Monday, September 27, 2010

Yeah that was a week ago

So much has happened to me in a week.

So last time when I said I was meeting a former president of Germany, what I meant was sit in the general vicinity of and not be important enough to be acknowledged by.  Still though, it was a pretty amazing experience for only my 3rd week in the country.  RvW is 90 years old, but you'd never know if from the jokes he was telling and the way he carried himself generally.  I think if I make it to 90 years old I'm going to demand some school host me so I can demand that students speak up and slow down when they ask me questions.  It seems like fun.

Also everyone figured out I speak German because I saw through the entire presentation without any effort. 

I'm slowly making friends!

So basically I didn't take any pictures of anything because I'm probably the worst blogger ever. 

Oh yeah I went to the Netherlands on Saturday with Astrid and family.  They gave me the typical Holland experience, which involves eating delicious fried foods, drinking Grolsch (which is the first pilsner I've had in a while that I've liked) and walking around a fish market.  The fish market was actually a larger flea market type deal, but the fish was the best part.  Apparently the dutch fry everything, than stay thin because they ride their bikes everywhere. 
That reminds me, I need to pump up the jams on the air in my tires.   I need to start appreciating the scenery at a much faster pace.  Also before you ask, no I don't have a very dignified looking bike, but it was cheap and better than having to find one on my own. 

Also while we were in the Netherlands (Entschede I believe it's called), we saw a boy scout jamboree/scout fair kind of thing!  There were dudes (and dudettes) playing leaf blower soccer, making campfires, building structures out of wood that serve no other purpose but to stand up on their own power.   What was interesting was that at every age level there seemed to be a good mix of boys and girls and there didn't seem to be any problems (BAM I just political all over BSA's ass, even though they've allowed girls since like I was in 5th grade).  I'm sure my father would have appreciated the scenery a little better than I cared to. 

The Netherlands is a pretty great place, the food is amazing, the people are very nice and most people speak either German or English.  The best part is that I'm only an hour away or so from the border, so I can go whenever I please! 

Also potatoes go rotten pretty quick here, either that or I forgot when I bought those potatoes.  In any case I ran out of food yesterday...

need to buy a fridge pretty soon here.

anyway going to sign off now but first this story, woke up early to go to the Ausländeramt (alien services) to see if Berlin has finally answered back about whether or not I'm a criminal (I'm not) that committed any crimes in Berlin (I haven't).  Well they haven't gotten back to Münster yet, which makes this 3 times I've tried for my Aufenthaltserlaubnis.  Hopefully the fourth time will be the charm.

I really need to plan these things out better, but I'm probably not going to. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

I don't know exactly what this might mean, but somehow today definitely feels especially like a Kraftwerk kind of day.

It wasn't a bad day by any means, I don't really have very many of those anymore.  I was kind of frustrated that I didn't get anything done that I wanted to.  I have stuff to mail, people to email etc.

My technology in American mini-project is coming along nicely though, so many of my friends have responded to my inquiry and I continue to receive responses!  It's nice when people come through for you.

Anyway I'm making stirfry, because it's cheap and I can sort of ignore it while I type this.  As mentioned previously I can really only do one thing at a time on my stove, so I had to make the stir fry first and the rice next.  I probably should have reversed that order, but whatever.

Today I "auditioned" for a part in the musical number my school is performing for Richard von Weizsäcker, who is visiting on Wednesday.  I didn't make it because I don't know how to play C#minor on a banjo.  I'm not even sure it's possible to do that in G.  I'm sure you can.  Oh well.

I am apparently expected to dress up in a suit (I don't have a suit) and make conversation in English.  We shall see how it goes.  If you don't know who RvW is you should probably check up on your German history in Wikipedia.  He was a president of the BRD, which isn't quite the chancellor but it's still pretty damn important.  He was also the mayor of Berlin at one point I believe, possibly of West Berlin.  He's also the school's namesake and apparently takes great pride in it.

Listen I don't see any of you guys getting to meet a frickin president.  Well I guess meet is a pretty loose term, I'll definitely get to see him with my eyes.  Maybe also shake his hand, who knows.

Today was a really pretty day in Lüdinghausen.  I took the opportunity to do some exploring along one of the three rivers that runs through the city.  The school has a nice little path that runs right by it and leads along the river to the pedestrian zone in town.  It was a pretty perfect vision of small town Germany, just saying.

Haven't really tried any new beers recently, though I did discover this liqueur that comes in bottles that very strongly resemble Mudder's Milk.

I have absolutely no idea what kind of liqueur it is.  I'll probably buy some at some point and taste it.  I couldn't find a picture of the Mudder's milk bottles but you guys should probably already know what they look like.  If you don't, watch Firefly and you'll figure it out.  If you still can't figure it out than I really don't know what to tell you.  Other than I'm pretty bad at blogging if I'm trying to start fights with people who are just trying to see what's up with me in Germany.

Anyway I'll update as soon as I meet RvW, or at the very least a little bit afterward.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

2nd post! (I'm consistent)

So at the chiding of my parents, and in the spirit of my cousin, The Left Coast Contessa, I'll do ONE entry on what I'm currently eating.  Mostly because my set up here is kind of minimal and it's pretty boring what I can do right now seeing as I have to eat all of what I make (no waste/storage possibility here) and I have to pair down everything to one pan.  I for one see it as an interesting challenge for the moment.  I would really like to upgrade the kitchen somehow, but I know that that really isn't possible.  At the very least I would love a fridge to store leftovers in for later...

