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!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

All right let's do this.

This little 6-month jaunt started in Atlanta, where all I accomplished was buying decent headphones to drown out plane noises and procuring a book I would later leave in Heathrow because it wasn't worth its weight (The Time-Traveler's Wife, by the way. Just not my thing.). The plane left right on time, which was good I honestly didn't think I could listen to the old British ladies sitting next to me delve into the gory details of their various age-related ailments without chucking aforementioned book at them. Violence averted!
On the plane I had an empty seat next to me which is always nice for sleeping and spreading out purposes, and next to that sat a Nigerian lawyer who had all kinds of stories about his noble profession and who gave me his London number in case I should run into trouble in Europe. Luckily I managed to keep my nose clean for the 2.5 hours in London; we'll see if I don't end up needing him in the next few months!

(Food note: I had lasagna for dinner. Vile. Seriously, British Air, you're not helping the food-reputation of your country any.)

So touchdown at Heathrow went off without a hitch and, somewhat bleary-eyed, I walked past customs and onto the Heathrow Express, which promised to get me to London in 15 minutes.

Futuristic, right?

One of my favorite parts of visiting new countries is the first ride through the city, where first impressions and snap judgements can be made. First thought: grunge! Seriously, I was expecting something much neater, probably because I'm used to the preternatural cleanliness of Germany. But anyone who's heard me talk about Taiwan (or anyone who's seen my room) knows, I am all about slightly grimy places. My excitement was building.

Second impression, which lasted until I got back on the plane? Hilarious! Seriously, and I say this with the utmost respect, I found everything about the section of London I was in funny, from the absurdly well-dressed people to the pigeons. This could, of course, be due to my slightly twitchy brand of tired, but I maintain that any country that has a candy called "Giant Buttons" is at the very least worth a chuckle. Giant Buttons!


Bathroom euphemisms!

Drifter! Seriously, as long as you say any of these candy names in a British accent, I'm almost guaranteed to laugh every time.

So I mostly just walked around from Oxford Circus to Marble Arch, taking in the red busses and black cabs and looking (so I thought) just as touristy as can be, but apparently I fit right in because not only was I asked for directions, I was solicited by a red cross volunteer and given a rose by a French guy walking down the street. No time for a proper pub lunch (sorry, mom) so I stopped into Boots and bought what sounded the Britishest to me:

It was yummy, I ate it on the train back to Heathrow, where I apparently looked just as German as can be because I was asked twice by legitimate Germans questions about the upcoming flight. Little do all these people know that such a helpful-looking girl can be so overwhelmingly oblivious to all important things! They'll learn...

Anyway, another uneventful flight, except for a holding pattern that lasted about an hour and a really pretty sunset from the plane. Vivi was there to pick me up holding a giant sign and a bouquet, it was really great to talk to her and my German wasn't half bad! We came home to Anorie and Rudi's house and ate Gebackener Camembert (of course!) and talked until I was ready to fall over. I'll let this picture I took on the way back to Heathrow speak for how I was feeling:

ugh pretend this is right side up, i'm not dealing with it

And that's really all I have to say about that! I'll update with exciting stories about getting an adaptor (!) and a phone card (!!) soon!!! So stay at the edge of your respective seats.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Placeholder Post

Instead of carefully editing my sordid tales of traveling to and around Germany for their various intended audiences, I will once again be keeping a blog! This won't be a real post, just a post to let you know I'll be posting in a few days when I get an adaptor for my laptop charger. Think of me as the US Census of posting.

Anyway, I'll let the sweet strains of really bad American music play me out over on this side of the ocean. Hilariously, while I have heard a dance-pop version of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and Milow's "Ayo Technology", I have yet to hear a German song after hours of radio listening.

That's all for now, but watch this space for London stories soon!