Monday, July 12, 2010

Hot Town, Summer in the Bamberg

Anybody who talked to me in the months of March through June more than likely had to sit through a hissy fit about the weather. It was rainy, it was freezing, it was June and I had to wear a coat. In June.

The good news: it's not cold anymore! Normal summertime temperatures and trips to the pool abound.
The bad news: Germany happens to be a part of that alternate universe in which my hero and yours Willis Haviland Carrier fell into a well as a child and never invented air conditioning. Seriously, there is one store downtown that has sweet, cold air blowing out of its vents and that is IT. My room has been downgraded to a cave, a cave where you can find me lying in my bed (on top of the covers, of course) wondering exactly how much sweat my body can produce.

Melodramatic, yeah, but I am a modern lady used to the ways of the future! Anyway, finals are upon me these days meaning I have an excuse to not go outside during the day.

In other news, Taylor, (German) Sebastian and Aleks visited The Burg last week, here's some pictures of that!


Me in an abandoned train in an abandoned train station!

Somehow, Aleks managed to get his hands on the coolest possible vehicle for this excursion, a fact that I am eternally grateful for.

And finally, proof that this is a non-fiction blog and everything I whine about is true:

Saturday, July 3, 2010


I would just like to take a minute to set to paper (or whatever) my unending appreciation of being in Germany during the World Cup. From where I am sitting, I can hear two distinct chants, several car horns, bike bells, and whistles. Also a vuvuzela. Before coming here, I never experienced an entire country coming together for a sport like I have here. What makes it extra-special is the fact that Germans are generally fairly nationalism-shy, so when they bust out the flags and face paint you know it's serious. For those of you who don't follow the World Cup (although I'd be shocked if there's anyone like that reading this), Germany just beat Argentina, meaning we're in the semi-finals! 4-0!

While 2006 found me watching the games in Vietnamese restaurants and on Neil's TV, there are massive public viewings EVERYWHERE here. I watched this particular game at COE (where I live), but the main one is downtown in Maxilimilianplatz. Hundreds of people come out in their best flag-togas and Germany wigs to drink gallons upon gallons of beer and cheer their team (remotely) to victory. And honestly? I love it. I love riding my bike down the street, high-fiving strangers and screaming at the passing cars. I love knowing that everyone around me is in a good mood. I love it all, and on Wednesday you will find me in the maddening crowd cheering my heart out. My life is too good.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I was going to write a post about my night of homelessness

but I am too busy having a Bad Attitude about the weather to write anything right now. In conclusion, here are some pictures of street art in Bamberg:

Monday, May 10, 2010

Not Going to Title this Post BEARlin

Because that would just be too awful. For those of you who don't know why it would be terrible: the spirit animal or whatever of the city of Berlin is a bear. They are everywhere (statues of bears, not saying that Berlin is overrun with grizzlies).

So yes, last weekend was an Erasmus trip to Berlin. Good fun, would have been upgraded to Great fun had it not been really cold and grey. I really think I'm starting to get seasonal affective disorder. The 10-day forecast on is straight showers until Wednesday. I am looking forward to Monday because it's "scattered showers" instead of the regular kind. At least 70% of my conversations involve me complaining about the weather. I want to ride my bike. I want to go hiking. I want to see the sun.

That's the last I'll whine about it on here, but it's a big part of my life these days and I gotta be real on the internet~

