L’heure est à la fête!

Bonjour mes amis! Oui, je parle francais. Or…. I wish I could ;). But it’s improving!

Anyway, it’s been a while since I have posted. And with good reason – I have been doing NOTHING exciting since my last post! In Bad Aussee, I’ve still just been sitting around, and I was so bored, that I watched the MTV Video Music Awards. If you know me, I don’t really do that. Soo… yeah. One day, though, my landlords invited me to the lake, Grundlsee, with them. It was a nice day, and we walked around the lake a little. But now, I’m in the middle of my trip around Germany/Switzerland/Austria, so I have some updates!

As reported, I was supposed to leave Friday to go to Bad Neustadt, but as it turned out, Kerstin’s family couldn’t accomodate me that weekend, so I had to change my travel plans a bit. But it ended up working out really well, because when I thought about it, I didn’t want to take the train all the way up to Bad Neustadt. And! On Monday night, as I was walking in my door, there was a woman walking in in front of me and she goes, “Are you Alaina?” And I’m like “….yeah…” “Oh, I’m Eva Speilmann!” – she is my main English teacher at the school! She had to give an interview or something for the TV station based in my apartment building, and then she knocked on my door so we could get to know each other. She spoke English to me, which set my nerves a bit at ease. She is very nice and very excited/exciting, and reassured me that the students are really nice and I have nothing to worry about! It was fun to talk to her. Anyway…so, I left Tuesday for Innsbruck for 2 days, 2 nights.

Innsbruck is a very nice city, but actually not that big. There are Alps all around the city, which is probably the best part. I met a girl from Berlin, which was cool. We hung out the first night I was there and went to an Irish pub (always a good time!) and then hung out in the park a little the next day before she left. We exchanged numbers and emails and she invited me to Berlin, and I her to Bad Aussee. So, I guess she’s my first, new, German friend haha. And probably sometime in November, I’ll go to Berlin!

The day she left, Wednesday, I spent walking around the city. There is not too much to see in Innsbruck but the Altstadt is very pretty cobbled streets. I went into a pretty church and walked along the river. Then I bought dinner and read in the park. While I was buying a beer at the grocery store, a German asked me if there was any specialty beer from Innsbruck. Of course, I didn’t know the answer. And it turns out this dude was staying in the same hostel as me…weird.

So, I went back to the hostel around 8 pm and was checking my email in the common room. All of a sudden, an old German guy starts talking to me. He’s got a bunch of bags and a heavy accent and at first I’m just smiling and kind of laughing, not really talking to him since I was checking my email. He changed the channel on the TV to The Gladiator (in German) and then starts commenting on what happens in the film to me, which is something I find annoying. Then, he feels the need to start speaking with some Japanese people who don’t understand German and hardly English. The old German guy opens his bags, and what is in there? But a bunch of seemingly worthless historical collectibles, such as newspaper cuttings, postcards, stamps, coins, pictures, etc. He starts trying to talk to the Japanese people about this and I, of course, become the translator. Meanwhile, The Gladiator is still on, I’m trying to watch, and he’s still commenting on everything. Cool. Eventually, the Japanese people escape and I am left to watch the movie in peace. (The Gladiator is a very good, very sad movie – I cried!) Anyway, the old guy had fallen asleep, so I wake him up before I leave, and then he somehow gets me to sit and listen to him talk about his artifacts for a good hour. He actually gave me a few coins, which I thought was very nice and friendly of him, but I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with them. Then, he wanted to send me stuff about Bad Aussee, so I gave him my address and he gave me his and I’m supposed to send him a postcard. In the end, he was a very nice old man and I was happy I sat and talked to him but it was just a little tiring….

