Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sprechen Sie Englisch

After being in a foreign country for a week, I figured the most important question I could learn to ask is, “Do you speak English?” Thankfully most of them do, but beware because many don’t; or at least not very well.
It’s so difficult trying to get around when you’re with two other Americans who don’t speak hardly any German.

At the train station yesterday, Christina, Chris, and I were trying to catch the train to meet the others in Heidelberg. I’m sure everyone who lives here thinks, “The transportation is so easy. I don’t know how people can’t do it or get lost trying to figure it out.” Well, let me just say it is very hard.

You know when you’re on a plane and the flight attendant talks on the intercom and informs everyone that the flight is delayed and then gives the details on what the holdup is. Well, after the four of us were on our right train to Heidelberg, the train attendant speaks on the intercom. Not a single word of it made sense (obviously, because I don’t speak German). I don’t remember how long we were sitting there, but I do know that as I dosed off in a daydream, all of my surroundings became invisible. I’m looking out at the blue lettered graffiti on the stone wall somewhere between Mainz and Heidelberg, thinking about my life and tweaking what’s uncomfortable about it. Some people say it’s not wise to daydream because it simply doesn’t do any good to dream about something that is so farfetched. But I think it is good to stretch your imagination (even if you do think about the impossible becoming possible). Your mind shouldn’t be so limited to things. It needs to be open to new things, new ideas, new ways of life.

Thinking about my mom and my too-fast-moving life, I jerk in my seat and suddenly become aware that the train is finally moving again.

Heidelberg is a very beautiful city. It’s the gorgeous buildings that you see in a travel guide book of places to visit. The castle was HUGE. Although I didn’t get to go inside, I can only imagine how exotic it is. Along the streets they had set up shops with handmade knives, swords, porcelain dolls, shot glasses shaped in a boot (stereotype) and so much more.

On the train ride back to Mainz, Chelsea, Christina, and I started talking to this guy sitting next to us. It was a long train ride, so we covered a lot of topics. Although I think most of the time he was teaching us how to pronounce the “Ö” sound; Very difficult pronunciation.

The conversation that stuck with me, though, is how weird he thought it was that, in America, we don’t have bars on campus, or even are able to drink/have any alcohol on campus in many universities.

Here they have a bar & grill on campus. So if you have a break between classes and you want to throw one back before class, it’s completely acceptable. Not only is it acceptable, but you will see students drinking with their professors. It’s just a way of life that we find so odd.

It would be the weirdest thing if I ever saw a student openly drinking a beer or vodka tonic in the UC while studying for his test next class.

I find the cultural differences so fascinating and love seeing what’s acceptable here in comparison with what is or isn’t acceptable in the United States. It is something too many American’s don’t take the time to learn about, but I strongly believe it is important to learn the ways of other countries way of life. It is not only educating but extremely entertaining and just downright awesome.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Lost and Found

I have had such a variety of emotions today. I started in such a good mood and ended in a not so good mood.
This morning I woke up to warm home-cooked bread, different types of cheeses and meats, homemade strawberry jam, and hot coffee. Needless to say, I woke up in heaven. After my fabulous breakfast, I headed downtown to my very first day of class in Germany! It was a very exciting first day of school. It wasn't the same excitment that you usually experience going to class on your first day - Although I might be the only one who is guilty of being excited about going to class the first day.

After class, Chelsea and I do what we do best - shop. We bought the most amazing European pants! (check them out at I don't have my USB cord yet!) They are kind of like Aladdin pants. Except they're floral.

Around 6:30, Chelsea and I head over to her host home, Linda's house. From there, Linda made bratswurst and potato salad. Good ole German food! As great as everything is here, I have to say; I miss America's water.
The water here is, A. Not free (so there is no point in ordering it) and B. It's carbonated.

So anyways, after dinner tonight, I left Linda's house around 8:20 to catch the bus at 8:30. I was supposed to get of at the university and then get on the 69.
When I arrived at the university, I get off the bus just to figure out that there is no 69 running on that part of campus. AHH!! It was such a bad feeling know that I didn't know how to get back to my dorm without bus 69..

I walk down the road for about 1/2 a mile and realize that I recognize nothing around me. I turn around and start walking, then go in the opposite direction of where the bus dropped me off... If I were to talk about everywhere I've been tonight, it would take forever.. So, after several hours and bus stops later and running into many people who do not speak English, I make it back to somewhere I have been everyday since I've been here! And from there, I walk to my dorm - about 3 miles away. At night. Did I mention I don't have a cell phone that works???

So as I am walking with my mini flashlight that would knock someone out in an instant if I hit them hard enough, tighty gripped in my hand (one perk of living in Memphis - overly alert and ready to break out moves you never though you had) I am walking right next to the woods. I don't know if it was just me being on the verge of tears because I was so annoyed at this time or what, but I felt like Dorothy on the yellow brick road.. It felt like I walked forever but I never got any closer! I just kept praying to God that He would please let me get to my dorm safe, no matter how long it took. It was so dark and I all of a sudden kept replaying how everyone kept telling me, "Oh, Germany is soo safe. You have nothing to worry about. It's nothing like Memphis."
The whole 3 hours I was lost, I knew deep down that I really would make it back okay. Not because I knew my way around Germany (because I don't. At all) but because I knew God wouldn't leave me side for one second, and He was really the one guiding me back to my dorm.
No matter how often family and friends will be there for you. There are circumstances like mine tonight, where your friends and family would be there for you in an instant, but it was literally impossible. No phone to call anyone and not very many english speaking people and over 10,000 miles away from home. All you have is Jesus to guide and lead you back safely.
It's just God's way of saying, "Put your trust in Me always, because I am truly the one who will always be there when no one else can."
Don't worry, I don't think Chelsea will let me go anywhere by myself again. Not at night at least.
Once again, please excuse any grammar/spelling errors. It's way late. :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Deutschland