Anyway, back to Berlin:
It was my first time in Northern Germany and in Eastern Germany, both of which I was very excited about. How does it compare to Southwestern Germany? It may have been the tours we went on and the constant reminders of "HEY GUYS this used to be two cities! There was a wall!", but it seemed to be chock full of history, much more so than Bamberg or Mainz. Or maybe just a different kind of history, namely, COMMUNIST history! Communistory, if you will. What other city west of Poland boasts a Marx/Engels statue?
Probably not that many! Also, there were countless opportunities to get your pictures taken with Eastern Europeans dressed up as American, German, and Russian soldiers; vendors hawking fake pieces of the Berlin wall; and memorials of all shapes and sizes. Another cool thing about Berlin was that it is a huge city, meaning there were fun and interesting things almost everywhere I looked, from the twee heart in a meadow above to this cool dude:Watching a guy who had to be at least 60 do skateboard tricks outside of a church that has been bombed-out for half a century while a group of protesters marched by on the other side of me made me fall for Berlin a little bit.
I didn't say it was a big group of protesters. The ever-present street art was another major plus in my book. Everything from scrawled profanities to regular ol' tags to works of art gave the (hideous) post-war buildings a little bit of character.
Other cool things from Berlin included this piece of scathing commentary on the American culture of culinary excess:
Riding an octobike around the square in front of Brandenburger Tor:

This was insane amounts of fun for my adrenaline-starved soul. Our driver jerked us around while extolling the virtues of learning the German language. Highly recommended.

Also visited the holocaust memorial:

It's an interesting concept because of it's abstractness, I think. The knowledge of what it stands for allows you to interpret what could be seen as a boss laser-tag arena in a much more sobering light. Not expressing myself well here, suffice it to say that it's a cool thing.

We also got to tour the Reichstag, of course. Our teeth chattering, we stood on the roof and listened to the tour guide point out the Berlin landmarks by night. It was really pretty. Interesting fact: the German parliament can vote by door

If you click on the picture, you see that one door is labeled "Ja", one is "Nein", and one is "Enthaltung". All of the members leave the room and file in school-assembly style through the door which best describes their feelings. This picture also features the giant German eagle I assume they sacrifice oxen to and chairs that are not purple but "Reichtags-blau", a color designed especially to look good on TV.

We also visited Sanssouci in Potsdam, the summer palace of Frederick the Great. Really pretty, obviously, especially the gardens.
You can see the palace up on the hill there, flanked all the way down by mini-greenhouses that were used to grow grapes and figs. Efficient!

And here is the grave of Freddy himself, next to those of his nine dogs:
The potatoes commemorate the fact that is was FtG that popularized this starchy pillar of the German diet. People who haven't been here don't understand what kind of contribution this is to the cuisine here, but trust me when I say it's a Big Deal.

After a stroll and an ice cream in Potsdam city, it was back on the bus for another 6-hour-long drive back to Bamberg sweet Bamberg. Along the way, the weather taunted us by being awesome.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


It came to my attention via a skype session that I did not post a promised blog. As a peace offering, here's a picture of me and Max being normal siblings. I am the disinterested and jaded older sister and he is the manic little monster who stole all my parents' love.

Off to Berlin tomorrow, probably will have sporadic internet access at best so don't expect a post. Although, given my track record, you probably weren't expecting one anyway!

Friday, April 30, 2010

I Like Bike

This is my new BFF (Best Friend For a few months, at least). Features include an eye-catching '90s color scheme, howevermany gears, a bell, a basket (!!!) and, above all, a need for speed. I feel unfettered; my aimless walks have evolved pokemon-style to aimless rides, meaning I can cover at least 3 times as much ground with only 2 times the danger of being hit by a bus! Seriously though, I'm so pumped about finally getting some wheels.

The past week has consisted mainly of continuing my settling-in process. Classes are going well, weather's been great, been eating lots of pastries. Going to Berlin next week! That's all the news that's fit to print right now.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

By the way

If you wanted to read about my visit to Groningen and see pictures that are better than the ones I took, go here:

I've only had one class so far (Chinese) and it promises to be ridiculously easy! Tomorrow is a Master's course on International Aspects of HRM. Exciting stuff in Susiland!