Anyway, the next day I woke early and made my way to the train station to go to Freiburg!!! The ticket ended up being cheaper than I thought it would be, which was a relief. I took the train to Munich and then I was supposed to take a train to Karlsruhe but the train to Munich was late, so I took a train to Mannheim, then to Freiburg. And I was on ICE trains the whole way, which was lovely! I got to Freiburg around 6 pm and tried calling Maude, but apparently she had given me her house phone number, so that didn’t work too well haha. I decided, then, to just show up at the Guesthouse because I didn’t have anyone else’s number. As chance would have it, I ran into Mary Catherine (friend from high school and college, who is now at Goethe) on the way to the Guesthouse! She is now living in Sarah’s old room, which is pretty funny. We went straight to Nassim’s room and everyone was there, just like normal! I gave everyone a big hug, even Alex who I think actually hates me, and I was immediately poured a drink! Apparently, everyone had been partying all day, so I had to play catch-up. It was so nice to see everyone and hang out just like normal! 🙂

Eventually, Maude and Marilyne got there and we went to get some pizza. Then we all got ready to go out and Maude, Marilyne, Pac-Man and I went to Shooter’s before Kagan (everyone else went straight to Kagan). We stayed until 3:30 am and then went back to Nassim’s room…just like usual :). Maude, Marilyne, Ice, Nassim and I all slept in Nassim’s room and it was hot and crowded, but fun. Ice said he had to take the train back to Heidelberg at 5 am, and it was 4:30 am when he said this, just as we were going to sleep. He said “oh shit!” and then decided to go to the train station right then. Instead, he decided to sleep for a half hour and when I woke up 3 hours later, he was still there haha.

Marilyne woke up and was feeling sick, so she went to sit on the balcony. Eventually, I went to join her because I just couldn’t sleep anymore. When we try to communicate, it’s really funny because she doesn’t speak English and hardly German and I not-even-hardly speak French, so yeah. Then Mary Catherine got up and let me use her shower. Maude and I then decided to have Schnitzel for breakfast (!!!) at about noon. We went out and it was so awesome to be in Freiburg. Really, I love that city. I didn’t realize how much until being away from it for a while. It felt so good to just walk around with Maude as we did all summer. Sooo nice!

Marilyne met up with us and we did a little shopping. We started to head back to the Guesthouse around 2:30 and luckily saw Nassim, Ice, Mary Catherine and some new girl Stephanie, who were all heading out to lunch. We said bye to them and all made promises to meet up in Vienna or Heidelberg or Freiburg and then we parted ways. Us girls packed up and then headed for Neuchatel and la “Fête des Vendanges” (after Alex tried to convince us to stay for the weekend haha). La Fête des Vendanges is the festival of the harvest and, apparently, the biggest/best party in Neuchatel!

The drive was easy/nice and it was fun to drive yet again in Europe. When we arrived, Maude’s mother made some delicious spaghetti and we ate a lot before going out drinking. It was planned that I would sleep at Marilyne’s apartment on her spare couch, so I brought a bag over there, after Maude and I bought some drinks at “la gare” (Hauptbonhof –> train station). The city was crazy alive because of the festival….music everywhere, people everywhere, people drinking everywhere…it was like a fantasy world. They have a lot of parades and people shoot confetti out of big air guns so the ground and the people were covered with paper. It was insane and was a really cool effect at night, it looked like snow on the ground. I got to see one of the parades and all of the marching bands were wearing crazy masks and I thought about what Ferden would have said if we wanted to wear masks while marching and I laughed. There were even families out, with little kids, and all the kids had bags of confetti and would throw handfuls at people walking by.

Maude and I sat by the lake for a little bit and watched drunk people then we headed to this one bar, Fun I think it was called, and we met up with all of her friends that I know. Maude’s brother was really quite drunk and could barely stand, so it was kind of funny….but also annoying haha. He left at some point and then Maude decided it would be better for me to sleep at her house instead of Marilyne’s so we went to Marilyne’s to get my bag and then we left with the bus. Suddenly, Maude cried out “Shit!” and pushed the button to stop the bus as she explained that he brother was passed out on the sidewalk. So we get out, haul his ass up, and he runs away from us, up the hill, home to his house. We get home, change and pass out in Maude’s teeny-tiny bed.

The next morning, we gave her brother a lot of shit but he laughed it off and said he didn’t remember anything. His mom said, “So now you have a great impression of my son” but in French and Maude translated. There was another parade on Saturday, so Maude and I got ready to go. It was totally different during the day, with more families and little kids and less really drunk people. We saw the parade and I got to see Maude’s old marching band, which her little brother is now in. So cool!! There was still confetti everywhere and the sun was shining! Maude and I met up with Marilyne and we got some food (I ate duck for the first time!) and some drinks and sat by the lake, which we could see now because it was daylight. It was a really nice day, and we went back to Maude’s house so I could pack.

