March 28, 2011

(Not So) New German Girl: Nine Months Down, Three to Go


March 20th marked the nine month “anniversary” of my arrival to Munich. And on this date, last year, March 28, 2010 I started this blog – Diary of An American Au Pair slash New German Girl. It’s been one year since that first post and nine months since I first arrived and guess what? I’m not so new anymore!

How can I explain to you just how much my life has changed over the last nine months? You’ve been reading this blog (I hope) so you have an idea of how far I’ve come and the things that I’ve seen but how could I really explain it to you in words? I’m not even so sure that I can do that for myself. What I do know, is that the girl that I was when I left California is not the same girl that will return in June. I have changed, my life has changed, and my eyes are wide open. I may not have seen very much of the world but what I have here – I absolutely love and to be quite honest, I wouldn’t ask for a do-over even if you paid me.

The months leading up to my German adventure were busy, busy, busy. Of course I had Germany on my mind but I was so preoccupied. I was trying to finish my Capstone and was looking forward to my college graduation. I was organizing all of my material possessions, moving out of my apartment, walking away from my numerous jobs and co-workers, saying good bye to friends and loved ones, and preparing myself for the unknown. When I first arrived, after nearly 13 hours of travel with swollen feet and a weary smile, it didn’t feel that different. I couldn’t understand how to get through the airport, not because of the language – everything was written in both English and Deutsch – but because Franz Joseph Strauss airport is a ridiculous mess of signs and signals and moving sidewalks. Eventually, I found a taxi in some shady back corner and I gave my address to the driver and although he barely understood me – I was hopeless back then – he managed to finally understand and we were driving away. My adventure was right in front of me. It was about to begin.

March 24, 2011

‘Twas a Beautiful Spring Day in Munich

It was a gorgeous day in Munich today so Brenna and I took advantage of it and wandered around taking pictures of everything in sight. Blue skies made us feel really touristy and/or artsy. Now please, enjoy the fruit of our inspiring day! I also sat in the English Gardens for an hour reading and writing letters. And then I played outside with Die Kinder. It was glorious. I love spring!

196390_1813705939729_1152450433_31977213_7643385_nSpring equals flowers! Sehr schön!

Spring Has Come to the City, Beer Fests and Dirndl Season (Again!), and Vacation Plans

It’s been over a week since I last posted to this blog. My apologies – I haven’t been very inspired by my life to blog about it. That sounds much worse than reality, trust me. Life in Munich is wonderful, as always, I just haven’t been doing a lot of ‘blog worthy’ things. There has been a lot of weekend partying but who wants to hear about that? My friends and I realize that we have less than three months together and we’re making the most of it – judgments be damned! We do, however, have a moral conscience and we recognize the moments that our behavior gets out of hand. We make mistakes – we try not to make them again and sometimes we fail. But, ah, c’est la vie! As happy as I am to be here and enjoy these final weeks in Munich, I am looking forward to being home and taking a serious detox from my crazy party life. It’ll be nice to slow down and grow up a little bit. Until then, I fully intend to be young and carry on living my wonderful life.

The best thing going on in Munich right now – SPRING! It’s official – winter is OVER. We’ve had sunny, blue skies all week and temperatures have hit mid to high 50’s. The trees are sprouting green buds and the birds keep singing at all hours of the day and night. The beer gardens are back to their triumphant state – tables spread out and beer drinkers enjoying the sunshine and good company. My girl friends and I spent almost the entire afternoon last Sunday at the English Gardens, basking in the deliciously warm sunshine. It was a beautiful, beautiful day!



There is a beer festival going on in Munich yet and although we have yet to enjoy it – we still brought out the dirndl’s this past weekend to celebrate. We always have fun in our dirndl’s, especially when no one else is wearing them and we get all of the attention. We walked around Munich forever trying to find a  location for the starkbierfest but we failed. So we ended up at one of our favorite hostel bars where craziness ensued and Fio, Brenna, and I had one of the best nights in Munich thus far. We’re still talking about it – almost a week later. Fio’s 16-year-old cousin was in town for the weekend, too, visiting from Ireland and that girl definitely got a good taste of our crazy life. She was absolutely wonderful – we all loved her and hope to see her again before we all leave.