Anyway, for lunch today I had currywurst mit pommes mayo so naturally the order of the day was for a healthy dinner.  I immediately went to the internet (because I'm resourceful like that) and found something satisfactorily quick and basic.  I say basic because I don't know if I can get a lot of the stuff most recipes call for, and in any case I always try to budget my trips to the grocery store to under 10 euro if possible, though at the beginning this is almost impossible because I need so much stuff.

Anyway here's the finished product, I didn't really follow the recipe other than to dump quantities of things listed into a pan and hope for the best.  There is a ton of cayenne pepper in there BECAUSE GOD HELP ME I NEED SOME CAPSICUM.

As you can see from the generally reddish color (I'm not really cut out for food writing alright, give me a break) there were definitely some tomatoes in the mix, as well as some other vegetables.  Given the huge quantity of potatoes I purchased the other day you would probably expect some potatoes to be contained within the curry.  You would be wrong.  Yes, despite my intent to find creative and multifaceted uses for this humble root, I've as of yet only cut them into little pieces, slather them in curry ketchup and eat them.  Yesterday I didn't even cook them enough! 

Here's a picture of my kitchen set up, so you know what I'm dealing with.

That's basically it.  I'm gonna get pretty fancy though, it could be really fun to work through the frustration of essentially only being able to use one burner at a time (my other two pots won't fit on the heating pad at the same time as the pan). 

I also have a toaster oven, that I plan on using as a regular oven.  It's actually not very exciting.

Anyway, my curry is getting cold, and this pilsner I'm drinking ain't getting any colder.  They suggested a white wine, but I figure a pilsner is basically the same thing?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

No, not like the cheese

Muenster cheese is apparently an American invention guys, sorry.

Anyway I've been in Germany for like 2 weeks now (not even!) and already so much has happened to me.  I've been in at least 4 different cities, all in one state (not counting Frankfurt, but no one ever does) over a period of roughly a week and a half.  My normal schedule involves commuting between Münster, where I live, and Lüdinghausen, where I work.  I started my trip in Köln, where some guy from Senegal (by way of France) offered me his necklace in exchange for my sunglasses and now I can't find the necklace.  Fun fact, he was probably going to try and rob me but I was too smart for him.

And for those of you who think me racist, let me tell you, this guy was definitely a drug dealer who tried to offer me some of his wares for free and had already expressed a great interest in relieving me of my banjo.  I don't know what that guy was up to, but I'm sure it wasn't entirely legal. 

Anyway, Köln is a beautiful city, in parts.  Kölsch is a pretty delicious variety of beer, though it can become tiresome on the pallet.  Pilsners as always have left me wanting more, and Köstritzer remains my one and only true love. 

My room is pretty alright, it didn't really come with a kitchen per se, more of a hot plate and a sink.  But my colleagues have been downright wonderful and been so generous I now have some semblance of a working kitchen.  Seriously, I definitely got an amazing placement for a school.  I can't tell you how generous and welcoming they have been to me.  As much as these first couple weeks in Germany are going to cost me (I don't get paid till October, yikes!) I know that they would have cost so much more without the help of my school.  More on that later though, I guess I need to take care of some other things first.

First and foremost (and I'll put this up under my title as well) the opinions expressed in my blog are solely my own unless otherwise marked and do not in any way represent the opinions of Fulbright or the Pädagogischer Austauschdienst (PAD) or their affiliates.  Please do not confuse my opinions with theirs.

Second, there is a 7 hour difference (most likely, though if you're on the west coast it's more) between you and me.  My posts will probably show up as weird times to you, don't worry I am probably getting enough sleep.  I only have to work 12 hours a week so I don't think I'll be burning the midnight oil all that often.

Third, my parents and their friends (as well as maybe even some of my colleagues) will probably read this blog, so let's keep everything safe for work guys.  I know the largest burden will fall on me, but I'd rather not have to explain to my mother why my idiot friends are idiots.  Just send me an email when you want to swear up a storm at someone (seriously I love those emails). 

Anyway this has gone on long enough, I'll try and remember all the stuff that's happened to me since I got here like 2 weeks (1.5 week?) ago and post that later.

To tide you over, here is an anecdote from yesterday, my first (or second?) day of work:

So Astrid is like my head teacher I guess, and yesterday I came in to school to sit in on a class.  Before class started Astrid told me that we would be eating lunch at her house after class.  Apparently they try to do this once a week with the English assistants (of which I guess I'm the only one?) so basically I get a free meal made in a real kitchen at least once a week.  I think this is a pretty good deal. 

Anyway, lunch was nice.  I got speak German and generally be a good house guest.  After lunch Astrid and I worked out my work schedule (I have crazy irregular hours throughout the week) and afterward she prodded me to look at her son's new bass guitar.  Her son Ben just started learning and already has an Ibanez (apparently they got a good deal on it).  I spent the rest of the afternoon alternatively playing bass and teaching in German.  It was a pretty rewarding experience.  Afterward I got to ride home through cornfields.  It was soothing and wonderful in the way only cornfields can be.  It's amazing how much more urban Lüdinghausen feels than Grinnell.  It's a similarly rural community but it's a lot bigger (25,000 as opposed to 10).  It might just be the difference in population size, but I think it's more than that.  Granted I've not spent a whole lot of time in Lüdinghausen so I don't know how obsessed they are with farming, and Iowans are kind of a different species of person altogether.  We shall see I guess.

Anyway I'm off to watch Bayern v. Roma.  I hope they both lose.  Just like I hoped both Werder Bremen and Tottenham Hotspur would win.  I guess that would mean they have to tie at 0-0?