At 7, Maude and Felix drove me to the train station and I got some food for my 12 hour jounrey to Graz, Austria. I very nearly left my glasses at Maude’s house, but her father drove them to the train station for me. I found my track, said my goodbyes and got on the train to Zuerich. It was a quick, stressfree ride. I ate my sandwich in the Zuerich train station (it was tuna and didn’t want to eat it on the train near anyone because I’m nice) and then the train pulled up 20 minutes early and I got on and got settled. I shared a compartment with a Swiss-German grandmother and daughter and another man got on in a different city. I actually slept a little but sleeping on a train is really weird. The train switched travel directions a few times, so I was sometimes forced to roll into the wall. The pillow was really crappy, but I managed to get a couple of hours.

I arrived in Graz at 7:40 am and it was actually a pretty nice, crisp morning so I decided to walk to the hostel instead of wait for the bus. My original plan was to check-in and sleep for a couple of more hours, but I can’t get my room until 2 pm, which was depressing. I decided to eat their breakfast, which was good, and thank God they have free-wireless internet, so that is how I’m spending some time right now.

So, I’ve arrived in Graz one day early for my orientation. There are three (I think) other people already here at the hostel, too, so I have to go into the city and buy some credits for my phone so that I can contact them. This hostel is actually really nice and one of the livliest I’ve ever stayed in – people are everywhere, which is a good feeling.

Anyway, in general, I’m really happy with my traveling. It felt so so so good to get back to Freiburg and see everyone. It was the same as it was all summer and it made me really happy. Everyone was happy to see everyone and we had a great time together. Plus, the city is just perfect – not too big, not too small, can walk everywhere, has everything you need, etc. It’s like Ann Arbor, but German. So, a group of friends want to visit me in Austria, in Vienna, and that would be so fun! Ice, who is studying in Heidelberg, invited me (and everyone else) to go to Heidelberg, and I definitely will next time I’m in Germany (probably November). Then, I actually want to make it to Bad Neustadt, Freiburg, Heidelberg and Duesseldorf, because I now know someone there.

Neuchatel was so great, too! I had such a wonderful time at the festival. It was such a different experience than anything I’ve ever done in the US, and it’s something that Maude has done every year since she was born! I wish I could have stayed for last night, too, but oh well!

So now I have today to explore Graz a little and then tomorrow begins my week-long orientation. I’m excited to meet the other people in my program and I know we’ll have a fun week here in the 2nd biggest Austrian city :). Then early Friday, I go back to Bad Aussee to prepare for Monday, my first day!!!! I’m a little nervous, but it shouldn’t be bad.

Anyway, not much else to say, except that I could really go for a nap……..but time to explore a little, I guess. Hope all is well with everyone! Miss you all!!!
Love, Cheers,
Alaina

Let’s paint the town, we’ll shut it down

Hey, Leute! This past week has been somewhat quiet. As previously explained numerous times, all of my American guy friends have left me here, so I’ve been hanging out a lot with Maude, Sarah and Francesca. Also, I’ve become friends with Fernando, who was here in June, went home for a while, came back and didn’t know my name. Nice. But he’s actually really cool. We eat breakfast together haha. And of course there is Nassim, Sabri, Craig, Star, etc… I think I’ve realized the thing that I don’t like the most about my American friends being gone is that almost none of my friends left are native English speakers (only Craig, but we don’t converse too much). It’s hard getting close to people who do not speak your native language, but it’s possible… It’s happening slowly for me, but sometimes I just have nothing to say. Most of them speak in French 75% of the time and the Spanish and Italian’s understand half of the French and vice versa, so the lone American girl is left alone haha.

Anyway, let’s see… Monday, we didn’t have class. Maude wasn’t back yet, so I helped Sarah move all of her shit out of my room and we hung out all day. We were both quite tired, so when we planned to go get a coffee, we didn’t actually do it haha. We hung out on the terrace for a little bit while Fernando played his guitar and I went to bed quite early (I think I watched Keinohrhasen again haha).