196939_1805926625251_1152450433_31965812_7600419_nAnything can happen when you wear your dirndl!

At the moment, I’ve got my window wide open – clean clothes drying all over my room, and a blessedly beautiful day ahead of me. I’m babysitting the girls tonight – again. I’ve been doing this a lot lately. My host mom is on a bunch of museum committees and there are a bunch of museum openings lately so I’ve worked three to four nights out of seven for the last two weeks. It’s been okay though – I don’t have much money because of my trip to Cologne – and the nights that I did have off, I made the most of them. The week ahead should be good. We’re actually attending Starkbierfest this weekend (I don’t think I’ll like the beer much, honestly) and next week I have less babysitting responsibilities.

And hopefully I can start planning a trip to Italy over Easter vacation. I mean, I’ve made the plans – I just have to finalize them. I’m hoping for Cinque Terra and Venice but we’ll see! It depends on how much money I have and can manage to save. Ideally I’d love to fly to Pisa, take a train to Cinque Terra, hike one of the trails, get back to the train station, take a train to Venice, spend a weekend in Venice with the girls, and then get back to Munich. We’ll see!

Until I figure all of that – I’m going to continue enjoying spring in Munich! I love it!





DSC08571I always stick my tongue out when I’m trying to concentrate.


DSC08627Happy spring!

March 15, 2011

“Spring Break” in Cologne: Part II

Saturday in Cologne started around 12:30, seeing as we didn’t get up and out of bed until then. We had a late “brunch” and then headed into the city, intent on enjoying a bike ride adventure. It was a nice day – blue skies and a gentle breeze and warm weather! Everything Munich wasn’t. It took us a while to get through the city and find the bike rental station but eventually we managed. We only paid 5 EUR for a three hour rental – it was perfect. We got our bikes and headed out. Fio had done the bike ride before so she knew what she was doing. We had an hour down the right ride of the river and then we’d find a little boat that would take us to the other side. From there, we could ride down the opposite bank and get back to the city. The bike ride, each way was about 10 kilometers or 6 miles! So we rode about 12 miles on Saturday. But it was awesome and so, so, so beautiful. It was probably the best thing that came out of the weekend. I had such a good time and enjoyed the weather and scenery of Cologne from the seat of that horrible, malfunctioning bike. Sigh. Haha.


“Spring Break” in Cologne: Part I

On Friday, March 11th I traveled to Cologne for a weekend trip with my friend, Fionnuala, which was my first official inter-German travel adventure. I've been to various places within Bavaria (thank you Bayern ticket!) but this was my first trip away from Munich to another major German city. Fio's childhood and university friend, Katherine, (who'd I met for Fio's birthday in October) lives and works in Cologne so we made the trip to visit her and see the city through the eyes of a worthy "resident."

Fio and I boarded our plane in Munich around 11:30 and endured an oh-so grueling flight (50 minutes!) to northwest Germany. We landed in Cologne around 12:30 and then found our way from the airport to the city via S-Bahn. Our first stop, Cologne Hauptbahnhof and the famous Dom cathedral to meet Katherine.


March 10, 2011

Alternative Uses for My Bachelor’s Degree: Review of

There are one million other things I should be doing right now… like blogging for a giveaway that’s been on queue for two months now or calling my student loan companies to check up on the status of my deferments. But, instead, I am here, blogging about the thing that has stolen away all of my time and attention lately.

8tracks_logo has stolen my music-loving heart as of late and I am here to rave all about it because… well, because I can. I stumbled across this site by way of my fellow blogger friend, Julie, and ever since I have been in love. I don’t know how I didn’t find it sooner – this kind of thing is what I live for – but no matter, it came at the perfect time. In the middle of a week long “spring break” of sorts I spent pretty much every day with my headphones on, listening to user-made “mix tapes” and making my own to share with the 8tracks community and, yep… my Facebook News Feed.