Now to go lay down for a bit before yoga tonight.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Yes, so it's been about a month since the last time I updated. That's why I wrote two posts last time! Even stevens, I reckon.
Rather than try to cram three weeks worth of fun into a single post, this is dedicated to my daily life in Bamberg, pre-classes. Since the actual school part of what I could have sworn was going to be the best summer vacation ever starts tomorrow, I think it's an appropriate sendoff. Goodbye, days of hours spent only sitting in the park and playing cards in the sunshine! Farewell, staying up way past any sane person's bedtime for literally no reason at all! Adieu, not having to lift a pen for anything except signing receipts and sending postcards!
Actually, with the exception of the third, those things will most definitely continue. What I'm trying to say here is that my life in Bamberg is going exceptionally well.

To begin: this is my house. My apartment is the third giant window up, but don't get any ideas about panoramic views from the kitchen table: that monster is property of one Franciska, our third roommate who was supposed to come today but is, as of 11:31 pm, MIA. She is a real German though, so here's hoping she will be everything that a giant window like that deserves: patient with her foreigner roommates and able to cook fine German cuisine with only a stovetop and a sink. We do have an oven in a kitchen we share with the rest of the 3rd floor, though, and it's become a sort of weekend tradition for a group of us to get together and cook. So far we've had Latvian dumplings, Australian French toast, and Latvian potato/wurst/etc salad. Next week I'm cooking asparagus! Better than it sounds! Our hall of residence also boasts a roof terrace, a reading room, tv room, a cafeteria (that I got two free passes for on my birthday), and many party rooms. SPACIOUS.

Back to the subject of roommates! While Franny (I will not actually call her this) is doing her best Amelia Earhart impression, Marija has been around since day one. She's Latvian, same age as me, and a really great roommate. Seriously, she even does my dishes when I leave them in the sink. This is groundbreaking stuff. I've already learned the simplest Russian card game she knows (you may have seen this coming but, it's really complicated) and how to count to five in Latvian. I think this semester is going to be all right.

And here we have proof that I'm actually here to study! Getting this plastic card was a feat that required massive strokes of luck and a fair amount of jogging. Note, if you will, the patented "I can't believe I'm paying 10 Euros for a passport picture" grimace on my face! This card gets me on the bus for free, which makes it one of my most valuable possessions, given that the average chance of rain in Germany is around 80%. Riding a bike in slightly uncomfortable conditions? What do I look like, Lewis and Clark? You'll find my modern butt planted firmly in a bus seat at the first sign of drizzle.

Just for fun, here's some stuff I can see if I walk for 5 minutes. Exhibit A: the monstrous brewery that not only makes my walk to the train station bread and formaldehyde-scented but also looks like an evil factory! It looks pretty nice in this picture, but add in some grey clouds and belching smoke and it might as well be from the industrial revolution. Exhibit B is just some fields, but if you know me at all you know that I love fields. Adore them. And now I can step outside the door and BAM! Field! Many a walk has been taken this past week, and many an abandoned building has been mentally noted.

These are some of the people I hang out with (Marija is photographer here) on a trip we took to Würzburg yesterday. Danish, Finnish, Latvian, ME, Australian (x2), Italian, and American (someday I'll make a German friend...). We speak almost exclusively German together, which has definitely made me more comfortable with daily usage. The trip to Würzburg was incredible, involving watching first-year med students lay near-naked on a bridge, eating at a place called McDöner's, and laying out on a grassy ledge overlooking the city and eating crackers with nutella. Even I am getting bored of hearing about how great my life is, so here's a few pictures of the trip to wrap this up.

Cool, right? Anyway, classes start tomorrow and I need to be cheerful and perky to live up to my American stereotype, so that's all for now. Wish me luck!

Friday, March 26, 2010


Two posts in one night? Susi, are you trying to make up for not posting for a week and your probable lack of posts for long periods in the future??
After a pleasant 2.5-hour-long ride with Vivi during which I was at my most charming (asleep), I finally got my first glimpse of Bamberg, my home for the next handful of months! It was filled with gorgeous old buildings, it was packed with students, it was...cold and rainy. But spirits were high and we stopped at a great Italian place before I was deposited at the Collegium Oecumenicum (no, I still can't say it). I'll take pictures of it when it gets a bit prettier around here, but my room is very comfortable and there is a kitchen. My roommate is Latvian (cool, right??) and really fun. Our shared interests include tea and dancing around, so I think things will be pretty chill this semester.
Proof that I'm not just making all of this having a home in Bamberg stuff up:

A real mailbox! With my name on it!
Other fun things to do in Bamberg include wishing it weren't so cloudy,

sliding around the apartment in your complementary British Airway socks,

and eating currywurst.