On Tuesday, we also did not have class, but it was the testing day for all the new people, so people were moving in all day. Weird. Maude came back and then her, Sarah and I went around town- we went shopping for our outfits for Street Parade and we went to the Goethe, to try and do something?, but it was insane there (because of the new people) so we left. Tuesday night, we all drank on the balcony and Craig brought out his 95% alcohol from Italy. Please trust me when I say never drink something with this much alcohol haha. We danced in Sarah and Maude’s room (which is, incidentally, Stephanie’s old room) and then Maude and I went to Stammtisch where Fernando and Pacman (he’s from Korea and new this month) met up with us. It was pretty crowded even though all of the students are on vacation, but we stayed for about an hour and then left. We all went to Craig’s room, where everyone stayed when we left, and then I went to bed.

Maude woke me up at 11:30 the next day and we ate some breakfast. It was the first day of class, so that’s always sort of exciting…. Anyway, my teacher is pretty cool but for the first week, I was the only “not-new” person in the class. Everyone else speaks better German than I do, so it’s kind of intimidating, but I was on the same level as the other people in my last class, so I don’t know what’s up with that. Wednesday after class, Sarah drove Maude, Fernando and I to the city center becasue Fernando needed to fix his Wii, but it’s that didn’t happen so then we just went back to the Guesthouse. Maude and I cooked pasta and it was delish. Then, I had a Skype date with my love Hilary, so we chatted for like 2 hours because my video wasn’t working for some reason. Anyway, it’s always lovely talking to her- miss you lotssssss 😦

Thursday, Maude and I made FRENCH TOAST! and it was amazing. Then, we all actually studied before class! After class, Andrew and I had a date. We went to Uni Cafe and ate some delicious baguettes and then we got some wine and drank on the terrace. Since Andrew is a lightweight, I had to do some work on the wine but it wasn’t too bad haha. We watched part of Keinohrhasen (he hadn’t seen it before!) and then he left to see off some friends. I went to Francesca’s room to hang out with everyone and it was a good, chill night.

Friday after class, Maude and I continued our quest for Street Parade outfits, as it was the next day. It was so strange, at 8 pm on Friday the city like SHUT DOWN and no one was on the streets. Having afternoon class really messes up your day haha. But we got some random french fries and chicken and sat on a bench. That night was the monthly pizza buffet, and for the 3rd time I ate pizza and drank beer without paying haha (but don’t tell!). Everyone hung out on the balcony for a bit singing songs while Fernando played his guitar then at 10 pm the Night-Watch-Guy AND the Hausmeister came to bust up the party (10 pm is apparently the new 11, ha). I went to take a shower, and then we all (Maude, Nassim, Sabri… met later by Craig, Star, Merrill, Pacman, AliG, Erhan and half of Goethe haha) went out to Agar. Because the Guesthouse got broken up so early, we got to Agar at 11 pm and NO ONE was there. Anyway, it was quite funny. We chilled on the couches for a bit until everyone started dancing and it was a good night :).

Saturday was the STREET PARADE! and I woke up really early (7:45 am) to make breakfast because we were supposed to leave at 9:30 am. I get ready at 9, and hear someone knocking on the door down the hall….. I look out the door, it’s Sabri knocking on Nassim’s door, and Nassim is not awake haha. Great. So I finish getting ready and then go chill on the balcony with everyone else. Needless to say, we missed the 10 am train and didn’t go to the station until 10:30ish am. There was a huge drama with the tickets, but in the end we got a group price for 43,50 Euro there and back each and left on the 12:55 pm train. In between the purchase and the wait, we went back to the Guesthouse and started the party haha.

The train ride was not bad at all. We (Maude, Sarah, Merrill, PacMan, AliG, Nassim, Sabri and me) got seperated into 2 groups of four, but in Basel we all sat near each other. We continued the party and saw a bunch of groups on the train also going to the Street Parade. So….we finally reach Zuerich. It’s a little rainy, but whatever. The second we got off the train, I heard techno music….and it was good. We walked towards the main area of the Bahnhof and it’s PURE rave anarchy EVERYWHERE. It was INSANE! So many people, so much trash and so much techno hahaha. Ohhh the rest, I can’t even explain…..we went to the actual Parade, on the Hauptbonhofstrasse and the S-Bahn’s weren’t even running because of the party. There were so many people and it was raining and it was so intense. We just danced and danced and danced as the floats went by and before I knew it, it was 1 am and we were at McDonald’s. We tried to find a bar, and we did, but by then I was too tired and I sat outside and fell asleep hahaha. Merrill did too and everyone was in and out and around, it was funny.