8Tracks is kind of like Internet radio, on the same plane as LastFM and Pandora. 8Tracks, however, is unique in that it lets you create your own mixes via uploads from your iTunes library and then allows you to compile and arrange them into mixes of your own making. Each playlist is customizable from the title to the description and right down to the playlist image – which is one of my favorite parts. Your “Liked Mixes” collage starts to look pretty badass after a while. Here’s mine:


Every mix has it’s own picture, a unique title, and a pretty cool array of songs and you get to pick which ones you like the best. You can listen to them as many times as you want. After you’ve listened to the entire mix once, for the second (and subsequent) time around, the songs will be shuffled. Which is okay by me because I shuffle my iPod playlists every time, anyway. I don’t like order when it comes to my music. Surprise me, baby! Much like on Pandora, you can only “skip” a song a few times an hour, which is part of their licensing agreement. However, a great feature that comes along with your music-listening experience is the ability to “pause” or (accidentally) close down the mix and to come back and start it right from where you left off. Basically, it remembers where you were and keeps your song there for you until you come back. You can browse through mixes on the home page which lists the most recently uploaded and the most popular, or you can search by genre or artist. You can also leave comments on mixes that you like and you can follow users who’s mixes you adore most. Their mixes come together in a “Mix Feed” which works just like Facebook’s News Feed – all of your favorite mixes show up in a feed list.

My favorite part of being in love with my iTunes library is sharing it with other people so I was absolutely floored to find that I could do that with this site. I immediately started uploading my own playlist.


Basically, you have an upload button in the top left corner (not shown, unfortunately) and it opens a File Browser where you can navigate to the necessary music folders for the tracks that you want to put in your mix. There’s just a few of the tracks I’ve downloaded shown there but so far, I have at least 60 to 70 tracks uploaded on my 8tracks account. There appears to be no limit on the amount of songs that you can upload – however, your mixes (per the site’s licensing agreement) can not include more than two tracks from any one artist or album and it must have a title, artist name, and album title included (which you can add in once it’s uploaded). I’m fairly certain that all of my mixes (and I have about six now) each feature an Angus & Julia track. So, essentially, I could download every A&J track that I have but I could only include up to two on each mix that I make. Oh, AND you get to pick which mix plays after yours – from mixes that you like or have recently listened to. It’s a pretty sweet deal if you ask me.

Basically, 8Tracks kicks a lot of ass. I feel like a super cool DJ or something. It’s “interactive” radio at its best. And since I love, love, love sharing my music and since I take a lot of pride in my music tastes, I’m seriously enjoying sharing my music via this website. And, equally, I love listening to music so I get the best of both worlds. So, here’s a link to my 8Tracks profile and my best mix thus far (which you can listen to right here on this blog!):


March 3, 2011

Karneval! Karneval!

In 2006, I was lucky enough to visit New Orleans for the start of the new year but, unfortunately, I missed Mardi Gras by about a month and a half. It would have been really cool to have been in New Orleans for its famous, crazy holiday but someday, I hope to get a second chance at that. But for now I’m happy to be able to enjoy the equivalent here in Munich.

Carnival season is upon us. Or Karneval, as it is called in most parts of Germany. It’s also referred to as Fasching. It’s a Roman Catholic and Christian Orthodox celebration that officially begins on November 11th on the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour. But, for the most part, things stay pretty quiet until February or March. The end of Karneval falls at midnight on Shrove Tuesday (Fat Tuesday), just before Ash Wednesday. So, the week leading up to that is when the festivities really get going and people all over Germany (it’s the most enthusiastic Karneval location in Europe!) start dressing up and causing trouble. It is, after all, described as a time to “break the rules.” Officially, it’s just a way to have a massive celebration before the fasting of Lent.

I snagged this off of the Interwebs:

In Germany, particularly in the Rhineland area, the tradition can be traced to medieval times where many countries existed under harsh rules. Kings, princes and even smaller potentates maintained their own courts. In doing so, they flaunted before each other their own pomp and splendor at the expense of their population.

During karneval time, the common people took a chance at 'living it up" and "talking back to their rulers". They would make a mock government of eleven people, as well as other officials. A price and princess were selected to rule the country during the Fasching season. Political authorities, high placed persons and sovereigns were the target of ridicule, and featured in humorous and satirical speeches. To avoid persecution and punishment, these antics were played out from behind masks and costumes. Parades, dancing in the streets, masquerade balls and comical skits filled the days and nights.

karneval1Cologne, Germany has one of the most popular Karneval celebrations. I’d really hoped to visit Cologne for the weekend of Karneval but I mixed up my vacation weekends and so my friend Fionnuala and I are traveling the weekend after Karneval. Oops.

