Thursday, June 23, 2011

Last week

In a week I'll be touching down in Houston for the summer.  It'll be the longest stretch of time I've spent at home in about a year and half.  It will also mark the end of my first year in Germany.  Most of you who read this probably already know that I'm not one to spend a lot of time on these entries (except on rare occasions where it's necessary).  Seeing as I'm spending at least another term here I don't feel like giving a big summation just yet but I do think that some amount of reflection is in order.

I think my expectations for this year were maybe more realistic seeing as I'd already spent time in Berlin.  But really after spending a year in NRW I can honestly say there is no comparison.  Berlin was a wonderful, truly life changing experience, however there really is no comparison.  My time in Berlin hardly counted as time in Germany, I barely associated with German people and the only measurable improvement in my German was that I could cram words together faster than most people in my seminars.  A year living in Germany and not actually being apart of an exchange program has been a much more enriching experience.  Yes most of my friends were Brits(with a couple of Americans thrown in) but they were amazing people all the same.  And yes I met most of my German friends at a bar, but it was a bar filled with people who I would get along with anyway so I don't see why it matters.  I can say with some certainty that I made an impact on the lives of some people here.  I know that when I come back next September I'll have people to hang out with and a good idea of what will be expected from me at work.

Working at the RvW Berufskolleg was a great experience.  I feel like the working atmosphere was mostly relaxed and genuinely enjoyable.  The students were at all different levels, but I hope that in some small way I was able to make a difference in their English.  At the very least I stopped hearing "My English is not the yellow from the egg," as often as I had at the beginning of the year.  I grew attached to a couple of classes, and saying goodbye is going to be hard.  I've already had a breakfast in my honor in one class, not one but two cookbooks gifted to me and of course a collection of Schlager hits, which will be using to annoy the rest of you for years to come. 

Tomorrow I'm going to the Abiball, which is like their prom.  It's funny because I didn't even go to my own prom, mostly because I didn't see the point.  This time however not only was I invited, I was not really given a choice.  I'm not trying to be arrogant and say that I'm the best TA that my school has ever had, but it is nice to feel appreciated. 

As to personal growth, I mean beyond the cliched self-discovery that Americans always feel when they go abroad, I think I've actually become a more patient and understanding person.  There were plenty of times here when I felt that I was going to lose it, but I was able to work things out civilly and ultimately positively.  I think the most important thing I've learned about myself though is how I can function without a ridiculous amount of stress in my life.  I've learned that I'm not actually as cynical and bitter as I thought I was.  Christmas for example actually brought out a child like joy that I can't remember really ever having before.  Sitting around a table in the kitchen watching a 4(5?) year old squirm around waiting for the Christkind made me realize that I'd been a Grinch about Christmas all these years.  I'm not saying that I like American Christmas (I still hate it), but Christmas in general doesn't piss me off anymore. 

And for those of you worried that 9 months abroad has robbed me of my Americanness, let me assure you that that is not the case.  Sure I'm different, but I'm still louder and more opinionated than most of you.  I miss America dearly and it's going to be great to be back, even if only for a little bit.  I look forward to sitting out in the Biergarten at the Gingerman, or catching a ballgame at Minutemaid (I know that it probably isn't worth it anymore) and hell getting some tacos at Taco C.  

I know I'm not much for blogging (or putting up pictures) but I hope that those of you who stuck it out in between the unacceptably long breaks in writing did enjoy reading what little there was.  I don't know what form this project will take next year.  I'm thinking I need to let my pictures do the talking. 

In any case, this has been a hell of a year and I look forward to what the next one will bring.

Bis später (I know that's really cliched, but whatever)


Monday, June 13, 2011


I am a karaoke legend. 

last night was (the annual???) karaoke night at Gorilla Bar, where everybody knows my name.  There are two regulars named John (my friend John Palenski).  He's John #2 and I'm Little John.   There is no John #1.

Anyway even though it wasn't a competition, I think I came out on top.  I certainly dominated all those other losers who couldn't even sing over the backing track. 

I was pulling out all the stops: head banging, fist pumping; high fiving; using the crowd as a chorus; and finally just flat out having a natural sense for showmanship.  At several points people from the crowd jumped up to join me.  I take this as a good sign!

Friday, June 3, 2011

everything next year will be exactly like last year

except I gots to make more friends...

Also need to find a different place, one that meets basic requirements such as: having a kitchen and maybe room for a couch.

and I need to buy a bike.

and make sure that bike wasn't stolen, though I probably won't care a lot about this.

A couch would be fun, so would an oven.  Hell even like a proper stove?

People are leaving soon, Americans don't jet for a little bit.  Yesterday was Vatertag (father's day) here.  We celebrated by drinking and boat racing (not at the same time) as well as cooking at least 2 tons of meat.  Life has been pretty good lately. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

staying in Germany

 for another year anyway.  Don't know if I'll be staying longer than that.

This blog has slowed to a grinding halt recently.  Mostly because my life (believe it or not) has grown pretty routine.  I'll keep this up in some form or another, maybe under a new name or a new format.  Who knows!

There might be a trip down to Bayern sometime in June.  Going to party it up with some Army dudes and maybe drink some good beer. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

so a bunch of stuff happened

Hey I went to Düsseldorf for Eurovision.  It was great!  Loads of bad pop music and excited Europeans, what could go wrong?

Well it did rain, and Azerbaijan won.  Also Germany's entry was kind of weak.  The Russians had this amazing disco pop thing that had a thumping beat and was sung in appropriately broken Russian-English.  The Italians basically took the show with their slinky cabaret style Jazz, which is why I'm glad they at least placed. 

Jedward was terrible, this is Jedward:

What the hell Ireland?

Anyway I also spent last weekend in Amsterdam, well just Saturday.  Amsterdam is a really nice city that unfortunately has to play host to a bunch of jackass British stag parties.   We saw some dutch dudes go down one of the canals in a make ship plank raft.  They basically took a giant flat piece of wood and attached a motor to it.  They were also drinking heavily.  OBVIOUSLY

So yeah also Preußen Münster was a really fun game, can't believe I didn't hit that up more often.  Winning soccer for only 7,50?  What kind of country is this?  Afterwards we got to run onto the field and scream a bunch of things about the team.  I can't say I actually knew what we were screaming. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

so you guys should be jealous

look I know I ignore this thing but here's a quick rundown:

I went to Prague/Dresden on my own and met some amazing people, update to follow as soon as I have some time

My parents were here and we had great adventures!

Tomorrow I'm cheering on Schalke 04 (last German team in the Champions league and seriously SCREW MAN U)

Thursday I'm going to see Woyzeck staged with songs by Tom Waits (though Mr. Waits himself will not actually be present)

Friday I'm going to see Preußen Münster secure (if they haven't done it already) it's place at the top of the Regionalliga West, thus ensuring a place in 3. Liga!  This is a big deal because 3. Liga is a fully professional (and thus legitimate) league.

Saturday I am more than likely making an insane day trip to Amsterdam (need to call those Dutch girls I made friends with in Prague). 

Sunday I'm grilling

Monday I've got the day off.

Yeah, you guys should probably be jealous.  

Also belated congrats to Nathan over at L’histoire de sa vie for getting both a job and an apartment!  Real life awaits!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Berlin Berlin Berlin

Just got back from my 3rd trip to Berlin since I've been here.  I'm planning one more trip before I leave.  I need to move there or something.