Really, though, this city is so pretty I'm probably going to get hit by a bus because I'm never actually paying attention to where I'm walking. To do it justice, I'm going to take pictures while the sun is actually shining and displaying Bamberg in its full glory.

Most of my three days in Bamberg were spent shopping for necessities in Tedi and REWE and hopping from bank to AOK to city hall trying to get all my papers in order, so there's not that much to report! I had the chance to meet some of the other exchange students (or ERASMUS students, as we're called) at a few get-togethers, and everyone seems decent so far. If there are any "doozies", to borrow a word from decades gone by, among them, you best believe you'll hear about them!

Train-tray-witch-face says it's time for Susi to go to bed now, so you'll have to hear about Stuttgart, Schallstadt, and other things that start with S later!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Back to the Fatherland Part II

So I'm all officially moved in to my apartment in Bamberg, all kinds of exciting things are going on, and in true Susi fashion it's time to update you on the happenings of two weeks ago!

The scene: Anorie and Rudi's house! The stairs are slippery, the food is awesome, the excursions are many. Seriously though, if you're planning to be an exchange student for a semester, find your nearest godparent(s) and your life will be a million times easier and more enjoyable. This has been TRAVEL TIPS WITH SUSI.

So the first day I did my traditional walk around and take pictures thing, not knowing that it would be the last time I saw a blue sky for a week!

Isn't it...beautiful?

Most of this week consisted of getting important things done (like getting a cell phone and a train card) and sightseeing with Anorie. Guess which one I'm going to tell you about!
Because hearing about how you have to go to the eye doctor to get contact solution is boring! All told, Anorie and I took day trips to Mainz, Wiesbaden, and Frankfurt. What did we do there? For those of you who know Anorie, the answer is miraculously not shopping!

We drank classy hot chocolates,

looked at ridiculous churches,

saw windows designed by Chagall,

also a volcano (actually another egg-water fountain. Mm.),

and the world's largest cuckoo clock.

Mostly, though, we (I) just marveled at the mutant trees that grew in all three of these cities!On the home front, I got a tour of the new bike shop, packed to the brim with two-wheelers of every imaginable sort. They even had one of those sick 1800s-style big-wheel-in-fronters (not pictured)!

I also went out in Mainz with Vivi and a friend of hers, the first in what turned out to be a trend of drinking with former babysitters. Hi Mom!

Another cool thing I got to do was see Anorie's cousin's house, which is an incredibly old, incredibly German colossus. The guy who gave us the grand tour showed me pictures of what the house looked like before they began remodeling, and the only phrase that sprang (springed?) to mind was "health, fire, safety, and every other hazard conceivable." Amazingly, they turned it into something that would put the rest of Better Homes and Gardens to shame. Seriously, every little corner was stuffed with interesting things to look at, but stuffed tastefully, if you can imagine that. I really should have taken more pictures of this insane house, but people really do live there and it felt like an invasion of privacy? Oh, well, here's what I do have:

Imagine that sort of thing, everywhere. For an entire house. Guys, it was really great. And after the tour we were forcefully invited for Kaffee und Kuchen with some other sort of relatives. It was wonderful, of course. I think I've eaten more cake in these two weeks than I did in all of 2009. Improvement!

My last day with Anorie was spent at an Osterfest and Vivi's apartment, checking out wedding stuff! I'm pretty sure some of it is secret, so I'll just keep those pictures to myself. Here's one I know is ok, though, and you have to try to imagine Nevine's reaction to hearing she's supposed to wear it:

Next time: actually in Bamberg! Latvians and grown-up duties! Stay tuned!