But here in Munich – the festivies carry on! Less crowds, more friends, and blessed familiarity should we get drunk and need to find our way home. Donuts are the official food of Karnevale/Fasching or krapfen auf Deutsch!


Munich’s Carnival Timeline

Thursday, March 3rd: Women’s Carnival Day
In Cologne, it’s the date of the opening parade at 11:11 am and women, even in Munich, have the benefit of kissing whomever they like after cutting off his tie. ONLY, his tie. ;)

Friday-Sunday, March 4th-6th: Faschings Weekend
Parties all throughout Germany in celebration of Fasching. Here in Munich it is no exception! We will be out in fun and silly costumes! Pictures will be taken, don’t worry.

Monday, March 7th: Rose Monday
This is the day of the official Fasching’s parade – marching bands, dancers, and floats and people dressed in all kinds of costumes flock through the city. In Cologne there is a massive parade. In Munich, a parade marches through Viktualienmarkt.

Tuesday, March 8th: Fasching / Shrove Tuesday
Costume balls! Or just general costumed merry-making all over Germany!

Wednesday, March 9th: Ash Wednesday
A quiet day to take a break and Lent begins.

March 1, 2011

Nine Months Gone By (I Could Have Cooked a Baby By Now!), My Impending Adulthood, and All the Things and People That Make My Life

I can’t believe that it’s already the 1st of March, that’s it already spring. Where the hell has this year gone? I started this blog almost a year ago. It’s been almost nine months since I started this adventure in Munich. Time goes by so fast. This time last year I was working diligently on my graduation capstone and was taking care of Baby D five days a week. It feels so far away. So much has happened since then and my life has changed in every way possible. I have been so blessed to have this experience and I wish that there were more than just three months left to enjoy it. Unfortunately, that is all that I have left – 110 days, just a little over three months. There is still so much that I can do in that time – I’m going to be traveling this spring (budget-willing!), visiting Barcelona, Spain and, hopefully Verona and Venice, Italy. I’m going to Cologne on the 11th of this month. And in May, I’m going to Berlin to visit friends who live there. There’s another beer festival coming up in March – the Starkbierfest – which means that the dirndl is coming out again and my girlfriends and I can feel like real Bavarians. I’ve fallen short on my Munich bucket list but I’ll pick up on it again – I have a lot of stuff to catch up on that I haven’t even posted yet. Bear with me. I’ll get through it eventually.

Life has been good. Things in Munich are wonderful, I have no complaints. My social life here far outweighs my au pair responsibilities. Last weekend we completely exhausted ourselves partying. One going away party after another and two 6 am returns in a row. Club nights, bars, beer, tequila. We take it all in stride and we look out for each other whenever and wherever we can. I spent all day Sunday in bed watching How I Met Your Mother. It was glorious. Then my lovely friend, Ana, fed me a delicious pasta dinner and we talked for hours about everything going on in our lives. I love weekends here – I live for them. I will miss this when I go home to live in my mom’s basement and start my grown-up life. I will miss this last chance that I’ve been given to really just be young and carefree. It doesn’t have to stop after this but it will. I’m making that choice. I’m choosing to grow up and take on a more responsible adult role. Which is fine with me. But, for now and in spite of my near and not so distant future, I choose to enjoy the time that I have left here and to just live my life as it comes.

My favorite picture of the week:

DSC07968My best girlfriend, Fionnuala. I LOVE HER.

Other things I’ve done in the last week or so:

  • I watched 127 Hours about the guy who cuts off his arm. Incredible.
  • Called my mom, twice, over the course of five days and talked to her for over an hour both times. I miss her. A lot.

Video call snapshot 27I can’t wait to hang out with my mom and Ruby Tuesday.

  • Earned 80 EUR on the side. It’s a secret! :) And then spent it all. Another lesson learned. Sigh.
  • Played at the spielplatz with the cutest twins in all of Munich.


Das ist alles. Danke. Tschüs!