Wednesday, January 11, 2012

My Life Since September: Part 2 (I decided to stay a 2nd semester, get a job, go to Berlin, see a soccer game and Dortmund had a huge Christmas market)

November: During my trip to Florence I talked a lot with Malvina about how my time in Dortmund was going by so fast and that I wanted to stay for a year. I was scared; I had a non refundable plane ticket, dwindling savings account and no job. But after that trip and having so much fun traveling I knew I wanted to try to make it work. I had this feeling deep down that I just needed to make it happen. And so I talked with my mother about the possibility of me staying. It would be a free tuition semester. But it would mean not seeing them for a year and added financial instability. She left it up to me, and I decided yes and made arrangements with the international office. It was such a hard decision to make! I had e-mailed many professors in the American Studies department explaining my situation and asking to forward any job leads to me all semester but no leads. However, in the middle of November a professor had an ex student who needed an English assistant tutor, and so they e-mailed me because I was recommended to them. After 3 interviews, I got the job! We are still working out scheduling conflicts since I got hired right before Christmas break and everything was hectic, but I think this will work out. I hope it does. If not, I’ll figure out something.
At the end of November, I went to Berlin. I found an amazingly cheap last minute fast speed train ticket for only 24 euros at euros was the official train website price for the same ticket…so it was a good deal), and also couch surfed. I didn’t buy the train ticket until after the 2nd interview when I thought I had the job. I couchsurfed with a really fun art student named Amber Sunshine. I would tour around Berlin during the day, and then we would go out together with her friends to bars or to cool restaurants. I thing one of the overwhelming things about Berlin is the amount of history, specifically World War II and the cold war history. To see the Berlin wall, to walk under the Brandenburg gate and to see the Jewish memorial were very emotional events for me. It made the history feel more real, closer in time, not black and white photos in a book but a real nightmare that affected millions. One of the camp survivors in an interview was shot last year…there are concentration camp survivors that are still alive. This was such a poignant reminder for me to not tolerate hate, because of what it can become.
I also saw an amazing exhibition at the Hamburger Banhof Museum in Berlin. It was Tomás Saraceno’s “Cloud Cities”. It was a plastic and plants bubble-shaped interactive utopia that you could literally go inside. Some of the larger structures had stairs going into them. These structures had been exhibited before, but never so many together all at once! He has truly created his own world that really makes the viewer contemplate the function of art as well as the function of our everyday structures like houses. One really nice thing about these installations was that they were enjoyed by people of every age. If you are in Berlin before February 19, I suggest you check it out! More information about the installation can be found here: I loved Berlin. Not only because of the history, but It had a grittiness to it and a creative vibe. Malvina’s brother is moving there in April and he keeps saying I can visit and Amber said I can couchsurf there anytime. I would love to go back!
Also in November, some of my friends got together for Thanksgiving. I think people from five different countries ended up being there, and it was one of the most… free form yet traditional Thanksgivings I have ever had. It was so fun! The host, my friend Aaron, put fall leaves all over the wall and ground that his mother had shipped from back home in Missouri. I was so happy to be able to celebrate even though I wasn’t at home. And by the way, you wouldn’t believe how hard it is to find pecans in Germany to make pecan pie. I had to end up bringing rosemary mashed potatoes. December: In December, Dortmund became centered on the huge Christmas market. I drank Glühwein (mulled heated wine) so many times at the outdoor Christmas market stalls with everyone that I am honestly surprised my lips aren’t still stained red. Also, Dortmund has the tallest Christmas tree. To be fair it’s actually a bunch of small trees put together but it is still really impressive.
Also in December I went to my first professional soccer game here in Dortmund! The state team was the National Champion of Germany last year. People in Dortmund are really proud of that, it was even on the city's Christmas tree. In the picture above you can see the award you get for winning (the plate shaped Meisterschale). Fans get really serious. I understand why now, it was fun getting caught up in the game.
Well. That’s a pretty good summary of the highlights of the past few months. I have enjoyed Dortmund and all the places I have traveled to so much, and am so happy to be staying here until August. Since I kind of just summarized everything, just comment if you want to hear more about a specific thing I mentioned or place I went to.

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