A wild blog update appears! People are unsure how to react, as the author has managed to put it off for more than three weeks.
…my excuse is that I was gonna wait until after I’d gone to the Frankfurter Buchmesse (well, first it was just gonna be until the preliminary course was over, then just until after the DSH, then just until after I came back from Salzburg…so…yeah…whoops…).
So. Here’s what you’ve missed since last time:
The preliminary course from AJY came to an end with an avalanche of work and a pat on the back. We celebrated with crepes made by the ever-wonderful Sixtine and a cute movie (“Kokowääh”). Our cinematic relaxation was interrupted about halfway through by a sudden racous outside. We all ran to the window and leaned precariously out of it to witness, to our astonishment, that the Hauptstrasse was lined with police cars. Red and blue lights were flashing everywhere as a mob of people booed a police officer with a megaphone telling them to disperse. In the middle of it all, one man stubbornly waved a flag emblazoned with the logo of an anti-fascist organization. Not to worry, nothing escalated and we returned nonplussed to our movie. After we had finished both it and the stack of crepes, we bid each other goodnight, promising to study over the weekend.
Unfortunately, not as much studying was accomplished as was hoped for, partially due to Heidelberger Herbst happening that Saturday and my own reckless decision to go to a hockey game that Sunday. Both were a lot of fun: the girls and I tried neuer Wein and Zwiebelkuchen, annual traditional treats that come around every year with Heidelberger Herbst. We felt very German, indeed.
Paul and I attended the ice hockey game in Mannheim, which the home team, die Adler, won 4-3 against the visiting Hamburg Freezers. There were very few moments when the crowd in the standing-room only section wasn’t chanting or cheering or clapping. If their example is anything to go by, German sports fans go hard. By the second period, Paul and I had managed to learn a few of the clapping routines, and could half-assedly chant along with part of what the fans were saying (something about scoring a goal, go Mannheim, ADLER, ADLER, ADLER, y’know, hockey stuff). It had been a long time since I’d been to a hockey game, and I enjoyed myself thoroughly, easily brushing aside the guilt telling me that I should have been studying instead. I bought myself a nifty Adler Mannheim scarf. I’m excited to go back.
The morning of the DSH came…and the test itself lasted four and a half hours. That sucker was longer than my SATs. I remember that the grammar and reading sections were simple, the text production irritating because of the poor quality of the graphic we had to describe, and the listening section was the product of the devil. Well, maybe not the devil. Just one of his subordinates. Anyway, I passed the writing section. Huzzah! The next day Herr Dörr and Pilar took us to the gardens in Schwetzingen. Everything was absolutely beautiful and I wish I could have stayed longer and enjoyed the uncomplicated, relaxed atmosphere of the nature. Instead, the speaking portion of the DSH called my name that Wednesday. Those of us taking it were given a crash course in how to talk about a graphic. Herr Lengiewicz and Frau Przadka gave us pointers and encouraged us to speak as much as possible. So, of course, the test was totally different than what we’d been prepped for. Instead of being given a graphic to talk about, we were handed different articles and called into the proctor’s room in pairs. There they asked us questions about our thoughts on the article, whether we agree or not, how we relate…very conversational and almost normal. My own experience was a bit funny, though, for a very particular reason.
Earlier that same morning, as Sixtine and I got on our bus to head into the Altstadt, I frowned and squinted at an older man with a fluffy tuft of white hair. I nudged Sixtine and pointed him out. “I know him from somewhere,” I asserted. Sixtine contemplated the man for a moment before shrugging. “Maybe he’s stalking you,” she replied with a laugh. “Yeah, right,” I said, and that was that…until Sixtine and I were paired to speak together for the test, and the man turned out to be our proctor! I had recognized him from Monday, when he must’ve at some point been in my testing room. As we walked into the proctor’s room and saw him bare hours after seeing him on the bus, it was all we could do to not giggle as we shared a glance. Anyway, our article had been about modern people being hurried and avoiding empty time. We joked with our proctors, and left the room shaking only a little and feeling rather triumphant. We celebrated with gelato, of course.
