We went to the ice skating rink last Friday and had lots of fun. There was quite of bit of blood on the ice at one point (someone obviously had a major spill), and I couldn’t help thinking how hard-core Germans are..
Okay, okay, I am just making fun. Actually I am only beginning to discover all the little quirks and idiosyncracies of the German culture. For example, one can almost feel the hairs on their necks stiffen if you cross the street on a red light, no matter how small the road. On the other hand, if you just walk down the street a few feet, away from the light, everyone crosses as if it were their personal right.
And then there is this recycling issue. Many people (including one of my flatmates) are very conscientious about putting the right kinds of plastic in the yellow sack, paper in the box, glass bottles in one bag, and plastic bottles in another. On the other hand, after all that effort of properly filling the yellow bag has been made, they are promptly dumped outside on the sidewalks (along with all other sorts of debris: toilet bowls, old shelves, couches, etc) and left to pile in yellow heaps for weeks on end. We are lucky to have a recycling center close by. However, we can only bring the glass bottles and paper recycling: plastic bottles must be brought back to the store from which you bought it in the first place. This is usually my preferred method as a student, because you can also receive your ‘pfand’ (recycling fee for the bottle at the point of sale), which can range anywhere from 0.20E to 1E (really, it was 1E at Oktoberfest!). The interesting thing is that you can only bring plastic bottles back to stores which actually sell that particular drink.. which effectively discourages the less intrepid from proper recycling habits. After all, who wants to traipse across town with a plastic sack full of bottles for a lousy 0.45E, as I did this morning?
It has been quite a while since my last post, but that I will promptly blame on Deutsche Telekom and their sorry management skills. Already into the later half of October and still no internet in the house: the minor annoyance is about to become a full-blown frontal assault by the beginning of next week. 5 students, 1 masters program, 0 login ability = catastrophe.
Still, the past two weeks have been incredible for me: in the space of five days, I have managed to overcome a minor existential crises and at the same time, justify the decisions I have made for my life in the past four years. I got a job (a *real* job), found a long-lost friend and made several more, and got a taste of the fascinating things to learn in the coming two years.
After the struggles and self-doubt, I realize now that I was not wrong to take that two year detour from my linguistic studies and that I really will be happy with this career decision for a long time to come. In fact, for once I do not feel as if I must hurry along my education in order to get where I want to be. I *am* at the point where I want to be. So now every moment that goes by feels rich with new ideas and time does not seem to pass by too fast.
After having completed what has been dubbed the Japanische Tour, I can now say that I ‘did’ München. Englischen Garten, small shopping jaunt in Odeonsplatz, Deutsches Museum, Oktoberfest, and of course, a pair of the most famous bavarian castles, Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau. Traveling by car rather than the train was a very different experience. For the first time, I was able to see the city in its fully impressive size, something which was lost to me as a tourist by foot. The last time I was there, I made it to the clock tower place of course, but my view being limited in scope, I found some of the surrounding areas somewhat dull. I was therefore astounded by all the incredible buildings, statues and monuments Ã la française, and the expanse and breadth of parklands which can only be noticed when you go straight instead of turning left, and have to prove your mettle as a map reader in a foreign country.
Oktoberfest was exciting. I couldn’t remember which tent was the ‘fun’ one, but I think we finally stumbled in on it in the end. After a stint in Paulaner with three older, rather grim and wrinkly-faced people, we realized that there was not enough action there. So at the risk of losing a table and not finding one again in another tent, we decided to get a bit of fresh air and see the sights (which for me are the kiosks with tourist junk). A t-shirt and some candied peanuts later, we found ourselves in Schaffenhoff.. Schattenhattel.. Schoffenhamer.. uh, the ‘sh’ tent, and what a marvelous sight met our eyes: the tent was packed with people and the whole gaggle of them were standing on the benches, shouting, singing, dancing, with ruddy cheeks and bright eyes. It is rather intimidating having to walk into a place like that when everyone but you has a beer and a place to drink it. Walking through the ranks of drunken revelers, trying to find a small opening and some friendlyish faces, is a daunting task at first. But once you find a spot, you can pretty much take over the table bit by bit, and stay all night. The best part about dancing while drinking is that the unpleasant alcohol buzz wears off, leaving me giddy and able to drink more. And finally, Markus was right: the chicken was absolutely delicious.