Thursday, April 5, 2012

Here we go again!

So, this week I started my 2nd semester at Dortmund. A year ago...well actually a few months ago... I had no idea I'd actually be living here for a year instead of 6 months. My flight back home February 26th left without me, but just barely. I didn't have the resolve to actually cancel the plane ticket until 2 days before.

I haven't updated since the end of January. A lot can happen in two and a half months!
 In January I went to see Henry Rollins in Cologne for my Birthday (it's January 26! Aquarius whoop whoop!). I'm a huge fan, and the show was as great as I had expected! I was right next to the stage. He came to Germany for the first time on his birthday, and I saw him for the first time on my birthday my first time in Germany. It was nice to be able to just buy a show ticket and take a train (for free- thanks semesterticket!)and then the subway to a show. So much freedom. In the states it would have been a complicated carpool situation and along drive. At his show I laughed, I cried, I agreed, I disagreed... and it was amazing.

He really embodies my philosophy on being American, and further, being an American who loves to travel:
'I want something that will educate me. I want to out into the world and learn a thing or two. I think we as a species; we need to travel more. All of you need to leave your country on a regular basis. Trust me your country will still be here when you get back. I just think it’s important for people to go to countries where they’re not familiar, where they definitely look like they’re not from there, they need to eat food that they cannot pronounce the name of, listen to music that they can’t understand, and shake the hands of everyone and say crazy things like, “Hey! What’s going on?” I think we need to do this more often, thus we become xenophobic, living a boring, flat-lined, fucked up life. This is why I travel.'
-Henry Rollins

Or, a story he told in Cologne about his Black Flag tour days about a spun out disgruntelled fan who got shanked in front of him' Go, go have a picnic in your blood'. Lol. Henry.

February was stressful, finals and then a break where I stressed myself out wondering if I would actually stay for a second semester and also worrying about my last semester back home (graduation!). Homesickness on a month long school break is the worst, there were much fewer distractions (oh, besides the whole living in amazing Germany thing which should have been enough!). And then I spent March in a Mon-Fri German language intensive course, and actually passed it this time with a hard earned B-, or in German terms a 2,3. So many new students!! Last semester there were maybe 9 Americans, and now there are a couple dozen if not more. It's like when I go to Dusseldorf and here English being spoken randomly. Tt feels so out of place. But it has been fun getting to know new people.

Also in March, I moved dorms from Studentdorf to Ostenbergstrasse. Since I had unexpectedly extended my stay there I had to move since my subleaser was coming back. I live 8 floors up(luckily with an elevator, it has only broken once so far. Walking. Stairs. Welcome to Germany lol), and have a great view of the sunrise and sunset as well as birds EVERY DAY! It's my favorite part of living here. Yes, It's a little further away than my old dorm but my roommates are extremely nice and so it's a fair trade I'd prefer any day. My new roommate Lily took this gorgeous picture.

There is a big field I walk through to get to the dorm. I keep seeing people walk their dogs, and also their are a couple house cats constantly on the prey or perched in a tree. It makes me miss my pets so much(Fun fact: you can take your dog, any size, into stores here. AND on the train!)! I have been joking since I got here that Dortmund should have a loan pet program for exchange students, but I'm serious. I mean there must be some pound kittens who need some love until they get adopted? Some kind of student run foster care? I can't wait to get back home to Baby Ray & Luna. I will probably look like this every day*:

*Except Ranger 'baby ray' Jones is way cuter. And more obese.

So, I'm glad the last semester is over but I still don't know how anything transfers here or what half my final grades were. Here, they use the 2 months of holidays to do final portfolios, exams, and papers. I could never go to college 4-5 years straight here without a break. Also the credit system is strange, and I'm faced with the dilema or transfering credits or not and how they will affect my GPA. even if I transfer a B, since I have an A GPA it will still hurt it. This is refering to LAST semester, this semester is 100% free tuition, Germany style :).

This first week of class has gone ok. They had to make a second A2 level German class last minute and I'm not sure the professor fits my learning style as much as the class I actually signed up for...but it is Monday & Wednesday instea dof MOnday & Friday which frees up my weekend betetr to travel. My A2 German conversation teacher is Amazing, however! She is so upbeat and instead of telling you what a word means in English she draws a picture or mimes it so her class is in 100% german... I'm going to learn so much! Of Course I like complex grammar to be explained in English, but other than that it needs to be 100% in German so I can figure out some of this dang language before I leave. Now I ask 'Sprechen Sie Englische?' Far less than I did the first semester. I may not get it all right, but I at least understand more or less and can get my point across, however gramatically poor (except I did accidentally say a student was stuck in a 4th floor broke elevator to someone when I meant to just say the elevator was broken...but you can't win them all!). I also am taking a two times a week free Italian class (the language center here is free. Take note, largely monolingual America cough cough ) because I am going to a family friend's wedding in Sicily in June. Mi chiamo Mercedes! Sono di Montevallo, I am from Montevallo! (how do you say Sono di Ex-navy brat\no home town? Close enough.). And on top of that, I am taking a drawing class which looks to be mostly independent study, and also will be volunteering again at an elementary school helping with English. I couldn't volunteer there over the break because my German class tookup all the school day, and I kind of miss those crazy kids. Even after having to untie them from crudely wrought rope bindings fastened to soccer goal posts they MacGyver during PE and reminding them to not cut their neighbor's hair with safety scissors. And that I'm not British. Or married.

Hopefully I think the words 'What the hell is going on??' at least just a couple times a day instead of all the time this semester.Or maybe not I guess what's the whole point of doing so many new things without it turning your world upside down. Complacency and normalcy are pretty big factors in my wanderlust, anyways... that's hwo I ended up here. Bored, looking for some newness. Whenever I skype my parents I strike a thoughtful pose and ask them if I look like a 'seasoned world traveller' yet... and they laugh...and then I start asking them to bring Ray Ray up to the webcam one more time.

Well here I go again, another semester abroad as an undergrad art student! My third. I don't know how I got so lucky.

Next post: Someone requested a Dortmund bunnies post! Wish granted.

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