I always want to write my blog entry in some awesome and cohesive format, but then I get bored writing it and feel like it's a chore more than something meant to be enjoyable. Currently, I am sitting the cafe of our hotel here in Frankfurt am Main! The CIEE group and I were casually strolling down the riverside and all of a sudden, it started POURING rain!! It was so funny. I ended up being able to wring out my jacket like a sponge when we finally got back to the hotel! Now we have a little free time to just work on schoolwork, relax, or catch up with family & friends. I am planning on accomplishing a little bit of all three :)
In other news, I want to catch up on the some of the fun events I have done over the past month! I will list them and then write a couple notable things that I like/remember from the events. (Post-Writing Note: I wrote a lot more than a 'couple' things haha) ...Let's begin!:
Easter in Oslo, Norway: It was so beautiful the whole weekend, and the history there was really interesting. We visited a park with a unique collection of totally nude sculptures. That was kind of unexpected haha, but we soaked in as much as possible...We even went to a museum about Vikings! The artifacts were unbelievable and I was able to read all the informational plaques since they had English translations everywhere. Can't deny that being a native English speaker has its advantages ;) Back to Norway...we managed to book an awesome 6-person hotel apartment that gave us plenty of space for the weekend. We also took a GORGEOUS three hour boat tour around the fjord. We saw colorful houses all situated on the hillsides of the islands and even found a patch of water that was still frozen over. Can you believe that it was sunny enough to sit outside in the stern in such a chilly bay? That's what I meant by beautiful weather...check out these pictures!
Early Morning 'Bake-a-thon': So after meeting Caleb's, another of the U.S. students, host family, I was invited to go over early one Sunday morning to bake from scratch with one of the host brothers, Nicholas, who I guess finds baking as a kind of passion. Anyways, I went over a 7:30 am and learned how to bake homemade bagels (what what!), English muffins with raisins & cranberries (Cape Coddah fo' Lyfe), and even a special buttery pound cake with a sugary, almond topping! That sounds like we had a feast, but another 9 people live in the house, so it was all gone rather quickly! Unfortunately, I forgot to take some pictures. You'll just have to trust me that everything turned out delicious. It was so much fun learning how to make dough, weighing in the Metric System, and practicing the patience to bake/make things perfectly. I seriously completed one of my personal goals to learn how to bake from scratch!! Bonus: The cookbook was in German, which I correctly followed when doubling the recipes...woop woop!
Schnitzeljagd!: About two Fridays ago, I also participated in a Schnitzeljagd-which is German for scavenger hunt! Since the CIEE group is only 6 students, a couple other students came along to make the teams a little larger. Also, James and Caleb (two CIEE'ers) were quite cocky about beating me in the hunt, and I made it a point to say they were largely mistaken. We couldn't choose our teams, but it turned out Juan & I plus two guests students were pitted against Caleb, James, and a couple other students! I was so determined to win that we solved the riddles and found the hinted locations very quickly :) A great part was during a break at the Brandenburger Tor, where the woman who had created this whole activity gave us each a hot cup of coffee and a cookie--no big deal until you consider she made them look like the Tor! So cute hehe. I have to mention that one of each team's on-going tasks was to take pictures of as many Berlin Bear emblems as we could find. They needed to be authentic emblems, so that was part of the fun in what I am about to tell you...As we walked around the Bundestag searching for our tasks, we walked past a group of police officers. I remembered that they each have a Berlin Bear on their sleeves and sometimes on their hats, so I boldly approached them and asked in German in we could take a picture of them! They smiled as I positioned them in a line and had them sport their arm badges for the photo :) That was such a fun experience. Need I mention the icing on the cake when our team beat the other team (Caleb & James--mwahaha) by only one thing. All other points being equal, our team had 1 more Berlin Bear photo than theirs...so it's quite appropriate to say the police saved the day! ;D
Goya & Mauer Park Weekend: To start off this section, I find it relevant to briefly discuss my bicycle situation. Basically, I have not ridden a bike since I was about 8 years old. I practiced once or twice before coming to Germany, but I was still very nervous after arriving! Well, since spring is here, my host parents gave me my bike to ride when and where I want it. I needed my host dad to help me out the first few days I practiced. And then a week ago, my host mother and I went on an hour-long bike ride through the woods with the dogs! Safe to say I am gladly riding it to and from the U-Bahn stations, parks, and also through the woods at my leisure! I never thought I'd see this day so soon where I would feel so comfortable (and free!) on a bike. The breeze is always so nice--it makes me tempted to try a motorcycle, but no moves in that direction yet! Moral of the Story: On the Saturday evening before last, I took my bike to the U-Bahn and then took to the subway to Wittenbergplatz and met up with Sophia. We went to a club/theater house called Goya because there was a 'semester kick-off' Berlin universities party! There was a live instrumental band with a dance team when we first walked in (along with vouchers for 2 free Jaegermeister shots). Later, a band with two singers went on a stage and performed about 10 party-faves live for us! Mostly Justin Timberlake songs which, as a young female American, you know I enjoyed singing along to! To top off a great night out, we went to the Mauer Park flea market on Sunday morning! We didn't buy anything, but we just strolled about with the rest of Berlin's people and explored/teased each other with all the funny and weird things people were selling. Some things were cool like artwork, leather bags, and homemade jewelry, while other things like complete sofa sets and used thing-a-ma-jigs were outrageously bizarre!
Sophia's Birthday: Sophia's birthday is the first of May, which here in Germany is a holiday! We had no classes and went to a HUGE festival near Warschauer Strasse--a very lively part of Berlin with a big park named Gorlitzer Park. There were literally thousands of people all over the place with bands playing, people dancing (including us), and plenty of food and drink to make the merry even more, well, merrier! One side note: I used my recently acquired baking skills to make Sophia homemade vanilla bean cupcakes with chocolate icing! They came out perfectly sweet, but once again were gone in a flash due to the 5 people living at my house--and also many of them going to Sophia!
I think I have given enough updates to take a breather and continue with the rest of my life ;) More to come soon about Frankfurt am Main and even about Munich--since I going there this upcoming weekend!! So much Germany, so little time...so weit so gut! By the way, I am improving my German at a rapid pace! I almost can't believe how much I can say and understand already!