As I consume myself with my ultra fabulous book, Heart of the Matter, I forget my little dorm room does not have internet and that I have yet to blog about my European experience – which reminds me to encourage everyone to check out my fellow traveler’s blog, If only I could be as clever as Chelsea Boozer to create such a unique blog name J. I forgot my cord to connect my camera to my computer, so until my dad mails it to me, Chelsea’s pictures will have to do! Thankfully she is quite the tourist, too, so she has so many pictures and the stories behind their purpose.
So, let me see if I can remember all the way back to Friday when I left and give you all the details I can remember.

Friday I left Memphis and landed in Atlanta. From Atlanta we flew to Frankfurt. We flew, and we flew, and we flew some more.. And we flew for many many hours. I don’t think we ever passed darkness. We flew when it was still daylight in America and by the time we crossed over the Pacific Ocean, it was morning time! On the plane, I watched the Tourist, slept, ate, slept again, and chatted with Chelsea, then slept again. Then, finally, we arrived in Frankfurt, Germany at 8 something on Saturday morning!

Thankfully, it took us no time to get our luggage. It seems like baggage claim takes forever. After we got our bags, we were greeted by the nicest Germans, Karl and Petra. Karl is a professor here at Mainz and Petra is over the international office.

That day (Saturday), all we did was grocery shop and sleep. At first, I was extremely frustrated that I didn’t have internet where I’m staying, but after a while it became kind of nice.

When I woke up Saturday night, I tried for at least two hours to get online, I wanted so badly to call my parents. But after I gave up, I thought to myself, “This is no doubt God’s way of getting you to spend time in His word.” After that, I hadn’t really tried to get on the internet at my place.

I do have to admit, though, it is a hassle having to go to campus (a five minute bus ride) to get internet.

Sunday, Christina and I walk to our professor, Dr. Arant’s, apartment (a 30 minute walk, clearly before we learned the bus system). From there I called my parents and updated my facebook status. Oh, did I mention, I woke up at 5:30am?? Yeah, jetlag much?? I was wide awake and couldn’t go back to sleep. It was sad. So, I drank numerous amounts of coffee and read my Emily Giffin novel. So anyways, I’m at my professor’s using internet, when we all decide to stroll the beautiful city of Mainz and get some lunch. After many miles of walking in downtown Germany, Christina and I decide it’s time for some serious  nap time. Sadly, we didn’t have time to even go home and change before we had to be at dinner. Needless to say, it was a long day. But eventful and fun!

So, that brings me to Monday!

Have you ever felt like a little wined up toy? You know, the ones you get in like, a kids meal?? Well, that’s how I felt.

I got up around 10ish and headed to meet some Mainz students for lunch and a city tour. Lunch was GREAT! I couldn’t tell you what I had, but it was at some place called “Mosch Mosch.” After my huge bowl of noodle soup full of chicken, spinach, carrots, and onions, we all head off to buy our tickets for the tour of Mainz. Yeah.. It took twice as long as it was supposed to because the guide man had to speak German and then translate to us foreigners.. Awesome.. So anyways, it was very cool – going in Cathedrals and learning the historical background.

After that was over, the two German students took us around and showed us the “hotspots” of Mainz. It was great fun until I realized, “Hey, I just walked five miles away from where the bus is.” Which naturally means I have to walk another five miles back to the bus. As you can probably tell, I don’t walk much. I mean sure, I workout, but I do not walk or bike everywhere I go. Props to Europeans. Hardly anyone here has a car, or even a license. The majority of students bike everywhere, and if they done bike, they bus it everywhere. The bus comes around all day long and there are bus stops on every corner. I’m really not complaining or anything – I expect to go back to the States a size 0. However, with the way I am trying to get a “cultural” experience, I don’t quite think that will happen.

So anyways, after the tour of the popular places among college students, I bought the most fabulous pair of European shorts (which should be downloaded to facebook as soon as I get my cord), I felt myself forcing myself to keep going, yet slowly dying down (much like the toy).

After we figured out the bus system and little better and I arrive in my dorm, I sit on my little beg with a huge bowl of cereal and my book. I started reading at  6pm and stopped 12 am. With few bathroom breaks, I got a lot of reading done J. Proud to be a fairly new “reader lover.”

Sorry this blog was enormous; I will try my best to stay on top of my days! Right now I’m in my room typing this on a word document and not directly on my blog (because, remember, I don’t have internet). I will post it tomorrow as soon as I can find a signal somewhere.

Oh yeah, and if there are any grammatical errors (which, I know there are), I am going to have to ask you to ignore them! I am so exhausted, seeing as I’m still on Memphis time and it’s only 5:30pm there and 12:30 in the morning here. Time for just one more chapter and then to bed! Long day tomorrow!!