Saturday, March 28, 2009

One month later... (Vol. II)

(Vol. I can be found here:

For some reason, being in places for a month seems like a big deal to me. Maybe it's because this is the point, especially for studying abroad, that it ceases to feel like a long vacation and it starts to sink in that this is real life. At least this time it actually has some basis in fact; my Deutsch-Kompakt course comes to a close on Wednesday, and soon afterward I begin my actual classes. (I'm also signing up for next fall's classes on Monday, and I'm in the process of writing the proposal for my bachelor's essay, both of which are indicative of even real-er life.)

A month in, and I'm feeling really good. For the first time since last summer, I feel like myself, and a better version of myself to boot. The people are wonderful, the city is beautiful, the food is amazing... everything just fits. Nothing really monumental has happened, but it's better that way. I'm not looking for anything big and crazy to happen, I'm just enjoying each day and all the little things that come along with them. Whether it's a low-key night out with friends, a really good doener kebab, the sound of rain on my windows, or just understanding what people say to me (auf Deutsch, I mean), I feel like I'm in a place to just sit back and appreciate all of it without worrying about what it means or where it's going.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

"Heimat is hier und dort - ist überall, wo Menschen uns mögen."

I like this quote. I've spent my whole life looking for a definition of home that actually applies to me, and here it is. Home is here and there - above all, home is where our loved ones are. For me, that's pretty much everywhere. I've never been one to wax poetic about the idea of home; in fact, it has usually just irritated me. I hate the looks of pity I get when I say "Oh, I'm not from anywhere in particular." I just don't understand why that's necessarily a sad thing. Instead of one home, I have many. I may not live there anymore, but I carry them with me no matter where I happen to be, and they are no less important in my life than a more traditional "home" is in someone else's life. I'm made more aware of this each time I find myself in a new place, poised to begin yet another piece of my life. It's exciting and scary at the same time, knowing that an unfamiliar place will soon become an inextricable thread, one that will stay with me forever. When I look back on a previous home, it's as though I'm remembering two places -- the one in which I lived and loved, but also the place as I first saw it, crisp with newness and hazy with time. They always feel different, and even when I'm settled and comfortable, I never forget the beginning.

Right now, I'm again in that transitional moment, so I've been thinking a lot about those other times and places, as well as what's to come. Not only in Tübingen, but in the coming year - my last as an undergrad.

As for the present, I have spent most of my time in class thus far. We have about five hours of German per day, and when we're not in class, we're all usually hanging out together. There's never a dull moment. Last week was spent in Blaubeuren, a little town in the Schwäbishe Alb about two hours from Tübingen. I was little skeptical; after all, we were facing a week in tiny village with no internet and even more class time than we have here. But even with these drawbacks, it was amazing; every day there was something new to do, we had delicious food, the weather was fantastic, and I got to spend time with people whose company I genuinely enjoy. We also spent a day in Ulm, which is a great little city. One word: Brotmuseum.

We left on Friday, so since then I've just been catching up on homework and bureaucratic stuff, like choosing classes for next semester. It's looking like I will be abandoning all pretense and taking only German history/studies classes for which I can write papers about gender. And I'm still in disbelief that I'm choosing classes for my SENIOR year. Weird.

Blaubeuren cloisters and Blauetopf.


Kirche in Ulm. We climbed all 750 steps to the top.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The first week

So I've been here about a week and a half now, though I'm still in the stage when it seems like so much longer. This isn't a bad thing, it's just strange to think that Thursday before last I had never been to Tübingen; now it already feels like home. This is probably in part due to my many years of moving experience -- I generally find it fairly easy to settle into a place -- but there's something about this town that is so comfortable and homey. I almost wonder if it has to do with distant, mostly forgotten memories of when we lived just a little north of here in Spangdalem, or maybe it reminds me more of Charleston than Nottingham did. Whatever it is, I love it.

The first few days were spend camping on Susanne's couch. We had a great time, and if it hadn't been for her, I'm sure my first impression of Tübingen wouldn't have been nearly as positive. Although she did lead me astray once (coughmenstoilettecough), having a Tübingen resident as a guide was wonderful. And of course, having her as a friend is even better :)

The past week has been a busy one, as I started my Deutsch-Kompakt course. It involves a lot of classtime - I leave my Wohnung at around 8.30 and get back at 4.30 or 5 - but we also have a lot of extra-curricular activities, which means I get to meet people. I have yet to spend an evening sitting forlornly alone in my room wishing I had something to do. I was reallly nervous that I'd be completely overwhelmed with the language, but it has actually been fairly easy. I'm getting over my fear of speaking German, though I have a general anxiety when it comes to speaking to anyone I don't know, whatever the language, so I doubt that will be overcome. How anyone can learn a language without spending an extended period of time immersed I'll never understand.

Anyway, I don't have too much to relate yet. My class is going to a place called Blaubeuren this weekend, so hopefully I'll have something interested to report afterward. And as usual, I'll post some photos:

A view from Schloss Hohen Tübingen

The Neckar River in late afternoon.

Schloss Hohenzollern

A wintery view from my balcony. Yes, balcony.

The D-K group at a Schwäbisch Gasthof yesterday

Sunday, March 1, 2009


A couple of momentous occasion are upon us - one, I'm finally in Germany again, living out a life-long dream of mine and acquiring a second language. And the second - my blog turns one year old today :)

I arrived in Germany on Thursday morning, so I've been here for a couple of days now. It is absolutely breathtaking here (notice the banner above!) and the weather has been unbelievable. Today it is the same temperature as it is in Charleston, and being that I haven't lived in Charleston this year, it is the lovliest day I've seen in months. Perhaps most importantly, the food is amazing as well. Oh, Käsespätzle... I should be moving in tomorrow, and my immersion course starts on Tuesday, so this week will be a big one for me.