It took me four months to get around to writing again...

Berlin Travel Blog

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So I've realized that I've been shamefully negligent about keeping up with this blog. I suppose the excuse is that once summer was over this stopped feeling like a vacation and more like real life. It's been an interesting few months, with a lot of high and low points so I suppose I'll just give the reader's digest, for my own benefit as much as for anyone who reads this. So I'll start with, for me, the most important aspect. I'm so incredibly happy because my German is really improving. It's funny now that I've reread old blog entries, that I couldn't understand Soeren, my four year old, at first. I can now understand everything he says. Well, everything he says that is an actual word. The other day Soeren asked me if I liked... something. I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about, which never happens so I looked at my host mom, hoping that she would help me out. She was sitting there with the same confused expression I was. She was like "I think he just made that word up." So as long as he's not speaking a made up language we're good to go. I think my improvements in German have been a combination of living in a German-speaking household and taking a German class. Which leads me to my next point; finding a German class was a fiasco. You're not allowed to just send a payment and apply, you have to go to the Volkhochschule in person, during the like 3 hours twice a week that they're open, and then wait in line for two of those hours. This is all so the German advisor can test to see what class you should be in. When I finally met with her I may have said two sentences to her and she decided she assigned me a German course. I payed for it, then found out it conflicted with my work schedule. When I finally got in contact with someone from the Volkhochschule they told me, "oh we're sorry we don't give refunds." Right, you won't give me a refund for the course I'm not taking, which would then open up a place for the myriad of other people who want to take this course.. makes perfect sense. When I finally explained my case (in German, because nobody at the Volkhochschule speaks english, even though many of the students come to learn German and don't speak any when they register) they agreed to give me my money back, except for 20 euros which they held hostage. Anyway I asked them if they could register me for a Volkhochschule in a different part of the city. Naturally, they couldn't, so I had to trek all the way to the north of the city to another Volkschochschule. I went in and tried to explain that I'd already seen an advisor, just at a different school. I knew which level I was supposed to be in and I knew which course I wanted to register for. Nope, I couldn't do that, would I please take a number and and a test and they'd call me when my number was up. Lo' and behold, I was put in the same course that I wanted to be in, I just had to wait another hour to find it out and finally register. Anyway I'm extremely glad I finally got a class, because it has helped me immensely, so I suppose all's well that ends well.

On a more recent subject, I have decided that I am in love with the Christmas Markets in Germany. Let me revise this, I am in love with the Christmas season in Germany. Whoever thought up a calendar that not only counts down the days until Christmas, but also gives you chocolate for every day that it gets closer, was a genius! And also, St. Nicholaus day makes me smile. For those who don't know it's pretty much when children leave out their shoes by the door overnight and then St. Nicholaus fills them with presents and sweets (but only if the children have been good). We actually used to celebrate it in my family at home, but I thought it was only for children. I wasn't really expecting anything but when I came home late that night I saw my host parents had put out a little santa boot with chocolate by my door. It was such a simple gesture but it made me really happy, not only because I love chocolate but also because they had included me in the holiday. And then there are the Christmas Markets, oooooh the Christmas Markets. My entire month has pretty much been spent wandering around the Christmas Markets, drinking Gluhwein and eating german food. I took a day trip with one of my friends to Dresden specifically for the purpose of visiting the Christmas Markets. They're supposedly the largest and most wonderful in all of Germany, and I can personally attest to that. We actually walked the entire city from south to north via the Christmas Markets. When we got dropped off at the train station we didn't know if we should ask someone how to find them or just wander around until we did. Both turned out to be unnecessary, however, because as soon as we walked outside the Market was waiting for us. It was a really beautiful day, and actually warm and sunny, which rarely occurs in Berlin so Dresden gets lots of points for that. It was also just a beautiful, historic city. Where Berlin is big and bustling, Dresden was calmer and (gasp) walkable. It was such a relief not to have to worry about taking an S-bahn for at least 30 minutes to get anywhere. Not that I don't love the city, but sometimes it's just nice to go somewhere where your feet can actually get you around. Alas the next city I'm going to is actually the only city in Europe larger than Berlin; London. I'm so excited to go though, both because I haven't taken any vacation in four months, and because I get to see my mom for the first time in almost six months! Perhaps I'll even update again soon, who knows? Bis spaeter!

lindsaypo says:
you're so nice and i'm so happy you're happy! let's talk before you go to london and before i go to cali! love you and see you in 7 weeks! bis spaeter!
Posted on: Dec 11, 2009
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