We left again for McDonald’s at like 4:30 am and just sat there for a while, waiting for 5:30 am to roll around, when we could go to our 6 am train. Apparently, I was being quite funny, as I was so tired. Everyone was laughing at my shoes and my tongue and Nassim and I took some funny pictures haha. We made it to the train and everyone passed out curled on their own two seats. We made it back in one piece (well, eight separate pieces), though it was close….

We got back to the Guesthouse at 8 am, so we all passed out. I, for some reason, woke up at 12 pm and couldn’t fall back asleep so I made some food and talked with Fernando. At 3, after many failed attempts to upload pictures, I knocked on Maude/Sarah’s door, and they were still sleeping haha, so I left them to wake up and went back to my room. After they got up, we hung out a bit, ate, and then decided to watch Finding Nemo! We went to Francesca’s room and watched- nice. Then, Maude, Nassim, Star, AliG and I went to the Greek restaurant and then I went to bed pretty early.

This morning, I did some grocery shopping and had a nice breakfast with Fernando. I finished putting up the pictures and did my homework, like a good student. In class, we had a sub who really sucks and it was a horrible day. But an old classmate finally showed up, so I’m happy! After class, I was supposed to meet Andrew, but he stood me up (!!!) so I got Schnitzel, and it was really good. Then I came back here, went on the internet for a bit then went to hang out with Francesca and her friend, Pedro, who is really funny. After that, I watched a funny mtv show in Nassim’s room with some people then retired to my room.

Anyway, like I said, really exciting life nowadays. I wish I could write more about the Street Parade, but wow- there is nothing to say! It was unlike anything I’ve ever done or seen in my life and just SO much fun! Like one of my friends said, “None of the pictures can convey the fun we were having.” And it’s so true (but there are some pretty hilarious pictures). So much funny stuff happened and it was just a crazy day, in which we literally danced all day 🙂 outside 🙂 in the rain 🙂 with friends 🙂 and a funny outfit :).

I’ve realized that 1. my German is getting worse and 2. my English is, too. I think I’m just started to confuse the two languages, or I’m still out of it from Street Parade…who knows. It is perhaps because everyone else in my class speaks so well so now I notice my own mistakes more… Tomorrow is a new day. But! I am doing my homework! And Maude and I are going to study in the library Wednesday morning and make lists of stuff to learn and stuff- sounds good! haha I really just need something to study, ya know?…

My mom comes soon (the 21st!) and I’m getting excited to see her! I haven’t asked her yet, but she’s going to bring me ranch dressing, Apple Jack’s, American Jiff peanut butter, a can of Diet Coke (it’s just not the same here!) and some other fun American foods that I miss hehe….

Anyway, today I found myself reading old Livejournals/blogs that I have had in my life. I do this every few months or so, and it’s always so funny to read about the old me. I’m definitely going to keep this blog for a while and I hope to use it for more reflective purposes than just writing exactly what I did everyday. When I get to Austria, this will be more possible because I won’t be living such a thrilling life… haha. Speaking of, the closer and closer I get to Austria the more EXCITED I am…. heheheh 🙂

Also, I am OBSESSED with “I gotta feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas. Ahhh- it’s going to always remind me of Street Parade, because we listened to it before we left. …same with “When Love Takes Over”…mmm so good.

Also also, my friend Alberto, from the exchange program that I did in high school, is coming to visit this weekend! omg! Ha, it should be interesting I guess.

Phew- I guess I had a lot to say. And it’s getting late- time for bed. I want to get up and run tomorrow…. I’m feeling lazy haha. Maude and I are making French Toast again tomorrow and I can’t wait mmmm. I’ve been cooking more lately, and it’s nice. Cheaper, more fun and I love making breakfast the best, of course, haha.

OK… Until next time, everyone!
lovess
Mazeltov,
Alaina

"Bich!"

Hey all! How’s it going?!

Let me tell you- I had a wonderful weekend in Switzerland! At 6:15 pm Friday, Maude, Sean, Amanda and I grabbed our bags and made our way to the Hauptbahnhof. The ticket there was suprisingly cheap- 24 Euro with my BahnCard- and it wasn’t a bad ride, either! Very scenic!! And I learned a lot of French vocabulary from Maude, haha. When we arrived in Neuchatel, Maude’s brother already had a party in full swing. We cooked pasta, because we were starving, and starting playing some entertaining drinking games. We all went to bed pretty early, but we also had to wake up early the next day. Maude generously let me stay in her room- very cute! Her entire house is just so… European… I love it! And the view out of her backyard is the ALPS! Come on, how cool is that?!

