow

Hi all,

As I lazily rolled out of bed today and wandered into the kitchen, I was struck by a beautiful sight - large, globular snow "flakes" plummeting to earth to melt on the cobblestones. I'm the large tree in our courtyard would be considered a majestic sight - if only it hadn't just been cruelly hacked to a nubbin the day before yesterday. As it was, I decided to make the best of the situation and do some laundry.

Laundry is always a fun affair. I get my clothes together, grab coins and my keys and amble down the 3 flights of stairs in the hope that no one else is using the machine. (Yes, Singular THE machine). It's always fun because they are constantly tour groups passing through and hearing a talk about our building and so either I get to hear about the college students living in the dorm ("cheaply" - ha!...) and sometimes get accosted by curious bystanders in rapid German. Anyhow, maybe it's the Walker tourism resentment buried deep inside, or perhaps it's just boredom, but today I decided to make it worth my while - in honor of the beautiful snow. I figured if I was going to be gawked at, I might as well be worth looking at. So I wore my flipflops down (this may not seem too bold, but they don't wear flipflops outside here even when it's hot - a complete fashion taboo apparently...). I know, I know...I'm such a rebel....

Last night was Sara's birthday and so I spent a good part of the day working on my present to her - a couple of delicious cakes for her party. Thanks to baking soda, all went smoothly and got rave reviews. It was a pretty low-key event. We went out to dinner at an Italian/Mexican restaurant, which had pretty good food. Susanna (from Augustana...small world) ordered Fajitas and they came with corn and kidney beans (but no meat...) - so I can't really attest to the authenticity of the food...Later we came back to the dorm in our "party room" and had cake and gluehwein ("glow wine") which is simply a spiced, heated wine that is very popular around the holidays. There was a huge group of people that showed up (hence the pic) and I think everyone had a good time.

For my theater class this week we had to sign up for what roles we'd like in the play "Das Ehe des Herrn Mississippi" (The Marriage of Mr. Mississippi). There's only one strong female lead and 3 strong male leads. Right now my German is really not up to it, so I signed up for building sets and maybe learning how to work lights and sound. There will be more opportunities next semester so I'm not concerned.

Anyhow, nothing too exciting going on in my world and I should probably go and amuse the tourists again by fetching my laundry in my flipflops...
Hope all is well...

Monday, November 5, 2007

Heidelberg Abenteuer

Hi all,
So this weekend I traveled to beautiful Heidelberg. Friday afternoon, Eric and I boarded our first train of the day (with him running in 5 minutes before departure...boys). We were soon confused, however, because we couldn't find our car. As we walked along the train it went 3...4...5....5....7. Naturally, our car, number 6 was missing. Not quite certain what we should do, Eric found a conductor, who pleasantly informed us today there was no 6 and why didn't we sit right here and first class instead?" It was a hard sell, I tell you.
The landscape was beautiful - the grass is still green and the trees are all still clad in fall colors. There was a bit of fog that day so everything looked peaceful and a bit mysterious. We made our next train no problem - and that's where our luck ended. We barely made it off the train at our 5:53 stop - Eric had been napping and I was on my laptop. However, upon disembarking and watching the train roll away, we noticed two very important things.
1. This was a lovely town, but hardly looked like it was a major town (Stuttgart) and
2. The trainstation signs (along with a huge one on the building) all proudly stated "Ellwanger"
So, God bless military time. We'd actually gotten off early - by just an hour to Stuttgart - but there is no way we could catch our train from Stuttgart to Heidelberg and have Eric make his Hockey game on time. Conundrum. So, Eric squared his shoulders, and dialed his friend Mike in Heidelberg. After enduring a few minutes of laughter at our luckless stupidity, he checked a map for us - he'd never heard of Ellwanger before. Next, Eric took on the envious (not) task of talking with the lady at the train station. She spoke mostly in German and after chiding us several times about our idiocracy she gave us two options:
1. Get on the next Express Train (which we were on earlier) and get to Heidelberg at 8:05 for a mere 72 Euros or
Take the regional train pass for 29 Euros (together/up to 5 people) and get there at 8:20.
That was obviously a hard decision.

We had an hour to burn, so I took a lovely picture of Eric standing with a sign of a mother holding her child's hand (since we apparently are too dumb to ride the train correctly, we figured it fitting). Then we went to a deli shop and Eric got 100 g of potato salad. Without his glasses, he somehow thought that it looked bigger than 3 forkfuls...
After successfully making our way back to the station and the subsequent stations of Crailsheim and Heilebonn (?) we arrived at our destination.

Mike and his mom were waiting for us, bemused and ready to take us to their lovely home. After the formalities of introductions, Mike went and picked up his gf and we all played "Das Spiel des Wissens" aka, Trivial Pursuit in German. It was an old game and it was set up so you went around the solar system. This of course brought up the key point and intense discussion of the validity of playing Pluto or skipping it. The game was actually a lot of fun although Eric and I tossed around the dictionary a lot.

On Saturday we hit the town. We tried to get on the base (with thoughts of oreos and teddy grahams dancing in our heads) but Eric hadn't gotten the fine details down about how to enter (with a government ID or know someone on base) so the biggest attraction there was the prominent pink brothel across the street. We attempted the Philosopher's Path - which was pretty hellish and so we only went about a third of the way up. I figured that was adequate for a History and English/German major. Then we went to the fabled candy store. From the outside it doesn't appear to be a candy shop - if anything it looks like a dentist's office. The inside is literally crammed with candy and a line. It took a while because the shop keeper plays a dice game with every customer. If you win you get a large candy prize and if you lose, a little tiny one. It was pretty nifty. That evening we hit the local carnival but didn't stay for long - it wasn't anything spectacular and the main attraction seemed to be hanging out with your friends.

On Sunday we briefly went up to the Heidelberg castle (hence the pic) and although I didn't stand in the footprints again, I'm sure I'll be coming back sometime to Heidelberg. Then Mike dropped us off at the station and we made our way home in a relatively uneventful manner. It was a great trip and I wouldn't hesitate to go back but would definitely check my tickets twice next time.