Yesterday and today I was lucky enough to have two visitors! I was a proper guide and we did what any person should do while they’re in Germany for the first time: eat and drink as much as possible.
We had döner kebap:
Enough lamb (and lamb burps) for quite some time.
Went to a cafe:
And got complimentary chips and ‘guacamole’ from the bar I frequent the most:
Not really guacamole but thanks anyway, Pablo!
Not pictured include falafel, multiple stops at a bakery in the train station for a variety of pretzels, Burger King, a few pitchers of Strongbow, and a trip to Starbucks.
I can only hope that I gave them a good slice of German life. If not, they’re on their way to Munich for Oktoberfest anyway…
The girl who lived in this apartment before me left me a bike. A free bike in Germany is the jackpot. Since nearly everyone rides one, they’re pretty pricey. Thankfully, I only had to pay 60 euro to get the sprocket fixed (and I learned a new word in the process, thanks to my man’s-man neighbor) and now I’m living the German life. I bike the half hour round trip to and from school most days (unless its raining) and I’m saving money on a monthly train pass, as well as saving my figure from all the German beer I’ve been enjoying.
You can call me Lance.
Unfortunately it’s a mountain bike, so there’s no basket for my groceries. But it does have a bell which I’m prepared to use on anyone walking in the bike lane.
When that happens, then I’ll be a real German.
Ignore the beer spilled on my shirt, please.
No one would classify me as a ‘sports fan’. I get bored watching any sport on tv, and even my favorite international tradition of all time, the Olympics, can only hold my attention for so long.
The experience of seeing a sport played live, however, is a completely different story. This summer I was lucky enough to see the United States Men’s National Team play soccer against Turkey before headed to the World Cup. Since then, I have been dying to get to a German soccer game. The sea of red and green fan scarves, the pounding of Hannover’s fight songs, and the smell of bratwurst and bier is the perfect atmosphere to call out my inner sports enthusiast. By the end of the match I morph into a soccer expert, calling players pansy’s for feigning injury and shouting at the top of my lungs when a goal is scored.
Though I guess it doesn’t hurt that Hannover won last night, either.
The last time I lived in Germany, I lived in beautiful Freiburg. Nestled in the southwest corner of the Black Forest, the city is said to have the best weather in all of Germany. This picture was taken in late September just outside of Freiburg. Notice the sun, short sleeves, and general feeling of happiness in the photo.
Life is good in Southern Germany
In stark contrast, however, the following picture was taken just recently on a normal Hannover afternoon.
You can't see the raindrops but trust me they are there.
We quickly learned that one should never leave their Hannovrian home without an umbrella or rain jacket, as there is a 100% chance of rain at some point in every day. Usually this rain arrives in the form of the sudden storm, where one minute you think you’re about to see the sun peek through the thick layer of clouds, but the next minute out of nowhere the wind picks up and the drops start falling. God forbid you’re on a bike or walking somewhere without hope of cover, as you will be stranded in 10-15 minutes of ferocious downpour.
In other words, no one comes to Hannover to get a suntan.
Over the last ten years or so that I’ve been studying German, the lesson that stands out in my mind most was when we learned about illness in high school (props to Frau Young for making this lesson more interesting than it sounded). While I’ve always been known to whip out random vocabulary that no one has ever heard of (Fachwerkhäuser would be one of them), this little talent of mine finally came in handy when I went to the Apotheke for the first time.
While in America you may be able to walk into your corner CVS and stock up on any and every over-the-counter drug ever created, in Germany they don’t trust the common man with such volatile substances (Consequently, I’m guessing there’s not a lot of crystal meth in Germany). So, using the few key phrases I was able to remember from high school I explained to the (not very forgiving) pharmacist behind the counter what is wrong with me, going as far as actually sniffling and coughing to give her a demonstration of what I needed.
And I walked out with this.
In Germany 'W' is pronounced 'V'... aha
German DayQuil? I can’t help but wonder if she gave this to me because of my obvious American ties, or because this is actually the best she had to offer my somewhat vague symptoms. I’ll keep chugging this Multi-Vitamin Saft for now, just in case.
Today I decided to go with the flow (and temporarily forget about my newly-imposed budget) and go to McDonald’s for a lunch with some American friends.
I don’t even eat this stuff in America, but something about David talking about a juicy burger for quite some time put me in a serious mood. I went full force on this, getting a Royal Hamburger TS with fries and a Coke. Not a Diet Coke but the real fucking deal.
It was the most delicious thing I have had in months (or at least it felt that way). Maybe it was because I’ve become a functional vegetarian since moving to Germany, or because my diet is seriously lacking in high fructose corn syrup, but I scarfed down that burger and fries like it was my last meal on earth.
And not twenty minutes later, I thought I was going to barf. 5 hours later, my stomach is still reeling.
God Bless America.
(Sorry no picture of me eating this Meal of Champions… I was too focused on eating to worry about finding my camera)
Before I moved to Germany, 85% of the conversations I had with people about my upcoming adventure included a phrase similar to ‘I bet you’re going to drink a lot of beer!’ I would always cut back with a long-winded explanation that I had already had my time to party in Europe, and that this time I’m going for an advanced degree and I’ll probably spend more time doing schoolwork than anything else.
Bold. Faced. Lie.
We’re about to start the third week of classes, but on weekend nights I return home from the club anywhere between 3 and 7am. During the week, it’s imperative that we drown our scholastic sorrows in Germany’s greatest asset. Our favorite bar knows to bring three pitchers at once to our table, at which time we erupt into a cheer. The night always ends with free shots from the bartender, probably because we can rack up a bill over €100 in a night.
I just chalk it up as social interaction and cultural exploration. If only I could get my tuition to cover my bar tab.