August 25, 2010

Endless Summer (I Wish), The Incredible Magic That is Passing Time, And Just a Few of My Favorite Things

It is, officially, the last full week of August. That means that summer is almost over. Back in California, most of my dearest friends have already gone back to school and are starting their fall semester. This time last year (and I checked up on the facts - Thanks Facebook!) I was at Molly and Lauren’s house playing beer pong and drinking wine and saying farewell to the end of summer and hello to my final year of college. I’d experienced my first ‘working’ summer – where I’d nannied straight through the week – two families! - and worked weekends at My Museum all so I could afford my $600 a month rent and utilities at my first ever, grown up apartment. I also tried to have a social life in which I got burned by a few boys, grew closer to my co-workers and met my new best friend (Stefany, I love you!), experienced the smoking death of my beloved Mazda on the side of Highway 101, and traded her in for a family hand-me-down slash fancy upgrade – the Dodge Stratus. Now that I’m here in Munich, it seems like all of these things were so far away but honestly, this was just last year. Even though the thought of maybe becoming an au pair had crossed my mind, I couldn’t picture myself where I am right now.

Back then, the summer of 2010 was three months of preparation for grad school, another summer living with Hanna, a job search in the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District, a really big reality check. How was I to know that grad school and a professional career would be put on a hold because of an international job offer or that Hanna would get married in November and move out to North Carolina with Jordan to live happily as a housewife after graduation? Fortunately, everything fell into place as if, all along, I was meant to be in Germany. I accepted the job in November and had six months to organize for the next year and a half of my life. I applied for and received my first passport. I graduated college in May. Hanna and I both had plans to move after graduation and our apartment lease ended at exactly the right time.

I spent those six months envisioning what my life would be like once I arrived in Munich and nothing could have prepared me for the reality. It’s hard to believe that I’ve already been here for three months – let alone that I’ve been thinking of this opportunity since last fall! I spent this past summer in a dream state, every morning waking up and wondering if this was really my life. I’m so glad that I took this opportunity – everyone has told me that I’m so smart to have chosen a year abroad and I know that they’re right. Yes, I feel as if I’m wasting my college degree – like I’ll forget everything that I learned while I’m out here chasing after children, drinking delicious German beer, and learning a new language. But I know that won’t happen. I may be a bit rusty on my child development theories or on the subject of linguistics but it never really goes away – plus, I don’t know what I want to do yet, not really. I’m not going to think too hard about it - none of this what am I doing with my life? nonsense. My life is exactly how it’s supposed to be – right here, right now. I’m not going to argue with that. What I am going to do is enjoy the last few fading weeks of warm weather before fall comes rushing in. The leaves are already falling from the trees. It’s been a long time since I experienced four seasons. But, please – winter – take your time. No need to rush.

In the three months that I’ve been in Munich, I’ve learned a lot about myself and how I fit into this strange, new place. I’m learning alot about myself as a language learner. I’ve picked up so much German. I can say an entire introductory paragraph but I’m working on my pronunciation and accent!

Hallo. Mein Name ist Heather. Ich komme aus den U.S.A. Ich bin ein Au-Pair in Munch. Ich lerne Deutsch. Ich kann nicht  sehr gut Deutsch sprechen. Ich verstehe ein bisschen Deutsch. Das ist alles.

I’ve also got my numbers down, one through one hundred (which helps when dealing with money in stores and restaurants). I can say please and thank you, different variations of hello and goodbye. I can ask how someone is doing (wie gehts?), where they are from (Woher kommen Sie?), and where they are at the current moment (wo bist du?). I can ask: what is this? (was ist das?) and I can add a lot of German vocabulary into English conversation, usually for the sake of the twins friend’s who don’t know very much English. I can order beers and drinks in various sizes (small = kleine, large = groß or gross) and in different styles/flavors (light = hell/helles, dark = dunkel) and some food menu items. I can ask for the bill (die rechnung). I can read train and most travel signs or I can understand the general idea of them, anyway. I can’t wait until I actually take a class and can speak the language with a bit of fluency!

My favorite discovery thus far has been the food and drink. My favorite delicacy here in Germany are the pommes frites (french fries). I know that’s such an American thing to say because America is all about french fries but you won’t understand until you’ve had your own plate of pommes. They’re delicious here – I think it’s the potatoes – but they’re golden yellow and full of sunshine and happiness. I absolutely adore them and find myself making my way through menus just to find meals that include them.

I also really love the German sausage. Oh, get your mind out of the dirt. Although the German men are quite lovely, the spice and variety of sausage and brats that they have here are delicious. Give me a bratwurst mit pommes and I am a happy girl. Other things that I’ve eaten and quite enjoyed:

  • Pork roast from the Weisses Brauhaus which is basted in Schneider’s Aventinus (chocolate!)beer and comes with the most delicious potato pancakes you will ever eat.

  • Weinerschnitzel  (also from the Weisses Brauhaus) which is, if you’re American, NOT a fast food place for hot dogs and sausage. It’s actually breaded pork and it’s delicious.

  • Putensteakburger which is some kind of chicken sandwich/burger but it is delicious. You can also order putensteak alone and it usually comes with country potatoes and a salad but, of course, I opted for the burger mit pommes. :)
  • German bier of any kind – you all know already that I am a big fan but I don’t think you’d really understand until you had some real German beer. It’s just… better. And not that this is the greatest measure of it’s superiority to American beer but I never get hung over or sick off of German bier. Haha. Unless I drink more than 3 Maß but I learned my lesson that one time. Seriously, it’s good stuff!
  • Schokocroissants are, hands down, the best bakery item in all of Munich. Every time I come across a bakery (which is pretty much every other building, it seems) I get one of these and it seems the next one is always better than the one before it. I’ve had these at American “French” bakeries and they really can’t compare. The schokocroissants have this warm gooey, chocolate filling… and oh my God, now I need to go get one…

To be honest, I love everything about Munich. I have yet to find something that I dislike. Maybe I’ll change my mind when I’m halfway through a freezing cold winter, possibly suffering with seasonal affective disorder (it used to happen to me every winter when I lived in Montana), and missing home for the holidays but for right now, alles ist gut. Especially since, I’ve been told recently by my sister-cousin, Christy, that I’m looking thinner which is always a nice thing to hear. That statement is supported by the fact that all of my pants are way too big for me now and they all fall down. I’m still not a supermodel and I’ve still got my beloved curves but hey, I’ll take a little unintended weight loss. It’s also bittersweet because even though I welcome the change, I can’t afford to buy smaller clothes so, hey, maybe wearing long johns under my jeans all winter will balance it out.

All that can be said now is that I love my life.
Every little bit of it.


Sabrina said...

Hi, I like your blog, very interesting and informative. Thank u...from Singapore!

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