We spent Saturday walking around Neuchatel. We went to the river and the market place, where Maude used to work. The “boss” gave us some free wine and proceeded to tell us that he can speak 10 languages. Maude said he was lying haha. Neuchatel really is beautiful- a lovely lake, with Alps in the distance and surrounded by rolling hills/baby mountains. Gorgeous! (see Facebook for pictures!)

Saturday night, all of Maude’s friends came over and we grilled! We made shishkabobs and the ladies (Amanda, Maude and me) made a delicious pasta salad that everyone loved! Again, I went to bed early, but Maude was up with her friends until 5 am and every 20 minutes she’d wake me up with her yelling… but it was funny. Also that night, Maude’s friends wouldn’t stop yelling “bich”- which means “deer” in French, so now it’s a nice inside joke I have with some cool Swiss people haha.

Sunday was our tourist-y day…. Maude, Felix, Lionel, Fabris, Sean, Amanda and I all went to Creaux du Van, which is sort of like Neuchatel’s Grand Canyon haha. The drive up the mountain was crazy and then we had to hike through herds of free-roaming cows to get to the place. Very fun! I got tons of sweet pictures (see Facebook album!) and had a really nice day. We ended it by eating traditional Swiss fondue and it was delicious!!! Did you know you’re supposed to drink something warm, like tea, with fondue so that you don’t get a huge ball of congealed cheese in your intestines? I didn’t!

The train ride back was pretty hectic as it was more expensive to go from Switzerland to Germany and we didn’t buy our tickets beforehand. We ended up missing our connection to Freiburg in Basel and had to wait 1.5 hours in Switzerland and got back at midnight. Though, it wasn’t too bad. Maude’s best friend Marilyn came back with us and is here for a week and she’s really cool. She knows as much German as I do French (which is obviously not a lot) and she doesn’t know English so we communicate in a funny way. But she insists that my French is great (ha.) and Maude says I learn quickly…but I can’t speak French at all, I can just say things haha.

Anyway, Monday was a boring day in class, although I am trying to pay more attention in class haha. I decided during the day that I wanted to cook pasta for Sean, Maude and Marilyn, so after class, Sean and I went and bought supplies. After that we went to the river for a little while because it was so hot and humid- very nice and relaxing. I hung around in my room and napped for a little bit then around 6:45, the cooking commenced! I cooked spinach and ricotta tortellini and sauteed mushrooms, broccoli and onions for the basil sauce, with cheese sprinkled on top, of course. Then I made a really nice tomato and mozzarella salad. Delish! I made too much so Kevin got leftovers when he came back from his run, which he appreciated. It was really nice to make a meal for some friends 🙂

Last night, we went out to a little bar called Brasil and chilled on the couches for about two hours. “The girls”- Maude, Sarah, Marilyn and I- went a little early and while we were there, it started pouring rain so we weren’t sure if everyone else would come. But they made it (.5 hour late and soaking wet)! Later, we went to Agar. I said “Let’s leave now!” while it wasn’t raining and half hour later when we actually left, it wasn’t raining but 5 minutes into the walk, it was pouring. The group was 4 girls and 4 guys…. 2 guys had umbrellas……..and shared them with the two other guys hahaha. So the girls were soaked- that was cool. But we all had a really fun time! We got back late, and went to bed late. Today, I was the only one in class haha.

Tonight, Maude is supposedly cooking dinner- I hope so! Otherwise, I have something planned haha. Also tonight, Maude’s friend Jeanne is coming for the night, so we’ll all be going out.

Anyway, I’m pretty much 100% better now. Yay! And I’m really jealous that my mom and sister saw Harry Potter last night. I have to wait until Sunday night to see it in Freiburg in English…. 😦

So I have a 12 day break coming up between July and August and I’m trying to plan a little solo-trip through North Eastern Germany! I’m pretty excited. I’ll let you know how the planning goes…

Ahh I guess that’s all for now! Until next time…
Cheers,
Alaina