My alarm woke me at the unfortunate time of 5:15 am. I had no choice but to set it then to provide myself enough time to get ready to leave my house at the crack of 6 and walk with Veronica though the dark, cold, windy morning to the Hauptbahnhof. Why did we walk, you ask? Because October 3rd is a German national holiday (Tag der deutschen Einheit), and no buses were running that early on a holiday. We made it to the train station without difficulty and joined Katie, Hannah, and Tessa to hop on board the train taking us to Munich.
Munich! During Oktoberfest! Seldom in my life have I been surrounded by so many people in one space. It was fun to wander around the festival, but also refreshing to escape. It was NOT refreshing to almost get pooped on by a pigeon. I bet the feathery bastard watched as I yelped after his bomb landed bare inches from me, splattering my backpack and Veronica’s bag. Ya missed, you jerk.
We visited St. Paul’s church right next door. Tessa enticed me to climb the tower with her, which was terrifying and dizzying but offered a lovely view of the city and the festival. We split up for a while, Veronica, Hannah and I taking our time in a cafe while Katie and Tessa headed for the Marienkirche. We met up again after brief difficulty finding each other and headed back into the fray of the fest, searching for sustenance and maybe a free space in a beer garden. Well, we unfortunately didn’t get to sit inside one of the gardens, but the upside to that was that we caught an earlier bus for Salzburg. There was a group of drunken Austrians in the same car as us. No, I didn’t punch anyone.
It was funny to realize that I had actually missed the city of Salzburg since my brief experience there the summer after my high school graduation. I guess sometimes you just connect to a place. Salzburg is old and cultured with the undeniable flavoring of any city and a hearty dash of tourism. We ate well in some very nice (and affordable) locales and got to play queens of the mountain after we took a cable car to the top of one of the nearby Alp peaks (which was also unbelievably terrifying, but so so worth it in the end).
In our three days in the city by the Salzach, we saw Hellbrun Palace, the archbishop’s fortress, where Mozart lived and where he was born, a mindblowing view from the mountains, and the world’s largest beer museum/brewery. We called a comfortable hostel on the edge of town our home and ate as much Austrian food as we could stuff in ourselves. The sweet voices of the church’s choir followed Hannah and I home as we said goodbye to the others and headed back to Heidelberg. The taste of a recently-eaten Mozartkugel lingered on my tongue, reminding me to come back to Salzburg soon.
Hannah and I were beguiled into ending our travels earlier than the others because we both needed to be in Heidelberg on the tenth to personally register for language classes (she for Spanish and I for French). Unfortunate irony struck, being that Hannah did not, as a matter of fact, need to be there in person and that there was some confusion as to whether or not I was allowed to take French as my second non-German language class (along with Turkish). Hannah emailed some professors and I determined that I will indeed be taking French, but at my own expenses. Eh, c’est la vie.
Hannah and Sam and I managed to enjoy ourselves as a trio in Heidelberg while almost everyone else was still out in the world. We watched a pair or movies and got lost looking for the Ampitheater in the mountains. We plan on finding it eventually.
Aaaaand Saturday was the adventure at the Frankfurter Buchmesse. The massive book fair comes once a year to the city on the Main. This year’s ‚guest country‘ was Brazil. I thoroughly enjoyed not only Brazilian cake, but satirical poetry about cannibalism. Hearing it in Portuguese first and then translated into German piqued my interest in Brazilian Portuguese. Hmmm, next on the list, perhaps…
The unexplainable amount of cosplayers attending the fair was a bonus amusement as we navigated our way through the MASSIVE convention complex. I’m partially convinced that the place was built with a touch of wizard magic—it certainly seemed bigger than it looked on the outside! All in all, it was a pleasant day at the book fair, even if wandering through the international section was a bit tortuous: “Look at all the pretty books in all the cool languages that I can’t read! Ahh!”
I came home that day to the sad news that my cat Sneaker had been put to sleep. It was something we’d been expecting, but was nevertheless heartbreaking. Katie, Sixtine and Sam kept me company at the Dubliner as I ate my feelings. They made me laugh, which I was grateful for. Good friends and food is a combination to make anything better.
Tomorrow is the beginning of the semester (finally!). I can’t wait to jump in. Los geht’s!